10K Friday Family Truckster Edition

I got to laughing the other day during a National Lampoon marathon on television when the memorable “Family Truckster” came onto the screen. The inclusion of that heavily ornamented and modified car in the movie was truly a stroke of genius, but once again a sad reminder that many of the wagons that previously were available to us are gone, replaced by crossovers, “GT”s, or SUV/SAV vehicles. Of course, because of this you don’t have to go back very far in time to find great deals on the last generation of premium 5-doors. Today, with that in mind, I’ve rounded up a set of all-wheel drive sporty wagons to consider – which is the winner?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 Mercedes-Benz E500 Estate 4Matic on eBay

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Wednesday Wheels Roundup

Time for another wheel roundup, and as I’m just in for winterizing the Audi and swapping the snow wheels onto the Subaru, I’ve got the chunky winter tires on my mind. Just because you’re swapping on the winter duds doesn’t mean you can’t still be in style on a budget, and today I’ve got a few sets that look like a great deal. The Audi B8 wheels are awesome looking – factory wheels aren’t the lightest, but they’re well made, well finished and look great on a number of newer Audis. For only $650, this set with caps looks awesome. The Tiguan wheels are the only non-stock wheels here, being made by Sport Edition. It’s a popular Tire Rack winter brand that looks reasonable and gets the job done. With few miles on that set of tires, it looks like an awesome deal at under $500. The Beetle wheels fit a bunch of the Mk.4/A3/TT models, and the brand new factory wheels and new tires mounted for under $800 seems like money well spent. Then BMW wheels are a bit more pricey but look overall to be in good shape. Then there are the factory 8″ Mercedes wheels, off either a 500SL or 500E. With some chunky looking rubber and no reserve, at the current bid of $250 they’re an absolute steal.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: Audi B8 18×8, 5×112 Wheels on eBay

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Tuner Tuesday: 1994 Mercedes-Benz 500E AMG 6.0

Pulling together enough legendary names to nearly create it’s own “Justice League”, the Mercedes-Benz 500E saw the combination of two of the most storied names in German automobiles – Porsche and Daimler-Benz. The 500E was sure a serious car out of the box with 320 horsepower and torque to match; but for some, that wasn’t enough. For those enterprising individuals with deep pockets, their Stuttgart superhero saw the introduction of a third legendary name; AMG. AMG had been placing larger displacement engines in Benz models for years, and the 500E proved no different. It even became an official product since Daimler owned a major stake in AMG; the merger would see a new range of high performance out of the box Mercedes models like the SL60 and E60. With a 50 horsepower boost in horsepower and 75 more lb.ft of torque, the 6.0 brought the 500E to another level of performance, chopping nearly a second off its 0-60 times and giving close to Porsche 911 Turbo levels of straight line performance. But while the E60 and SL60 models are pretty rare, it was more common to do what this owner did – ship the car to AMG for a motor swap after purchase:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 Mercedes-Benz 500E 6.0 AMG on Classic Driver

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2006 BMW M5


I think I like the new F10 M5. Despite the technology overload and a severe distaste for the sound-reproduction technology, any time I see one pass I dream of slapping on an exhaust that makes electronics unnecessary and letting the twin-turbo V8 do its thing – spinning tires. When the E60 M5 came out in 2005, I didn’t really get into it. The styling didn’t do much to improve the E60’s ugly genes, and all accounts seemed to find the SMG and V10 interesting at best, confused and pointless at worst. But now, as I see them ignored in parking spots, a few years removed from being the king of the hill, I see many parallels to the E28 M5 I hold so dear. The engine is motorsport-derived and batcrap crazy. It’s certainly a Bahn-stormer, and flies under the radar of most. The owner of today’s M5 must have some appreciation for the E28’s only-black US availability, as they have endeavored to completely black it out. The real headline here, though, is the fact that regardless of where your M5 affinities lie, there’s no question that low-$20s for a 500hp V10 is a silly performance deal.

Click for details: 2006 BMW M5 on eBay

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10K Friday Family Truckster Edition: E500 Wagon v. 530xi Touring v. Passat 1.8T 4Motion Variant v. S6 v. Touareg v. Cayenne S

Family life – it’s a mixed blessing. I could never have imagined the unintended consequences expanding my family by 50%; in terms of space consumed, physics and logic told me that there was no way that the amount of space required with a small child would increase any more than…say, 50%. Yet, the reality of adding to my family is that the amount of space required for even what seems like the most miniscule trip increases disproportionately to the size of the package that arrives. Babies are a bit like those magic sponges in a capsule I got when I was a kid; once they hit air, they expand to 200-300% the size they were. So, long story short, when you have a family you likely need more space.

