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10K Friday: The ones everyone wanted! S8 v. 740i Sport v. 560 SEL


Two weeks ago I wrote up executive showdown which featured an A8L against a 745i and S500. The general consensus was that while most wanted the Audi, the Mercedes-Benz (though maybe not that particular one) was the better long-term purchase. Personally, I think Audis of this generation sometimes get an unwarranted reputation, but regardless few people really wanted any of these cars as almost all found some earlier generation more appealing. So, run the tape again, this time with the “Greatest Hits”! Let’s start with the Audi:


Year: 2002
Model: S8
Engine: 4.2 liter V8
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Mileage: 108,572 mi
Price: $9,950

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Audi S8 on


2002 Audi S8
4dr All-wheel Drive Quattro Sedan 4.2L
(full specs)


Type: Premium unleaded..Cylinders: 8..Horse Power: 360..Variable Valve Timing..Max RPM: 7,000..Torque: 317..Max Torque RPM: 3,400..Compression Ratio: 11.00 : 1..Size: 4.2..Valve Gear: DOHC..Total Valves: 40..Engine Configuration: V..Displacement: 255..Vehicle Emissions: Federal

Number of speeds: 5..Manual / automatic: Automatic..Automatic type: Automatic
Fuel Econ:



Head airbags: Curtain 1st and 2nd row..Passenger Airbag: Yes..Traction control: ABS and driveline..Stability control: Yes..Child safety locks: Yes..Rear center seatbelt: 3-point belt..Seatbelt pretensioners: Front and rear

Cruise control..Power steering: Speed-proportional power steering..Steering wheel: Tilt and telescopic..Audio controls on steering wheel: Audio controls..Cupholders: Front and rear..Remote trunk release: Power..Door pockets: Driver, passenger and rear..Seatback storage: 2..Cargo net..12V DC power outlet: 2..Retained accessory power..Universal remote transmitter


I can’t deny that I have a serious love affair with the S8. It just looks sooooooo right. This particular example looks splendid in the quite rare Irish Green Pearl and has the preferred look 18″ Avus wheels in good condition from the look of the photos. Interior also looks great, and mileage is low to average for the market. Timing belt service should have been performed so look for that to have been done, and also it appears there is front bumper damage (not uncommon on the low-slung S8), but at below $10,000, this car looks like the best bang for the buck in this group. Older Audis not your thing? How about a classicly styled BMW E38 740i Sport:


Year: 2001
Model: 740i Sport
Engine: 4.4 liter V8
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Mileage: 111,513 mi
Price: $8,000 Buy It Now

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 BMW 740i Sport on eBay




Not much info, but this car looks splendid in classic black with equally classic M-Parallels. I love the look of these cars, they’re well proportioned and hide their weight cleverly. With around the same mileage of the Audi, this car is a little less complicated overall but consequently also offers less performance. But maybe performance isn’t your thing, and you’d like something a little more “classic” than the BMW? How about the dictator car of choice, a W126 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL?


Year: 1990
Model: 560 SEL
Engine: 5.6 liter V8
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Mileage: 66,897 mi
Price: $7,999 Buy It Now

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Mercedes-Benz 560 SEL on eBay


This is a very clean 1990 Mercedes Benz 560 SEL sedan with 66890 miles. This Mercedes has been very well treated and maintained. This is a fully original Mercedes including the Becker stereo system. This 560 has front and rear seat heaters, and reclining rear seats, which are working properly.

We performed a road test as well as a safety and maintenance service on this vehicle in preparation for sale. The engine runs well and the automatic transmission shifts very nicely. All of the brake pads are in great shape as well. The oil and filters were just changed. I checked the equipment in this car for proper operation. I can verify that all of the following power equipment is working properly: All power windows, power door-locks, power seats, power sunroof, power mirror and antenna. The air conditioning and heat are working. All of the gauges and instrumentation are functioning properly. There aren’t any service or warning lights on.

The pearl grey paint is glossy and brilliant over the entire body. The exterior of this Mercedes is in very nice condition with only minor imperfections. There are some bumpers rub marks, a few bumps and some small scratches, but this car still looks really great. All of the trim is intact and in excellent condition, and the alloy wheels are clean, look great.

The interior has been very well maintained and is in terrific condition. All of the leather surfaces are soft and supple with very little wear, even on the driver side. The carpeting is clean and fluffy throughout this car. There aren’t any rips, holes or damage on the seats or carpeting in this Mercedes. The dash and door panels are in excellent condition without any cracks,fading or other damage. This was a non-smoker owned vehicle and there aren’t any smoke odors or burn marks inside this car.

The title is clear without any liens or encumbrances and is mileage are original. This is a beautiful 560 SEL in excellent condition. I would feel comfortable getting in and driving this Mercedes anywhere.

This Car has pass california smog inspection with no problem.

This vehicle is offer for sale by Econo Automotive Center Inc. We are a California licensed and bonded dealer. All California buyers must pay sales tax (varies), documentation fee ($60) , and DMV Registration Fee (varies) as well as SMOG check ($60)

All vehicles sold outside of California are exempt from all of the above fees. The buyer is responsible for registering the vehicle in their own state and paying the fees associated with doing so.

