Generally we focus on different angles, heritage or the performance of a car, but today I want to talk about the smell. Strange? No, in three separate conversations with different groups of enthusiasts, the smell of a particular run of car has come up. Now, my wife attributes it to the degradation of “horrible 1980s plastics” and more than likely she’s right. That warm and fuzzy feeling that you get – let’s call it ‘Old Car Smell’ – is probably giving you some type of unbeatable cancer. But do we love it? You bet. Over the summer when my friend Tom dropped off the 1987.5 Coupe GT, opening the door welcomed me into the exact same smell of my 1986 Coupe. And the same thing happened when I bought the M3; popping open the door revealed nearly the same scent as I recall my father’s M5 having the first time I got in. Not to be outdone, recently we posted a E500 and the comments veered off from talking about the typical attributes of the super sedan to the particular smell of the W124. And, oddly, when pondering this E320 coupe, the first reaction I had was that of wondering what it smelled like inside…
In 1999, if you wanted a small German performance car capable of carrying several adults, you had a few options. First, you could select the BMW M3 – the benchmark for performance in the category, the E36 was nearing the end of it’s life cycle and the sedan had been dropped for the last model year. There was no M3 Touring model available, so if you wanted a wagon you needed to move over to the folks from Ingolstadt; Audi’s second generation S4. While unlike the M3 you couldn’t opt for a convertible, importantly if you wanted to carry your 2.2 children and dog in style they had the Avant available. While BMW’s neutered U.S. spec M3 made it by with only 240 horsepower, Audi’s twin turbocharged V6 offered less displacement but waves of torque and 250 horsepower. Those were the days when a 10 horsepower jump over your competition was a pretty big deal. So, you can imagine the shock when Mercedes-Benz introduced it’s new take on the small executive performance market with the introduction of the V8-engined C43 AMG. While the C36’s inline-6 had a 26 horsepower advantage over its nearest rival, the C43 broke through the 300 horsepower mark with the M113, with 306 horsepower, but staggeringly also 302 lb.ft of torque. That’s a lot, even by today’s standard, and it was not only available in sedan form, but also in Touring form. Though the Tourings never made it to these shores, one has popped up on eBay and is for sale in the Great White North:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1999 Mercedes-Benz C43 AMG Estate on eBay
Pre-merger AMG products are perhaps the most copied and most sought Mercedes-Benz products from the 1980s. Like many famous works of art, there are plenty of copies, replicas and pieced-together pretenders out there. As with Ruf, Alpina and Hartge – amongst others – you could buy many of the AMG bits originally from authorized dealers and install as many or as few as you’d like. You could also have an authorized dealer install the bits for you. Therefore, the definition of what actually makes a pre-merger AMG a “true” AMG varies depending on interpretation. Most seem to feel that it required at least 3 items to be installed by an authorized dealer of AMG products; a strange definition in some ways, since you could buy, for example, a steering wheel, rear spoiler and wheels – thereby gaining no real performance advantage – but if installed by a dealer, it could be considered an original AMG. Of course, there was much more available than just those items, and the most desirable are the bespoke AMG-engined “Hammer” models with their massive V8s. Not everyone could afford those, so there were lesser models available too:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Mercedes-Benz 300E AMG 3.4 on eBay
For today’s Wednesday Wheels I have some more affordable options and some of my favorite aftermarket wheels. I’ve been neglecting Brabus for Mercedes-Benz, but they make some great looking wheels that are just subtle enough to look slightly different than stock but more aggressive. It’s an understated look that can really dress the car up. I love the BBS Mahle wheels in the right offset on early BMWs, even if they are only 14″ wheels. Try getting good tires for those today! The Speedline MIM wheels are some of my favorites and rare to see, and I just love how those Empi wheels look on early VWs. Another rare set is the Fittipaldi/OZ 3-piece wheels, though they may be better suited to a track car. All of these are cool to see for one reason or another – what’s your favorite?
CLICK FOR DETAILS: Speedline MIM 16×7.5,8.5 5×112 Wheels on eBay
First up is this beautifully photographed Mercedes 500E that has covered under 70k miles! Take a look at this example offered by Landmark Motors in…