My never-ending quest to replace my aging Land Rover Discovery has yet to reach a conclusion because of a few reasons. First, I haven’t really needed to utilize my Land Rover all that much because it is strictly used for severe snow travel or when I need to haul something that won’t fit inside a Mercedes-Benz W123 or W116. The winter hasn’t been that bad at all and outside of hauling some leaves away in the fall, I haven’t needed to transport anything large. Second, I haven’t found something I’ve fallen in love with yet. Buying a vehicle for tens of thousands of dollars is a big deal for me because when I buy a car, I don’t mosey on down the local dealership and sign on the dotted line for 78 months at 11% interest then act like I just didn’t commit financial suicide. I’m surely not getting a 0% loan on a 10 year-old used SUV, so paying in full at the time of purchase soothes my soul.
Unfortunately, this past week when I went to replace the dead battery (imagine that) in the Land Rover, I noticed something odd dripping from the rear. I held my hand under the dripping fluid hoping it was water leaking from the rusty exhaust, but no, it was gasoline. As I crawled down on the cold ground to get a better look, I see that the leak was spewing from something on the top of the tank, probably from the return line. Thinking I could get a view of this leak from above where you can access the fuel pump, I peeled back the carpet and sound deadening to find that all six screws that hold the access door are rusted into something that once resembled a phillips head. Next course of action is trying to bust the heads off the screws with some force or cut them off with a wheel a few inches away from a pool of gasoline. This has been another episode of This American Land Rover Ownership Life.
Naturally, this has led me back on the hunt for a replacement and over to choice number 1, the G-Wagen. I’m pretty set on a W463, but unless you live in Los Angeles where the person who walks your dog drives one, finding one locally isn’t exactly an easy task. During my nationwide search, I came across this 2004 up for sale in Indianapolis with a monstrous 298,000 miles. I’ve looked at Gs before with a ton of miles on them before, in Los Angeles no less, so seeing one near 300,000 isn’t a total shock to me. The M113 V8 with the 722.6 transmission are tough as nails, so hitting 300,000 isn’t a sweat. What is a shock to me is the condition of this G and of course, the price that is being asked for it.
The 2019 model year marks the first year that the United States market will receive the new entry-level Mercedes-Benz W177 A-Class. It was a long time coming because there is nothing more American consumers want than luxury products on a low monthly payment. I checked out a new A220 last week at the auto show and I have to admit it was better than the C117 CLA-Class that was introduced to the American market in 2014. That CLA is a sad exercise of how cheap you can make a car and holds the record for the largest ratio of bezel to screen on a dash screen. Thankfully, a new CLA is in the works and should be miles better than the original. Nevertheless, those old cars will hang around on the buy-here, pay-lots until the end of time much like the original cheap Mercedes that started it all, the W168 A-Class.
Launched in 1997, it was Mercedes first dive into the subcompact market that was most infamously noted for failing the Swedish traditional “elk test” and looking like a giant wedge of cheese. The design wasn’t by random chance, Mercedes engineers designed the car this way so encase of a crash, the engine and transmission would slide underneath the floor below the pedals rather straight into the occupants in the front seats. The front wheel drive layout allowed this as well as there was no need to deal with a driveshaft preventing anything from sliding. Still, this car needed to compete in the subcompact market so it couldn’t be twice the price of competitors. That meant making the interior resemble a children’s play-place and passing it off as funky and modern. Those late ’90s were a crazy time after all. These sold reasonably well with 1.1 million units leaving dealer lots between 1997 and 2004 thanks to their small stature ideal for the city streets and tight parking of traditional European cities. Now, over 20 years later, a well-used A-Class can be had for the price of a modest vacation to Ocean City, Maryland and even the nicest examples, like this example for sale up for sale outside of London, don’t command a high asking price. Thing is, are they even worth it?
Just when I thought I’ve seen everything. Mercedes-Benz G-Wagens have had a long history of use by police and military units, but this one might take the cake as one of the most unusual special builds I’ve seen on one of these. This is a 1984 280GE that was outfitted for the police tactical unit EKO Cobra of the Austrian Federal Ministry of the Interior. Built by the Austrian company Achleitner, this G is not only fully armored and bulletproof, it also has a full 360-degree gunner seat, a roof turret and port holes out of all the pieces of two-inch thick glass. All of this while looking like a somewhat civilian G-Wagen. Whatever EKO Cobra did or planned to do with this thing, they weren’t playing around. Now somehow and someway, this literal tank of a W460 made its way to Massachusetts and is up for sale to the general public. The thing is, this 280GE has to be close useless in most situations and at this asking price, will have even the biggest G fans scratching their heads.
