Back in the 1990s, Mercedes-Benz really started hitting their stride with producing a bunch of special editions that were all made up whenever they felt they need. Most of the time they just threw whatever they had in the parts bin on the cars when it came to paint colors, wheels, interior trim and then would finish it off by calling up their graphic designers to whip up a unique logo to stick around the car. Today’s car, a 2000 SL320 Mille Miglia, is exactly that.
Back in 1995, Mercedes actually launched a Millie Miglia edition to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Stirling Moss’s and Dennis Jenkinsonâ€™s win of the 1955 Mille Miglia road race. A nice gesture for sure, but I’m sure this decision was highly influenced, if not totally, by getting ready to launch a major facelift in 1996 for the R129 and they wanted to move all the old stock out. Offered on the SL280, SL320, and SL500, it was nothing more than some red inserts on the leather seats, carbon fiber trim with some red weave in it and some leftover EVO 2 wheels from, you guessed it, the parts bin. Then in 2000, Mercedes made another Mille Miglia edition, but just made 12 cars. Why 12 cars? Well, that is how many they needed to usher around VIPs at the Rally 1000 Miglia in Italy. In 2001, the final year of the R129, they again made 13 cars all based off the SL600. So what is unique about these cars? Well, it is basically a Silver Arrow with some badges on the outside and a little sticker on the ashtray door. That’s it. Lean manufacturing must be big at Mercedes.
Continuing on my theme of rare European treats, here’s a Jetta you don’t see every day. While the market may have seemed fairly saturated by the 2000s with all-wheel drive wagons – including Volkswagen’s own Passat Variant 4Motion – that didn’t stop VW from bringing a new generation of small wheel drive five-doors to customers. Of course, there had been a Mk.3 Golf Variant Syncro available with the VR6 previously – I looked at one a few years ago:
4WD Week: 1996 Volkswagen Golf Variant 2.9 VR6 Syncro
The Syncro name was dropped for the 4th generation and fell in line with the new 4Motion branding shared with the Passat. However, while the Passat’s longitudinal drivetrain borrowed Audi’s B5 quattro system, the Mk.4 was of course transverse. As a result, the Mk.4’s Haldex system was shared with the Audi A3 and TT. The Golf Variant was also renamed the Bora Variant, and thus was born today’s car. Engine revisions mid-run led to this model: the 2.8 V6 4Motion Highline. While the car is branded “V6” and if you open the engine bay it even says “V6” on the beauty cover, it was in fact a 24 valve variant of the 2.8 liter narrow-angle VR6. Dubbed the BDF and rated at 201 horsepower, that made this a little all-wheel drive pocket rocket 5-door, and just like the R32 we saw it could be mated to a manual transmission:
It boggles my mind that the Z8 design is now 24 years old. First penned in 1995 and shown at the Japanese Motorshow in 1997, the Z8 looked outrageous and the recipe sounded perfect with internals were borrowed from the E39 M5. That meant the S62 quad-cam double-VANOS 4.9 liter V8 cranking out 394 horsepower and routed exclusively through a Getrag 6-speed manual transmission driving only the back wheels. Coupled with Henrik Fisker’s sumptuous lines, the Z8 managed to both channel the history of BMW’s landmark 507 and be a cutting-edge design at the same time. It was the halo car that helped to lead BMW into a new Millennium. Sold for sometimes upwards of $160,000 they were instantly collector fodder, but these cars also caught headlines almost immediately due to problems with their aluminum space frames deforming in the shock tower area.
Between collectability, the up-front expense and fear of destroying the chassis, a fair amount of these cars appear today with very low mileage. So why look at this one? Well, it is well below average mileage, but mainly – the color. Only 5,703 Z8s were produced, putting it roughly on level footing with the E24 M6 in terms of scarcity. Worldwide only 325 were selected in Topaz Blue Metallic, and of those this is one of the 131 produced for the 2000 model year and only 30 sent to the U.S., 21 of which had the Crema interior of today’s example:
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 withÂ 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.Â 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: