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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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

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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