Update 1/17/19: The E30 sold for $4,200.
Continuing on the custom theme, today’s post comes thanks to some unusual chassis combinations. Of course, BMWs – and particularly the 3-series – are no stranger to swapped motors. I’ve covered just about everything, from a M62’d E30 to the outrageous S85-powered Hartge H50 and, of course, the ubiquitous S50/2 swaps in E30s or E36s.
But today’s power overhauls come in the form of American V8s stuffed into the noses of Munich’s finest small sports sedans. While their personalities are quite different, both manage to pull off the swaps as relative sleepers despite the crazy changes underneath. So which is the winner?
Remember when you used to order your entire vehicle from the Christmas catalog? Yeah, me either. But this is exactly what six very wealthy people did in 1999. In one of the strangest marketing moves I’ve seen, our friends at Europa International, the G-Wagen importer before Mercedes officially starting bringing in the G500 in 2002, partnered with luxury department store Neiman Marcus to sell a special edition G500 through their Christmas catalog. It was a three page spread (attached below) with a few photos and a paragraph of information all to hit you with the price tag: $160,000. For those keeping score at home, that is nearly $240,000 in today’s money. What did you get for all that dough? A G500 with a special two-tone interior and Swedish Birch wood trim. Like I mentioned, they only managed to sell six of these. I am not sure if you ordered this and the G factory would build them or they only built six to sell. My guess is the former.
Today, one of these Neiman Marcus Gs is up for sale in the Atlanta area. This is one of two that I’ve ever even see photos of and luckily for the next owner of this G500, it has been cared for and loved over the past 17 years. Question is, are you willing to pay a pretty big premium for it?
Update 11/25/18: This S4 sold for $8,302.
Continuing in my theme of the ultimate Audi garage, this post is going to seem a little strange. That’s because if I was going to pick an Audi sedan to collect, the second generation S4 would be pretty low on the priority list. In fact, I’m not sure it would make the top five. Without a doubt the D2 S8, the B7 RS4, the C4 S4/6, the D11 V8 quattro 5-speed, and the 4000CS quattro would all make it higher on the list.
It’s not that the B5 S4 isn’t compelling, with the twin-turbocharged V6 cranking 250 horsepower through a 6-speed manual. Barring the RS4 listed above, a box-stock B5 S4 will outperform everything else on that list in virtually every test. It’s just that the B5 S4 is a lot more desirable when presented as an Avant. So why is this sedan here? A few reasons. First, it’s Nogaro Blue Pearl Effect, and that should get a pass every time. Beyond that, it’s pretty clean, it’s got the unusual but pretty light Silver leather interior, it’s all stock, and it’s a manual. But as an added bonus, it’s also no reserve:
The E36/7 M Roadster remains an interesting microcosm of not only BMW, but more specifically BMW M, products. Similar to the SLK and Boxster, the Roadster offers you a unique experience and expression of your favorite brand. But because “true enthusiasts” don’t value you them as much, these models often come to market below the value of similar models. While the E36 M3 Coupe is enjoying an uptick in value and the E36/8 M Coupe has been more highly prized, it’s possible to get a lower mileage and great condition Roadster for less money still though the experience is quite similar.
Today I’ve stitched together three interesting examples – one for every budget. From a very inexpensive example through an unusual low-mileage collector, which one grabs your eye?
I’ve been really itching for a convertible of late and specifically a Mercedes-Benz SL. Maybe it is just the nice weather or the want to start another project, but I always seem to be digging around for a R129, R107 or even if I’m lucky, a Pagoda. During my digging, I came across today’s car which would be perfect for a summer daily driver but believe it or not, I actually want it because of what it does with the top on. Yes, that means this 2000 SL500 has the panoramic hardtop option that turns the normal boring hardtop into a full glass roof that still people go nuts for. Myself included.
