The last few weeks I checked out Mercedes newest supercar, the AMG GT R, in both green and black. Both are really excellent cars and Mercedes seems to be going all in with the AMG GT guise as a four-door version is rumored to be on the horizon. But what we have here today is one of those AMG GT variants, the AMG GT C Roadster. Just clear up all those letters, the GT C Roadster is the roadster version of the GT S coupe. That means this top-down cruiser can do 0-60 mph is a mere 3.6 seconds and top out at 196 mph if you are counting. Everything is great and all, but you are probably saying ”What is the point of this when Mercedes-AMG makes the SL63 and SL65?” Well, I guess options are always a good thing, right?
Normally, our dual posts have two comparable cars to consider. But while typically that manifests itself in one model, one price point or one performance group, today it’s something very different.
Although both of today’s cars come from one marque – BMW – there is literally and figuratively a huge chasm of development between them. There’s also a vast gulf between performance, desirability and price. Yet each reflected the time point in which it was made; the austere 1960s, emerging from the fog of war into a bustling economy when average Germans could for the first time contemplate automobile ownership, and the exotic 1980s, with its new computer designs and technology rapidly forcing car designs forward. For the company, each car represented the future in many ways even if the results and their impact was so vastly different.
Last week I checked out a 1957 Mercedes-Benz 190SL in Hellgrün which is a lovely, as well as much cheaper, alternative to the big brother 300SL. Well, today we have the big brother and believe it or not, it also is a 1957 in Hellgrün. Just to top it all off, it was owned by “The King of Hollywood” Clark Gable and has just 1,368 miles. But, as you might have guessed, this 300SL comes with a much higher price tag than the 190SL. Much, much higher.
After looking at the wild GT R with an asking price over $260,000, I thought I’d get back to something a little more affordable. This 1995 SL320 painted in Teal Blue Metallic checks in with a hair under 43,000 miles and is a prime candidate to drive everyday or stash away in the garage for those nicer days. The tried and tested M104 inline-6 engine is a great engine to live with and won’t cost you a mortgage payment if something goes wrong unlike the V8 and V12. But like anything, there is a catch, and this catch makes me bang my head against a brick wall.
The mighty Mercedes-Benz SL73 AMG: A car that can’t be mentioned without saying the word ”Zonda” in the same sentence. Less than 100 of these monsters started life as a regular SL600 with the M120 6.0 liter V12 and were shipped up to the AMG factory for some special touches and an increased displacement to 7.3 liters good for over 540 horsepower. The eponymous 7.3 liters were so good that they made their way in the Pagani Zonda and the rest was history. With so few of these cars made, if they ever come up for sale, they usually don’t go for cheap nor stay for sale long. Now that this 1999 is available for sale in California, it’s time to take a close look at this thing while we can.
The Audi TT may have felt solidly like a child of the post 9/11 world, but in fact by the early 2000s it was already a pretty old design. The concept car toured the show circuits in 1995. First was the Frankfurt International Car show for the Coupe; later that year, the ‘TTS Roadster’ hit the scene in Tokyo.
While the Coupe would hit the market in 1998 en mass, it wouldn’t be until 2000 that the Roadster model finally was available for purchase. Now with the 225 horsepower 1.8T motor and quattro all-wheel drive, the Roadster was a hit and a serious step up in performance from the outgoing Cabriolet which had soldiered the B4 chassis on to 1998. The 1.8T was massaged and the boost turned up to generate 225 horsepower and 207 lb.ft of torque, available with a 6-speed manual gearbox and all-wheel drive – much more punch than the B4’s V6 had, and it was a model only available in FrontTrack automatic form. For enthusiasts, this was a boon; even the heavy TT Roadster could hustle from 0-60 in a tick over 6 seconds.
I’ve looked at some quite nice examples recently; each, in its own way, a special item. Just a few weeks ago I looked at the impressive Imola Yellow TT Coupe with 27,000 miles:
2004 Audi TT 225 quattro with 27,000 Miles
Before that was a glowing TT ALMS Edition with even fewer miles on the clock:
2002 Audi TT 225 Coupe ALMS Edition with 18,000 Miles
And perhaps most relevant to this listing, a nice 2004 Roadster in very rare Papaya Orange:
2004 Audi TT 225 quattro Roadster
While today’s Roadster doesn’t have the outrageous color, interesting options or limited edition status of the others, it’s nonetheless one of the most impressive examples of the 8N out there, with a staggeringly low 7,433 miles since new:
I’ve had my eye on this car for a while. Which, of course, means it has been for sale for a while. The reason for that is fairly straightforward: it is priced much too high. Also, the initial ad descriptor lists the car as a 356A, which is not exactly confidence inspiring since it is a 356B. The main ad text corrects this. Anyway, I’m featuring it now because it is now up for a reserve auction rather than simply sitting with its sky-high BIN price so we can at least get some sense of where it is being valued and that makes keeping an eye on it more interesting.
The car itself I love! It’s a 1961 Porsche 356B Super 90 Roadster, a model I particularly like and it wears one of my favorite early Porsche color combinations of Slate Grey over Red. It looks in great condition too!
Model: 356B Roadster
Engine: 1.6 liter flat-4
Transmission: 4-speed manual
Mileage: 19,793 mi
Price: Reserve Auction ($355,000 Buy It Now)
Porsche offered the 356B Cabriolet as a high-end touring car with a thick-padded convertible top and expensive options such a leather seats and a Blaupunkt radio. In September of 1959 Porsche revealed their fully updated 356 known as the 356B. This had a completely revised body that was more suitable for the American market. The 356B used the new T5 bodystyle which raised the front and rear bumpers nearly four inches. Furthermore the headlights were also repositioned higher to meet American regulations. Inside Porsche fitted a new deep dish steering wheel and deeper front seats. New to the model was the Type 616/7 Super 90 engine which was an indirect replacement for the Carrera de Luxe models.
Like the Audi Cabriolet which preceded its introduction, the TT Roadster lives in a strange no man’s land; traditional Audi folks usually aren’t very interested in them, and those from outside of Camp VierRinge (who generally hate Audis to start with) really dislike the TT. Most decry its lack of sport car attributes and claim it’s just a poseur for hairdressers and trophy wives.
That’s a shame, really. The 8N chassis might not make for an M3 killer, but it was a serious step up from the Cabriolet if you enjoy canyon carving. First off, it came with more power – in any configuration. While the B4 had droned on with the reliable but not powerful or exciting 2.8 liter V6, the 8N got turbo power from one of two 1.8T motors initially. Later in the run, as with the R32 they added the 3.2 liter VR6, and yes – you could get that in convertible. Unfortunately in the first gen TTs, the big horsepower came at a cost – it was a bit nose heavy and only available with the admittedly trick but also complicated dual-clutch DSG box here. So, if you’re really in need of the 6-cylinder powerplant, your better bet is to look towards the second generation TT; better driving dynamics were mated with the option for a 6-speed manual there.
But all is not lost on the first gen, because the 225 quattro is the real gem of the lineup. And, it’s quite affordable, all things considered. Towards the end of the run, they were heavily optioned up and even available in some wild colors:
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.
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!
In 1993, my father purchased a W113 Mercedes-Benz 280SL Roadster. It was green with black MB Tex and do you know what? It looked, and felt, old. At that point, it was a 22 year old car that had been mostly forgotten by the enthusiast world. After all, the dated W113’s replacement – the oh so 80s even though it was from the 70s R107 – had just gone out of production, itself replaced by the thoroughly modern R129. I loved the R129 at the time, and the W113 seemed like a dinosaur by comparison. But my father loved the look of the W113, and so for the then princely sum of mid-teens he purchased a relatively clean, reasonably low mileage and (almost) fully functional Mercedes-Benz SL.
Fast forward the best part of two and a half decades, and the SL market has gone completely bonkers, awakening to the fact that the W113 was (and still is) a beautiful, classic and elegant design. I’m not even sure you could buy a non-functional, rusty wreck of a W113 for the same price my father paid in 1993 – and an expensive restoration would await you.
Why do I mention this?
Currently, almost no one has time to even consider the 8N chassis Audi TT. It’s old, with the last of the first generation produced 12 years ago and its replacement – the 8J – has also fully completed a production cycle. It doesn’t have the super wiz-bang computers, million horsepower engines, or cut-your-hand-on-the-front-end styling of the new models. A fair amount lay in a state of disrepair; crashed, thrashed and trashed to a point where they’re nearly given away – quite seriously, there’s one near me for $1,500. But find a good one, and I think now is the prime time to grab a clean TT that will be a future collectable.…