2002 Audi S8 with 13,000 Miles

If you follow these pages, it goes without saying that I’m a pretty strong Ingolstadt devotee. My first car was an Audi 4000CS quattro and since then I’ve owned an astounding 9 models along the way. But that doesn’t mean I buy everything from the company hook, line and sinker. Indeed, I’ve been less than impressed with many of the newer models. Sure, sometimes they look slick, go like stink or are really pretty inside. But would I want to own one? In most cases, no – outside of a few very select models, I don’t really desire to own much post ‘Y2K’.

One exception to that rule – and it’s literally and figuratively a huge exception – is the S8. Everything about this car was just spot on to me. In an age when increasingly the offerings from the competition were unattractive and overly complicated, the S8 was to me the last of the great original quattros. It was an analog offering in a digital age; simple, blunt force from a 360 horsepower V8 in front driving all the wheels with a luxurious driver-oriented cockpit. Sure, there were plenty of computers. Probably there are too many. But compared to the new luxo-suites? The D2 seems downright cart-like. And the proportions of the car were just perfect; lowered, menacing stance, huge yet delicate-appearing wheels, just the right amount of bling, yet an understated car which easily fades into the background. So even though I’m still probably a long way from ownership, I often find myself dreaming about being behind the wheel of one.

The pool of candidates that remain is beginning to dwindle; the newest of the D2 S8s is on the verge of being 15 years old and parts are already getting hard to source. As a result, if you want to get into one of these cars, you’ll want to find the best one available.…

1979 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9

1The 450SEL 6.9 was the top of the range, high performance version of the W116 S-class, produced between 1975 and 1981. To make it, Mercedes took an ordinary W116 and shoehorned the largest V8 into its engine bay that they could find: a mammoth 6.9 liter unit making 250 hp and 360 ft-lb of torque in US spec. They then added a sophisticated hydropneumatic self-levelling suspension system that gave these cars a dual personality. On ordinary roads they had a magic carpet-like ride that would soak up bumps in a manner entirely befitting a W116, while on the track they would handle far more nimbly and capably than their size would have led you to believe. The result was an early luxury super sedan; a 70s incarnation of today’s souped up AMG S-classes. But unlike their modern counterparts, on the outside the 6.9s didn’t look any different to the rest of the W116 lineup. Distinguished only by a discreet “6.9” badge on the trunk lid, the understated menace of these cars meant they quickly found favor among the sorts of people who wanted to go very fast and had lots of money, but didn’t always want you to know just how much money they had. Driven by Hollywood moguls, gangsters and foreign dictators alike, these cars were expensive, fast and technologically advanced.

Jumping forward to today, these cars have rather languished on the classic car market. You can still find tired examples on Craigslist costing only a few thousand dollars, often resting on their emergency bump stops as a result of failed suspension, with faded paint and sad interiors. Lately however, nice 6.9s appear to be climbing in value, with more and more nice condition examples coming to market with large price tags attached. And that leads me to today’s car.…

2002 Audi S8

In many ways, to me the D2 S8 is the last of the great 1980s Audis. But wait, you say – it wasn’t built in the 1980s. It may have shared little design with the original Quattro other than the drivetrain layout and the Vier Ringe on the grill, but at its heart the S8 was the culmination of the mission of the original car – to cover ground at high speed in a luxurious 4-seater regardless of the weather conditions. Now, truth told newer Audis are bigger, badder and faster. Some even look better, though not many in my eyes. They have more technology, power and luxury than ever. So, it would be natural to say that they, too, accomplish the mission of the Quattro – and they do. But, the essence of what was Audi somehow was lost along the way. The D2 S8 didn’t sell in great numbers, but that wasn’t because it was the most expensive option and it certainly wasn’t because it was unattractive or slow. Perhaps it lacked the raw driver connection of cars like the contemporary E39 M5 and the physical grunt of the AMG E55 and S55 models. But as an all around package, the S8 is surely one of the best Audis produced. It’s quick, driver oriented, supremely comfortable, all-weather capable and even (dare I say) reliable relative to other VAG packages. It’s not so tech-heavy that it feels outdated the moment you step in the cabin; rather, it feels like the most up-to-date version of the C4 chassis and that’s generally a good thing. It sounds great, too, thanks to the silky smooth V8 under the hood. The only downside is that with low residuals, locating a really nice one any day of the week is not nearly as easy as finding a clean M5:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Audi S8 on Boulder Craigslist

