We usually try to give plenty of time for readership to check out the auctions we link to. However, if you click on the link below you’ll find there’s only a few hours before this auction will end. Why am I writing it up?
Well, it should be pretty obvious. I like yellow cars, I like wagons, and I like Audis. Three checks there! This is a rare package, and I like rare, too. And before you start chattering about the BBK’s propensity to eat timing chain guides, this one’s already been upgraded. So it must have a million miles? No, they’re in check, too, at 112,000. Best of all, the seller is offering the car in a no reserve auction format and for some reason, bids aren’t outrageous yet.
If you want a big, bad and bold manual wagon, ACT NOW!
We feature ultra low-mileage cars every so often and the majority of the time they are cars that you could understand why someone didn’t pile miles on. They are usually low-production cars that could be seen as collectibles or future collectibles. Today’s car is a little different. This 2008 Mercedes-Benz S550 was mass-produced and made to be disposable in every way. Mercedes knew these cars just had to be good enough for five or so years until their bread and butter buyers trade it in for a new S-Class and hope the cycle never ends. Thanks to an unfortunate set of circumstances, this W221 has just 2,731 miles on it and looks like you might expect a nearly-new S550 to look. With prices of these cars now in the mid-teens, what you expect to pay for this prime example?
To this point, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen the E39 M5 referred to as the “first of the robot-builts”. Sound ridiculous? So does dismissing a car because it was produced in mass quantities. While the original run of 4- and 6-cylinder M-cars got the trend rolling, there are quite a few who’d argue that the recipe of the super-saloon was better achieved in the third generation M5 rather than the first two. It was still very understated, yet with 400 horsepower and instant torque it was quite a bit faster than the prior generations had been. It retained the ability to demolish back roads, keep up with super cars, and bath its occupants in luxury. Despite not being assembled ‘by hand’, it was also the last of the “analogue” M5s, with limited computer intervention and interface. And, they only came as manuals. This certainly sounds like a recipe for success.
It was. BMW sold nearly 10,000 E39 M5s in North America – triple the combined total of the E28 and E34 models. So there should be a lot of really great examples out there to consider. Yet many are starting to come to market with upwards of 150,000 miles a a laundry list of maintenance to catch up on. Where does a low-mileage example fall these days? This beautiful Royal Red one in California gives us a clue:
The Mercedes-Benz 400E/E420 is lost in the world of W124s where 500Es and Cabriolets get all the attention with their astronomical asking prices and the lowly 300E/E320 limp along on their 8th owners begging to be put out of their misery. These cars were no slouch and still can hold their own 275 horsepower and 300 ft·lb of torque. They aren’t super sedans by any means, but feel significantly faster than their numbers on paper. Now, the 400E/E420 flys under the radar and is often unloved because if you are going to buy a M119-powered car, the W140 and R129 or maybe even W210 might be better choices in the long run if you are going to put some money into it. Today, we have a 1993 400E up for sale in Tampa, Florida that looks to be one of the best examples I’ve seen come up for sale in a long time. Even better, this one comes in with a price to match it.
Back to big Audis! The early 1990s were, as I’ve described in the past two posts, a period of change for the Ingolstadt firm as they closed down production on the Type 44 to introduce its new replacement, the C4. That led to a dizzying assortment of models from the one chassis. There was the aforementioned 100 and 100 quattro. You could move up to two turbocharged models, too – the 200 Turbo gave you 165 horsepower through the front wheels, and the new-and-only-for-91 in the U.S. was 200 20V quattro. Europe and the rest of the world got even more options; production lasted right up through 2006 in parts of China, where they even made a crazy long-wheel base 4-door convertible version of the Hongqi.
But the top of the heap for the U.S. market was a derivative of the Type 44, the D11 chassis. Of course, that was Audi’s foray into the top-tier luxury market with its new all-aluminum 32 valve double-overhead cam V8. Body revisions to the front and rear along with flared fenders made the V8 quattro seem like a completely different car to the slab-sided 100. V8s had, and have, serious presence. Big news, too, was that for the first time Audi was able to match its all-wheel drive quattro setup with a new 4-speed automatic transmission.
For die-hard Audi faithful, though, for a short while you could still opt to row-your-own with the 240 horsepower 3.6 liter V8 singing to your right foot. These manual V8 quattros are legendary because of their rarity and that they are the only car Audi brought to market with twin Torsen differentials. The combination of a more rearward weight bias, big and instant torque from the V8 and those clever diffs made for one of the best driving experiences in a big sedan from Audi:
The W126 and W140 Mercedes-Benz 420SEL/400SEL/S420 cars have always been lost in the crowd a little bit thanks to big brother 560SEL/500SEL/S500 and even bigger brother 600SEL/S600. There is nothing really wrong with these cars and in the W140s case, the S420 uses the same M119 engine as the five-liter S500. When new, you saved about $13,000 when you selected the S420 over the S500 and in exchange you gave up about 50 horsepower and gained a whopping one mile gallon in fuel economy on the highway. Today, none of this really matters because any car without 500 horsepower might as well not even show up and 22 miles per gallon is considered poor fuel economy. Such is life.
Today, I wanted to look at one of these forgotten S420s and this example in Virginia is one of the better ones I’ve seen over the years. This 1999 checks in with a little over 120,000 with no real issues or anything to be concerned about. The price? Actually pretty reasonable.
Last week I checked out a 2011 Mercedes-Benz E550 Coupe and broke down how even though Mercedes calls it an E-Class Coupe, it was about 80% W204 C-Class and 20% W212 E-Class. This isn’t a new thing as Mercedes has been doing this for a few generations now and today we have another example of this in a 2002 CLK55 AMG up for sale in South Carolina. This W208 looks like a W210 E-Class cosmetically, but under that metal is actually the chassis of the W202 C-Class. Inside, you have a small handful of parts from the W203 C-Class and many more parts unique just to the CLK55 and not from the brother of this car, the W210 E55 AMG. Once again, buyers of this car probably had no idea of all this and probably didn’t care all that much either. C’est la vie.
In my mind, Alpina’s mystique has dimmed slightly over the past decade. Still capable of producing monsterously powerful luxury machines, the proliferation of options that are also insanely fast and luxurious has meant that the company’s original niche has become substantially more commonplace. And while it’s been awesome that Alpinas started being imported through BMW dealerships in 2007 and now offer several models to U.S. fans who can stomach the serious price tags, it also made them much less exclusive.
While products have widened over the past few years to include the 6-series, most of what Alpina sent to the U.S. market was based on the 7. The supercharged B7 was quite potent, but didn’t solve the problem of the E65’s looks all that much. Arguably, no amount of anything could do that particularly well.
But the B7’s supercharged 4.4 V8 was also available to Europeans in a (slightly) smaller package – the B5. Based on the E60, what would have started as a 330 horsepower 545i was transformed into a 500 horsepower, 500 lb.ft torque weapon. In typical fashion, Alpina revised the wheels and suspension, exhaust and interior, and of course added body kits to the E60. With 133 lb feet more torque than the V10 M5 produced and at a more reasonable 4,000 rpm rather than 6,000, the B5 could actually out-accelerate the M product. 0-62 was tested to arrive in 4.6 seconds, and the fun didn’t run out until you were just 5 mph shy of 200. Best yet, you could have this speed in a wagon!
Unfortunately for U.S. fans, the B5 and even more powerful B5S weren’t imported to the U.S.. Production of the B5 was limited to only 428 sedans, and the quite believable claim is that this is the only one in the United States:
I don’t write about a lot of newer cars because honestly, I think outside of a few models, they are all pretty boring and soft. Today’s car, a 2011 Mercedes-Benz E550 Coupe, isn’t exactly the most exciting car in the world and it certainly isn’t all that rare. It is rather fast though with 382 horsepower that will get it to 60 mph in the high four second range. But that isn’t why I wanted to check out one of these. It isn’t necessarily what this E550 Coupe is, but rather what it isn’t.
Newer cars are, in general, not the subject of this page. I can walk down to any dealership just like anyone else, and provided I have a pulse, probably walk out with financing for most mid-range cars regardless of whether or not I could actually afford them. Indeed, easy credit has led to the proliferation of many of our favorite brands and cars to the point where most don’t feel all that special anymore. That $2,500 Jetta, for example, is much more rare to see today in that condition – or, at all, truthfully – compared to a new M car.
So all modern cars aren’t really all that exciting? That’s far from the truth, too, as there are many special examples that float by our feed. So while the F10 M5 isn’t a model often featured, it’s probably our loss for not doing so. It’s also easy to forget that even though it feels pretty new, the F10 has been out of production for 2 years and the earliest examples are now 7 years old. Plus, as most M5s do, the entry price point on the antiquated models has dropped considerably compared to their original MSRP, while their performance is still contemporaneous to today’s cars.
The S63B44T0 found under the hood of this particular example was good for 550 plus horsepower; not much more than the model it replaced with that wicked V10. But torque? That’s another matter. While the S85 cranked out an impressive 380 lb.ft at 6,100 rpms, the two turbos tacked onto the S63 V8 produced 500 lb.ft of torque with a curve as flat as the Salt Lake from 1,500 rpms through over 5,000. That massive power could be channeled through a manual gearbox, and it could also be outfit from BMW’s Individual arm. These are the most fun to see, albeit very rarely do they come up for sale: