1998 BMW M3 Coupe

If you’re a regular reader of this site you’ll know that I’m a big fan of the E36 M3 and have absolutely no problem saying so. Where haters see the blandest, most under powered M3 in the history of the nameplate, I see a perfectly proportioned bridge between the go kart E30 and the upscale E46. I came of age during the E36 years and though they were few and far between in my neck of the woods, I was well aware that they were something special. Of the two body styles offered during the ’95-’98 production run I prefer the sedan, mainly for the increased sleeper look but also for the daily drive practicality. However I am fond of the coupe as well, especially a well kempt car that hasn’t been stanced, tracked, thrashed or otherwise tampered with. This ’98 coupe in Estoril Blue Metallic over Dove Grey leather is an excellent example of an unmolested car and with just 119,000k on the clock I think this E36 represents the reasonable end of the M3 spectrum.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 BMW M3 Coupe on Cars.com

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2006 Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG Estate

I’ve written up a couple Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG wagons in my time with GCFSB; even got fooled by a E500 doing a damn good AMG impression on one post. I don’t know what it is about this car that keeps bringing me back to it. I’m not really much of a Mercedes guy. I prefer my fast wagons wearing four interlocked rings. However those three letters found on the trunk (and unfortunately the license plate frame) always catch my eye and earn the car a second glance.

Maybe that’s what I like about these souped up mid-aughts family haulers. If you don’t know what to look for, you don’t know what you’re looking at. That could be said of many wagons with a ferocious power plant but in the case of the E-Class I think it is particularly true. With its country club profile, dopey four headlamp front end and lengthy rear you could be forgiven for thinking these cars were nothing special. I suppose that until they’ve heard the supercharged V8 at wide open throttle most folks wouldn’t think it is, even after you point out the thick AMG steering wheel, quad tip exhuast and AMG wheels. That’s fine as far as I’m concerned, more E55 AMG wagons for those of us in the know. After all, these are rare cars that were only sold through a direct to your driveway order process. It appears that this example which was delivered to Woodland Hills, CA has remained in excellent condition over the 72k miles it has covered so far. The question is, has it been so well cared for that it necessitates the $31,500 asking price?

Year: 2006
Model: E55 AMG wagon
Engine: 5.4 liter V8
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Mileage: 72,000 mi
Price: $31,500

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2006 Mercedes Benz E55 AMG Wagon on AutoTrader.com

RARE! 2006 AMG E55 WAGON-SUPERCHARGED! Perfect condition. Always garaged. Blue Tooth technology Extended warranty All scheduled maintenance, All records, Always garaged, Excellent condition, Factory GPS system, Fully loaded with all the goodies, Looks & drives great, Mostly highway miles, Must see, Never seen snow, New tires, No accidents, Non-smoker, Seats like new, Still under factory warranty, Title in hand, Very clean interior, Well maintained

Well, the easy answer is no, this car isn’t worth what the seller wants for it. I don’t care how rare sub-100k mile E55s are, I wouldn’t spend over $30k on one. For that kind of money you can get into this car’s successor, the E63, which is said to be more reliable, is certainly more powerful and has more modern creature comforts. It has the vastly superior 7-speed automatic that makes the car quicker than the E55 even though it produces less torque. It also did away with the much maligned Sensotronic braking system in favor of Pre-Safe which caused far fewer headaches for Mercedes. With that in mind, I would approach the seller of this vehicle with an offer of $26 to $27k which will probably be met with a laugh but one must remain steadfast in their bargaining. Unless those awful sheepskin covers are hiding 100% mint condition seats and this car has had absolutely every little thing that goes wrong with a W211 E-Class replaced, I just can’t see how this car is worth what the seller wants for it. Given the interior build quality during this era these cars are quite prone to annoying little failures which add up quick. Can you live with a malfunctioning window regulator or squeaky glove box while hot rodding around town? I couldn’t.

These cars have to be properly sorted to be fully enjoyed and even if this one is, I’m still not convinced it’s worth what the seller is asking. It is all well and good that the car has new tires, has always been garaged and the 72k on the clock has been racked up mostly on the highway (seems like they always are with these cars) but those things don’t add up to more than $28k in my opinion. I can see where the seller is coming from, he has a rare car, beloved my enthusiasts that has lived a pampered life in Southern California. What are not taking into account is that thanks to our old friend depreciation, the heir to the throne is within the same price range and given the choice between the E55 and E63, I’d go E63 every time. Still, if you could get the seller down into the mid to high twenties, I think the E55 is a wonderful option for shocking people who think they’re looking at a ho-hum wagon.

Cheers,

-Andrew

1998 Mercedes Benz C43 AMG

Ah the late 1990’s, what a great time to be alive. I was in middle school, enjoying things like playing Quake II and Goldeneye 007, perhaps the occasional R rated movie if the right person was taking tickets at the local two plex. The US economy was booming thanks to a rapidly expanding industry related to a little thing called “the world wide web” and there were a whole lot of folks out there with disposable income who had no idea how to spend it. Like any good automaker, the folks at Mercedes-Benz worried about these youngsters with more money than sense and set about finding a way to capitalize on their new found wealth. The result was a juiced up W202 C-Class, the first car to be completely assembled by AMG and the first to feature a Mercedes Benz V8. The C43 AMG would set the stage for the next generation of AMG vehicles and without this car who knows if we’d have ever gotten the glorious C63 AMG.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 Mercedes Benz C43 AMG on Cars.com

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1986 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL

To round out my week of posts I thought it would be appropriate to post the top dog of the W126 lineup, the 560SEL. I found a couple pristine examples with rather lofty prices that I considered writing up but in the end it was this example that needs a bit of cosmetic love that captured my imagination. The seller notes that they’ve handled a number of issues and that the only concerns are the state of the hood, top and trunk paint and the A/C system needing service. Other than that, this Bavarian living room on wheels is ready for a whole lot more use, either as a daily driver or weekend warrior.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Mercedes Benz 560 SEL on Craigslist

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1987 Mercedes Benz 560 SEC

The W126 380 SE I wrote up yesterday got me back on a Mercedes kick and I quickly came across this badass ’87 560 SEC. I’ve long thought that Benzes look best in black or white and I think this car in a garage next to yesterday’s 380 SE would be a perfect garage. The big white cruiser for you and your friends and then this black coupe for you and one lucky passenger. The back seat can accommodate grown adults if need be as only 3 inches was shaved off the W126 SE chassis and the large doors make for easy passenger entry and exit. However, I think the vibe of this car is best honored with two people riding in style up front. The 560 SEC was Mercedes’ statement car, the kind of vehicle reserved for the executive with a wild side. It cost more than its rivals like the Porsche 928S, BMW 635i and Jaguar XJS, something that I think actually helped it succeed. At this level of luxury there are those people will automatically assume the most expensive option is the best and I think in this case they would be right. I would rather have a 560 SEC than any other personal sport coupe from the era, even the M6. While I love that car, I don’t think it has quite the same presence as this black beauty and sometimes presence (though rarely) beats performance. Sure we couldn’t get our hands on a manual option here in the states but I honestly think that’s ok because it this car is more of a mean city cruiser than a country road carver. Besides, the 4 speed automatic in this was quite ahead of it’s time in that it had a topographical sensor that would let it know if the car was on an incline or decline. This allowed for impressive engine braking when coasting downhill and smooth starts without using the brake pedal when going uphill. Just one of the many pieces of technology that we take for granted today that was pioneered on the W126 chassis.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Mercedes Benz 560 SEC On eBay

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1985 Mercedes-Benz 380SE

Having recently written up a number of performance oriented vehicles I thought it might be a good idea to switch it up and do something different. I’ve had my eye on this super cruiser down in Naples, FL for some time now and honestly I’m surprised that it hasn’t sold already. The W126 is an absolutely timeless chassis, an 80s icon known around the world for its luxuriousness and durability. This example is finished in rare Glacier White paint over Dove Grey leather which cranks the Euro luxo-barge vibe up to 11. Personally I love it, more often than not you see these in black or grey, both of which are handsome but I much prefer this look.

This being an ’85, it represents the end of the first cycle of the W126 run in the States. The 3.8L V8 isn’t the most exciting power plant fitted to chassis, I’d have to give that honor to the M117 5.6L V8 found in the 560 SE that we didn’t get. Still, it is a capable motor that was able to move the hefty 380 SE up to a comfortable cruising speed with ease and isn’t that really the purpose of a car such as this? In a way I enjoy the fact that this was the only choice for U.S. buyers who wanted more performance than the 300 SD offered with its oil burning inline 5. Made things simple, you either got a diesel W126 because you truly didn’t need the power or you got a gas W126 because you did. Sure a whole lot of people snapped up grey market W126 cars during the 80’s and enthusiasts of my generation have benefited from the availability of federalized 500 SE and 560 SE models but clean ones are few and far between. So when you come across a clean example of a 380 SE like this one, it might be time to start arranging travel to Florida.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 Mercedes-Benz 380 SE on Cars.com

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1990 BMW 325i M-Tech II

Right out of the gate I have to say there are a few things that I really don’t care for on this car. The M badge on the trunk is obnoxious, I do not like the current marketing gimmick of slapping the “fastest letter in the world” all over BMW models and it’s even tackier on a classic E30. I don’t know if the seller thinks it is a clever or what but with these classics I believe that only an M engine justifies an M badge. Also, AC Schnitzer wheels have never been my thing, not even as a winter set. In my opinion chubby little wheels are not a good look on any car but especially here. An E30 needs OEM basket weaves or some generation of M3 wheel to maintain the classic look. However those are both personal cosmetic dislikes, both easily remedied, so I find it easy to look past them and see the potential in this example of a unique E30.

After all, there is a whole lot to like here. The Recaro cloth seats look immaculate and I can tell you from personal experience that they’re very, very comfortable. The M-Tech II wheel is one of my favorite BMW wheels of all time, great thickness, perfectly cut out thumb rests and visually pleasing unlike the monster airbag wheels that followed. The M-Tech II tiller does come in two different sizes, 365mm and 385mm respectively. I’ve only gotten my hands on the smaller of the two but I can’t imagine the larger one being a better option. The seller doesn’t note which wheel he put in so that’s something I’d want to find out early on. Outside the car looks pretty darn clean for living up in the great white north. Again I’d need more information as far as the car’s life story is concerned but overall it looks like it has lived on easy street. Of course looks can be deceiving, especially with these cars so serious homework would have to be done to determine if this car is worth your time. As you’ll see in the gallery at the bottom of the page, the dash is cracked so that’s something that’ll need attention rather quickly and there’s also no A/C, a deal breaker for a Southern California resident like myself. However if you don’t need cold air on your face and couldn’t care less about a visible fault line in front of your eyes all the time, then perhaps this E30 is for you.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 BMW 325i M-Tech II on Kijiji

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2008 Porsche Boxster S

 

I’m not sure if there is a more under appreciated and oft maligned sports car than the Porsche Boxster. I was quite fond of the original generation, even had a 1:18 scale Maisto model of the original concept version that would become the 986. I think what drew me to the car was the obvious design nod to the Porsche 550 Spyder, which is art on wheels as far as I’m concerned. The majority of people would say the Boxster is just the opposite. They still look at it as the poor man’s Porsche or the divorcee mobile or the car you get bait & switched into by a shady dealership when by some divine miracle, you make a hole in one at the tournament with a WIN A PORSCHE gimmick. Look it up, that kind of thing has totally happened.

I actually think that’s a good thing because it leaves plenty of these cars out there for those of us who know better than to be swayed by public opinion. The Boxster isn’t without its faults but that can be said of all Porsches right up to the very tip top models that like to catch on fire just for the hell of it. The Boxster is a great choice of vehicle for anyone who just loves to drive.  First one I got to pilot was a 2013 base model with the excellent 6spd manual transmission, top down on the freeway in the middle of December on a cloudy day in Los Angeles. I remember everything about that experience vividly and I think that’s a true testament to just how good of a machine these are.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 Porsche Boxster S on Cars.com

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2009 Mercedes Benz C63 AMG

Funny how the passage of time works when it comes to the automotive world. It seems like just yesterday that I looked at the C63 AMG as a completely unattainable car, the kind of ride that only Euro club bros with frosted tips and too much of dad’s money to spend would be be able to afford. However, thanks to our old friend depreciation, the smallest AMG worth owning is under the $30k mark, good news for those of us without a Scrooge McDuck vault of money to swim in.

$30k is the high mark for what I would consider a reasonable amount of money to spend on a car give or take a couple grand. These days you can get a whole lot of car in this price range, 1st gen Cayman S, E90/92 M3 and of course this lil hot rod from Stuttgart that houses a hand built motor. While I’ve long been a bigger fan of the M3 because of the availability of a 3rd pedal, a C63 AMG sedan always turns my head when one rolls by. Sadly they’re often piloted by people who should probably have the keys taken away, for their safety and the well being of the car. This example down in Texas has made it 86,199 miles, still looks quite fresh and I hope someone with a real appreciation and respect for the powertrain takes it home.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2009 Mercedes Benz C63 AMG on Cars.com

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2008 Audi A4 2.0T S-Line Titanium

Were I not the sucker for a V8 soundtrack that I am, I would probably already have owned or currently own one of these cars. Like the M-Sport BMWs, the S-Line Audis can be looked at as the more wallet friendly alternative to their non hyphenated name siblings. While vehicles wearing the roundel are often offer a more dynamic driving experience, Audis are no slouch in the fun department and still offer the quiet kind of luxury that I prefer.

In terms of rolling incognito the A4 S-Line Titanium is perhaps the very definition of the term. The charcoal Ronal wheels aren’t for everyone but I’ve always liked them, so long as they wear a tire with a protective lip. These wheels are prone to curb damage and I’ve seen some badly chewed up ones over the years. Aside from the wheels only a few other cosmetic changes will clue an informed individual into the fact that this is an extra special A4. Blacked out window trim, grille surround and piano black interior trim are all that really separate the Titanium from a run of the mill S-Line. As for the S-Line package, that adds a lower ride height, 3 spoke steering wheel (aka. the one you want) and some S-Line badges that are easily removed, as you see here. The result is a real sleeper that has the potential to be an outright monster given the massive aftermarket part availability for the 2.0T A4. If it was me, I’d leave this thing alone except for an ECU flash to get just that little bit of extra juice for those times when the power hungry side of my personality kicks in.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 Audi A4 2.0T S-Line Titanium On AutoTrader

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