Roll the dice: 1997 Mercedes-Benz C36 AMG

The W202 Mercedes-Benz C36 AMG has gone from being a neat little footnote in Mercedes-Benz and AMG history as being the first post-acquisition AMG car to a car that collectors are now seeking out to add them to their stable. They aren’t at the level of the 190E 2.3-16v, nor do I think they will ever be, but the demand has definitely picked up over the past year or two. Because of these cars being unloved and overlooked for as many years as they were, lots of them fell into the hands of people who used and abused them then moved on to the next cheap car. At the end of the day, this is still a W202, so its tenancy to rust is always a major issue as well as some other things that plague the chassis such as the tendency for head gasket in the M104 engine to leak oil from the back of the head. Sadly, this 1997 C36 up for sale in Canada, seems to suffer from both of these mentioned things. Although if you do the math on the purchase price plus potential repair costs, maybe you could come out ahead and have yourself a really cool car that the value is slowly rising on.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1997 Mercedes-Benz C36 AMG on eBay

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Roll the Dice: 1990 Audi V8 quattro

Update 9/26/18: This V8 quattro sold for $1,775.

We’re going from one of the best 200 20V quattros out there to the more typical comparison point for an early 90s Audi – a project. I won’t bore you with all the details of what made the V8 quattro unique because I did so back in August when we looked at a very clean and tidy ’90 in Indigo Blue Metallic. Sufficed to say, they’re neat cars that all too often are parted out rather than going through the laborious task of keeping them afloat.

So here we have a ’90 V8 quattro. Like the majority, it is a 4-speed automatic in Pearlescent White Metallic. Generally speaking, I mentioned in my last few V8 posts that the cars to have are the rare 5-speed manuals, the less often seen 4.2, or the absolute best 3.6 you can find. But there are a few reasons to be interested in this particular one – let me tell you why:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Audi V8 quattro on eBay

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Roll the dice? 1994 Mercedes-Benz E320 Cabriolet

Almost every Mercedes-Benz E320 Cabriolet I look at falls into the category of a really nice to exceptional example of one. This makes sense as a the W124 Cabriolet was an extremely expensive car when new in 1994 at $79,000 that equates to about $132,000 in today’s money. I told you these were really expensive. As a result and maybe even a little bit surprisingly, people took care of these cars if they held on to them past the normal three to five years from new ownership cycle that cars are usually subjected to. I’m sure that had a lot to do with the W124 Cabriolet not following the same deprecation curve as almost every other mass-produced post-war Mercedes in history that results in poor Craigslist postings and/or time spent at a BUY HERE PAY HERE car lot with four mismatched tires. Unfortunately, this 1994 up for sale in Georgia seems to have suffered that fate.

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

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Roll the Dice? 1969 Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 6.3

Earlier this week I check out a handsome 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 4.5 that looked to be a great driver and probably not a bad buy for the long run. Today, we have another W109 that has a little bit more risk attached to it. This of course is the king W109, the 300SEL 6.3. I’ve covered these many times before and every time I see one pop up for sale I always try to take a look at them. Unfortunately, this 6.3 needs a lot of help and even more money to make it worth it.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1969 Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 6.3 on eBay

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Roll the dice? 1992 Mercedes-Benz 500E

Bet big to win big, right? Today might be one of those situations. What we are looking at is a 1992 Mercedes-Benz 500E with a hair under 50,000 miles. This is obviously very good in the big picture. But the real pictures you are seeing show a different story. This monster W124 is so dirty you can’t tell the condition of the paint, the tires are nearly flat and the seller has no real information on the car other than it’s just been sitting in the driveway for at least a year.

Ready to gamble?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 Mercedes-Benz 500E on eBay

Year: 1992
Model: 500E
Engine: 5.0 liter V8
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Mileage: 49,396 mi
Price: No Reserve Auction

Low mileage because owner collected many cars.

Grille is 1993 version. Has been sitting in driveway at least 12 mos, battery may need to be replaced. Tires appear low. Can probably be driven after battery is charged. But current registration is for planned nonoperation. This is not an estate sale.

Interior of car is very new looking.

Previous license was 3CLH104 prior to a rear-end accident where license plate was lost.

The 500E is a dilemma if I’ve ever seen one. These are no doubt valuable cars and the current market isn’t slowing down on them. Any E500E that is in any kind of decent shape is usually bringing $12,000 right off the bat even for cars pushing the 200,000 mile mark. Once you start getting into lower mileage cars that are very well sorted you can hit $30,000 very easily and head all the way up to $150,000 for Jerry Seinfeld’s 500E.

A couple of things about this car I find interesting. First is that it has been updated to the 1994 facelift look. This is a modification that doesn’t come cheap so those that do it, usually love their 500E. Inside, the interior looks good enough with no major flaws although a bit dirty. Everything can be cleaned, but ripped seats, broken wood and cracked dashes are when things start getting expensive. But the real mystery is the actual mechanical condition. You can easily spend $10,000 trying to rehab one of these cars back to good health and unless you can actually go see this car in person, you are basically bidding blind. There is no indication of updated wiring harnesses, oil tube replacements, EZL condition and most importantly anything about the health of the transmission.

I’m really curious to see where this one ends up. You can basically fix everything wrong with these cars, but you can’t fix high miles. If bidding stays somewhere reasonable, which it probably won’t seeing as it’s at nearly $10,000 already, then it’ll be worth it to gamble on. But if someone pays over $20,000 and finds out it’s a total disaster? Well, hope the market keeps climbing with these.

– Andrew

Roll the Dice Again? 1965 NSU Sport Prinz

With the burgeoning economic boom of the late 1950s (Adenauer’s ‘Economic Miracle’ in West Germany), many companies tried to capitalize on the success of the middle class by introducing swankier, more stylish versions of their economic models. The hope was that these cars would be expressions of wealth and signature models. To greater or lesser extent, the three that were developed around the same time – Volkswagen’s Karmann Ghia, BMW’s 700 Coupe and NSU’s Sport Prinz – were all relatively well received in the marketplace, though of the three only the Karmann Ghia had mass appeal. That was interesting, as the Sport Prinz offered a slightly different take on rakish Italian lines with pedestrian German underpinnings. Introduced for 1960, the Sport Prinz was built on the Prinz III chassis, a diminutive, air-cooled rear-engine inline-2 economy “sedan”. To take the Prinz upmarket, like Volkswagen NSU turned to Italy. Instead of Ghia or BMW’s choice of Michelotti, though, NSU enlisted famed Bertone in Turin and the designer Franco Scaglione. The resulting design was significantly more dramatic than the Prinz, with long overhands, a swoop roofline and tail fins hinting at greater GT speed. As with the others though, the Sport Prinz offered no performance gain, but at least came to market slightly under the price of the more famous Karmann Ghia, at around $2,400 – top for the NSU lineup in the early 1960s.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1965 NSU Sport Prinz on eBay

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Roll the Dice? 1970 NSU 1200C

“Hey, nice Corvair!” , they’ll shout out the window at you, “What, did you leave it in the drier too long?

Most people I know seem to view me as some sort of idiot-savant, casually remembering which wheel styles were associated with what model, what colors various cars came in, engine specifications and call numbers – you get the point. But I have to admit to a huge gap in my automotive knowledge. Perhaps it’s a willful ignorance, but I’ll be damned if every single American car from the 1950s basically looks the same to me. I’ll take ‘Generically shaped cars for $1,000, Alex!’:

“What is Hudson!” (beeeeeep)
“What is a Studebaker?” (beeeeeep)
(more hesitant)
“Uh, what is Nash?” (beeeeeep)

Sure, like the rest of America who grew up before the year 1990, I can ID a 55 Chevy at a distance thanks to Don McLean’s insistence that you weren’t American if you couldn’t, but otherwise there’s this huge void of massive steel shapes that mean little to me.

What’s interesting is that I can so easily identify the differences between the Volkswagen 1500, the BMW 700, and the NSU Prinz. All were rear-engine, three-box sedans that were built at the same time. They all have a very, very similar shape. And yet, to me they’re as different as….well, a BMW and Volkswagen can be. NSUs are rare as the proverbial tooth of a hen here in the U.S., so is this forlorn 1200 worth a roll of the dice?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1970 NSU Prinz 1200C on eBay

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Roll the Dice? 1992 Volkswagen GTI 16V Swap

I know what you’re thinking.

Great“, you’re saying, “Carter wants to look at another shitty swapped Volkswagen. Pass. When will he get over this?