Over the past few years we’ve seen a general backing away from wagons towards the bane of most enthusiast’s existence, the S.U.V. and the “crossover” – many of which are really just tall wagons. So what are the options if you want to maintain an enthusiast’s lifestyle whilst still surviving the onslaught of baby-themed items? Well, for around $10,000 you can get some pretty diverse rides – so let’s see what’s the one you’d choose:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 Mercedes-Benz E500 4Matic Wagon on eBay

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Tuner Tuesday Part 2: 2009 BMW M5 6 Speed Dinan


This 2009 BMW M5 isn’t really a full Dinan model, but rather a desirable car which has undergone some factory-approved Dinan modifications. Purists rejoiced when the manual option was re-added to the M5, but few seem to come up for sale. This particular model looks just about showroom fresh in metallic black hearkening back to it’s Grandfather E28. But what resides under the hood of this monster is decidedly not from an E28; with nearly double the cylinders and double the horsepower, these M5s will and can take on just about anything you can bring to it. The manual replaces the jerky-at-low-speeds and harsh shifting (not to mention expensive to service) SMG transmission, making the black interior that much more inviting:


Year: 2009
Model: M5
Engine: 5.0 liter V10
Transmission: 6-speed
Mileage: 65,188 mi
Price: $39,995

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2009 BMW M5 Dinan at Coventry Motor Car


To me these cars still seem like they just arrived on the market, so it’s amazing to me that they’re priced below $40,000 now. For mid-range 3 series money, this is a lot more car and a lot more special than run of the mill 3er. If you really want to announce your presence in the office park, the Dinan exhaust will do that quite nicely for you. Long term the 6 speed manual is the option I’d choose. This car looks well kept and dealer serviced, so there shouldn’t be any surprises of any sort except for the face on that Porsche 911 Turbo driver as you out accelerate them. Downsides? Like all M5s, there don’t seem to be many – this is truly a car for most occasions!


2010 BMW 535i xDrive Touring 6-speed manual

Today, I’ve decided to jump from one manual transmission to the next. Albeit this time we’ll look at one that has a bit more get up and go than the Mercedes featured earlier.

Similar to Audi, BMW has decided to nix the traditional estate, or Touring model, from the US lineup. As of this moment, if someone wants a new BMW that is more versatile or commodious, you’ll have to look towards their lineup of SUVs or the oddly shaped 5 series Gran Turismo. There are rumors, as purported by Automobile Magazine, that BMW is planning to bring a Touring variant of their new 3 series across the pond, but it has yet to be seen if it will be offered with this 535i xDrive Touring’s most tasty feature, the 6-speed manual gearbox.

Sold in very limited numbers here, this 535i XDrive Touring is made even more rare with the three pedal option. This gearbox mated to the 3.5 liter, twin-turbo inline six producing 302 horsepower will make sure you can haul fast. Literally. And the dark green over tan color combination would look right at home in The Hamptons or country club parking lot.

Year: 2010
Model: 535i xDrive Touring
Engine: 3.0 liter twin-turbocharged inline six
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Mileage: 30,145 mi
Price: $37,480

2010 BMW 535i xDrive Touring 6-speed manual on AutoTrader

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Navigation, ultra-rare 6-speed manual transmission, premium package, heated seats, heated steering wheel, Harman Kardon Logic 7 Premium Sound System, panoramic sunroof, power liftgate, one previous owner.

Every time I see a late model E60 5 series Touring for sale, they don’t seem to come cheap. Could it be the uncertainty of whether BMW will bring the 5 series Touring back to the US? Or are these 5-door Bimmers just that good. I tend to think both reasons are at play here. Even though it seems pricey for a three year old 5 series, the high $20,000 to mid $30,000 range is what low mileage 535i xDrive Tourings are averaging. If it could be had closer to around $34,000 to $35,000, this would certainly be a great machine for the family that doesn’t want to surrender driving enjoyment.


1994 Mercedes-Benz E60 AMG

Many consider the 500E and E500 the top dog of the W124 range, AMG did this car one better. While not offered in the US, buyers elsewhere could specify Code 957, the AMG Technik package, turning your base E500 into an E60 AMG. This tuned sedan featured the M119 V8, modified with a longer throw crankshaft, a 10:1 compression ratio, higher lift intake and exhaust valves and a less restrictive exhaust. This all added up to 376 horsepower and 428 lb ft of torque, with 60 mph attainable from a standstill in 5.2 seconds and a top speed of 175 mph. This was more than enough power to scare certain high end sports cars of the day off the line. Only 126 of these super saloons were ever made and there are even reports that AMG produced a handful of E500 and E60 estates. What I wouldn’t give to get my hands on one of those fast haulers…

This Brilliant Silver E60 AMG is on offer about 60 miles southwest of Hanover, Germany.

Year: 1994
Model: E60 AMG
Engine: 6.0 liter V8
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Mileage: 90,409 mi
Price: $62,966

1994 Mercedes-Benz E60 AMG on Classic Driver

Mercedes-Benz E60 Sedan

Exterior color: Brilliant Silver Metallic 744
Interior color: Black Leather 271

Amenities: Left seat electrically adjustable with memory, driver seat right electrically adjustable with memory, AMG technology package, automatic dimming rear-view mirror, electric blind for rear window, electric sunroof, adjustable steering column, adjustable front folding armrest, automatic climate control, sound system, locking system with remote control, heated seats. Very well maintained vehicle, serviced recently with extensive replacement of all oils and filters, as well as new tires and muffler. All calculations based in Germany accounted for.

Currently, an E500 in good shape with less than 75,000 miles will range somewhere in the low $20,000 range to just above $30,000. I was shocked to see how much the seller was asking for this car, even when considering how rare these cars are. Closing in on almost 100,000 miles, I thought the asking price was steep, but then I stumbled across a limited edition E60 AMG, one of 12 ever made. This was on offer $15,000 higher than our feature car. While it may seem crazy for some to spend that kind of money for a W124 of any kind, I’m sure there are collectors and enthusiasts who appreciate these cars for the goal the manufacturer and tuner had in mind: to be the fastest thing with four doors on the Autobahn.


2010 BMW 535xi Touring 6-speed

Longroofs are the perfect way to add a confused look on most people considering sports cars. “But how could a mom’s car be a good driver’s car?” “Wagons are slow.” Etc. Well, real car fans know some of the coolest sports cars in the world have been wagons. RS2/4/6? E63 Wagon? Who doesn’t want an M5 Touring (side note, I saw an M5 Touring with Antigua plates at a local gokart track. Foreign envy boiling)? Well, this isn’t quite an M5 Touring, but it’s about as good as we’ll get in the States. With a twin-turbo 3.0l inline-6 and all wheel drive, this almost sounds like one of those fancy-fast Audi wagons! The cherry on top is the rare 6-speed manual, an ever-increasingly refreshing sight these days. Edging this 535xi a little closer to M5ness is an M-Sport Package and Dinan goodies, including chip and exhaust pushing the N54 to over 380hp and 420lb-ft. Not bad for the most popular car in Silicon Valley soccer field parking lots.

2010 BMW 535xi Touring 6-Speed for sale on BMWCCA CLassifieds

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I think you would be very hard pressed to find another sport wagon–with the M-sport package, no less–fitted with a 6-speed manual in the US. This is a fully loaded car in immaculate condition. Additionally, the car has the Dinan Stage 3 engine tune and a custom fitted Dinan exhaust. Michelin Pilot Sports replace the standard run-flats. Immaculate condition. No dings. No wheel rash. Fully loaded, save for rear air bags. I have thoroughly enjoyed this car. It is special. Looking for the right home!

I was pretty surprised to see the potency of the Dinan upgrades (although Dinan only lists 2 stages and the ad says it’s “Stage 3”). Combined with the standard-yet-rare option boxes already ticked, this is a kickass wagon. I’ve heard these aren’t the most trouble-free BMWs, but if you’re looking for a modern car that is fun to drive anywhere and that can handle a family, it’s hard to deny the versatility and good choices present on this 535xi. $46k is a bit steep, but not out of line. Thank goodness it doesn’t have M5 fender vents.


2008 BMW 535xi Touring

We have a soft spot for fast estates here at GCFSB. We’ve featured a few Mercedes-Benz E class AMG estates along with some Audi S4 and S6 Avants, but one of the more obscure five doors of recent memory is the BMW 535xi. Currently, BMW does not sell a 5 series Touring in the US, opting instead to foist the, ahem, aesthetically challenged 5 series Gran Turismo on us. I’ve only seen two of these things on the street and not surprisingly, sales have not been good. While BMW considers whether to bring the 5 series Touring back to the States, this E60 535xi is the newest 5 series estate we’ll have a crack at. And this one for sale in New York has one important feature: a 6 speed manual transmission.

2008 BMW 535xi Touring on AutoTrader

Clean Carfax, one owner, 6 speed manual, sport package, 18″ wheels, comfort multi contour seats, Dakota leather, Premium and Cold Weather packages, front and rear heated seats, heated steering wheel, navigation, heads up display, lane departure warning system, rear side impact air bags, rear sunshades, Logic 7 sound, HD radio, rare car with all the options.

While not as fast as some German estates, the 300 horsepower from the 3.0 liter twin turbo inline six cylinder engine in this 535xi is certainly enough to get the job done and then some. Three pedals in a family hauler like this might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but that’s OK. It would certainly help come negotiation time on the price. Almost $37,000 for a 5 series that is creeping up on 50,000 miles is a bit difficult to stomach. If this car was priced between $30,000 to $33,000 it would be more in line with the market for these right now. For the person wanting a fast five door with three pedals, there aren’t many choices these days. Even if there was more competition in the segment, the 535xi would still stand head and shoulders above the rest.