Double Take 540i/6: E34 or E39? 1995 BMW 540i Sport v. 2003 BMW 540i M-Sport

My recent M5 v. Alpina B10 post took a look at two exotic versions of the E34. Of course, BMW offered their own alternative to the M5 late in the production cycle, as the introduction of the M60 V8-powered 540i produced nearly as much usable power as the more expensive M variant. Such was the success of the 540i that BMW initially judged the M5 dead in this market; it was removed from the U.S. in 1993 after slow sales and wouldn’t return until the new millennium.

As a result, the 540i flew the 5-series performance flag for two generations and still is very popular today. Especially in Sport versions, the E34 and E39 540is offered power, refinement and outstanding chassis dynamics in a package that was attainable for more people. So which is the better buy today – the first or second generation?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 BMW 540i M-Sport on eBay

Feature Listing: 2003 Mercedes-Benz CLK55 AMG Brabus 6.1

Ever check out a car and think ”How can they possibly make it better?” Well, this is what we have today in the 2003 Mercedes-Benz CLK55 AMG Brabus 6.1. What started life as a CLK55 AMG – already a really good platform – was transformed by German tuner Brabus into something much more unique and much more powerful. The beauty of these creations is that while almost every piece of this car was tweaked and the dial turned up, you’d be hard pressed to find any faults in them. The unity of the package retained the understated but aggressive nature of the stock example. The craftsmanship and quality are just as good if not better than what comes out of the Mercedes factory and the livability is retained just as you were driving a totally stock car. But all the little details are what makes this car so special. Scratch that – the big details are pretty special, too! This one up for sale in Dallas is no different.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Mercedes-Benz CLK55 AMG Brabus 6.1 on Dallas Craigslist

Steve Jobs’ 2000 BMW Z8

In my time looking at cars owned by the famous, I’ve run across a wide variety of people. From earlier this week of the ‘King of Basketball’ to the ‘King of Rock & Roll, I’ve even looked at actual kings. Sometimes the cars have a cool story but most of the time it is merely a name on an old piece of paper or if I’m really lucky, a photo or two of that person in the car. But today’s car, the gorgeous BMW Z8, was owned by a guy who changed technology and how we use it forever  — and I could really care less.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: Steve Jobs’ 2000 BMW Z8 at RM Sotheby’s

Double Take – Sprint Two: 2007 Audi S4 and S6

For a few reasons, I found yesterday’s S4 Avant a bit lacking. The B7 S4 Avant isn’t my favorite of the S Avants to begin with, and truth told I think I’d take a S-Line 2.0T Titanium before I jumped into a S4. The high price these have retained also is a bit of a turnoff; you can get the same car, for nearly all intents and purposes, in the B6 for a lot less. But the killer, at least for me, was the color. I just find newer silver and gray Audis predictable, cliche, and boring in general. They lack imagination. And when Audi had such brilliant colors available in the color pallet, I don’t look upon the more conservative and prevalent with envy.

But what about something wild, like LZ5F Sprint Blue Pearl Effect? Yeah, that gets the blood boiling and draws the eyes in pretty much every situation. But today I didn’t have a SBPE Avant; instead, to make up for that, I’ve got two examples of the color on S sedans from the same dealer. Strange? Even more strange is that this is the same dealer that I previously looked at a special order Sprint Blue A4. Does this dealer have some special source of smurf blue Audis?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2007 Audi S4 on eBay

2001 Mercedes-Benz G500

I’ve looked at my fair share of Mercedes-Benz G-Wagens here. From the rusty 1985 280GE for $12,950 to the street-legal monster truck 2017 G550 4×4² for over $250,000, I’ve covered nearly all of them. They all make sense in one way or another as you can basically find a G to do anything you really need it to do. Need a military vehicle? Here is a 1991 230GE. How about a fire truck? Another 1991 230GE. Topless beach cruiser? I’ve got a 1992 300GD for you. But this 2001 G500 3-door for sale in Hampshire, England is a mystery to me and I wish I knew the full story. Let me explain.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Mercedes-Benz G500 on Hemmings

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.…

Dolomite Brown 2014 Mercedes-Benz E63 S AMG Estate

I never tire of rare and unique colors. Combine that with a rare and unique vehicle? Even better. This is a 2014 Mercedes-Benz E63 S AMG Estate in the color Dolomite Brown Metallic. Sometimes it looks brown, sometimes it looks purple and even at the right light you might even mistake it for a burnt orange. Either way, I love the color. But I don’t exactly love it on this car. Let me explain why.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2014 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG S Estate on eBay

2004 Volkswagen Phaeton

The Phaeton is a very perplexing car. It was established as a plan to produce a no-expense spared, world-beating luxury car – and, in many ways at the time, it was world beating. It offered similar luxury and performance to the established German standards – Mercedes-Benz’s S-Class and BMW’s 7-series, but also challenged stable-mate Audi’s A8. Yet it was available on a more Volkswagen budget – at least, in theory. That’s because if you walked into a Volkswagen dealer in the mid 2000s and wanted a basically optioned model, you’d be out about $75,000. For reference, that’s about three times what my expensive-for-the-category Passat cost in 2002. And the big problem with that was how the Phaeton looked, because a bulk of the population wouldn’t be able to tell the two apart.

But that wasn’t the point about the Phaeton. Nor was it that you could get the lighter, aluminum version of what appeared to be the same car from more upscale Audi that would arguably attract much more attention for not much more money. And it was this exact confusion that befuddled the market; why would you ever pay $75,000 for a Volkswagen? The trick came in realizing what you were getting, which actually shared little architecture with the Audi corporate partner. Park a Phaeton next to an A8 and you’d swear they were just about the same car with light badging changes, but you couldn’t be more wrong.

Although the model shared components with the D3 A8, it also shared much more architecture with other side of VAG’s portfolio – the Bentley Flying Spur and Continental. This meant a steel chassis rather than the aluminum space frame, and that meant more weight – a lot more weight. To mitigate this, Volkswagen upped the power slightly over the A8’s V8 to 335 and dropped its axle ratio to 3.65:1.…

1987 Mercedes-Benz 560SEC

Earlier this week, I checked out one of the nicest W126s I’ve seen in a while with a 1987 560SEL. Today, we have another 1987 560, although this one is the brother car, the SEC. These big body coupes have been shooting up in value of late, but they are still well within reasonable range to grab at a decent price if you wish. Of course, color and condition are the biggest factor in what these sell for, but if you can find one that is well looked after and doesn’t carry a crazy price tag, then it is not a bad way to spend your money. If you are lucky enough to run across an example as nice as this C126 for sale in California, then I wouldn’t sleep on it at all.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Mercedes-Benz 560SEC on eBay

1987 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL

When I see the word “concours” being thrown out there when describing a used car, my eyes usually roll over pretty hard. It’s becoming the buzzword for any car that is generally above average in condition, but no where near the level of pulling it on a golf course and having a group of men in floppy hats inspect for dirt under the fuse box lid. Every once in a blue moon, of those cars does actually pop up for sale and it carries an outrageous price. But this 1986 560SEL for sale in Florida not only looks outstanding, but won’t cost you the price of a new S-Class either.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL on Hemmings