I have a kind of love-hate with the Mercedes-Benz W220. The design of the S-Class from the W140 to the W220 was like high school senior who is just starting out in life to now a post-grad with an office job who realizes that this will be his life for the next 40 years. Everything is a little bigger, a little softer, not quite as handsome, but now you have some kind of money to spend on things like screens that will be obsolete in three years. Nothing wrong with that and totally acceptable, but the S-Class was now firmly blended in with the BMW 7-Series, Audi A8 and Lexus LS. There was some hope for W220 if you really wanted a full-size sedan to separate yourself from the rest and that of course came in the facelifted S55 AMG. The styling was much more aggressive thanks to some different bumpers and a quad exhaust setup, but the real gem was under the hood with the M113K. This engine was a gem the day it debuted in the E55 and SL55 in 2003 and to this day is a favorite by many for its relative reliability and ability to make huge power numbers. Now that we are well over a decade into the M113K existence and the regular W220 can be had for the same price as a gourmet pizza, finding an S55 AMG for not much money at all isn’t a problem. Although that doesn’t mean that all problems are solved, especially when it comes to maintaining these monsters. This 2004 up for sale outside of Chicago is no different.
The prospect sounded promising, but I was left feeling lackluster at best about the 750 mile 2001 BMW 330Ci I wrote up a few weeks ago. Sure, it was nice and that interior certainly was to die for; so, too, was the basically as-new condition. But the 5-speed automatic transmission, coupled with the outrageous $32,000 asking price, had me thinking there were better options out there. So if I was in the $30K range for an E46, what are my options?
Well, obviously there are plenty of M3s to check out any day of the week, and I’ll be looking at one soon enough. But when our reader John sent through this seriously impressive Alpina, I couldn’t help but take a look. The B3 isn’t a model we often look at; in fact, I’ve only reviewed on prior, and it was a E36 chassis. The E46 took an unusual route for Alpinas; rather than a blank-slate motor, the Buchloe company selected the S52B32 from the U.S. spec E36 M3 for their basis. It was bored and stroked to 3.3 liters, netting 280 horsepower. In 2002, the “S” version of the B3 was released, with a bit more bore and a revised engine management and exhaust system. This brought the power to 305, 0-60 plummeted to 5 seconds and with a 6-speed manual you could come close to hanging with the M3. Why buy one, then? Well, the looks were a bit more discrete overall, and you could buy not only a sedan and Touring version, but an all-wheel drive one as well. Today, though, we have a lovely Cabrio with the 6-speed manual to check out:
If you haven’t been following the E46 market, it’s increasingly becoming more expensive to get into a clean M3. As the M3 has crept up, so too has the “ZHP tax” set in on the sporty brother of the M3. So are there still bargains to be had in the E46 world? Yes, there sure are.
It’s possible to find well-cared for cars that seem to shrug off their mileage much better than their predecessors, and today’s 2004 330xi is a great example of that. Although it’s got the best part of 200,000 miles on the odometer, you wouldn’t know it looking at it from any angle. And the seller has gone through some extensive maintenance to make sure you don’t have to. What you’re left with is a great looking, well-equipped all-wheel drive sedan for a budget price:
Last week I checked out a really interesting 2001 Mercedes-Benz CLK55 AMG that was one of the better W208 AMG cars, but I still thought didn’t hold up to the brother W210 E55 AMG. I just thought it lacked a few things and I’m not just cherry picking little things, Mercedes really did short the CLK55 with equipment and less power. Today, I thought I’d check out the next generation, the C209, to see if anything improved and if they were on par with the W211 E55. Sad news, they were not.
Those who have been following along will know that I have had my eye on the GT3 in general, and the 996 GT3 specifically, for a good while now. I know it’s the 996 and we’re not supposed to like their looks, but I keep coming back to these cars in part because I do find them to be stellar looking machines from the outside. I do hate the interior, but I can live with it and given the GT3’s pedigree and prowess we certainly don’t need luxury. There is something about its exterior lines that I do really love and I dare say it’s my favorite of the GT3 models.
I will admit that price does have a little bit to do with the attention I have given these cars and it is in that regard that this particular GT3 has piqued my interest. This is a Carrara White 2004 Porsche 911 GT3 which sits with only 16,396 miles and only has had one owner. It looks in phenomenal condition and has a complete service history. The asking price is above $100K and that’s where I’m curious. I really haven’t seen many 996 GT3s with this sort of price tag. Has the market for these finally picked up a bit of steam?
Summer is approaching, which means warmer weather is on the way! At least that’s the theory. I’ve already seen that a baseball game has been postponed today because of snow. Still it’s probably safe to assume that it will be sunny and warm relatively soon and top-down motoring will once again be the thing to do. Back in the days when I actually drove on a daily basis I used to love the first few top-down drives of the Spring. They always brought a renewed sense of freedom and exhilaration to any drive. It was the best way to drive when I had nowhere to go. As the air grew warmer and the days longer I looked forward to those drives more and more. Even commuting wasn’t terrible.
So, let’s look at a Cabriolet then. Here we have an Atlas Grey Metallic 2004 Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet with Natural Brown leather interior and a lovely 6-speed manual transmission. It only has 11,352 miles on it and the price is quite high so this isn’t bargain shopping by any means. But I wouldn’t expect a sale at this price anyway so perhaps it can be worked down to something more reasonable. While just about any top-down drive can be a joy, having 415 hp at your fingertips certainly makes things that extra bit more enjoyable. To quote Dr. Frasier Crane, “if less is more, then just think of how much more more will be!”
The 996 GT3 remains one of my favorite Porsches. I like any GT3 – I mean, how could you not? – but the 996 has always held precedence for me as the first GT3 Porsche produced. I think I also tend to particularly like it because the GT3 and GT3 RS are the two 996 models where I don’t mind the appearance. With its revised lines I actually think the 996 GT3 is a good looking machine, while I remain bothered by the standard 996 offerings.
Over the past year I’ve looked at these GT3s a lot. I’ve long thought they were a nice value and with the values of our perennial performance-value favorite, the 996TT, on the rise the GT3 suddenly started to make even more sense. I think those days are (slowly) coming to an end. Asking prices for the GT3 appear to be steadily rising. I guess the cat is out of the bag and buyers are recognizing the value these represent. They’re also one of the few 996 models where collectors are likely to take notice.
Value still exists though so long as we allow for higher mileage. There aren’t a ton of higher mileage GT3s out there so at the moment opportunities are scarce, but they do exist. Like this one: a Speed Yellow 2004 Porsche 911 GT3, located in Dallas, with 86,410 miles on it.
So guess what caught my eye here? No surprise, if it’s a yellow M3, I’ll bite. This one grabbed my attention first because of the hue, then the price – just under $14,000 on a no reserve auction? Well, it must have a million miles rig….nope, not here. So it MUST be an SMG then, right? NO ONE wants a SMG because the moment you buy one they will murder you in your sleep and kick your dog and shut down the government (*according to actual internet comments I’ve seen). But nope, it’s a 6-speed manual.
But the more I looked at it, the more questions were raised. Why was no one bidding on this slick E46?
There are times when I am specifically in search of an auction for a particular car rather than a standard listing with asking price. In some cases, I even want that to be a reserve auction rather than one with no reserve. This is one of those cases.
I like to do this when I feel I don’t have a great handle on the market for a particular model and an auction provides a nice gauge of that. Why search specifically for a reserve auction? Because I’m confident it will run to completion since the reserve almost certainly will be too high!
The market for a 996TT with the X50 package or a 996TTS has seemed strange to me of late with asking prices all seeming much too high. Most of those listings simply are overly ambitious sellers and the cars don’t sell. Occasionally, however, they do sell. So I’m curious where asking prices should be and where they might be headed. That lead me to this: a Speed Yellow 2004 Porsche 911 Turbo Coupe, located in Miami, with the X50 package and just 17,500 miles on it.
Update 12/23/2017 – This R32 is back with almost no changes a year and a half later – except the price. When I looked at it in June 2016 the seller was hoping for $16,700. It’s now up to $17,400. Will this bold strategy pay off?
For a few generations, Volkswagen fans were denied the cream of the crop for Volkswagen products. It took several years to finally get the original GTi to these shores, and then it wasn’t quite as hot as the European version. The second edition might have sported twin cams and 16 valves, but Euro customers got the addtional option of a supercharged, all-wheel drive version. There were plenty of cool options missing from the U.S. lineup in the 3rd generation, too – including the 2.9 liter VR6 Variant Syncro. So there was a bit of rejoicing finally when the all-wheel drive hot hatch was finally added to the U.S. lineup after the initial launch in 2003. Sporting the same 3.2 VR6 found in the TT, unlike the Mk.1 TT it was 6-speed manual only. It was also only available as a 2-door model, with special body kit unique to the R32 and dual exhaust to help announce its sporting intentions. With the best part of 240 horsepower on tap, it certainly seemed like the ultimate Golf and the sound generated from the narrow-angle 6 was mesmerizing. While heavy weight meant it wasn’t considerably quicker than the 1.8T models, it nonetheless has secured a spot in U.S. fans hearts as the top trump from the Mk.4 generation: