”How cheap can they really get?”
That is what I ask myself all the time when checking out almost any car. I understand why cars get to a certain point, even ones that were really expensive to start with. Sometimes it is just the natural cycle of used cars. Sometimes it is a situation where the car just isn’t worth the trouble and prices hit the floor. Of course this is a case by case basis, but it is always interesting to see how certain cars slot into the market when they’ve matured to over 10 years old. Today’s car, a 2005 Mercedes-Benz SL500, is one of these cases where I always wonder how cheap they are going to get.
The R230 generation isn’t like SLs of years past; this is a modern-era SL with a retractable hardtop and a sleek design. Gone are the square slabs and lightweight feel, this is a bloaty, heavy grand tourer. Of course all this came at a very expensive price. The 2005 SL500 started at $92,000 ($118,000 in today’s money) and only got significantly more expensive from there. The thing is, these are pretty stout cars. They aren’t mechanical nightmares like a Land Rover (I know this from personal experience — I own one) and maintenance won’t bankrupt you even if you daily drive one of these. But this SL500 isn’t a mint to get into: it is a mere $9,000. That’s it. No, it doesn’t have a rebuilt title and it’s not full of mold, it is just a 2005 SL500 with a 141,000 miles. This makes me wonder; are all R230s heading towards this level of cheap buy-in?
“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”
Not only is that a great quote from The Godfather: Part III and even better quote from The Sopranos, it is what I said when I saw another version of the Mercedes-AMG GT. I’ve covered the GT S, the GT C Roadster, not one, but two GT Rs and I figured that would be it for a while. Then this came along. The GT C Roadster Edition 50. The Edition 50 is to celebrate the 50th anniversary of AMG which was founded in 1967. As you might have guessed it, AMG made 100 of these Edition 50 cars split evenly between roadsters and coupes, with a handful coming to the United States. Painted in either ‘Designo Graphite Grey Magno’ or ‘Designo Cashmere White Magno’, these special editions received black chrome highlights as well as some different colored wheels. No increase to performance or suspension, just some cool paint and some different badging. So I have to ask, is it worth the premium over a regular GT C Roadster?
As I looked at in my recent write up of a 2016 Audi TTS, if you’re willing to forgo some of the wow-factor and horsepower of the RS models, the standard 8S TT offers plenty of thrills and smiles. That awesome MQB-platform is paired with the 2.0 TSFI turbocharged inline-4 pumping out 220 horsepower at 4500 RPMs and 258 lb. ft of torque at an unbelievable V8-esque 1600 revolutions. Carrying the same S-Tronic DSG dual-clutch 6-speed as the TTS and RS models as well as the same all-wheel drive system, the 3,300 lb Roadster is good for 0-60 sprints in the mid-5 second range and yet will still return 30 mpg on the highway. While those numbers may sound tame in today’s mega-horsepower market, you don’t have to go far back in time for them to be leading-edge performance for sports cars.
Excellent chassis dynamics are paired with a beautiful exterior and interior design, as well. I’ve long admired the Audi TTs for their clever packaging and taunt, no frills design. They just look better to me than the fussy lines from both BMW and Mercedes-Benz. They are thoroughly modern without looking cliché, cutting-edge yet unpretentious. The performance is here married with a package that can enjoy top-down weather yet remains usable year-round, even when the weather turns as snowy and cold as it has here in New England this week. This particular Roadster is even a bit more special than the standard TT. Outfit in Mythos Black Metallic with Admiral Blue leather interior and well specified, this car carries a color combination and set of options that can’t easily be replicated in a brand-new 2018 model:
This is a new one for me. A car so far gone, so decrepit, so haggard that it’s only salvageable parts are maybe some gauge cluster faces and one windshield wiper arm. All of this for the price of a new Mercedes-Benz CLA250. I’m not joking and neither is the seller of the 1957 Mercedes-Benz 190SL in Ohio. What once was a beautiful Mercedes-Benz convertible, is a now crumbling under the weight of it’s own rust. I’m not sure where to being or where to end with this 190SL but I do know that the price, $32,950, is well, a little optimistic in my opinion.
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?
Update 6/1/18 – the BMW 700LS has dropped a further $2,000 in ask to $19,500.
Update 2/6/18 – Unsurprisingly, the 700LS remains available on reserve auction (it is $21,900 on their site)
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: