2005 Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG

2005 Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG

The Mercedes-Benz SLK usually doesn’t get a lot of love from enthusiasts and I totally understand why. The first generation was a competition with the BMW Z3 to see how cheap they can build a small roadster made completely of flimsy plastic. Speaking of those two cars, it brought back fond memories of playing Need for Speed: High Stakes on my computer back in 1999. I blame that game as well as Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit for my European car addiction. But back to the SLK and the lack of second-hand attention these attract. The second generation R171 was a big improvement over the first generation, but the front end clip had a strange pig nose look that turned off a lot of people. The interiors were still a bit disappointing with lots of plastic and sub-par materials from what you’d expect from a proper Mercedes roadster.

Now in the tradition of post-2000 Mercedes, they sent this car off to AMG to make it fast and make it expensive. What came back was a little Mercedes with big everything. Big engine, big wheels, big brakes and of course quad exhaust tips. Mercedes stuck with the tried and true 5.4 liter V8 M113 that made 360 horsepower and 380 lb·ft of torque. Keep in mind this is in a car that weighs a little under 3,400 pounds. Mercedes officially said this little SLK will get to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds but some magazines had these hitting them in the 4.5 range. Now that some of these AMGs are hitting their teenage years, what should you expect to pay for one of these mini-rockets? Lets find out.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2005 Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG on eBay

Year: 2005
Model: SLK55 AMG
Engine: 5.4 liter V8
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Mileage: 125,280 mi
Price: $14,990 Buy It Now

2005 Mercedes Benz SLK55 AMG for sale!

Feature Listing: 2006 BMW M Roadster

Feature Listing: 2006 BMW M Roadster

Like earlier’s Audi TT, BMW’s first successful foray into the roadster market came in the 1990s with the Z3. The Z3’s styling was less aggressive and more organic than the original “Future Roadster” – the Z1 – had been, but initially motivation wasn’t much better. However, when BMW decided to stuff the E36 chassis full of the higher-power M-product motors, they instantly created a hit. Rear drive only with a singing inline-6 and attached to a manual transmission, they were affordable sports cars that offered a very high fun quotient even if they were not the most refined product, style or substance-wise.

At the same time that the M Roadster and M Coupe debuted in North America, planning was already underway for the Z3’s replacement. The new E85 Roadster and E86 Coupe debuted as a fresh face to replace the 90s-era Z3 in the early 2000s, but almost immediately the styling was considered controversial. There were hard edges, curves and cuts integrated into the exterior, and the traditional driver-oriented dashboard was gone, replaced by a more modern flat-cockpit layout. Much like the original Z1, it didn’t look like anything else on the market at the time, and reception was mixed.

Dynamically, though, it was hard to argue that the Z4 wasn’t a vast improvement in refinement over the Z3. The rear suspension was updated with a new multi-link setup which handled power (and bumps) significantly better than the outgoing E36 chassis with E30 bits. A stiffer structure meant more overall composure. And though the interior remained plastic-heavy, the new generation of dashboards looked much more upscale and modern than the dated 90s pieces. Yet the biggest change lay at the end of the run, as it had with the Z3, as starting in 2006 BMW installed the legendary S54B32. Providing 330 horsepower to the rear wheels and trick M-differential via a 6-speed manual, the limited production M Roadster and M Coupe also corrected one of the perceived flaws of the normal Z4 lineup by retaining a hydraulic steering setup.…

Feature Listing: 1965 NSU Spider

Feature Listing: 1965 NSU Spider

While Porsche’s upstart 356 and the breathtaking Mercedes-Benz 300SL were Germany’s first real post-War sports cars, they weren’t the only attempt to capitalize on the economic recovery. But far from being just a recovery, West Germany’s “Wirtschaftswunder” – economic miracle – aided by the Marshall Plan and a focus on strengthening the border states of the ‘Iron Curtain’ meant that capitalism manifested itself in new ways. Cashing in on a re-emerging middle class with newfound wealth and prosperity, companies like BMW and Volkswagen launched new sportier versions of their small, economical sedans. The 700 Coupe and Karmann Ghia, launched in 1959 and 1955 respectively, might not have had the power of Porsche or the Gullwing, but still brought sport and style to a much larger market. Both designs utilized existing technology to create a rear-drive, rear-engine two-seater that still was budget friendly.

However, they weren’t alone in the market. Auto Union’s main production lines in Chemnitz lay firmly in Soviet control, so it was the DKW brand which shouldered the responsibility of rebuilding the company. That would bear the 1000SP in the late 1950s – a lovely, but not particularly sporty, personal coupe and convertible. Prior to its merger with the Volkswagen Group in 1969, though, NSU – a firm more known for its pre-War motorcycles – had ventured into small sports cars. The result was the legendary Prinz and TT models; small, efficient, fun to drive rear-engine sedans. NSU branched out in 1964 and offered the world’s first rotary-powered limited production convertible in an attempt to ascertain if the technology was applicable to normal production. With technically a mid-rear design, it was a revolutionary alternative to the BMW 700:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1965 NSU Spider on San Diego Craigslist

2006 BMW 330Ci

2006 BMW 330Ci

I’ll admit it, I’m a sucker for color. My eyes gravitate towards shades I don’t usually see, and this E46 certainly caught my eye. At first I was sure it must be a BMW Individual car like the Messing Metallic M3 I looked at earlier in the year. But no, this is a standard color, believe it or else. Sonora Metallic wasn’t often selected, as I frequently look that these cars and have never seen it (to my knowledge). Coupled with the Natural Brown leather interior and a 5-speed manual gearbox makes this 330Ci an appealing to look at yet quite affordable option for top-down German motoring:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2006 BMW 330Ci on eBay

1957 Mercedes-Benz 190SL

1957 Mercedes-Benz 190SL

On Monday, I looked at a W124 cabriolet – a model I believe won’t witness a huge spike in value over the short term. While I do think the values will hold strong where they are and, at the very least, keep up with inflation, if you are hoping to make tens of thousands of dollars in a quick flip, there are probably better options.  Today’s car, the Mercedes-Benz 190SL, is one of those options.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1957 Mercedes-Benz 190SL on eBay

1982 Volkswagen Rabbit Convertible with 8,000 Miles

1982 Volkswagen Rabbit Convertible with 8,000 Miles

The product catalog for what Formula E is makes for a pretty hilarious read. “Passive Formula-E systems built in to your VW begin with an aerodynamic body design that cuts down on wind resistance.” Have you actually looked at a Rabbit? I guess in terms of footprint, it was physically smaller than a Chrysler Cordoba, so there’s that? But ‘aerodynamic’ is not the first thing I think of when I see an A1. It continues on touting the benefits of radial tires (Wooooow), a high-torque engine (compared to….?), and the George Costanza-inspired “breakerless transistorized ignition”. What it really was was a long 5th gear, denoted on Audis as the ‘4+E’ in the same year. What that meant was it spun the high-torque motor down to low revs, and that road better be pretty flat and not particularly windy if you’d like to maintain any speed. And, if you downshifted to pass anything or go the speed limit, immediately an arrow-shaped light would pop on the dash, reminding you that fuel was being wasted. But Volkswagen claimed it was good for 42 m.p.g. in a period still reeling from the fuel crises of the 1970s, and marketing is marketing.

What the Rabbit Convertible really offered you was one of the very few drop-top options in the early 1980s. Remember, this was a time when Detroit had pulled out of convertibles following hints they would be banned by the NHTSB. Japan didn’t really have much of anything on offer, either, as it hadn’t really established itself fully into the market in anything other than superb economy cars. And Germany? In 1982, you had two options – the Mercedes-Benz 380SL, or the Rabbit Convertible which had replaced the Beetle in 1980. That was it. In some ways, that makes these early Rabbits special, and though these Volkswagens were no where near as dear as the Daimlers, some who bought them treated them as royalty:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1982 Volkswagen Rabbit Convertible on eBay