Admittedly, I have looked at quite a few hot hatches recently. There was the A1 GTI with an ABA 2.0 swap; subtle, and clean, but certainly not original and that hurt the value. Several notches up from that was the repeatedly for sale 1977 Rabbit with the 2.8 24V VR6 swap – neat and generally clean, but again a bridge too far for many. Then there was the ultra-clean and fully custom 3.2 swapped Golf; cool, but clearly not a daily driver candidate. So, here we go again – another swapped Golf. But, this one has a bit of a twist…is it worth a roll of the dice?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 Volkswagen GTI 16V on eBay

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Roll the dice? 2002 Mercedes-Benz S600

Very rarely do the fine people at Mercedes-Benz perpetrate a major mistake. But when they do, oh boy. Maybe it’s just the nature of the beast of car manufacturing that when mistakes do happen, it’s usually of grand proportion. Today’s car, a 2002 S600, is one of those mistakes. It’s not the sub-par build quality and lack of longevity that makes this car an absolute nightmare, it’s what is under the hood they makes this W220 almost radioactive to any buyer.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Mercedes-Benz S600 on eBay

Year: 2002
Model: S600
Engine: 5.8 liter V12
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Mileage: 138,599 mi
Price: Buy It Now $3,445

2002 S600 Mercedes that runs and drives but has an oil leak from the top of the motor in back.  The motor has 389 horsepower. It delivers it very smooth. The transmission shifts so nice through all of the gears. The wheels are correct factory S600 wheels wrapped in as new Michelin tires. The brakes stop this heavy car easy. The exhaust is all in good order. The battery works just fine and is the big battery. The car goes down the road so smooth. The inside is loaded up with heated, cooled massage front seats, wood all over the place, Suede headliner, leather dash, steering wheel. Heated power back seats with lumbar. The navigation and Bose system is great!!  The car has a clean clear title in hand ready to transfer. No extra fees in my auction. The 2 coil packs and the set of xenon headlights are worth $3000 alone!! Make me a fair

This problem with this W220 is the 5.8 liter M137 V12 engine. There is a reason why this engine only lasted for two years in the United States before moving to a 5.5 liter twin-turbo M275. The M137 is notorious for out of round cylinder walls and oil fouling basically making the engine a giant paper weight. The excessive blow-by oil fouls all of the downstream oxygen sensors. So you say, “what’s one or two O2 sensors?” Except there are eight on this S600 which adds up to a total cost of $1,600. What if you damage the cats too? There are six of them at a cost of $8,000. At this rate, you’ll be living on the street with a bunch of real cats.

For this specific S600, the seller comes out and says this car leaks oil from the top of the motor towards the rear. This the dreaded M137 oil cooler issue. There is a long metal plate in the middle of the oil cooler. You need to access this to install new o-rings to fix this leak before you fry your transmission control unit with hot oil also turning the transmission into a boat anchor. The oil leak isn’t something minor when this happens, it goes from a few drops to a quart rather quickly. This job doesn’t sound so bad until you hear that you need to pull the heads to access the oil cooler. It’s only a $350 part but the killer is the many many hours it takes to pull the heads on a Mercedes V12. This entire repair basically starts at a few thousand dollars and only goes up if they find vacuum or breathers hoses that need replaced.

So should you buy a reasonably clean 2002 S600 with runs and drives just fine for $3,500? Of course not! You are signing up to spend thousands of dollars and be potentially be left with parts and scrap value once something catastrophic happens. If I was forced to buy own this car as-is, I would drive it until the inevitable happens then start cannibalizing it, because there are plently of rusty W220’s out there looking for parts.

– Andrew

Roll the dice? 2003 Mercedes-Benz G500 with 318,000 miles

I have an affinity for vehicles that have hit the moon milestone (238,900 miles) while looking like they’ve done so with relative ease. For this 2003 G500, it has already hit the moon and is halfway home on the return trip. I think people have an irrational fear of higher mileage vehicles because they’ve either been with been with cars that didn’t age well or they’ve been told that higher mileage automatically means “bad”. There is some merit in that the more miles a vehicle has, the greater the risk of things failing, but I believe that you get out cars what you put in them — which a few exceptions, of course.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Mercedes-Benz G500 on Los Angeles Craigslist

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