Who says you can’t go back in time? I think all of us at one point or another wish we could go back in time. Sure, we’d take care of all the things we regret in life but after taking care of that I think I know where the majority of us would turn: cars. Some might hurry and snag up cars that were cheap for a period of time but now are very expensive (I’m looking at your air-cooled 911s and E30 M3s) while other might go back and experience cars when they were factory fresh. A time when the problems of leaking valve cover gaskets and ripped leather seats didn’t exist. Well today, we are in luck with this car. This is a 1999 Mercedes-Benz S500 with just 6,101 miles. That’s it, an average of a little under 340 miles a year. Some of us drive that in a week. The thing is, this just isn’t a run-of-the-mill W140, the interior in this car is something I very rarely see. What is it?
Neither the E24 M6 nor the E28 M5 need an introduction on these pages. Legendary even when new, they both captured the imagination of generations of German car enthusiasts and established the benchmarks for sedan and GT performance in period. Both went through a relatively long downturn in value, as well. And today, as each has moved firmly into classic status and the market ///Madness continues, each has increased in value considerably over where they stood a few years ago.
But with so many shared components, which is the one to get? While a lot of that boils down to personal preference, more so than ever it’s also dependent on your budget. We’ve seen asking prices for nice examples of each chassis hovering between $50,000 and $80,000 depending on mileage and condition, and with a hot market there’s no letup of good ones to choose from.
But what I have today is not the best examples of each. Both are higher mileage and neither is pristine. However, the real draw here in both cases is a no reserve auction format, giving us the opportunity to really see what’s what in the M market today.
These days, I think you could slap an E30 badge on just about anything and the cult of the small sedan would perk up and pay attention. If the E30 was the natural choice for a sporting executive in the 1980s, it’s become the defacto way to instant street credentials in the European scene. “Sure bro, you might have a 2JZ-GTE Supra, but I got an E30 dawg!” you might overhear being conversed with a heavy beat from Ludacris pumping in the background and scantily clad women draping themselves over your Claus Luthe designed hood, for example. Is that not what happens? Well, the appeal of the E30 is such that you could easily believe that might be the outcome of turning the key in one. As an Audi fan from the same period, I have to admit a certain amount of jealousy; not so much in the design, but in the plethora of choices of what’s available in the market and the amount of manufacturer and aftermarket support. It’s something you just don’t really see in the Audi camp, for example. That means that you can have some mild to wild examples of E30s to choose from each and every day of the week. They’ve also hit importation status on some later models, so the flood gates have quite literally opened and a steady stream of Euro market cars is popping up for sale, trying hard to capitalize on the car made popular by the success of capitalism. As such, today for Tuner Tuesday I have two E30s to consider; a wild Alpina B6 3.5 from 1986, and a 1990 325i right hooker with a host of Hartge upgrades. Who wins the tune-off?