1995 Mercedes-Benz E320 Cabriolet

1995 Mercedes-Benz E320 Cabriolet

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Every now and then, I spot a black W124 Mercedes-Benz E320 Cabriolet tooling around the neighborhood. These days, this is a car that sticks out. It doesn’t necessarily look vintage, but has a crisp, stately appearance that is sadly lacking in most new vehicles these days. As we move further towards vehicles with all kinds of computer assistance and, dare I say it, self-driving cars, it’s nice to look back two decades and find a car like this with classic style mixed in with modern convenience. This 1995 E320 Cabriolet for sale in New York represents the final year for the W124 and this one is mint, showing almost 30,000 miles on the odometer.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 Mercedes-Benz E320 Cabriolet on eBay

2002 Mercedes-Benz SL600 Silver Arrow

2002 Mercedes-Benz SL600 Silver Arrow

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There exists a divided community of R129 Mercedes-Benz owners. On one hand there are those who feel that the V12 is necessary to make the car feel special and unique enough to be maximally enjoyable on rare driving occasions. On the other are more sensibly minded owners who prefer the cost-effectiveness and balance of the V8. I won’t interject my $0.02 into that discourse, but I will say that few R129 owners will disagree that a Silver Arrow SL600 is a very rare and desirable machine.

The Silver Arrow was a special edition of the R129 SL offered only in 2002, the final year of production. Only available in North America, Mercedes sold 1,550 Silver Arrow R129’s. Of these 1,550, only 100 were SL600’s. Featured here is one of those very few 600’s. I cannot recall the last time that one was publicly listed for sale, but having followed the R129 market closely since 2009, I can only recall ever seeing maybe one or two listed in online marketplaces.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Mercedes-Benz SL600 Silver Arrow on eBay

1986 Mercedes-Benz 560SL

1986 Mercedes-Benz 560SL

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I’ve voiced my dislike for the R107 in the past. I think they are clichéd, the production ran way too long and are extremely expensive now for what they are. So why am I featuring this 1986 560SL today? Well, this one isn’t extremely overpriced — at least not yet. Even more unique to the R107 is that this car has 284,000 miles which means it’s owner(s) didn’t treat didn’t treat it as a part of their 401k plan. This 560SL was used regularly and according to the sellers description taken care of whenever it need be. So let’s check out this 1986 in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Mercedes-Benz 560SL on eBay

1992 Porsche 968 Cabriolet

1992 Porsche 968 Cabriolet

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I was pleased to see Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car prominently featured the transaxle Porsches in their latest issue. These are sports cars which are finally getting their day both in the Porsche and general collector circles. With increased respect comes an increase in values, of course. However, many of these cars are still within reach of the more modest collector, such as this 968 Cabriolet for sale in New Jersey. With well over 100,000 miles, you wouldn’t have to worry about using this Porsche as intended. Tired of the usual 911 Cabriolet? This might be the cure.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 Porsche 968 Cabriolet on eBay

1993 BMW 318i Baur TC4

1993 BMW 318i Baur TC4

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We’ve reached a point where the BMW E36 has probably dipped about as low as it will go in terms of value, with exception of some mint M3s on the upward tick and the exclusive M3 Lightweight. Most of us are familiar with all the different models of this range, including some of those which did not make it to US shores, like the Touring. This 318i Baur TC4, however, is a different proposition altogether. The relationship between BMW and Baur goes back a ways. Baur is a coachbuilder based in Stuttgart, Germany that has been collaborating on BMW convertibles since the 1930s. Their targa variants of the E21 and E30 3 series helped them gain notoriety, but they didn’t stop there. When the E36 3 series debuted in the early 1990s, Baur decided to try something different.

What you see here is a rarity amongst modern day automobiles, the four-door cabriolet. From the side profile, you’d be hard pressed to figure out this was a convertible of some sort, with fixed door frames and a canvas roof which would fold discreetly behind the rear seats. This 318i Baur TC4 is claimed to be the first on US shores. While it wouldn’t be an easy claim to verify, it is probably valid, as a little over 300 of these unique open-roofed sedans were made.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1993 BMW 318i Baur TC4 on eBay