Buyers are to pay a $500 deposit within 24 hours of the ending of the auction and full payment due within 7 days.





This 560 looks to be in great shape, and while it’s probably the least exciting of the three there is something that is evergreen about the Mercedes-Benz models from this time period. They still exude luxury and opulence even though many of the features are found on base model Kias now. Truth be told, these cars all are bathed in luxury, and although I’m partial to the Audi, I think all three of these cars are winners and offer their own version of classic German motoring with a healthy dose of luxury on a shoe-string budget.

Which would you prefer?



  1. John
    John October 11, 2013

    I love the look of the D2 S8’s too. This one seems priced about right if it passes a PPI and you’re ok with green / black. 2001-2002 had more color choices. 2003 just black, silver, or ming (dark) blue. A prospective buyer should do some reading here:

  2. Jeff
    Jeff October 11, 2013

    Definitely not the Benz. While 67K miles is completely insane for a 23-year-old car, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s not only a 23-year-old car, but one that began production in the early ’80s. Which is not to say I don’t like certain ’80s vehicles, but in contrast to the Audi or Bimmer, it loses in a landslide.

    The S8 vs. the 740i is a much tougher call. I’m very familiar with the BMW’s engine, having had a 540i of similar vintage for a spell, and I have to say I’m enamored with it. It looks great in black and with the Sport rims, but not so much with the matte-black double-kidney grille, which I’m pretty sure didn’t come with the original car. On the down side, the interior has some wear-and-tear and, worse, is afflicted with a positively geriatric nav system (though it appears to be a standard double-DIN size and could presumably be swapped out for a modern model).

    As for the Audi: as much as I love the S8’s looks, not to mention its pristine interior, Audis of that era weren’t yet up to par with their BMW counterparts, so I can’t imagine the S8 would be able to touch a 7-series in any quantifiable performance category (even with 360 horses under the hood). Assuming it’s been properly maintained, I’d thus have to go with the Bimmer (though I’d swap out the grille for the correct chrome version immediately, in addition to a nav upgrade).

  3. Carter
    Carter October 11, 2013

    D2 S8 (U.S. Spec) – 0-60 5.8 seconds, 1/4 14.4 @ 98 mph., .88 g lateral grip, 70-0 173 ft. (CD)
    E38 740i Sport (U.S. Spec) – 0-60 5.9 seconds, 1/4 15.5@95 mph, .86 g lateral grip, 60-0 112 ft. (MT)

    The performance numbers favor the S8, Jeff, in every area. I think despite what many BMW folks want to believe, the reality is that the D2 Audis quality was at or above the BMWs of the same time period, and their performance was equal to or exceeded them. It’s also important to remember that this was the end of both of these series production runs (D2 2003, E38 2001). Planning for the D2 started in 1993/4. It was an impressive car then, and it’s still a very impressive car. These S8s are joys to drive and due to the large amount of aluminum feel like cars that are much smaller. I’d say that it’s really a toss up between the E38 and D2 but the addition of the S8 to the A8 lineup gave it a feather that BMW chose not to pursue.


  4. Jeff
    Jeff October 11, 2013

    Hey, I’m not surprised in the least that the S8 is quicker and on par vis-a-vis lateral grip. I also don’t think there’s any argument against the fact that its all-aluminum chassis is amazing. My point was more about the ineffable driving experience that numbers don’t necessarily convey. At least until the past couple of years, when BMW switched all of its main vehicles to electric steering, handling abilities were its ace in the hole, regardless of contender, and it’s a key reason why the 3-series made it onto Car & Driver’s 10 Best list for more years than I can remember. I know this doesn’t apply to the S8, but Audis for a long time were at a disadvantage because of their FWD roots and shared platforms/hardware with VWs. (Note that I don’t believe this is still the case, and the odds are about 98% that my next auto purchase will be an Audi, though I haven’t decided which one.)

    I admit that I have never driven an A8 or S8. However, I have very extensive experience driving both BMWs and Audis. I ordered a TT Roadster quattro as soon as they became available in the U.S. My sister-in-law had an A4 for many years. My dad had an A6 for a number of years as well. My younger brother still has an S4 (B7 version). I’ve also owned two E46 330is in addition to a 335i and 135i, as well as the 540i I had for a while. And I’d argue in each case that the BMWs provided the better all-around driving experience. Again, it’s not really about numbers; the E46 models were actually comparatively slow.

    Anyway, I’m not trying at all to argue that the S8 isn’t a great car. I’m merely trying to point out that numbers don’t tell the whole story.

  5. Carter
    Carter October 11, 2013

    Fair enough points on the A4/TT, but as you note, they don’t really apply to the large body Audis. My parents had an E32 735i 5 speed when I was growing up; compared to my 93 V8 Quattro, the Audi felt smaller, drove smaller, and the build quality was on par. The BMW had more headroom, better brakes and slightly better turn in than the V8. Having driven both E38 and D2 cars (740i non-sport and S8 respectively), Audi made substantial gains between the D11 and the D2 chassis. The turn in issue was fixed though the steering feel diminished (as did performance in the snow), but overall performance and quality of the D2 S8 v. the D11 V8 quattro was massively improved. I felt that the E38 felt sportier than the E32 did (despite the auto), but I think if you drove them back to back, the steering feel would be the only difference you’d really notice between BMW and Audi. Personally, the Audi’s advantages outweigh the steering feel difference for me; but I get that not everyone wants what I want. Clearly many more people felt the BMW was a better choice since it outsold the Audi 10 to 1 or more, but I think if you really drove them back to back in a double blind, you’d see that sales success was more the result of marketing and reputation rather than any superior feel the BMW possesses. As a disclaimer, these are just my driving observations and I really enjoy both BMWs and Audis; but I do have a bias towards the S8. But honestly, I hope the D2 doesn’t take off in value, because I’d really like to own one myself someday!

  6. RyanKuan
    RyanKuan October 11, 2013

    Hands down, it’s the S8 for me. I agree with you how Audi got it “just right” and they are very desirable. I was always passively looking for one on and off, and just never got around to picking up one as priorities change, like moving half way around the world at the end of the month.

  7. Chris
    Chris October 11, 2013

    Jeff, you’re really reaching by bringing up a 3-series’ 10-Best history (though it hasn’t fared well in head-to-head matchups with the A4 in recent magazine comparos) and VWs (their GTI has also been a 10-Best favorite as well), when you’re attempting to talk about the D-class matchup here, two classes above the B-class 3’er. There is nothing notably or evidently ‘VW’ whatsoever in this car except the financial backing of its manufacturer. The D2 is a bespoke Audi platform. It seems like you’re still falling for the vain old ‘BMWs are just better’ adage that (used to sell more cars based on badge and marketing and) started getting squashed once Audi released the D2 platform in 1993 as a concept (oh why not… and really turned up the heat when the B5 A4 came out). As Carter said, the D2 was an incredible car back then, and it’s still an incredible car now. The D2 S8 shouldn’t be able to best a 740i Sport “in any quantifiable performance category (even with 360 horses under the hood)” in your mind, but, well, it just does doesn’t it? Soundly. As you admitted, you haven’t sat in one let alone driven one. The D2 S8s are a shelf above anything BMW had to offer in build quality, performance, engineering (Quattro what?), materials, pretty much the lot. The steering is not bad unless you don’t replace the control arms before 90k. All that being said, I really like the E38 and always do a double-take whenever I see one. But it just can’t hold a candle to a D2 S8. Trust me. That’s why I drove both and bought a loaded black/black Alcantara-laden 2002 S8 instead 4 years ago, and still daily drive its bombproofness today at 92k miles. Also, more than a few folks on QuattroWorld have hit 200k with theirs. Stomach the premium fuel that gets gulped with every prodding of that gas pedal to its 7000 rpm redline (read that again. the sound!), and it’s not dear to own. Mileage isn’t bad if you don’t goose it. In fact, I’d wager its the cheapest in its class to run today and has more longevity based on experience and many others I know with them. Cheers.

  8. John
    John October 11, 2013

    Really enjoyed reading your comments Jeff and Carter! I wish both came with a 6 speed and I could test them and pick the one I liked more 🙂 It would probably be a very tough decision.

  9. Jeff
    Jeff October 12, 2013

    Chris: as I’ve already stated, I’m singularly unimpressed with the current 3-series (and the 4-series … and the 5-series … and everyone automotive abortion tagged with the name “GranTurismo) and will, for the first time in 11 years, most likely be replacing my current one with an Audi. Right now I’m leaning towards the upcoming S3, even though it’s smaller than I’d like. As for Audi longevity: again, I can’t speak for the S8, but nearly every Audi owner I know has spent a considerable amount of time at the dealership getting warranty repairs (myself included with my TT, which was beset with electrical problems). I won’t even get into the nightmare my stepmother had with her Q7, though admittedly it was a first-year model. (On the flip side, God knows BMWs aren’t cheap to maintain, even if you have a top-notch (and not crazy-expensive) mechanic.)

    And again, I don’t begrudge either you or Carter for favoring the S8. Both of you make excellent points in its favor. I’d also posit that they didn’t sell well because Audi tried to move upmarket too quickly, without the kind of dealer support and know-how to effectively sell and service a $100K car. (My local Audi dealer, which also sold VWs, was one of the worst I’ve experienced to date, with a THREE-WEEK backlog in some cases for routine maintenance (as opposed to my local BMW, which has an elaborate customer service area replete with Internet-accessible computers for customer use, magazines, free coffee and soft drinks, and even a home theater system). Furthermore, they accept walk-ins for relatively minor service and will gladly give you a loaner car if they need to keep it overnight (which my Audi dealership absolutely refused btw).

    Let’s just leave it at the fact that both the S8 and 740i are damn fine automobiles and can last indefinitely if maintained properly.

  10. Carter J
    Carter J October 12, 2013

    Good comments and points by all, thanks for a lively conversation!

Comments are closed.