U.S. v. Euro Double Take: 1977 and 1978 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9s

Tuner Tuesday posts usually focus on cars that have been turned up a few notches by aftermarket companies, but for some time Mercedes-Benz did all the magic internally. Indeed, if you go back to the 1920s and 1930s, Mercedes-Benz had a habit of taking the largest motor they could reliably produce and sticking it in their luxury cars. Such was where the legend of the 500 and 540K specials came from, but while the War postponed many further developments Mercedes-Benz were back at it in the W109 300SEL 6.3. Apparently not satisfied by that factory hot rod, engineers conceived its replacement with an even larger 6.9 liter V8 – mind you, in the midst of an international fuel crisis. Churning out 286 horsepower from the now legendary M100 V8, the 450SEL 6.9 was effectively a land-bound aircraft carrier and about as powerful. Long ignored by the market, the 6.9s have heated up over the past few years as large classic Mercedes-Benz models have become increasingly sought after and the rare 450SEL with the big motor is a solid draw. Today I have two examples to consider – a desirable European version and a less powerful and not quite as attractive American-spec car. Which is the one to choose?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1977 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 on eBay

2001 Audi S8

Sometimes it’s not what a car is that I find interesting, but where. From Porsche 924s that appear at random second-hand dealers in the ‘hood to a S-Class Mercedes-Benz trade in at a Nissan dealer, a fish out of water always is worth a head scratching double take. Finding a 2001 Audi S8 for sale isn’t a hugely unusual event, though their numbers are beginning to thin. That it would be selected in a rare color also isn’t massively abnormal, though today’s Melange Metallic example is a very infrequently seen color. On top of the color is the very low mileage, as few of the S8s you’ll come across today have much less than 100,000 miles on them – never mind only half that amount, as this one does. But to see this mint condition oddity residing in a sea of Ford F150s at a dealer named “Truck and Van Country” is…well, strange. This dealer has ONE foreign car in its inventory, and that one foreign car is the best condition Audi S8 I’ve seen in a long time:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Audi S8 at Truck and Van Country

The Grass is Always Greener: 2001 Audi S8 Double Take

I recently pushed my finger on the right mouse button on some horrible click bait that came across my Facebook feed. The headline promised “The Top 10 Film Car Chases” or something that at least peaked my interest, if nothing else than to balk at the poorly researched and ill-chosen assemblage. And I was right; fighting through the pop-up ads and barely identifiable as English descriptions, I trudged through the list – baffled as I got closer to 10 that there was such a gap in the line up. Sure, you expect – and I agree with – movies like Vanishing Point, The French Connection, and Bullitt making the list. They’re iconic. But when The Fast and The Furious appears and a movie like Ronin doesn’t, I come within an inch of throwing my computer across the room. Silly, really, considering that none of this actually means anything, but besides being a huge fan of the movie, I’m even a more huge fan of the star of the movie. No, not Bobby. I’m of course talking about the Audi S8 – fast enough and shove-worth for the nitrous-induced chase across France. But the S8 really needs no introduction here. Today, to resurrect the honor of the dark green S8 from Ronin, I’m going to look at two examples of rare shades that never made it to the U.S.. Early in the run, U.S. customers did have the option of two different greens – Racing Green Pearl Effect in 2001 and nearly identical Irish Green Pearl Effect in 2002. Both were dark green but with a bunch of character. But what if you wanted something a bit lighter and lived in Europe?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Audi S8 on Gumtree

1991 BMW M5

One could argue, pretty convincingly, that the E36 M3 is the best value if you want an M car right now. Good examples can still be found under $10,000, parts are plentiful, and there’s a huge selection of examples to choose from. But for me, the best value has to be the E34 M5. First off, if you’ve never seen a used advertisement for a second-generation M5, you might have missed that these supreme sedans were the last of the handbuilt M models. If you hate movies, you might have missed that a M5 was also an unsung hero in the cult classic Ronin, even if it couldn’t get away from a Citroen and the S8 was more memorable. If you’ve been living under a rock, you might not know that it’s father – the original M5 – is currently on a fairly steep appreciation curve. Yet the second generation M5, while considered a bit softer than the E28, was a potent sleeper nonetheless. And for me, it’s the ultimate M car; not because it’s the fastest, prettiest or most valuable; but because it expresses the ethos of what made BMW great. A Spartan warrior wolf in taxi-cab clothes, the M5 combined literal race-bred technology into an easily digestible package; it was a pleasure to drive fast or slow, it was reasonably reliable (and especially so considering the performance envelope), and yet unlike Porsche Turbos, Lotus Esprits, Chevrolet Corvettes or any other “sports” car that offered similar performance, it was a stealthy package – it was the adult choice. In 1991 if the M5 was graduating high school, it would have been Valedictorian and voted “most likely to succeed”, but it would have gotten my vote for “most athletic” and “prom king” as well – it’s that good. Despite these superlative qualities, a reputation second to none in terms of quality and driving experience, the E34 M5 still hasn’t caught on as a market darling:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 BMW M5 on eBay

2003 Audi S8

There are some car listings that just make me sad, and this S8 is one of them. I fear that I may be missing the bus on getting just the right S8, because while the prices continue the gentle depreciation slide they’ve been on over the past decade, that means that they’re ending up in less-than-careful hands. In many of the cars I’ve owned, I’ve wished that I was maybe one or two owners closer to the original sale, because I’ve spent so much effort trying to undo what the previous owner did or repair things they left undone. A simple oil leak can easily turn into a multi-thousand dollar repair in some cases if left unattended, and when you’re talking about an expensive, complicated car like the S8, there can be multitudes of possibilities for where you can run into trouble. But even excusing that mechanicals on a 12 year old car get old and need to be replaced, then there’s the physical wear – generally, the second and third owners of cars seem to care much less for their condition than the original owners did. Let’s take a look at the cost of ownership on this 2003 S8, and why I’m sad:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Audi S8 on eBay

1977 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 with 48,900 Miles

The W116 has been a star on the rise in the Mercedes-Benz world; long unappreciated and forgotten, like most of the models in the company’s history a great recognition of the first “S” Class means that prices have been steadily increasing. The most valuable in terms of collectables really seem to be the 6.9 models, for obvious reasons. Perhaps the original bad boy super sedan, the 6.9 predated cars like the M5 by the best part of a decade. The recipe was simple: take a giant car and insert the largest possible motor. Due to low residual values in the 1980s and 1990s, though, finding a good one can be quite difficult – but today we have quite a gem:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1977 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 on eBay

How “Loaded” Is “Fully”? 2001 Audi S8 Options Breakdown

The term “Fully Loaded” is often overused by dealers, and sometimes – as our reader Brad is fond of pointing out – poorly used. He is correct that, when talking about a top of the range luxury executive car, saying that it has power windows, locks or steering seems really quite superfluous since you couldn’t opt out of those options. Earlier this week, another reader sent me a 2001 S8 and I started to tick off the options that were selected as I looked through the photos and over the description. Unfortunately, the pricing on that particular S8 John sent was so aggressively low that someone got a great deal and it disappeared almost immediately. What was really amazing was that the selected options were more costly than the second-hand asking price! But I found another heavily equipped 2001 S8 for sale – unsurprisingly, though, the dealer doesn’t list those rare options, rather relying on the tried and true “Fully Loaded” moniker. Let’s see if we can decode what the car was selected with – and what that would have cost:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Audi S8 on Geebo