As fun and quirky as my two daily drivers, a 1980 Mercedes-Benz 300SD and 1983 Mercedes-Benz 240D, are to have, they are borderline miserable to drive in the northeast during the winter months. Since I don’t own a four car garage, they sit in the driveway 99% of the time while my W210 E55 AMG sits under a cover in my garage with empty boxes piled on top of it. As a result, it is always a surprise to see if the locks or door handles are frozen when I walk outside in the morning. From there, the 240D is pretty good about starting in any temperature but the 300SD isn’t having it unless the coolant heater has been plugged in for a while despite me just replacing the glow plugs a few months ago. Once I do get one of them fired up, really hot heat is a pipe dream in the 240D while it’s a crap shoot in the W116 because of the god forsaken Chrysler servo system. Compare all this to a normal car that you simply press a button on a key fob, put it in gear and drive away in total comfort. This all has me dreaming about a more modern daily driver and when you comes to dreams, you know what they say, dream big.
This 2010 S550 4Matic up for sale in Brooklyn might be one of the nicest W221s outside of any S600 or AMG variety. Painted in Designo Magno Platinum Matte Finish on the outside, the inside is even better with Designo Sand Leather seats with Oak Grain Designo Natural Matte wood sprinkled about. Add in some other neat options like the rear seat entertainment package and you have a really loaded up S-Class. But even with the depreciation at around 25% of its original cost, is it worth it?
Update 3/3/19: Sold for an impressive $20,300!
Last month I did a quick history lesson on the W163 Mercedes-Benz ML-Class and how it came to be made in America. One of the most interesting pieces of the ML story also involved another aspect Americans love: wildly fictional movies. If you are looking at this car, you probably know what I’m talking about. Somehow, Mercedes got in contact withÂ Universal Pictures during the filming ofÂ The Lost World: Jurassic ParkÂ about using the then pre-production ML in the film. Somewhat ironically, while Ford Explorers had replaced Toyota Land Cruisers used in the Jurassic Park novel, in Lost World it would be the Explorer now being replaced. Somehow, a deal came together and suddenly you were watching a couple of ML320s with a bunch of added on armor roam around a fictional world full of dinosaurs. One of the stars of the film, Jeff Goldblum, was given a free ML320 as part of the deal and the craziest part is that he actually used the ML as his daily driver for over 15 years.Â He must not be into cars that much.
Unlike other vehicles from the Jurassic Park franchise, the Jeep Wrangler and Ford Explorer, you would never see someone hack up a ML320 to replicate the version from the movie. Probably that’s because it wasn’t very smart to totally destroy a luxury SUV just to pay tribute to a film that was considered a letdown compared to the original. Fortunately, prices of first-generation MLs have hit play money type levels and someone in California took the plunge into full movie mode. Now it is up for sale and ready to be passed on to the next person who constantly wants to be stopped to answer questions about it in the grocery store parking lot.
A few weeks I took a look at one of the most jarring Porsche interiors I have run across with a 1999 911 up for sale in San Diego. It wasn’t so much that the Jade Green was all that ugly, but rather the Burl Wood that was plastered everywhere clashed so much with the Jade and the rest of the interior. Add in the fact that the car is automatic, has 166,000 miles and isn’t priced all that well, you can probably guess what it is still for sale. Most of you in the comments seemed to agree with my thoughts on that 996 as well judging by the reaction that it got. Although one commenter (Thanks JonnyA) passed along another late ’90s Porsche with a green interior that still has loads of green leather, but isn’t nearly as gaudy or off-putting. This 1997 Boxster up for sale outside of Dallas features Nephrite Green leather and even better, has just 8,900 miles. Is this a better option if you still want an inexpensive Porsche with a wild interior?
A few weeks ago I looked at the Porsche GT3 Touring that was partially launched by Porsche to curb the crazy prices of the 911R on the secondary market. It helped a little, but what really happened is that GT3 Touring prices are still selling for over MSRP and even if they still were in production, your local Porsche dealer wouldn’t give you an allocation unless you were a preferred customer. What a ”preferred customer” is varies dealer by dealer, but basically you get into that club by buying a 918 when they were new or spending lots of money at a dealer by buying lot cars, spending on service, showing up at events and generally being a good customer without raising any stink. If all that failed and you still are looking to get your kicks from something just a little more special, Porsche came up with the 911 Carrera T.