It seems like every time a first-generation Mercedes-Benz SLK catches my eye I look inside to see what seems like the inevitable. The paint on the center console is all worn away leaving a disaster of flaking paint and a total eyesore. Blame it on poor materials or careless owners, but these SLKs just don’t seem to be holding up as well as you might have expected. Once you realize that these were not just a mini-SL and built with more of the spirit of the C-Class in mind, you start to understand why they are aging like they are. It is possible to keep these nice in ideal conditions by ideal owners, but now that these cars are old enough to buy cigarettes, they are few and far between. Much to my surprise, this SLK230 up for sale in California is one of the better ones I’ve seen for sale in a long time. The best part? This price almost seems too good to be true.
To this point, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen the E39 M5 referred to as the “first of the robot-builts”. Sound ridiculous? So does dismissing a car because it was produced in mass quantities. While the original run of 4- and 6-cylinder M-cars got the trend rolling, there are quite a few who’d argue that the recipe of the super-saloon was better achieved in the third generation M5 rather than the first two. It was still very understated, yet with 400 horsepower and instant torque it was quite a bit faster than the prior generations had been. It retained the ability to demolish back roads, keep up with super cars, and bath its occupants in luxury. Despite not being assembled ‘by hand’, it was also the last of the “analogue” M5s, with limited computer intervention and interface. And, they only came as manuals. This certainly sounds like a recipe for success.
It was. BMW sold nearly 10,000 E39 M5s in North America – triple the combined total of the E28 and E34 models. So there should be a lot of really great examples out there to consider. Yet many are starting to come to market with upwards of 150,000 miles a a laundry list of maintenance to catch up on. Where does a low-mileage example fall these days? This beautiful Royal Red one in California gives us a clue:
Back in November of 2017, I looked at an early special-order 540i Sport Package. It ticked many of the right boxes; while the later cars gained the shouty M5 exterior bits, the early cars are understated in a nice way, yet still potent. I’ve especially always been a fan of the Style 19 BBS wheels on the early Sport cars, but the follow up wasn’t bad, either. The turbine Style 32s mimicked Alpina’s signature style, but looked right at home and as if they were always intended for the E39.
But this car has some other items going for it that the first didn’t. While both are M62/TU 6-speeds and carried the M-Sport suspension, this one also has the M-Sport steering wheel and sport seats. The downside?
I check out a fair share of limousines with some of them being pretty cool and some being done maybe not so well. For better or worse, each one of them has their own unique features and characteristics. Today’s limo, a 2000 Mercedes-Benz E320 built by Binz, has its own setup that I haven’t seen before and even has a little surprise under the hood. Although the title might have given away the surprise though.
The first generation Mercedes-Benz SLK was all about fun. When the SLK was launched, Mercedes said it was ”driving in a new dimension.” I kind of get what they were after but I’ll just chalk it up to some marketing-speak. While the R129 was the serious roadster with a serious price tag, the R170 was the light-hearted option that checked in at $40,000 as opposed to the $80,000 and up if you went with SL500. There was a finally an option for people who didn’t want to spend starter home money for a Mercedes convertible. The best part about it was that the normally ultra-conservative styling you were used to seeing was moved towards something that still could be recognized as a Mercedes, but a breath of fresh air and a look into the new millennium. You want a crazy color? Sure. Matching seats? You got it. And how about something those stuffy R129 buyers don’t have, an automatic, retractable hardtop? Yep, that will make Morty and Barb from the club jealous. How about one more thing, a supercharger. Now we are going crazy!
All this was really great in the late 1990s. Times were good, money was flowing and there was no reason to believe that you when you bought a SLK, you weren’t getting that same standard of quality that you were used to from every Mercedes convertible of past. All the way from the 300SL and 190SL to the R129 and C124 and everything in between, those were really special cars. There is a reason why the W111/112 Cabriolet is still a six-figure car and Pagodas even in the roughest of condition are starting at $50,000. The thing with the SLK was that all of a sudden the generous amount of leather and wood you were accustomed to in your top-down Mercedes was suddenly replaced with vinyl and plastic. Lots and lots of plastic. It’s tough to blame Mercedes as they needed to directly compete with the BWM Z3 that was well into production and buyers didn’t care all that much because they got a convertible with that giant three-pointed in the grille for half the price they usually are. Everyone wins.