Roll the Dice: 1994 Mercedes-Benz SL500

I must be getting old, because it seems like every year that passes my tolerance for “project cars” gets smaller and smaller. When I had a bunch of free time, I had no problem messing around for countless hours on one of my cars. Now? Get this job finished as fast as possible and be done with it. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my cars, but they wear my patience thin sometimes. This doesn’t mean I still don’t browse for cheap cars constantly and run across some that might not take all that much to have a decent example for way less than market value. Today’s car, a 1994 Mercedes-Benz SL500 up for sale in California, might be that. Looking at the price, I thought it was going to be a total basket case that didn’t run or looked like a nice family of mongooses took up residence in the interior. Much to my surprise, that isn’t the case and this car actually has some extra goodies on it as well.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 Mercedes-Benz SL500 on eBay

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Tuner Tuesday: 1994 Alpina B10 4.6 Touring

While the B10 BiTurbo generated the headlines as the world’s fastest sedan, BMW’s replacement M60 V8 motor was making its way into production and the M30 inline-6 was on its way out. Of course that meant it wasn’t too long before Buchloe got their hands on one, and in turn it wasn’t too long before the B10 4.0 replaced the BiTurbo as the top offering. But a year later, Alpina had already punched out the block to 4.6 liters. Now generating 340 horsepower, the new B10 4.6 not only was as quick as the M5, it was considerably cheaper and less complicated than the BiTurbo had been too.

Like the 4.0 before it, the standard 17″ Alpina wheel treatment, upgraded suspension, larger and less restrictive exhaust, aerodynamic tweaks and unique interiors all made their way here. Also like the 4.0, the 4.6 was available as either a sedan or Touring, and as either a 6-speed manual or 5-speed Switch-Tronic automatic. A scant 46 were built before the end of E34 production, of which only 19 were Touring models – making this one of the most limited Alpinas produced:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 Alpina B10 4.6 Touring at Springbok.de

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2009 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Stirling Moss

There aren’t many modern cars like the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Stirling Moss. I’ve gone over the history of this wild machine before, but the short of it is they are based off the SLR but with crazy styling and two very tiny pieces of glass that basically do nothing. Only 75 examples were created to be sold the general public for actual legal road use. By “general public”, I mean current SLR owners who had to pony up $1,000,000 for the privilege to buy one of these. After purchasing them, most were stashed away in collections and very rarely see the light of day let alone be driven on a road because believe it or not, really rich people don’t like to eat bugs. However, this example going up for bid at RM Sotheby’s in Italy has over 8,400 km on the odometer. Someone drove this car over 5,000 miles!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2009 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Stirling Moss at RM Sotheby’s

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2001 Audi S3

What is the price of obscurity?

Here we have a 2001 Audi S3. While the S3 has been a recent addition to the Audi lineup to bolster affordable performance options and compete against Merc’s CLA and BMW’s 2-series, the model has a long history which dates back to the nomenclature change for Audi. The first A3 was launched alongside the then-new A4, and while the visual similarities were strong, the two models shared little. That’s because the A3 was based heavily on the Mk.4 Golf platform with transverse mounted engines. Just like the original Audi 50, though, the A3’s arrival predated the Mk.4 Golf by a year.

As I’ve already covered in previous articles, while the U.S. had to wait until the 2004 launch of the Golf R32 to get all-wheel drive performance, Europe had enjoyed Golfs with four wheels driven since 1986. So it was a relative cinch to stick the Haldex-based all-wheel drive system into the A3 chassis where, like the TT, it would be called “quattro”. And just like the TT, a high performance variant of the 1.8T would be included and become the S3 in 1999.

Again, some of the styling cues were shared with the big-brother S4, including 17″ Avus wheels and deeper, smooth bumper covers. The S3 was the first model to utilize the ‘door blades’ that would become signature S bits soon after. Performance was about what you’d expect from a near twin of the TT – meaning, virtually identical. But what you did get was slightly more subtle styling and slightly more practicality, with a bit more storage space and a roomier cabin. Despite the relatively negligible gains, because the 8L S3 never came here, they’re a bit of a hot commodity when they do arrive. How hot?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Audi S3 on eBay

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Budget Bentley: 2004 Volkswagen Phaeton W12

Walk into a Volkswagen dealership in the early 2000s, and it was clear that the brand had taken the people’s car upmarket. The Mk.4 Golf/Jetta looked decidedly more modern than the Mk.3 holdovers from 1998. The 2001 introduction of the B5.5 Passat splashed chrome, leather and wood all over the mid-range sedans and wagons and offered exotic-sounding performance from the wild optional W8. But it was this car that really signaled VW was operating on a different plane; not only did they bring over the D1 platform Phaeton, but with it they brought the monstrous 6.0 W12.

While to many the Phaeton looked like a reskin of the D3 Audi A8 and indeed the two did share some componentry, the D1 platform was actually shared with VAG’s other subsidiary Bentley. Both the Continental GT and later Flying Spur shared the infrastructure, meaning the Phaeton enjoyed extreme levels of refinement, ride quality and fit/finish that weren’t typically associated with “the people’s car”. While all the luxury added up to north of 5,000 lbs without passengers and it lacked the twin turbochargers the Bentley boys got, the Phaeton W12 was still the fastest car in the VW showroom in 2004. With 420 horsepower driving all four wheels, the Phaeton was capable of effortless and nearly silent 5.5 second 0-60 runs and could break 200 mph unrestricted.

While it sounds great, there were two drawbacks. One was that to nearly everyone your Phaeton looked just like my Passat. And while a loaded W8 4 Motion Variant Passat was really, really expensive, you and your significant other could drive out of your local dealer with not one, but TWO fully loaded Passats for the price of just one W12 Phaeton. It’s no surprise that the U.S. market wasn’t ready for a $90,000 Volkswagen, and a scant 482 were sold here before the model was yanked. But today, that means you can get these market-busting models for pennies on the dollar:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 Volkswagen Phaeton W12 on eBay

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2018 Porsche 911 GT3 Touring

You know why we’re here. This 2018 Porsche 911 GT3 Touring is finished in Paint-to-Sample Ruby Star. Made popular on the 964, this wild color now has a home on the 991 and boy does it pop. The GT3 Touring is already a wildly popular car that is still selling for over sticker with a handful of miles on them, and adding a Paint-to-Sample color like this only piles on the price. The sky was basically the limit on custom options for highly preferred customers to the point where a you could order a GT3 Touring for around $140,000 and then literally add another $140,000 in options. Seriously, someone did that. Thankfully, that isn’t the case with this car but you are still going to pay over sticker for it despite having nearly 1,000 on the odometer. How much?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2018 Porsche 911 GT3 Touring on Rennlist

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1992 Mercedes-Benz 300SE

A little over a month ago I took a look at a 1991 Mercedes-Benz 300SE. On the surface, a 1991 300SE isn’t all that special, until you noticed the Bornite Metallic paint of course. I went into a little detail on why that paint matters and the data doesn’t lie when you see the selling prices of two nearly identical cars with one painted in Bornite and one painted in a more common color. Well wouldn’t you know, the next generation S-Class, the W140, had the privilege of carrying on this color as well. This 1992 300SE checks in with a fair amount of miles with nearly 185,000, but don’t kid yourself thinking you are going to get a deal on it. Also, there is one other problem if you want to own this car. It is in Germany.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 Mercedes-Benz 300SE on eBay

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2007 Porsche 911 Turbo

I’m a big “value for money” guy. I guess that also means I’m cheap, but who cares how you define it. You’ll never find me paying full price for something or heaven forbid even a premium if I can find a better deal elsewhere. Sometimes this works out swimmingly, sometimes it goes up in flames. That comes with the territory. Today’s car, a 2007 Porsche 911 Turbo up for sale in California, is in my eyes a great value for money car. Why is it? Outside of just existing as a borderline everyday super car that you can drive in total relaxation and comfort, some 10-12 years later, prices are about half of MSRP. However, this car is much cheaper than that. There is not one, but two big reasons for that. Let me explain.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2007 Porsche 911 Turbo Coupe on eBay

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1989 BMW Z1

BMW took a big leap at the end of the 1980s and introduced some pretty extreme design language. First was the E31 8-series, a seeming quantum leap from the outgoing 6-series. That chassis pioneered, for better or worse, a tremendous amount of technical and electronic innovation for BMW. The 8s relied on a bevy of computers to control its chassis, electronic suite and engine. Side by side with the more famous Grand Tourer though was a diminutive roadster BMW produced based heavily on the E30 chassis. Instead of a heavy reliance on computer technology, the futuristic (hence Z for the German word for future – Zukunft) plastic bodied Z1 looked like a supercar even if it didn’t go like one. Park one next to a E30 convertible and you’d never know the two are related!

The Z1 was a complete departure for BMW; while they were not strangers to small cabriolets, their previous efforts were in the 1930s with the 315/1 and the 1960s with the 700. BMW went away from the idea of an integral body and frame to a separate chassis with removable, plastic body pieces. The idea was that the owners could replace the panels themselves to “repaint” the car with minimal effort. It was something the Smart car would be notable for – a car that launched a decade following the Z1. To get the paint to adhere to the bodywork, BMW had to partner with AZKO coatings to develop a flexible paint which they termed ‘Varioflex’, while the bodywork had to be attached using a unique elastic joint technique. The doors didn’t open out – the slid down into the supporting chassis structure. The underbody was flat, not only for aerodynamics, but the tray turned into a diffuser towards the back, assisting in sticking the rear to the ground as speeds rose. In front was nothing new – the venerable M20 from the E30 popped up here, too – but in the rear the Z1 was new with a multi-link rear axle of its own. This new design would later be incorporated into the E36. It’s interesting that with the Z3 BMW opted to go the opposite route and incorporate earlier E30 pieces into the rear of the /7 and /8. While performance was relatively leisurely, the Z1 nevertheless garnered praise for its innovation, unique design and great looks. They never made it to U.S. shores and only around 8,000 examples were ever produced, but a few have crossed the Atlantic now that they’re old enough to be more easily imported:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 BMW Z1 on eBay

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1992 Porsche 911 Carrera RS

While the US market had to settle for the RS America, a lightened low-option version of the Carrera 2, other markets enjoyed the full-on Carrera RS. The Carrera RS used the tried-and-true method of more power/less weight, combining a higher output version of the 964’s 3.6 liter flax-six with significant weight reduction – coming in 155 kg lighter than a standard Carrera 2 – to provide the sort of no frills performance that 911 enthusiasts had long craved since the original RS. Under the rear hood was the M64/03 rated at 260 horsepower which doesn’t sound like a lot by today’s numbers. But the lightweight RS made good use of all of them, proving itself not only to be a class-leading sports car but also one adept at racing in keeping with the 911’s heritage. Suspension was lowered half an inch and stiffened, while the limited-slip differential from the Turbo was borrowed. Power steering was dropped for a manual rack, and while there were packages to add back in road-going manners, this ultimately was a bare-bones racer at heart.

Some 2,276 964 Carrera RSs were made, with a fair chunk of those heading to the track. There were a limited group of these cars imported to the U.S. for a failed race series and a few more since 911 mania took off, but the bulk of production still lies in Europe, just like this ’92 being offered today from France:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 Porsche 911 Carrera RS on eBay

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