1970 Mercedes-Benz 280SE Cabriolet

1970 Mercedes-Benz 280SE Cabriolet

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In the last few years, the Mercedes-Benz lineup has grown substantially. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any bigger, along comes the S-class Cabriolet. While the myriad of SUVs that Mercedes sells are responses to growing trends in the marketplace, the S-class Cabriolet is a revival of an old theme, the car you see here: the 280SE Cabriolet. The 280SE Coupe and Cabriolet were the swan song of the W111 chassis, with production of the 3.5 V8 variant lasting through the summer of 1971. This restored 1970 280SE Cabriolet for sale in Chicago is fitted with a 4-speed manual gearbox, an option not often seen on these grand tourers.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1970 Mercedes-Benz 280SE Cabriolet on eBay

1977 Mercedes-Benz 450SL with 6,600 miles

1977 Mercedes-Benz 450SL with 6,600 miles

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Probably one of the most clichéd cars ever, the R107 was everywhere in the 1970s and 1980s. Probably it is because it lived a long enough life that a child could be conceived in it, then sent off to college and Mercedes-Benz were still selling them on their showroom floors. From Magnum, P.I., to Dallas, to Knight Rider – even Wonder Woman drove one of these. I’m still trying to piece together how she afforded a $32,000 car (over $140,000 in today’s dollars) on a government salary. What that left us with today is a market full of used R107s that are harder to get rid of than free kittens. Go jump on Craiglist and search ‘Mercedes SL’ and you’ll find listing after listing of these parked in front of nice but clearly dated homes with phrases like ”time to let her go” and ”I have the original hardtop too!!” I usually don’t even bother looking at R107 ads anymore but this one caught my eye. The rare color of Cayenne Orange and a sparse 6,600 miles had me curious. So if you aren’t tired enough of seeing R107s for sale, let’s check this 1977 450SL out in North Carolina.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1977 Mercedes-Benz 450SL at G and S Motors

Land-locked Drop-top- 1988 BMW M3 Convertible

Land-locked Drop-top- 1988 BMW M3 Convertible

South America has been in the news quite a bit recently, if you haven’t been paying attention. But when you think about South America today, you’re probably thinking of the upcoming Olympics, perhaps the Zika virus, or if you’re well versed maybe the crumbling country of oil-rich Venezuela. Maybe you watched the Top Gear specials and you saw Argentina, Bolivia or Chile appear on your screen for the first time. One country you probably don’t consider is Paraguay. Paraguay sits alongside more famous Bolivia as one of the two land-locked countries in South America. It’s also one of the countries which attracts the least tourism in the West, a legacy of a government that adopted isolationist policies following its independence from Spain in 1811. It’s relatively tiny, too – with a large percentage of the 6 million inhabitants focused in a small area around the capital of Asunción. The top two exports Paraguay is known for are soybeans and frozen meat, and most of those go to neighboring giants Brazil and Chile, along with some to Europe. In short, it’s a religious, agrarian, isolationist country with no ports. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some with money. And those with money have bought cars in the style of the West. In fact, it might just be the best place to buy…an E30 M3 Convertible?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW M3 Convertible on eBay

2005 Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG

2005 Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG

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Those of you regular readers of GCFSB probably know that I mostly write about Porsche 928’s. Today I have something different, albeit quite similar. Much like the 928, the SL55 is ostensibly a grand tourer and is powered by a V8 of the same displacement as the 928 GTS. Both cars also share a very similar interior layout, with most of the controls located in a sloping and raised center console. Both cars are also beloved by Jeremy Clarkson, who spoke favorably of the 928 in one of the final episodes of Top Gear, and who personally owned an SL55. Describing his SL as a swiss army knife, Clarkson pointed out that the SL can act as a grand touring car if so desired, but can also be turned into a roadster in 16 seconds thanks to a retractable hardtop.

This Designo Graphite 2005 SL55 stood out to me for multiple reasons. The beautiful Designo color combination and interior upgrades, the unique Alphard wheels, and the low mileage differentiate this SL55 from the others currently on the market. The Designo options on this car would have likely added an extra $8,000 onto the $120,000 base price for the SL55. Such options would include a full leather interior (dash, door panels, rear storage compartment, roll bar, and top lid), alcantara headliner, suppler leather on the seats, and black birdseye maple wood trim. This was a huge improvement over the mostly MB Tex and vinyl interior on a standard SL55. Basically, it is a combination of the higher quality finishes available on the SL600 with the more flashy design of the SL55, a win-win in my opinion.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2005 Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG at Greater Chicago Motors