The W463 Mercedes-Benz G-Class Cabriolet is one of those vehicles that you might have a hunch is special, but aren’t quite sure how special until you really look at it and then ultimately look at what kind of prices they are commanding. I’ve taken a look at these G Cabrios before and my consensus is that they are loved for two reasons. The first being that they are extremely rare and people love to have what others can’t get. Second reason being that it is simply a G-Wagen with a power convertible top. Jeeps and Defenders with cloth tops are cool and all, but just easily pushing a button to raise or lower the top on your SUV that can literally climb a mountain is a luxury that people will seriously pay for. This 2006 G500 Cabrio up for sale in Switzerland looks to be case once again.
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:
When the second generation Cabriolet finally launched for 1995, Volkswagen had waited so long to replace the A1 chassis that it completely bypassed the A2. What appeared then was a A3 chassis, and compared to the outgoing model it was bigger, rounder, softer and not appreciably sportier. Motivation was from the same ABA 2.0 inline-4 found in the standard Golf rated at 115 horsepower, so to make it ‘hipper’ Volkswagen dropped the “let” from the name.
It was, however, instantly recognizable as the new go-to affordable 4-seater drop-top, but sales were slow in the mid-90s. Volkswagen sold just over 5,800 1996s, for example. They were pretty expensive for a Golf at nearly $20,000 MSRP and over with some options, but then this was the cheapest German convertible you could buy. The big problem was that for less money you could get the much more entertaining (and reliable) Miata. The combination of low production numbers, the classic styling of the original and lack of enthusiast appeal mean we just about never feature them. I last wrote up a Cabriolet in July 2017, and the last Cabrio was a year earlier. So there’s nothing to see here? Not with this turned up and built one, that’s for sure!
I’ve always thought the early W463 Mercedes-Benz was the pinnacle of all the G-Wagens that made it to production. It has enough creature comforts to make you feel like you aren’t a member of the Slovak Republic Armed Forces on a counter-terrorism mission (seriously, 43 military organizations around the world use a G-Wagen) but not so many modern toys that everything is already broken inside it or at least on the verge of being. It has comfortable seats, a modern HVAC system, a nice stereo system and some real wood trim. You still got your choice of gas engines as well as a diesel that didn’t have 84 horsepower. Mercedes also gave you a choice of a five-door or a three-door and, perhaps most surprising, a three-door Cabriolet. Today is one of those convertibles for sale in Italy and since it’s a 1992, it’s only one month short of being eligible to be imported to the United States under the 25-year importation rule.
In an attempt to challenge Mercedes-Benz’s R107 for chassis longevity, Volkswagen’s introduction of a more affordable German drop-top in the 1980 Rabbit Convertible stretched production until 1993. That meant that the A1 outlasted all of the A2 production cycle and was no squarely into the newly launched A3. Volkswagen introduced their replacement for the aging and renamed Cabriolet with the Mk.3 Cabrio in 1994. As with the A1, production again would extend beyond the A3 chassis life, because in 1999 VW introduced us to the fourth generation Golf. As with the 2nd generation, VW didn’t plan a convertible version for the Mk.4 – well, at least, not for the Golf, as convertible duties would be handed off to the New Beetle. But since the launch of the nostalgic Beetle Convertible waited until 2003, VW covered the gap with the “Mk3.5” refresh on the Cabrio. It received softened and rounded bumper covers, Mk.4 inspired lights, and a lightly revised interior. As with other VW models, there was a base GL model or the better equipped GLS, like today’s example:
Welcome back to Fail Friday: Where once good cars can hopefully get the help they deserve. Today’s vehicle is a result of what happens when people just simply have too much money. It’s not the fact that it’s the ultra-rare W463 G500 Cabrio, it’s the fact that someone decided to turn it into a driving Salvador Dali gallery. I have lots of questions and not a lot of answers so let’s try to sum up this surreal G-Wagen located in Germany.
There are few cars, past or present, that do not have a stigma attached to them. The Toyota Prius is for dope smoking activists who are under the impression they are helping the environment. Range Rovers are for trophy wives. Mustangs are for people who enjoy burnouts at Cars and Coffee and jump the median strip or crash into a crowd upon leaving the event. The Volkswagen Cabriolet? The stuff dreams are made of for high school girls and the official sponsor of sororities across the country. Right? Too harsh of an assessment? Well, if I was ever going to question my masculinity, I’d do it with this 1989 Volkswagen Cabriolet. In black over nicely contrasting white leather, the Snowflake alloy wheels and 5-speed manual gearbox set this one apart from the usual cruisers equipped with the 3-speed automatic. This example for sale in Florida is about to hit 80,000 miles and quite frankly looks like it just rolled out of the showroom. I wouldn’t mind tooling around in this drop top this summer.
While we only saw a few special edition Volkswagens in the 1980s – mostly Wolfsburg Editions – the amount of special edition VWs available in the European market was staggering. Whether it was a fashion designer or a tribute to a particular sport, it seemed there was a trim package for just about every taste. This particular one, a Cabriolet Bel Air, is one that I haven’t seen before. These Bel Airs were available in three colors, Diamond Silver, Ruby Red or the Blue Pearl we see here, all with color matched Avus wheels and color matched trim. This low mileage example is for sale by the same dealer in Germany that had the BMW L7 we featured last month.
I’ll get this right out of the way: at GCFSB, we don’t like “stanced” cars. Okay, so what is this Cabrio doing here? Well, as we’ve done before, occasionally there are cars worth taking a look at because perhaps they can be saved. This Cabrio is a good case in point; a lower mileage example with a clean VR6 swap, but riding a little too low for most people’s taste. No problem, it’s supported by air, so you can crank it up a bit:
To me, there’s always been something special about the Golfs with a few extra lights in the grill. Super rare are the Mk.1 Hella grills – one of which I wrote up around a month ago. The quad-round grill was and still is very popular with the Mk.2 crowd, but I remember the first time I saw in European Car back in the 1990s a Mk. 3 Golf GTi with the Hella grill pictured here. I thought I looked really cool, and I still do. They’re rare to see come up for sale, but here’s your chance today:
Price: $325 Buy It Now
Hi! I have for sale a Rare Hella Foglight Panel for any VW Golf 3 Mk3 III Cabrio GTI 16V VR6. This unit was only used one time on a car for less than a month. I have had it sitting around for 6 years now and its time to let it go. There are no broken clips or anything broken on this unit for that matter. The box shown in the picture is NOT included, box is sadly long gone for this unit. I just put it up as an example. Please contact me with any questions. Thanks! Paul
As I said with the 4000 cassette holder the other day, sometimes it’s the little details that help to set the car apart. This is a small addition that will really change up the style of the car. I wish I still had my Mk.3 Golf some days, and if I did this would be pretty high on my list to add in!