Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to daily drive a car that isn’t 38 years-old and has such luxuries like airbags, ABS and a modern climate control system. Don’t get me wrong, I love my W116 Mercedes-Benz 300SD, but sometimes I yearn for heated seats and a tire selection greater than three different brands. Once in a while I will see what kind of options are out there for more modern replacements for my W116 and today’s car, a 1998 E300, might just be a perfect combination of modern amenities and the old school diesel feel. This W210 hails from the Northeast with only 100,000 miles and in what should be a total shocker to almost everyone reading this, has no rust. Is this the answer to all my wildest dreams and fantasies?
Yellow is always a hit or miss color when it comes to German cars. Some cars it looks great on like a Porsche 930 or a Volkswagen GTI 20th Anniversary Edition. Other cars, maybe not so much. When it comes to yellow Mercedes-Benz, there aren’t a whole lot of them out there. This was a hot color in the 1960s and 1970s, but outside of the first-generation SLK and the new AMG GT, you won’t find many painted in this bright shade. When you do, it is literally just a handful of them and they were probably painted that way by special request. Today car, the king R129 SL600, is painted in the factory Yellowstone 685. At least that is how it sits now. Let me explain.
”The champ is here!”
This is it. The big one. One of the craziest road legal Mercedes-Benz ever produced and a car we probably won’t see anything like ever again. The CLK GTR. The result of a homologation requirement from the 1997 FIA GT Championship, this CLK GTR, along with the Porsche 911 GT1, literally took grand touring cars and made them road legal. Only 35 CLK GTRs were ever produced by Mercedes and AMG. 26 of them being production cars, seven racing cars for the GT Championship and two prototypes. Out of those 26 production cars, six were roadsters that looked even wilder. All of them were powered by the M120 V12 borrowed from the W140/R129 chassis with 21 cars being 6.9 liter variants that made 604 horsepower and the five other cars, called CLK GTR Super Sport, using a 7.3 liter making 655 horsepower. All of these CLK GTRs used a 6-speed sequential manual gearbox with gears that were so loud that the radio was hopeless in trying to drown out the noise. How much did these cost when new? $1,547,620. If you are wondering, yes, that was the most expensive price for any production car at the time. Just to put that into perspective, that is $3,255,285 in July 2018 money, which is right where a new Bugatti Chiron is priced.
Now that we have all that out-of-the-way, let’s get to why we are here. This 1998 CLK GTR is car number nine of 25 that was originally sold in Germany before being shipped to Hong Kong for a while before moving again to the US where it will go up for auction next month. It has just under 900 miles so it is safe to say this one didn’t get out much but that just means potential buyers will likely have another reason to send the bid into another league. How much is it projected to sell for? Well, you can cancel your order for your Chiron and still need to head down to the bank to withdraw a few more million from your checking account.
Whenever I see a Europa Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen pop up for sale, I always take time to really check it out. Personally, if you gave me the choice to buy and live with any G-Wagen out there, from military-spec W460s all the way up to W463 G65 AMGs, I’d probably pick a Europa truck. I think they are the perfect compromise between the spartan offerings and the outrageous luxury you can get from a G-Wagen. You get a G that still can be daily driven in total comfort with modern safety but without the crazy options that ultimately you fear of breaking and then driving you nuts. This 1998 G320 up for sale in New Jersey just might be the perfect G-Wagen but fair warning, something this good won’t come cheap.
So, you have to drop $40,000 for a unique M Roadster? Hardly. If you’re willing to forgo the additional grunt of the S54, S52-powered Roadsters are still very affordable. And, they can be plenty unique in their own right. Take today’s ’98 for example. Evergreen is probably a bit polarizing in tone, but it’s also quite distinctive. The total pool of Evergreen examples represents only 2% of overall production of M Roadsters, though. Out of the 10,501 produced, 201 were shipped in the bright green shade – and out of those, 176 were equipped with the equally distinctive two-tone Nappa leather interior color matched to the outside. I’ve looked at a few of these examples previously:
Evergreen Forest, Part II: 1998 BMW M Roadster
So you get an unusual color, a more unusual interior, and still quite a potent convertible in the early M Roadster. What is the price delta, though?
The 993 C2S always has been one of the best looking 911s on the market. Maybe even the best. Combining the wonderful curves of the 993 itself with the wider rear of the 993TT made for a perfect marriage for those seeking a beautifully refined 911, but without the additional costs of the Turbo (nor all-wheel drive). That it also offered improved suspension, also borrowed from the Turbo, made it even better. (While this one does have the red calipers that would tend to designate the Turbo’s brakes, the C2S didn’t come with those. For the Turbo brakes you’ll need to find a C4S.)
While looking at this one I started to ask myself whether the proportions are off. It looked too squat and I began thinking it needed the rear spoiler from the Turbo to provide balance. Perhaps it’s just an effect of the angles and lighting of the photography, or maybe because it’s black, which doesn’t really show the curves as much as brighter colors. On the rare occasions I see one in the flesh I do find the 993TT to be a gorgeous car that snaps my head around in a way no modern 911 Turbo ever could. The C2S reminds me a lot more of those modern Turbos.
The picture I chose to lead with is the one I think looks the best. Perhaps it’s telling that the presence or lack of the spoiler isn’t readily apparent from that angle. It’s still a beautiful car, possessing all of the attributes that make a 911 so captivating; I’m starting to wonder if it could be better. Maybe it’s not perfect after all.
The majority of the wagons were feature around here are of the Audi variety. For good reason, of course. They look good, they are all-wheel-drive, come in manual transmission and usually they have the potential to be pretty quick. But every once in awhile I pull out a Mercedes-Benz wagon that can run with the four rings. Usually it’s an E55 or E63 AMG Estate that not only looks great, but hauls ass and literally everything else. Although this time around, I have something much more rare and it’s actually on North American soil ready to be snagged up by our Canadian friends.
The W202 C43 AMG Estate is a rare bird. Only 717 of these were built between 1998-2000 and thanks to the rust monster that the W202 usually succumbs to, that number is decreasing faster than you think. Nearly a year ago, I actually checked one of these out in right-hand drive spec that was pretty tidy and what I thought was a reasonable price. But this German-import has it’s flaws and the starting price (with reserve) is pretty reasonable. So is this the one to get?
Following on the lineup of 540is I’ve featured recently, I ran across this early production 540i Sport package car. It’s interesting for a few reasons. First, I’ve always really liked the clean look of the early sport package cars with either the turbine Style 32 wheels or the multi-piece BBS Style 19s as shown on this example. Something really worked for me about this wheel on this body style. An early 540i Sport, it’s missing some of the later additions I covered last time around, but still carries the aforementioned 17″ wheels and M-Sport suspension. However, this car is a bit different than the usual one that you’ll come across.
Having covered only 65,500 miles in its life, the seller claims the car was special ordered for European delivery. It also doesn’t have the standard sport seats that would have accompanied the sport package. It was ordered in fetching Canyon Red Metallic (343), too. And, of course, it’s got the all-important 6-speed manual transmission. Here, the pre-facelift orange directionals and less fussy taillight design work in harmony with the lack of body kit and beautiful exterior hue. Is it a winning combination?
Edit 11/17/2017: After three years with a over $230,000 asking price with the same seller, ask on this neat Andial-modified Carrera S has finally dropped to $149,993. Of note is that in over three years, the picture, description and mileage have never changed. A neat car, but buyers should do some heavy investigation before the deposit. Is this car a sign that the air-cooling market has also struck the 993, or is this just an aberration?
The 993 is, without a doubt, one of the more desirable 911s in the range of cars that span several generations. Enthusiasts agree, having quickly pushed prices up on these models over prior generations like the Carrera 3.2 and 964. In fact, it doesn’t ever seem like prices on these cars came down much – as soon as the 996 arrived, faithful flocked towards the older models, snapping them up. Especially sought are the Carrera 4S and Turbo models – but there are some really rare gems hidden that pop up from time to time. Obviously, the ultra-rare Turbo S, Carrera RS and GT2 models are a great example – quite rare indeed. I’ve also previously written up an even more rare Andial Twin-Plug Twin-Turbo, one of the reported 19 assembled by the noted factory approved race tuner. Today’s car, like that car, mixes some of the styles of the rare cars that we didn’t get or didn’t see many of. The base is the already semi-rare Carrera 2S; like the 4S, the body shell was shared with the Turbo, but unlike the all-wheel drive variant, the Turbo’s upgraded brakes didn’t carry over. To solve that, the owner of this car turned to Andial – with a host of exterior upgrades to make it look like a Turbo S and a host of RS-spec 3.8 upgrades to make it go well, this is one tidy package – and exceedingly rare:
I was thinking about how to relate my feelings about the first few generations of water-cooled small VWs, and I came up with the analogy of the BBC Doctor Who! reboot in the 2000s. The first generation was Christopher Eccleston; edgy, completely different from the prior generations with a fresh face, impossible not to view with a smile but also something you didn’t completely trust. The second generation? David Tennant took ‘The Doctor’ to new levels of popularity; more refined, more fun and with an infectious smile, he was quirky but somehow much easier to live with than Eccleston had been. He also developed a rabid fan base that consider him the best (this author included) even if he had some faults.
Then came Matt Smith. There’s certainly a fanbase who appreciates Smith’s rounder, softer and…well, weird portrayal of the Doctor. I’m not a fan personally, and often find myself pleading with other Who watchers to go back farther because the earlier variations were much, much better. Yet floppy and oddly proportioned, Smith was nonetheless very popular and took the show to a wider audience. See the Mk.3 VW.
Not really the best at anything aside from being pretty expensive relative to its contemporaries, the 2.0 inline-4 ABA-equipped VW’s nonetheless outsold the prior versions. The were poorly built and even more poorly owned; this was clearly a move towards disposable automobiles for the company, and it worked. I never really got the appeal of the third generation until I somewhat reluctantly owned one. And you know what? It wasn’t as good-looking as my ’86 Golf was to me, but in every aspect it was better. It was more reliable (amazingly), got better mileage, had a nicer interior, was faster and had both heated seats AND air con. And both worked! Plus it had fog lights and more stuff fit inside. In short, it was just better at being a car.
While I still don’t lust after Mk.3 VWs, I can appreciate them much more when I see them today. They’re affordable and fun transport that’s quite efficient. In 1993 they felt huge compared to their predecessors. But today? They’re downright tiny. And though this duo has high mileage, they don’t often come to market looking anything like these two anymore: