A few weeks ago I took a look at probably the best R230 Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG I’ve ever come across. Turns out I wasn’t the only one who felt that way before it sold shortly after we featured it. That of course had me digging in the R230 rabbit hole and it looks like I hit gold today. This 2003 up for sale Oregon is a pretty standard example. First model year, has a couple dings and scars, 133,000 miles, but overall what’d you expect. It isn’t a flood car or two SLs welded together. Just a used 2003 SL500. Then I saw the price and wondered how insane an idea it would be drive a 16 year-old Mercedes convertible across the country. It’s that cheap.
From the C3 chassis we looked at the other day to the launch of the C5 was just a scant 7 years. The styling was evolutionary and instantly recognizable, but the C5 really broadened Audi’s offerings in the U.S. market. Building on the success of the A4, Audi launched not only the normal sedan and wagon offerings, but the return of the S6 and introduction of new 2.7T performance models, along with the Volvo-challenging Allroad.
The pinnacle of the C5 was, of course, the twin-turbocharged all-wheel drive version you see here built by Audi’s skunkworks, quattro GmbH. With assistance from VAG-owned Cosworth Engineering, the resulting BCY motor cranked out a peak 444 horsepower at 5,700 rpms and an impressive 415 lb.ft of torque between 1,950 rpms and 5,600 revs. The body, brakes, wheels and suspension were all upgraded by quattro GmbH too, with plenty of technology incorporated to transfer the power to the ground and keep the RS6 planted. Though it was saddled with an automatic transmission only and tipped the scales at a massive 4,050 lbs, the tenacious all-wheel drive, computer programming and massive power resulted in a 4.4 second 0-60 sprint, besting both the contemporary M5 and E55 AMG. The RS6 had 14.4″ front brakes, dynamic ride control, and meaty 255-section Pirelli P-Zeros to control that speed. Lowered ride height, flared sills and fenders and giant gaping intakes and exhaust along with signature honeycomb grills set the stage for how these cars have looked since.
The first RS model imported to the U.S., Audi expected to sell 860 at nearly $80,000 a pop. But they didn’t. They sold more, such was the demand, with an estimated 1,200 making the journey to North America. But as with basically all complicated, fast older German cars, they’re not worth what they were new, making them very tempting in the used marketplace. And there are a lot of used RS6s out there to choose from at any given time – currently, there are 10 available just on eBay. The thing is, you should avoid most of them. But not this one:
For the last few years, Volkswagen has perpetually teased us with the hottest Clubsport and Clubsport S version of the GTI, promising they “may” come to the United States but never following through. While this is no doubt disappointing to the twelve people who actually would have bought them and the 1.8 million who claim on the internet they would if given the option, it follows a long tradition in German motoring of leaving the best of the breed in the homeland. When it came to the GTI, not only did we have to wait several years before we got the original hot Golf, but indeed it was a bit watered down and heavier when it did arrive. The same continued in the next two generations; more weight, less power. Both in the second and third generations we also lost out on supercharging, all-wheel drive and special body kits available in the European market.
Once again in 2001, a neat Golf was launched that â€“ of course â€“ wasnâ€™t coming to the United States. But of all of the special editions that werenâ€™t sold here, perhaps this one made the most sense to be excluded. It was called the 25th Anniversary Edition and you didnâ€™t need to be good at math to realize that there was no GTI sold here 25 years before 2001. Since the â€œ18 year Anniversary Editionâ€ didnâ€™t make much sense from a marketing perspective even in spite of Volkswagenâ€™s continual spotty judgement in that regard, it was no surprise that it wasnâ€™t offered. That was too bad, as it had a lowered suspension, better brakes, a bit more power, fantastic Recaro seats and the best looking BBS wheels fit to any Volkswagen, ever. Volkswagen enthusiasts in America drool inwardly and shouted openly, so in 2002 Volkswagen finally did bring the special edition here. Again, since â€œ19th Anniversaryâ€ didnâ€™t make any sense, we instead got the â€œ337â€ Edition. This was, for all intents and purposes, an exact copy of the 25th Anniversary model, but instead the 337 referenced the internal project code for the original GTI. But they were quite limited, with only 1,250 sold in the U.S. and 250 sold in Canada. So, you probably missed out on your chance to own one, right? Well, wrong, because in 2003 Volkswagen re-released the 337 edition. Conveniently, there was now a round number that they could actually commemorate the GTIâ€™s longevity with as it had been 20 years since the A1 GTI rolled out of Westmoreland. Again, it was a greatest hits edition; the 337 upgraded 12.3 inch vented brakes with go-faster red calipers carried over, as did the upgraded suspension. Though they sported different fabric, inside was the same Recaro interior with deep bolsters. The golf ball shift knob also returned, though it now was mated to a new 6-speed transmission (MQ350) which in turn were connected to R32 Aristo wheels in place of the BBS RCs. Deeper front and rear valances matched the previous two models, and the 20th AE got blacked headlights more similar to the 25th AE. The AWP 1.8T turbo’s boost was cranked up a bit, delivering 180 horsepower through the front wheels and tied to an electronic differential. A final homage to the original model were subtle rabbits adorning the rear and vintage inspired GTi badging. But the biggest change was that the 20th AE was available in three colors unlike the silver-only prior cars; Black Magic Pearl, Imola Yellow and Jazz Blue :
Although the lower-output, less frills A6 4.2 is the sedan model I prefer (for some strange reason) from the C5 lineup, I was left disenchanted by the last one we looked at. Suggesting that by the time you corrected only the known faults your bank account would be empty, I headed out into the RS6 territory to prove myself right and that you could get a better car for the same money. And what to my wondering eyes did appear in the sea of gray, but a shining white RS6.
Now, on the surface, Polar White doesn’t seem either like the most exciting color nor the most rare thing out there. However, Audi claims that out of the 1,436 RS6s it sold here in 2003, only 5 were ordered in this color. That makes this particular RS6 quite special, as if the RS6 wasn’t special enough to begin with. But if you need a reminder about what’s what in the RS6, I went into further detail back in October:
2003 Audi RS6
If the color wasn’t special enough, this particular RS6
is was also being offered in a no reserve auction and the price is so far on target to prove my supposition regarding the A6 4.2 right:
Update 1/17/19: This car is listed as sold for $2,750.
As I’ve mentioned before, the success of the Audi A4 really opened the U.S. market to a whole lineup of cars we might otherwise not have been privy to. Undoubtedly the best way to consider that is by looking at the C5 A6 lineup. But first you need to remember that prior to its 1998 launch, the C4 reigned in 1996 at the top of the Audi sales ladder for the U.S.. However, the number of configurations you could get was shockingly small. You had the choice between front-wheel drive and quattro, and again between sedan and Avant. That’s it. Following the drop of the 2.2 liter turbocharged S6 for our market in 1995 and the 5-speed manual from the A6 lineup for 1996, your only “choice” if you wanted a mid-sized Audi was to begrugdingly select the rather stale 2.8 liter V6 rated at 172 horsepower and mated solely to a 4-speed automatic. It was competent, but boring. Actually, that sentence sums up the end of the C4 run here pretty well – and the market recognized that, snapping up only around 10,000 of the models each year.
Turn your attention to the C5 lineup and you suddenly see the array of options opened by sales success. First to launch was the heavily revised sedan for 1998. Now with the 30 valve V6, horsepower was up to a more respectable 200 and the transmission gained a gear, though it was still automatic-only. The Avant carried over from the C4 lineup unchanged for ’98, but the new sedan was enough to double sales of the A6. ’99 launched the new Avant and with it, again a surge in sales by 50%. That allowed Audi to bring over some more exciting options:
I don’t think we need much of an excuse to look at a clean Audi S8. But in case you haven’t been paying attention, the D2 S8 is one of my very favorite Audi models. It’s also one that I haven’t owned, and at some point I’d very much like to change that. Unfortunately for me, time continues to march on and I feel as though every day the chances of finding a very nice S8 that is the perfect fit for me becomes more remote.
That doesn’t mean that there aren’t some great ones that come up for sale, though, and today’s example certainly appears to be ticking the right boxes. From the last year of production, this is one of the 100 Ming Blue over Platinum models brought to the U.S.. Since only 300 made it here in total, any 2003 is worth a look, but this one is especially nice – and, shockingly affordable:
Itâ€™s pretty amazing to think that only 20 years separate the 1984 GTI I looked at the other day and todayâ€™s 2003 Audi RS6. The development of car design, technology and performance over that time took a greater leap forward during that period than any other, I believe. Sure, new cars are incredible and do more every day. But when the RS6 launched, that GTI felt, looked and drove positively like an old car. When you factor in that roughly the same amount of time that separates those two models has passed since the introduction of Audiâ€™s C5 platform to today, it draws into sharper focus that itâ€™s been more of a progression of steps recently rather than a great leap.
The pinnacle of the C5 was, of course, the twin-turbocharged all-wheel drive version you see here built by Audiâ€™s skunkworks, quattro GmbH. With assistance from Cosworth Engineering, the resulting BCY motor cranked out a peak 444 horsepower at 5,700 rpms and an impressive 415 lb.ft of torque between 1,950 rpms and 5,600 revs. The body, brakes, wheels and suspension were all upgraded by quattro GmbH too, with plenty of technology incorporated to transfer the power to the ground and keep the RS6 planted. Though it was saddled with an automatic transmission only and tipped the scales at a massive 4,050 lbs, the tenacious all-wheel drive, computer programming and massive power resulted in a 4.4 second 0-60 sprint, besting both the contemporary M5 and E55 AMG. The RS6 had 14.4â€ front brakes, dynamic ride control, and meaty 255-section Pirelli P-Zeros to control that speed. Lowered ride height, flared sills and fenders and giant gaping intakes and exhaust along with signature honeycomb grills set the stage for how these cars have looked since.
The first RS model imported to the U.S., Audi expected to sell 860 at nearly $80,000 a pop. But they didnâ€™t. They sold more, such was the demand, with an estimated 1,200 making the journey to North America. But as with basically all complicated, fast older German cars, theyâ€™re not worth what they were new, making them very tempting in the used marketplace. You just have to find a good oneâ€¦
Update 10/15/18: This M3 Convertible sold for $22,100.
Like yesterday’s base 944, the M3 Convertible isn’t a car I spend a lot of time on. However, the recipe is hard to argue with; you get the beautiful lines of the E46 mated to the sonorous S54 with limitless sky over your head at the touch of a button. When this car was new, it was the fastest production 4-seat convertible available, though at nearly $60,000 it was hardly cheap. Fast forward to today, and it’s generally become the cheapest way to experience BMW’s gem of a motor in the ultimate development of the naturally aspirated inline-6.
Though I don’t write of them often, I do keep my eye on them from time to time. And today’s particular 2003 is a very special package. Presented in 400 Steel Gray Metallic over N5ZM Cinnamon leather, visually this car is quite a looker. Inside you’ll find a 6-speed manual, too, and a scant 34,866 miles on the odometer. Oh, and the auction is no reserve, too:
It is almost silly how many variations of silver exist. And this isn’t just a Porsche phenomenon, but they do seem to lead the pack. Here we have another: a Meridian Metallic 2003 Porsche 911 Turbo Coupe with Cinnamon leather interior and 25,002 miles on it. I don’t think I have ever seen Meridian Metallic, though to be honest I’m not entirely sure I’d know if I saw it unless it was sitting amongst a few other silver 911s. It seems to exist somewhat in between Arctic Silver (lighter) and Seal Grey (darker). We might think of it as a silver in the vein of Polar Silver, not in the sense that the hue is the same, but rather that it is a variant of silver with a slight blend of another color. Polar Silver naturally possesses a hint of blue to it, whereas Meridian appears to have a slight purplish/pinkish hue. I will admit I kind of like these variations of silver since they possess more dynamic properties that will change depending on the type of light and I do find this 911 to be strangely attractive. Even so, at the end of the day, it’s still silver. I wouldn’t necessarily seek it out, but as an option on a very nice looking Turbo it might tilt me slightly in its favor.
While it definitely appears the market for a good 996TT is rising that doesn’t mean all of them are becoming expensive. Such appears to be the case with this 2003 Porsche 911 Turbo equipped with the X50 performance package, the Turbo aero kit, and a set of hard-back sport seats. It has an asking price of $50K and that’s not too bad at all! Of course there is a reason the price seems more reasonable and that’s because at 87,549 it has a few more miles on it than we typically see on a Turbo. That’s still reasonable mileage for its age so if it’s been cared for and there aren’t any other lurking issues, then those miles may not represent too much of an issue.