Now that I’ve exhausted all of the nice Mercedes-Benz R129s currently on the market, I wanted to wander over to the R230 to see how things are going with the first SL with a folding hard top. The R230 was a giant leap forward in terms of styling and technology compared to the R129 as now the normally boxy and square roadster suddenly didn’t have a flat edge on the entire car. It was what needed to be done to keep the car relevant in the new millennium with the legacy buyers coming back as well as capture the hearts of all the new money buyers that wanted a sleek roadster that didn’t feel like an old man or woman’s car that was driven to the country club on a Sunday morning to play golf. It is tough to stay that Mercedes didn’t succeed in that as even now that the R230 is 17 years-old, it still doesn’t look or feel that age. Sure, some of the tech is dated, but getting in of these cars doesn’t scream ”this car can legally buy cigarettes next year” old.
Of course, with the introduction of the SL500 and V12 SL600 in the R230, Mercedes stepped up their game in the US market by giving customers the SL55 AMG that was a hit as soon as they landed on dealer lots. A 0-60 time in 4.4 seconds thanks to 493 horsepower and 520 lb⋅ft of torque, the SL55 wore the crowd of the fastest automatic transmission car in the world for a short time before the big brother SLR came on to the scene in 2003. The SL55 continued to be the model of choice over the more expensive V12 SL600 until it was replaced by the SL63 in 2008. The SL65 AMG joined the lineup in 2005 with its twin-turbocharged V12 making an insane 604 horsepower and 738 lb⋅ft of torque, but also carried a price tag starting at $185,000. Needless to say, the SL55 remained the best bang for the buck at a still very expensive $115,000, but was a bargain compared to competitors Ferrari 360 and Aston Martin’s DB7 Volante in terms of both purchase price and cost of running. Today, the SL55 sits in that no man’s land of not old enough to be considered a classic and not modern enough to be considered by people who want to be impressed by a bunch of tech. Add in the fact that the running costs can scare some people off, a Corvette seems like a much better buy for the convertible crowd who take Sunday cruises to the Daily Queen. What does that mean for prices on these beasts? Very good things if you are willing to commit to owning one. At least this example up for sale in North Carolina proves that.
The year is 2019 and we are full into an era where a first generation Porsche Cayenne can be had for the cost of a German Shepherd puppy. Seriously these, along with its hunky cousin Volkswagen Touareg, are trading for shockingly low prices thanks to the classic formula of low demand, low quality and higher than normal repair costs at a higher than normal rate. Buying one of these now is a gamble that I don’t think anyone is really ready for because while money can fix anything, you can’t buy more time from the inconvenience that these things can cause. If you wanted to snag one for a pure hobby knowing that this is going to be a bumpy ride, there is one special build that is worth looking out for: the 6-speed manual.
For whatever reason, Porsche brought over a handful of 6-speed manuals mated to their 240 horsepower version of the 3.2 VR6 in the 5,000 lb. base model Cayenne. I’m sure every dealer who were allocated these had thoughts about not setting the parking brake and letting them roll away given how hard these were to sell when new. While Porsche also brought the 6-speed manual in the GTS model, that one was mated to a 405 horsepower V8 and sold as a performance model, so it made sense in a way. Here we are now some 14 years later and a handful of these bounce around on the used market in conditions you would expect an old Porsche SUV to be in. Everything is sticky, it smells like crayons and the center carrier bearing probably needs replaced again. Still, this example up for sale in Chicago might have you thinking about it if you are just crazy enough.
I post this mainly out of curiosity because that’s pretty much what this 911 is: a curiosity. This is a 2005 Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet. It’s located in California, has an Arctic Silver Metallic exterior over a Sand Beige interior and has 77,243 miles on it. Nice car!
The current owner decided he wanted a little more out of his Cabriolet and has attempted in some regard to replicate both the appearance and performance of the 911 GT3. As I’m sure you are aware the GT3 does not exist as a Cabriolet. I don’t imagine it ever will, nor do I imagine there is much desire for such a machine. But car enthusiasts being what they are, they tend to crave more performance even when the performance already is pretty good or even when they’ve chosen the model with somewhat compromised performance because the roof has been cut off. And I guess that’s how we got to where this 911 is now.
I will say it does look great. The GT3 front always has looked better than that of the standard 911 and here juxtaposed with the Cabriolet rear it’s a pretty attractive design. It’s party in the front, business in the back. It’s a reverse mullet. Personally I’d actually be satisfied with the alterations to its appearance, but this owner didn’t want to stop there and put in a bit of effort to improve its overall performance. I doubt it’s up to GT3 levels, especially given that I’m sure this Cabriolet still weighs a good bit more than a GT3 (according to Excellence a Carrera S Cabriolet weighs around 250 lbs more than a GT3), but performance should be elevated nonetheless. As I said, it’s kind of a curiosity. I don’t know that I’d ever think to do this to a 911 Cabriolet, but it’s not a bad idea.
When it rains, it pours. For a vehicle that North American only saw 192 of, I have come across three W211 Mercedes-Benz E55 Estates for sale in less than three weeks. Last week it was a 2005 in The Hamptons that needed some help and the week before that it was an even rarer 2006 also in New York that was replaced by a Ferrari FF. Today, we have another 2005 that is up for sale in sunny Jacksonville, Florida that thankfully looks to be in prime shape. This S211 painted in Brilliant Silver Metallic checks in with 145,000 miles and thanks to a few little Mercedes software tricks, has some nice little features that I don’t see all that often.
Last week I looked at a 2006 Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG Estate that drew quite of bit of reaction from the comments. I say that as a good thing because most were pretty happy with the condition but thought the price was a little high (which I can say I don’t really disagree with). Well wouldn’t you know it, another W211 E55 AMG Estate popped up for sale with even fewer miles, in the same area and an even a cheaper price. I thought this might be an answer to what everyone was looking for. There’s just one slightly big problem with this one though: it is by far the worst condition E55 Estate I’ve ever come across.
Depending on your location it might be beginning to get cold and snowy (or the cold and snow might be well underway!). That means for many 911s their time in the sun shall now take a brief hiatus as they are tucked into their respective garages awaiting the return of more hospitable weather. But not everyone likes to follow such a tack. For some their 911 must prove capable regardless of what the environment demands. At least within reason.
So I began to think about daily drivers and which 911s could serve such a purpose. Naturally that would lead me to one of the various all-wheel drive models and here I think we have the best all-around candidate: a 2005 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S, located in Washington, with 42,950 miles on it. I suppose if you deal with frequent snow you might want to have a little less power and save a little money so you’d opt for the regular Carrera 4. But that’s less fun and the C4S looks better than the regular 4. Also, it doesn’t snow all the time and if you live somewhere where it does snow all the time, then get yourself a Defender and let the 911 rest. For cold weather, maybe some light snow, and general fun when the roads are dry go for the 4S. And, of course, it’ll be more fun in the summer too!
I must admit I have been pretty impressed with some of the selection from this seller of late. Previously I featured this 993 Turbo S that I still return to now and again to look over the various details. It’s an absolutely exquisite car. There are others I haven’t posted: like this 997 Turbo S that looks quite good in what is a pretty attractive color combination. It’s not a GT3 though and I like a nice GT3.
So here we have a Speed Yellow 2005 Porsche 911 GT3 with only 9,784 miles on it. It doesn’t quite live up to the same level of amazing as the 993, but still looks in excellent condition.
The downside to all of this wonderfulness? Prices are very high. I don’t know if that Turbo S is going anywhere anytime soon and even though prices for these GT3s certainly have moved upward, and we have seen a few eclipse the six-figure mark, I think this one probably is a bit optimistic. Still it’s a lovely example of the 996.2 GT3, which has become one of the more sought after versions on the market.
Perhaps the excellent value has all but dried up. Granted with just under 20K miles on it, the mileage on this Black on Black 2005 Porsche 911 Turbo S is pretty low and that certainly is going to raise the asking price, but at almost $90K it’d be tough to put this one on your performance value radar. But frankly the low mileage 996TT have been moving well up in price for a while now so perhaps this is nothing new. Still, it was fun while it lasted.
The Turbo S itself is a fairly rare and special version of the 996TT. Available only for one year, they more or less were a version of the standard Turbo outfitted with the X50 performance package and PCCB. A few other cosmetic details help differentiate them as well. For some reason the majority of those produced were Cabriolets. A fair number of those Cabriolets came equipped with the Tiptronic S transmission. As such, manual-equipped Turbo S Coupes are always worth a look even if they can be a bit pricey.
Update 9/18/18: This Alpina B5, claimed (believably) to be the only one in the U.S., is now up on SecondDaily.com with a $22,000 Buy Now. At that price it would seem much more in line with the market!
In my mind, Alpina’s mystique has dimmed slightly over the past decade. Still capable of producing monsterously powerful luxury machines, the proliferation of options that are also insanely fast and luxurious has meant that the company’s original niche has become substantially more commonplace. And while it’s been awesome that Alpinas started being imported through BMW dealerships in 2007 and now offer several models to U.S. fans who can stomach the serious price tags, it also made them much less exclusive.
While products have widened over the past few years to include the 6-series, most of what Alpina sent to the U.S. market was based on the 7. The supercharged B7 was quite potent, but didn’t solve the problem of the E65’s looks all that much. Arguably, no amount of anything could do that particularly well.
But the B7’s supercharged 4.4 V8 was also available to Europeans in a (slightly) smaller package – the B5. Based on the E60, what would have started as a 330 horsepower 545i was transformed into a 500 horsepower, 500 lb.ft torque weapon. In typical fashion, Alpina revised the wheels and suspension, exhaust and interior, and of course added body kits to the E60. With 133 lb feet more torque than the V10 M5 produced and at a more reasonable 4,000 rpm rather than 6,000, the B5 could actually out-accelerate the M product. 0-62 was tested to arrive in 4.6 seconds, and the fun didn’t run out until you were just 5 mph shy of 200. Best yet, you could have this speed in a wagon!
Unfortunately for U.S. fans, the B5 and even more powerful B5S weren’t imported to the U.S.. Production of the B5 was limited to only 428 sedans, and the quite believable claim is that this is the only one in the United States:
Update 8/30/18: The asking price has been dropped from $94,995 to $88,995.
996 GT3 prices do seem to be going up. It was inevitable given how highly regarded these 911s are among the Porsche lineup even when we factor in that many still don’t like the styling. More modern GT3s will bring with them higher levels of performance, but the 996 is no slouch and its rawness relative to the newer models continues to garner them high praise. And even with higher prices they remain some of the few you can find under six figures.
The one we see here, a Guards Red 2005 Porsche 911 GT3 located in New York with only 21,164 miles on it, is one of the more interesting examples I’ve seen. Guards Red doesn’t seem especially common on any 996, let alone a GT3, and the details in the interior with deviated stitching and red gauge faces provide some nice contrast. I’m not a fan of the black wheels, but otherwise I really like the way everything comes together on this one.