Feature Listing: 1994 Mercedes-Benz E320 Cabriolet

I can’t say it enough times how special the Mercedes-Benz W124 Cabriolet is. On the outside, yes, it just looks like a W124 coupe with the top removed. But like I said here, it is far from Clarkson breaking a sawzall out and saying ‘How hard could it be?’. Over 1,000 parts needed to be changed to take this handsome coupe and turn it into a handsome cabriolet. No easy task, but then again, this is Mercedes-Benz we’re are talking about and I have faith in them. So should you.

What brings me to talk about the W124 Cabriolet once again is this beautiful 1994 E320 for sale in sunny Georgia. It checks all the boxes if you are looking for a prime example of the model. This is the facelift version painted in beautiful Polar White with blue leather interior and a blue top. The news only gets better from there.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 Mercedes-Benz E320 Cabriolet on eBay

Feature Listing: 1981 Mercedes-Benz 280E

I give a lot of love to the Mecedes-Benz W123 and rightfully so, some think it is the best car ever produced. A few even claim that in these Benz models will be the only survivors of in a post-apocalyptic world. I’m not one to argue as I own a 1983 240D and drive it on a regular basis. It is far from perfect and has it flaws, but when I’m driving down the road in it I can’t help but think how satisfied I am in it. When I really think about it, my most my complaints are from the powerplant in the 240D. Sure, it is as dead simple and reliable as the day is long. But on the other hand it is loud, not that smooth, is dangerously under powered at times and leaves a film of diesel residue from the exhaust on the interior when I drive with the windows down. (I’m sure that isn’t great for my lungs either.) The 5-cylinder OM617 solves some of the problems, but it is still unrefined at times. So what are the other options then? How about a silky smooth inline-6? Luckily, Mercedes-Benz offered that option in the W123 and while not nearly as common as the diesel cars, they are still out there.

This 1981 280E for sale in Maryland offers up that inline-6 option. It has everything great about the W123 but also a 2.8 liter that makes a very respectable 185 horsepower! This is a far cry from the 84 horsepower in the 240D and the 125 horsepower in the 300D. The M110 engine uses a Bosch K-Jetronic injection system that is reliable, not overly complicated and though it won’t return diesel-level gas mileage, it won’t break your wallet either.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1981 Mercedes-Benz 280E on Hemmings

Feature Listing: 1983 Volkswagen Rabbit Convertible Wolfsburg Limited Edition

In the early 1980s, there were precious few options for open-air German motoring. Sure, there was the tried and true Mercedes-Benz SL; a luxury car aimed more at boulevard cruising and polo club grand-standing than the Sport Licht moniker would indicate. Porsche’s 911 Cabriolet was certainly more sporty, but also too expensive for most to contemplate as a fun second car. BMW and Audi? The latter was over a decade away from having a factory convertible, and the former took until the mid-80s to introduce its drop-top 3-series. For the plebeians, then, the only real option was Volkswagen’s Rabbit convertible.

Rabbit Convertibles were produced by Karmann in Osnabrück, Germany – about a two and a half hour drive west from Volkswagen’s Wolfsburg plant. As they did with the Scirocco, Karmann’s distinctive badge adorned the model, here on the front fenders. The intensive construction process laden with chassis strengthening and bespoke items like the added roll-over bar meant that VW’s normal production line couldn’t handle the task. Although these were the heaviest of the A1 models, compared to today’s metal they were downright lithe; a manual early Convertible like today’s, even with air conditioning optioned in, weighed less than 2,300 lbs. While never the most powerful in the lineup, the light weight and manual transmission made the original Rabbit convertibles one of the more entertaining ways to experience compact German engineering and open-air motoring in the notoriously malaise early 80s.

While the persona surrounding the model, and more generally the people who bought the model new, tends to steer away from the typical ‘enthusiast’, the Rabbit Convertible has nonetheless moved solidly into collector territory. It’s a smart-looking, practically packaged and fun to drive convertible that can be run on a budget, fit four people in relative comfort and generate smiles throughout. In a world of increasingly serious automobiles, the Rabbit Convertible and Cabriolet models were just simple fun.…

Feature Listing: 1957 Mercedes-Benz 190SL

I write a lot about Mercedes-Benz and their monetary values. The overwhelming majority of the time their values are depreciating or, at best, holding steady. Every once in a blue moon I come across a car which is actually appreciating in value. Today’s featured car is not only appreciating, but is one of the hottest models in the substantial Mercedes-Benz catalog you can buy at the moment. That car is the 190SL. Produced from 1955 to 1963, the 190SL was the baby bother of the now seven-figure 300SL. Although similarly styled, the 190SL was much different mechanically than the 300SL with a carbureted four-cylinder and built on a shorted saloon chassis as opposed to a tubular space-frame like the 300SL. Because of this, 190SL values stayed relatively flat and didn’t have great demand outside of a few particularly outstanding examples. However, now that the 300SL have reached a point where they are so valuable that even putting miles on them is frowned upon by collectors, the baby brother 190SL isn’t so “baby” anymore in terms of value and collectibility. Today’s 190SL for sale in Ohio is right in that sweet spot for a classic car that can be enjoyed.

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

Feature Listing: 1997 BMW 328is

For the 1996 model year, BMW replaced the 325 with the lightly revised 328 model. Power was up with the new M52B28, good for 190 horsepower and 210 lb.ft of torque. Although the new motor represented only a 1 horsepower net gain, there was now 15% more torque and a broader, more usable power band with the M52. That change alone was enough to slash the best part of a second off the 0-60 time, which now came in 7.3 rather than 8 seconds. The motor was much more than just an increase in displacement; lighter internals, revised intake and exhaust and dual oxygen sensors meant it was more efficient and smoother, too. New wheels, body-color lower moldings and revised kidneys were met with, amazingly, a lower price point as the base price of the 328 coupe fell a little over $500 to approximately $33,000.

‘Meet the new Boss’ continued to be the theme for the 3-series then, which remained the benchmark by which all others were judged. Car and Driver pronounced the chassis as “the definitive sports sedan” and the 328 and M3 models continued their dominance of the magazine’s perennial 10 Best list. That this proclamation came from notorious Bavarian-leaning C&D is perhaps no surprise, but what may shock some is that the 3-series didn’t appear as a winner until the E36 chassis in 1992, while it would go on to place an astonishing and unmatched 22 times.

Yet despite their prowess, we tend to only focus on one model in the range – the M3. Perhaps that’s because of their prolific production, perhaps because of their relative affordability; likely we just take it for granted because the 3-series seems to be ageless in its competency. Certainly, it’s an injustice to the normal 325/328 models, in their own right an excellent choice for enthusiasts.…

Feature Listing: 1991 Audi 200 20V quattro Avant

1991 was a great year for Audi and Volkswagen enthusiasts in America, robust with performance options all around. Fans of normally aspirated motors had multiple double-cam choices; the 16V twins from Volkswagen with the GTI/GLIs, each with heavily bolstered Recaros and awesome BBS wheels. Going slightly less boy racer and more upscale yielded the equally impressive 20V inline-5 duo from Audi, with the Coupe Quattro and 90 20V quattro. They weren’t as quick off the line, but they were certainly well built, solid performing luxury vehicles. Of course, the big daddy of normal aspiration in the lineup was the V8 quattro. Still at 3.6 liters and 240 horsepower for 1991, it was also available with a manual transmission and was in the midst of a winning streak in the DTM series, usurping power from the E30 M3 and 190E 2.5-16 in monumental style.

If forced induction was more your choice for speed, there were plenty of options there, as well. 1991 featured a slightly revised Corrado, now also with BBS wheels and the 1.8 liter G-lader supercharged motor. Audi offered you a luxury cruiser still in the 200 Turbo, as well. But the big news was finally the release of the 20V Turbo motor into the lineup. Long featured in the Sport Quattro, then RR Quattro in Europe and later S2, in America Audi brought the 3B turbocharged inline-5 package in the 200. As an added bonus, it was available in both sedan form and the innovative Avant wagon. Producing 217 horsepower and a bit more torque, the Audi was capable of 0-60 runs in the mid-6 second range if you were quick with your shifts. But this wasn’t a bracket racer – the 200 was a luxury car through and through, with a well-appointed cabin full of the things you’d expect – Zebrano wood trim, electric powered and heated leather seats front and rear, and a high-quality Bose stereo.…

Feature Listing: 1977 Porsche 924 Martini World Championship Edition

In 1976, Porsche won the World Sportscar Championship for makes with successful runs in both the 935 and prototype 936 chassis. The 936 was triumphant at Le Mans in the already famous Martini livery, while a series of 935/76s carried the colors in Group 5 FIA sports car racing. It was there that Porsche introduced the ‘slant nose’ aerodynamic bodywork that became the hot mod on 911s in the 1980s; however, in the 1970s you could get a very nice slantnose Porsche – replete with Martini Racing colors – for a lot less than a 911 Turbo.

To commemorate the success of the 1976 season, in 1977 Porsche released a limited run of Martini-colored 924s. Option M426 was the Martini World Championship Edition, and it cost $450. Add in a removable roof like this one for about $350, and the sticker price of this car just passed $10,000. For that sum, Porsche gave you quite a lot of visual enhancement; bathed only in pure white, the 924’s 8-spoke alloy wheels were color-matched to the body. Martini stripes ran the length of the sides, their design mimicking the wedge shape of the 924. Inside, a special two-tone interior of scarlet corduroy and black leatherette was offset with Martini stripes stitched into the upper portion of the seats and blue piping ran throughtout. A commemorative plaque was added to the back of the center console, too, reminding you that the car you were driving was from the house of a champion. You held a real leather steering wheel, and helping execute your commands was achieved by Porsche adding sway bars to the suspension both front and rear. It was a series of small changes that resulted in a neat package, and one that is sought by collectors of the transaxle design today:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1977 Porsche 924 Martini Championship Edition on Hemmings

Feature Listing: 1996 Porsche 911 Turbo

Given the significant love shown to the 993 in general, and especially the 993 twin-turbo, it might seem strange that I would have to be brought around on them. Yet, that’s exactly the case. Don’t get me wrong, I need no convincing that these are phenomenal machines and their status as the last of the air-cooled 911s brings with them obvious additional layers of allure. But I was a kid in the ’80s so it is the ’80s 911s and the ’80s 930s that really tug at my heart. In the case of the 930, they aren’t sexy cars; they attract by a seeming brute force. In that regard, the 993 almost seemed too pretty. The all-wheel drive and twin-turbocharging features further served to tame the beast. The wildness seemed…not gone, but tamped down.

If I’m honest, when I see a standard 993 these feelings largely remain. They’re very pretty, but my mind still drifts back to the classic 911 or, with increasing regularity, to the 964. The Turbo is different. I’ve been brought around. The wide rear and massive tail pair well with the 993’s curves to produce something that is indeed pretty, but also clearly not to be trifled with. I kind of don’t know what took me so long to figure this out, but I’m glad to present this low-mileage example in the classic colors of black and tan: a Black Metallic 1996 Porsche 911 Turbo with Cashmere leather interior and just 28K miles on it.…

Feature Listing: 2004 Porsche Cayenne Turbo

Did the world need a 450 horsepower Porsche off-roader? Maybe not. Is it cool that one exists? Certainly. Porsche came to the SUV party a little later than Mercedes-Benz, BMW and even corporate partner Volkswagen, but when it did it came in with some serious motivation. Alongside the VR6 and V8 models – already fairly potent engines – came a twin-turbocharged 4.5 liter unit. With 450 horsepower and 460 lb. ft of torque mated to a six-speed Tiptronic transmission, acceleration was blistering. The 5,700lb heavyweight hit 60 in a sports car embarrassing 5.3 seconds and was capable of topping 170 mph. Massive six piston Brembo brakes provided 911-like braking capability, too, and while in default the car had a 60 percent power bias to the rear, Porsche Traction Management system could transfer up to 100 percent of the power to whichever axle needed it most – or, more properly, was using it best.

That hinted that this was more than just a tall on-roader like the X5. No, the Cayenne was a serious off-roader. With lockable center and rear differentials, a low-range box with planetary gearing and height adjustable air suspension, it was more than competent when the going got rough. And with short overhangs both front and rear, it could actually conquer big elements. Pushed, it could also head through nearly 2-foot deep water, as well.

For most Cayenne (and especially Cayenne Turbo models), these features were about as useful for most owners as the top speed of the entire 911 range in the U.S. is. Nevertheless, it pointed towards Porsche’s careful engineering of the Cayenne to be a true all-around performer. And that unique focus on performance has inspired some individuals to capitalize on the model’s prowess:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 Porsche Cayenne Turbo on eBay

Feature Listing: 1986 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16

Creating the W201 series was a monumental undertaking for Daimler-Benz. Design and prototyping ran through the early days of the 1980s as the company spent 2,000,000,000 DM in development costs for the small chassis to compete against the 3-series. This amount included construction of a new factory in Bremen to help produce the W201. Bruno Sacco, head of Mercedes-Benz styling in the late 1970s and early 1980s, created a compact rendering of the S-class formula which worked well. The chassis brought new refinement to the small executive market, with multi-link independent rear suspension and anti-dive front suspension, along with increased levels of sound deadening and lower wind noise from the aerodynamic design.

Mercedes-Benz wasted little time demonstrating that the new “Baby Benz” was, indeed, worthy of the three-pointed star. The culture within the engineering department was still very much funded with an open checkbook, so no stone was left unturned to created a sedan of unparalleled quality and without compromise. To prove this point, shortly after its introduction Daimler-Benz took three of the newly launched, high-performance 190E 2.3-16 variant to the Nardo test track in Italy. At a time when not many family sedans were able to exceed much more than 110 mph, the diminutive Benz topped 150. But it wasn’t just for a moment; over ten days, the W201s lapped Nardo at a fevered pace, conquering world records in distance over time. First fell the 25,000 km World Record time, then the 25,000 mile one. Ultimately, along with a slew of class records, the 190E 2.3-16s averaged 154 mph for 31,000 miles – yet still returned over 10 mpg.

That achievement signaled the launch of a new level of small sedan performance which soon would be met with improved models from BMW and other marques. And while those subsequent models would go on to be more famous on the race track, the 190E made its mark nonetheless.…