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

2002 BMW 540i Touring

Stare at a BMW E39 estate long enough and I’m pretty sure you’ll forsake all other wagons, perhaps even all other cars depending on your level of longroof love. This car was just one of those times when the designers got it so right it’s almost scary. The artists over at BMW took one of the greatest sedan designs of all time and molded it into the greatest family hauler of its time. The seller goes so far as to say the 540i Touring is the best looking wagon ever made, now or then. He certainly has a point if you focus on the competition of the era but as far as best looking wagon of all time, I’d have to give that to the beastly RS6 Avant. I will however give the 540i Touring the silver medal without a second thought. The proportions on this car are wonderful and it looks good from any angle, the hallmark of a truly exceptional design.

The positives extend far beyond the appearance of the vehicle, it is equally as impressive inside and under its skin. The 540i Touring is powered by a 4.4 liter V8 churning out 290 hp and 340 lb-ft of torque, not too shabby even by today’s standards. The superb handling dynamics of the E39 sedan carry over to the estate which makes the car even more desirable. It is by no means a canyon carver but from what I’ve read these cars handle with far better precision than one would think, especially since the damn thing weighs in at 5,043 lbs. When you consider that torsional rigidity was increased over the E34 5 series by 40 percent, the reasoning behind the affinity for these cars becomes quite clear.  It’s a big steel caged missile that bests a car held in high regard for its handling capabilities.…

1980 Mercedes-Benz 450SLC 5.0

When I think of homologation specials, there are all sorts of models that instantly pop into my head. Of course, being an Audi fan, the Sport Quattro is a great example, but plenty more images pass through my mind, too. Of course, Group C spawned a whole series of special cars, from the RS200 and Lancia 037 to the Porsche 959. There’s the special 924 Carrera GTS, for example – a car few remember outside of Porsche circles, and one that’s often forgotten even by them. Then there’s the great period of DTM specials – the “Evolutions” of the M3, 190E and V8 quattro that proved Darwin was right. Of course, you can go back even further and look at one of the most special cars ever created – the original Ferrari GTO – to see a very special homologation of a race car. But outside of the big headlines, there are plenty of small production run cars that were created to jump through loopholes, and returning to my original Group B example, we can see one neat car that was created in order to run in World Rally. It’s not a car you’d expect though – it’s the quite heavy and long Mercedes-Benz C107. Mercedes took steps to make it rally worthy, including lightweight aluminum panels in front and back, and of course upped the power with a new all aluminum 5.0 V8:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1980 Mercedes-Benz 450SLC 5.0 on eBay

Convertible Week B7-off: 2009 Audi A4 2.0T S-Line Cabriolet v. 2007 Audi S4 Cabriolet

Audi’s flirtation with chopped top mid-range sedans has always been an interesting one. Starting with the B4 series, Audi combined the front-drive 90 platform with parts of the Coupe platform to create the handsome and understated Cabriolet model. While not much of a performance machine, it was a good looking and reasonably sensible choice for a luxury 4-seat German convertible. It was not particularly sporty though; while Europe saw a range of engines, the U.S. received only front drive 4-speed automatic V6 models. The B4 model long outlived the rest of its siblings, soldiering on until 1998 when it was seemingly replaced by the TT model. The Roadster model wouldn’t be available until 2001, but the promise of an all-new convertible that was much sportier seemed logical. However, Audi returned to the 4-seat drop top market in 2003 with the A4 based Cabriolet model. Based initially on the B6 platform, it then seemed natural that Audi would finally offer a performance variant to compete against the popular M3 convertible; however, unlike the B3/B4 platform which had a Coupe model, there was no A4 based Coupe. To solve this problem, Audi’s skunkworks quattro GmbH undertook modifying the platform to create the 2006 S4 cabriolet.

Now, on the surface, this was a bit strange. Beyond the question of why you need a really fast convertible, you now had the question of why you needed an all-wheel drive convertible. But the Audi offered great looks, a stunning soundtrack and some trick interiors and flashy exterior colors to really help set the S4 apart. But many of the S4s were coupled with automatic transmissions; coupled with the chain problems the V8 heart is now known for, if you want a B7 cabriolet is it now smarter to consider the less flashy models?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2007 Audi S4 Cabriolet on eBay

Tuner Tuesday: 1996 Alpina B8 4.0

While Ruf and AMG grab most of the big tuner headlines from Germany, Alpina quietly and competently produced some of the wildest and best executed BMWs ever made. Simply put, Alpina made already good BMWs better – and arguably still do today. One of the most interesting aspects of the company is the close working relationship they have with the factory; a partnership which results in truly special treatment. Take the Alpina B8 for example; any normal tuner might have simply enlarged the inline-6 under the hood of the already potent M3. Or, in the tradition of the 1980s Alpinas, they could have turbocharged the engine. But instead Alpina asked BMW to make them a special V8. And, somewhat surprisingly, BMW did – a new block was designed for Alpina since the normal 4.0 couldn’t be bored out. The result was a 4.6 liter motor which was fit to the B8 4.6 and B10 as well. The motor was so large in the E36 that a special oil pan had to be designed, and neatly a German camera maker had to be employed to design and build a special oil pump to run it. Yet in true Alpina tradition, the fit and finish was factory and accompanied a host of suspension, interior and aerodynamic tweaks. Capped off by special Alpina paint, these B8s are truly special E36s. While the B8 4.6 is the headline grabber, Alpina built a short run of 5…or perhaps 6….4 liter models that were sold in Japan:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1996 Alpina B8 on Bimmerforums

1990 Audi V8 quattro

I have a fun ongoing exchange with our reader John; we send each other pretty much every V8 quattro that comes to the market in the U.S., usually accompanied by some brutally honest and laughable one-liner. Considering the number of V8 quattros imported – less than 4000 – and that they were both expensive and a DTM star, they would have been coveted like the rest of the Audi lineup. Yet, many have fallen into extreme disrepair or neglect, leaving precious few left running today and making good ones a rare find. For example, recently John sent me a pretty worn Pearlesant White ’93 model with the line: ” ‘cheap’ and haven’t seen it before, but that’s about it”. I responded that I’d done the “cheap” V8 route before, and that were I to do it again I would have been better off spending three times as much to get a maintained example. The V8 is truly a car that could bankrupt you trying to restore a poor one to original condition. However, if you find a reasonable example that’s well priced, is it a better proposition?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Audi V8 quattro on eBay

2008 BMW M3

Four doors, three pedals and eight cylinders. Is there a more exciting combination for an enthusiast when it comes to a daily driver? Honestly I can’t think of one and of the small group of modern cars to offer this configuration, I’d say the E90 M3 is the top dog. In this modern age of turbocharged everything, it is highly unlikely that we’ll ever see another car like this one. A useable back seat and trunk mated with a 4.0L V8 already sounds old school and we’re only seven years on from when the car was initially offered. When BMW announced the whole M3/M4 plan and the news that the new cars would have a turbocharged six-cylinder, I wasn’t surprised. It’s just how things are going these days. The sports car market is completely over-saturated with vehicles that will surely delight their drivers but will they offer the same visceral connection as their predecessors? I don’t think so but ultimately that is for each of us to decide on our own. What I can say with absolute confidence is that the E90 M3 market is rapidly moving in a very wallet friendly direction, great news for those of us who prefer a screaming V8 soundtrack to the artificially enhanced aural experience of a boosted inline-6.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 BMW M3 on Cars.com

Tuner Tuesday: 1985.5 Porsche 944 with LS1 swap

Engine swaps are a popular topic of conversation here at GCFSB. From early examples of the BMW 3 series with late model inline-6 swaps to Volkswagen Campers with Subaru lumps hiding out back, the possibilities are endless. Another trend has been V8 swaps into the venerable Porsche 944. This Porsche 944 comes to us via our friends at BlythBros. It’s not a purebred V8 Porsche like the 928, but one glance at this tuned-up 944 and you’d have a hard time believing it wouldn’t be a hoot to drive.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985.5 Porsche 944 LS1 swap on Craiglist Detroit

1978 Mercedes-Benz 450SLC Euro-spec

By 1978, the C107 was fairly long in the tooth. It wasn’t so much that it was an antiquated design; sure, it was 7 years old but let’s not forget that the R107 convertible version would soldier on for another amazing 10 years, meaning it was one of the longest lived Mercedes-Benz chassis ever. But the personal coupe had two issues – one was from within, with a new big coupe launching in the early 1980s in the W126 chassis. The much more modern C126 effectively negated the purpose of the C107. But the real issue was the competition from BMW, and more importantly Porsche – both of which managed to thoroughly out-class the sports coupe. The E24 was a much more modern and sporty car; though it had a smaller inline-6 motor and no V8 was available, the E24 was several hundred pounds lighter than the C107 and much more of a sporty coupe. But the real revolution was Porsche’s new front-engined Grand Tourer, the 928. Porsche managed to get both more power and more sport out of its interpretation of the GT car, making the C107 seem decidedly dated in comparison. Now a few generations on, finding clean 6s from the 1970s is near impossible in the U.S., and while there are 928s out there, rightly or wrongly they have a certain reputation as complicated cars that are hard to keep running correctly (or, at very least, quite expensive to). The result? The C107 may be the best 1970s personal sports coupe value these days:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1978 Mercedes-Benz 450SLC on eBay

2009 Audi S5

As depreciation continues to work its wonderful magic, there are a number of excellent cars falling into the sub $30k range which is the cap of what I consider to be reasonable at this point in my life. If you’ve got $30k to spend on a car then then the field is wide open, E90 M3s, 987 Caymans and the B8 S5 are all options. At that price point they’re most likely not the garage queen you dream of but clean, mechanically solid examples with relatively low miles are out there. I think this particular car is one of those examples, and with just under 70k on the clock it looks to have been well cared for. I guess that’s what starting life as a corporate fleet vehicle in California will do for a car.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2009 Audi S5 On eBay