I promise that this post wasn’t by design, but rather is completely a coincidence that it follows hot on the heels of the neat supercharged E34 540i 6-speed from yesterday. How do you possibly trump that potent hot rod? Well, starting with a M5 is probably a good bet.
If the E34 was a potent athlete, the E39 comes across as a consummate professional. It was immediately the new benchmark for sports sedans once again, and when BMW finally did make the call to bring a M5 to market they produced what many consider to be the definitive driver’s car in super sedan form. Whatever you had from the period, the M5 was just plain better. With 394 horsepower kicking out of is snorting S62 V8 and mated solely to a 6-speed manual transmission, it was hard to conceive how that package could possibly be improved upon.
That didn’t dissuade Steve Dinan, though. His S2 package fixed a car that wasn’t broken according to Car and Driver. Power was up to a massive 470 yet the car was still naturally aspirated. Bigger, better intake was met with bigger, better exhaust, and the whole package was kept up with bigger, better suspension and slowed down with bigger, better brakes. It was…well, bigger and better. 0-60 was dispatched in a tick over four seconds and it would do a standing quarter-mile in 12.7 seconds. These numbers won’t scare a Dodge Demon, granted, but are still really respectable today.
Of course, if “respectable” isn’t quite enough for you and you really need to surprise that Demon driver…
A little over a month ago I checked out a 2002 Mercedes-Benz E320 with an amazing 18,200 miles on it. I personally wasn’t so amazed by it because it was an average as a car gets. Yes, it was clean, but it didn’t have many options at all and actually had a few issues. Today, I have another W210 E-Class with low miles, but this one is the V8 E430. This E-Class with a little under 48,000 miles checks in from Costa Mesa, California but again, I’m not blown away with it for some reason. Maybe it’s just the terrible color again?
Typically, our ‘Roll the Dice’ features have been cars that are a bit of a gamble; little history is disclosed, there are no photos to show the car’s condition or no description, something’s odd about the example, it’s got a million miles…you get the point. Today’s S6 Avant is a bit of a different gamble, though.
To be fair, jumping in to any 15-odd year old German car today is somewhat of a leap into the unknown. You’re entering territory where the complicated electronics begin to fail, oil seeps from every joint of the motor and rattles permeate the body structure. Often, you’re left chasing the ghosts of deferred maintenance. Add up the number of things that could potentially go wrong on an older car and then cross reference the part costs, and you’ll quickly see the problem.
So what does that look like when we consider today’s S6 Avant? Well, if the seller is to be believed, in the past year they’ve spent $14,079 fixing this Audi. The last nice S6 Avant that I looked at sold for $13,000. You don’t have to be a math wiz to figure out that’s a bad deal. And that last nice S6 Avant was in much better condition than today’s model with only 50,000 miles on the clock.
So if you’re getting in to today’s car, you’re rolling the dice a bit that the $14,000 “invested” in this one has resolved all the problems. But there are positives, because the seller has opted for a no reserve auction format, and…oh yeah, it’s supercharged.
How much performance is enough? If we set aside the small percentage of drivers actually capable of exploiting any of the world’s supercars I’d imagine that bar was eclipsed long ago. I ask this mainly because my first thought upon seeing this 2002 Porsche 911 GT2 was, “why would you spend more?” Newer, more refined, more utility (maybe?): I can understand these aspects of upgrading. I also understand that in some cases it is the combination of performance and refinement that really drives prices higher. But I don’t know, this feels like a reality check of sorts.
Of course this GT2 isn’t exactly what we’d call inexpensive and if you can afford a toy like this, then the cost isn’t really that big a deal when it comes to searching out even more performance. If your goal is raw performance though, then for this money what else is out there that’s better?
Fairly often I feature special cars that have low miles on them. That’s to be expected because sometimes when people buy a car that isn’t run-of-the-mill, they don’t use it as a daily driver and try to keep the miles low. In turn, that theoretically should keep the value high when it comes to sell or maybe just to have the satisfaction of having a low mileage car. What I don’t see too often are cars that are ordinary in every way and meant to be used and thrown away that have really low miles on them. You can see where I’m going with this.
What I have today is a 2002 Mercedes-Benz E320 up for sale in Virginia with just 18,200 miles on it. This W210 is as bland and disposable as modern Mercedes come and this car doesn’t even have any special options or unique features. In fact, this E320 doesn’t even have heated seats. It’s painted in a bland color with a bland interior that blends in with the crowd with the best of them. You’d think the 18,200 miles would mean this car is pristine, but thanks to some typical W210 problems, time waits for no one. Not even cars that sit in garages for 15 years.
Audi’s interesting sales plan of S-cars in the early 2000s was, for U.S. fans, both good and disappointing at the same time. Mega models like the RS4 continued to be withheld from this side of the Atlantic just as the S2, RS2 and S6 Plus had been. The new generation of V8 powered S cars had yet to arrive, too; movies teased us of the slithering, nitrous oxide-boosted battering ram S8, and though the C5 chassis now sported the V8 in 2000, we had yet to see the S6.
But there were bright points. The B5 S4 was available as a sedan or Avant here, for the first time, in 2001 the flagship S8 arrived and after a wait until 2002, the S6 arrived in Avant form. And, only in Avant form, and only in automatic. You could complain about that for sure, but then the introduction at long last of an RS model – the twin-turbocharged RS6 – assuaged the loss of the regular S6 sedan for nearly everyone.
Once in a while, though, a S6 sedan pops up on this side of the Atlantic:
Last week I checked out a 2011 Mercedes-Benz E550 Coupe and broke down how even though Mercedes calls it an E-Class Coupe, it was about 80% W204 C-Class and 20% W212 E-Class. This isn’t a new thing as Mercedes has been doing this for a few generations now and today we have another example of this in a 2002 CLK55 AMG up for sale in South Carolina. This W208 looks like a W210 E-Class cosmetically, but under that metal is actually the chassis of the W202 C-Class. Inside, you have a small handful of parts from the W203 C-Class and many more parts unique just to the CLK55 and not from the brother of this car, the W210 E55 AMG. Once again, buyers of this car probably had no idea of all this and probably didn’t care all that much either. C’est la vie.
Do you really want a Mercedes-Benz G550 4×4² but short about $200,000? Well, I have a solution for you. This is a 2002 G500 up for bid in New Jersey that has been jacked up thanks to a suspension lift and 40 inches. Not to end it there, the body work has been added to mimic a 4×4² thanks to the W463 literally staying the same for the past 15 years. All this sounds pretty good in theory, but put in practice like we see here, I think it’s a disaster. Let me tell you why.
So you want an affordable, distinctive yet practical car for your daily commute? Yesterday I suggested there might be more fun to be had for less money than the Golf Harlequin. Well, here it is: the Z3 3.0i Coupe. While the ‘clownshoe’ isn’t quite as spacious as the Golf, it does add a dose of practicality to a fun-to-drive and very unusual package. But while the market focuses on the M products, the more rare to find Z3 3.0i is an affordable option that will help you stand apart from the crowd.
Produced in Spartanburg in February 2002, this Topaz Blue Metallic example has seen better days, it’s got quite a few miles, and it’s an automatic. But that means it’ll be about as cheap as a clownshoe comes. Is it worth the price of admission – or, at the very least, is it worth the savings over a M?
Here we have a car engaged in a little bit of an identity crisis. I find it a little perplexing, but let me get to that later because beyond that disjunction it’s actually a rather interesting 911 Turbo. This is an Orient Red Metallic 2002 Porsche 911 Turbo Coupe with 53,795 miles on it. It’s fitted with the Turbo Aerokit along with a pronounced front lip spoiler, factory options that are kind of divisive in their appeal, but nonetheless are fairly rare. The interior also has a wide array of maple wood accents and leather fittings. Those options bring with them a level of elegance that seems somewhat at odds with the exterior options. It’s all very much racer on the outside and grand tourer on the inside. But which does it want to be?