The “T” designation was certainly nothing new, having been launched as a base 6-cylinder model back in the 1960s. The new Carrera T moved more upscale, slotting between the base Carerra and the Carerra S as the lightweight purist option and is basically a mash-up of parts from most of the 911 range. It uses theÂ 370-hp twin-turbocharged flat-six from the base Carerra,Â adaptive suspension from the GTS, a lowered suspension, thinner glass for the rear window and rear side windows borrowed from the GT3/GT2RS, sport exhaust and the 7-speed manual with PDK as an option. You can load up this car with some other fancy options like those nice $5,200 sport seats, carbon ceramic brakes and rear-wheel steering, but most buyers are signing up for this car because of its slightly-less weight and reasonable price tag compared the rest of the 911 range. The Carrera T is as raw as you are going to get in a 991 without spending at least $175,000 for a GT3 and the good news is, you can actually buy one for sticker.
Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, depending on how you look at it, Mercedes-Benz has only graced the United States market with one AMG estate car. Thankfully, it was more than one generation starting with the S211 E-Class and continuing with the S212 and now up to the current S213. Of course, we got AMGs in every SUV, including a R-Class for whatever reason, but when it comes to regular estate cars, the E-Class was it. No C-Class estates, no CLA shooting brakes and certainly no CLS shooting brakes either. Even with the multiple generations of E wagon AMGs, good luck finding one for a reasonable price as even the most desolate ones still bring close to $30,000.
Today, I came across a really nice W204 C63 AMG Estate up for sale at one of my favorite dealers in Europe that is as clean as all the other cars I feature from them. This 2009 painted in Palladium Silver Metallic has all the right lines and curves to keep that aggressive AMG stance and have future classic written all over it. I just wish they brought them stateside.
It seems like every so often a car pops up that somehow has completely fallen off everyone’s radar – including the owner. Usually it is some story about how they were bought for a business but shut down suddenly and everything was left as-is, or how an owner bought the car and suddenly passed leaving the car sit while the family had other things to deal with. Sometimes you might hear about how someone bought a car and stashed it away thinking it’ll be worth big money sometime in the future. As a result, most of these cars have but a few thousand miles – maybe somewhere in the hundreds – but I can’t recall seeing too many cars with this few miles.
This 1988 Mercedes-Benz 300CE up for sale in Poland has just 98 kilometers on the odometer. For those who live their lives in miles, that is roughly 60. That’s it. How did this happen? I don’t know. The seller says that this car was originally sold in Sweden where it sat in a barn for the past 30 years before somehow ending up in Poland. It has never been washed and everything is included from when it left the dealer’s lot. Problem is, this C124 isn’t exactly a time capsule as you might have noticed by the photo. On second thought, it maybe is a time capsule, only one of those that wasn’t sealed correctly and when they dig it up to open it, everything inside is ruined from water damage. Yes, that’s more like it.
A few weeks ago I dug into the first generation Mercedes-Benz ML and explained while it was a hit when it came to sales, the actual nuts and bolts of the vehicle were less than impressive. A lot of you chimed in the comments section and shared your experiences with them and I can’t say I was all that surprised at what I saw. Naturally, as the years went on and Mercedes gave a face lift to the old Alabama trash can, things got a little better. Mercedes pretty much had to as every other luxury automaker was going full swing into the SUV market including Lexus with its RX300 in 1999, BMW with its X5 in 2000 and Porsche coming in heavy with the Cayenne in 2004. Suddenly the fight for all those upper-middle class dollars got really intense to see who could out do each other and still have to fend off the old guard upscale SUVs from Land Rover and the Toyota/Lexus Land Cruiser/LX.
As the years went on, Mercedes somehow had the space to add not one, not two, but three V8s under the hood of the W163. The M113 4.2, 5.0 and 5.4 liters were all borrowed from other Mercedes cars in the lineup, with the 5.4 coming from AMG. Today’s ML up for sale in San Diego I wanted to look at features the 5.0 liter badged at the ML500. Naturally, there are a bunch of these ML500s out there for sale and I didn’t want to pick any average one because they aren’t all that interesting and you can probably guess the condition they are in. This one however has just 57,000 miles and features the rare Designo interior option that I always love checking out. But much like the very low mile and clean ML320 from weeks ago, are you willing to pay the above average price for it just because it is clean?