2008 Audi TT 3.2 Quattro Roadster 6-Speed

VAG’s decisions on who would be able to shift their own gears have always been a bit confusing, but the period of the 3.2 VR6 is really where this came to a head for U.S. customers. In 2004, Volkswagen brought their hottest Golf (finally!) to our market, featuring the singing VR6 in 6-speed manual only form with the R32. Great, but Audi offered the same platform in slinkier TT 3.2 Quattro form. However, fans of manual shifting were overlooked as Audi opted to bring the top TT here only with DSG. This carried over to the A3 model range, where you could get a 3.2 quattro but only with the DSG box.

When it came to the next generation, VAG opted to change this formula. As it had been a fan favorite, you’d assume that the R32 would retain the same layout. But no, Volkswagen removed the manual option and the Mk.5 based R32 became DSG-only. So that would hold true in the bigger budget, typically more tech-heavy TT too, right? Wrong, as in the 2nd generation, Audi finally opted to allow buyers to select a manual in either Coupe or Roadster form:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 Audi TT 3.2 quattro Roadster 6-speed on eBay

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1998 BMW Z3

In the realm of unappealing BMWs, the Z3 might just take the cake. Sure, it’s partially rescued by unusual body styles or a big motor in the case of the Coupe or the M editions. But for a standard Z3, there seems to be little appeal. It was not the best built car from BMW, it was certainly not the best looking car they’ve made, and in the case of the four-cylinder models, you didn’t have much in terms of performance, either.

Here we have a ’98 Z3 1.9. Under the hood was the 138 horsepower M44, and since the Z3 wasn’t exactly the feather weight of the original Miata, it resulted in pretty average acceleration. It would wisk you to 60 mph in just a hair under 10 seconds, and hitting 100 would take the best part of half a minute. It did return nearly 30 mpg on the highway, but then my 135i does that too, and it has a bit over twice as much horsepower. Heck, go easy on the throttle and the M3 will return almost 30 on the highway.

But if you want a budget convertible, the Z3 is a solid German option. First, you could get a manual. Second, they’re cheap to fix and cheap to run. There were a lot of them, too, so used parts are available. And this one is presented in a pretty neat color – Violett-rot 2 (328) with some good options. Is there hope?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 BMW Z3 on eBay

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2003 Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG

All of a sudden it’s March! You know what that means. Four more weeks of winter for us in the northern part of the country and then we’ll maybe start thinking about spring. In all seriousness, hope springs eternal when the calendar turns and we’ll be preparing for car season. What better way to kick it off by looking at a Mercedes-Benz convertible with a supercharged V8 with nearly 500 horsepower?

This 2003 SL55 AMG up for sale in Arizona is finished in the classic Brilliant Silver Metallic, but when you open the doors you get your hair blown away with a red leather interior. Personally, I love it. I love even more that it has just 14,000 miles as well.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG on eBay

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1998 Mercedes-Benz SL320

All of a sudden we are in the middle of October and soon little Spider-Mans with coats on will be banging on your door wondering where the free candy is at. That means convertible season is all but over for most of America. That is, like my father used to yell at me for, unless you are one of those crazy people who puts the top down and blasts the heat which in turn is like trying to heat the whole neighborhood. The other scenario is of course if you live somewhere that doesn’t get snow then go ahead and enjoy your top down weather until the turkey is in the oven. That brings me to today’s car, a 1998 Mercedes-Benz SL320.

The SL320 and the pre-facelift 300SL have always stood deep in the shadow of big brothers V8 and V12 R129s and rightfully so. They are were just powerful enough that the car wasn’t a total dog, and usually they were low on standard features. Mercedes figured this out after eight long years with the inline-six SL and finally killed it off in the US after the 1998 model year. This leaves this example in Greenwich, Connecticut, a place where a four garage costs nearly $600,000, in rare company. The even better part about this car is that it had a pile of repairs and maintenance just competed. The thing is, is the price worthy of the little brother SL?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 Mercedes-Benz SL320 on eBay

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2003 Alpina Roadster V8 with 7 Miles

I still remember hearing the news that Alpina was going to be tuning a Z8 around 2002. Awesome, I thought, this thing is going to eat Porsches for breakfast! Imagine my shock when I found out it was going to be an automatic; I was confused and felt lost. Then, I found out they yanked the 4.9 S62 M5 powerplant out in exchange for something less powerful. It was as if Alpina had broken into my mind and destroyed my dreams I didnt get it. Then I saw one, and I thought Wow, they actually made it look a little bit better. Yes, externally it was only wheels, but somehow those wheels and Alpina badges were still magical and understated but hinted there was more to this car than just less horsepower and more money. Fast forward a few years and the Alpina Roadster V8s are commanding more money than the original Z8 they were based upon. What had I missed?

Well, I missed that Alpina hadnt just slapped some wheels onto a Z8; Alpina had completely reworked the E52 to be their own car. Yes, the tuned M62B48 V8 borrowed from the B10 had a few less horsepower than the S62, but critically it had more torque, and that torque was available lower in the rev range. Alpina had also softened the suspension, which apparently improved ride quality despite the massive 20″ wheels. Indeed, by softening the character of the Z8 slightly, Alpina had made the V8 Roadster a more enjoyable and more relaxing car. One thing they didnt change was that bite-the-back-of-your-hand good looks. Todays example looks stunning in black, a nice change from the very popular silver that most seemed to be painted. Oh, and it’s got 7 miles. SEVEN. If that doesn’t blow your mind, the price will.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Alpina Roadster V8 on eBay

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2005 Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG

Earlier this year I took a deep dive into what the R230 Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG is and where it might be headed into the future. It is a car that can hold its own without a doubt, but certainly is not at the top of anyone’s list when it comes to buying a convertible for around $25,000. However, today we have a 2005 that might change everyone’s opinion at how these things look. This SL55 up for sale in California is painted in the very rare Orion Blue and shows just under 30,000 miles. The condition is nearly perfect and frankly, I love it very much. Where do I send my money?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2005 Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG on eBay

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2002 Mercedes-Benz SL500 Silver Arrow with 4,600 miles

As much as I love cars with an insane amount of miles on them, finding older cars with just a handful of miles can be just as fun. This 2002 Mercedes-Benz SL500 Silver Arrow checks in from California with just 4,600 miles on the odometer and the classic story of “bought it for the wife, she didn’t drive it”. The last Silver Arrow I looked was a SL600 with just 5,400 miles that carried a truly insane price tag of over $100,000. This SL500 actually looks like a brand new car and the seller states that all the service was done on a regular basis regardless of mileage or use. Thankfully, this car isn’t six figures like the SL600, but it still is going to set you back a boat load more than what a Silver Arrow with around 100,000 miles will run you. Are you in?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Mercedes-Benz SL500 Silver Arrow on eBay

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1963 Messerschmitt KR201 Roadster

Post World War II, the German manufacturing sector and economy attempted to pick itself up – but it was a pretty rocky road. Still, as early as 1950 Western powers were pronouncing the ‘Wirtschaftswunder‘ in the Western side of Germany – a phoenix-like rebirth of the economy overseen by Chancellor Konrad Adenauer. Despite this, it would be decades until this wealth and prosperity really filtered down to the average worker. As a result most drivers in Germany were relegated to very small and efficient cars, with the Volkswagen Beetle being the most successful. But it was far from alone.

I’ve previously looked at some other alternative air-cooled designs from Germany; both the NSU Prinz and BMW 700 challenged the Beetle’s hegemony in the marketplace while offering more style:

1963 BMW 700 Coupe

Feature Listing: 1965 NSU Spider

However, while sporty-looking economy-based cars began to emerge from major manufacturers, microcars were still reasonably popular in the early 1960s though choices were dying out. The Isetta continued to be produced until 1962 and was quite popular. But one other World War II-era name also strangely entered the marketplace – from the makers of some of the most famed fighter planes in history came a single cylinder, two-stroke wingless “car” – the Messerschmitt KR175, 200 and 201 Roadster:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1963 Messerschitt KR201 Roadster on eBay

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1991 Mercedes-Benz 500SL

Continuing on my quest to bring you odd color combinations, I present a 1991 Mercedes-Benz 500SL painted in Impala Brown Metallic with a dark brown top. I’m trying to imagine someone who would walk onto a Mercedes dealer lot in 1991, find the row of R129s, look at all the colors that were offered and say, ”Yes. The brown one. Here is $90,000”. I understand not trying not to stick out or not wanting something flashy, but you shouldn’t be buying a very expensive convertible in the first place if you wanted to blend in with the earth. Yet, someone out there wanted a SL in this color and now they still remain in the garages of retirees to take out for a drive on a nice day. This example up for sale outside of Philadelphia seems to be exactly that. Owned by the same person for the past 18 years but now ready for a new home. Thing is, you aren’t getting a deal on the drab color. At least not this one.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Mercedes-Benz 500SL on eBay

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2000 Mercedes-Benz SL320 Mille Miglia

Back in the 1990s, Mercedes-Benz really started hitting their stride with producing a bunch of special editions that were all made up whenever they felt they need. Most of the time they just threw whatever they had in the parts bin on the cars when it came to paint colors, wheels, interior trim and then would finish it off by calling up their graphic designers to whip up a unique logo to stick around the car. Today’s car, a 2000 SL320 Mille Miglia, is exactly that.

Back in 1995, Mercedes actually launched a Millie Miglia edition to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Stirling Moss’s and Dennis Jenkinson’s win of the 1955 Mille Miglia road race. A nice gesture for sure, but I’m sure this decision was highly influenced, if not totally, by getting ready to launch a major facelift in 1996 for the R129 and they wanted to move all the old stock out. Offered on the SL280, SL320, and SL500, it was nothing more than some red inserts on the leather seats, carbon fiber trim with some red weave in it and some leftover EVO 2 wheels from, you guessed it, the parts bin. Then in 2000, Mercedes made another Mille Miglia edition, but just made 12 cars. Why 12 cars? Well, that is how many they needed to usher around VIPs at the Rally 1000 Miglia in Italy. In 2001, the final year of the R129, they again made 13 cars all based off the SL600. So what is unique about these cars? Well, it is basically a Silver Arrow with some badges on the outside and a little sticker on the ashtray door. That’s it. Lean manufacturing must be big at Mercedes.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 Mercedes-Benz SL320 Mille Miglia at Mercedes-Benz Classic

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