Last week I took a modest dive into cars that have been produced in the past 20 years or so and how they are in a bit of strange spot. Too new and insignificant to be collectible, and generally not worth the trouble. That in turn, with a few exceptions, sends prices to floor. Today, we have another example of that.
This 2001 Mercedes-Benz S430 is a perfect storm of a car that seemingly no one wants. A pre-facelift W220, it is finished in tan over tan with the less-powerful 4.3 liter V8. I don’t need to rehash my thoughts on how the pre-facelift W220 was a massive disappointment compared to the end-of-production W220, but it seems I’m not alone on this one. The good news is that this car is in really nice shape for having over 100,000 miles. The even better news is that is cheap. Really cheap.
If you wondering why I am featuring a run-of-the-mill W220 S430 look no further than the words “Almandine Black Metallic”. That’s the name, in my opinion, one of the most wonderful colors Mercedes-Benz has ever produced for its cars. It direct light it looks plum purple only for it to be mistaken for black in the shade and at night. It’s conservative enough to be taken seriously in any setting but still gives off a great shimmer that separates itself from the usual sea of black cars. So when this 2006 S430 4Matic popped up for sale in California, I had to take a closer look at it while trying to restrain myself from getting shipping quotes to bring this thing home to me.
Model: S430 4Matic
Engine: 4.3 liter V8
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Mileage: 186,660 mi
Price: $6,900 Buy It Now
Non Smoker Car – second owner – Delivery in San Jose area – buyer must arrange out of area shipping.
Outside of the paint, this is your fairly standard W220. It’s a nice, clean California car with albeit fairly high miles at almost 187,000, but it looks like it has about half of that. Being this is the last year of the W220 and probably the best year of these cars to purchase as most of the problems that plagued these cars had theoretically been worked through, but at the end of the day it’s still a W220. You’ll occasionally run into Airmatic faults but generally I trust these cars at their core. It’s still just a basic M113 V8 paired to the 722.6 gearbox that has been tested a million times over in every Mercedes from this era. These cars do a pretty good job at being what S-Class are supposed to be: a relaxing, enjoyable place to be. If you stay up on your maintenance and repairs when needed, there’s no reason this car can’t go another 187,000 miles — just keep it away from salt.
So what’s the price to make it purple rain? A surprisingly reasonable $6,900. This price is indicative of it being in the place like San Jose where your mail carrier just got a new E550 so the price is a little softer than what you’d probably see if this car was for sale in any other part of the country. But this is a probably the best way to own a purple German car if you want to save $248,000.
Right now, the least expensive car you can buy in the United States brand new is the Nissan Versa Sedan, which rings in at a very budget friendly $11,900. For that you get such amenities as wheels, seats, mostly translucent glass and an engine. Sounding a bit like a sewing machine with a hangover, the Versa’s 1.6 liter inline-4 struggles to produce 109 horsepower. Inside are cheap plastics, cheaper fabrics, and plenty of toxic new car smell. Okay, I’ll admit it does come with a warranty which, judging by the used Nissan products I see covered in soot and broken down around me, you’ll probably need at some point. You know those commercials for the toy (Flashing Lights! Realistic Siren Sounds!) you always wanted when you were a kid that they made seem so cool, but if you were lucky enough to get one you found out it was pretty much complete crap and broken immediately? Claiming that you’ve achieved something in buying the Versa as a new car is pretty much the same thing. I’d say it was a toaster on wheels, but I wouldn’t want to insult toast.
On the other end of the spectrum is the luxury executive market. Cars in this realm are crafted to be silent but perform like Swiss watches; powerful, smooth and seamless. They are expected to bathe you in luxuries; supple leather, the tactile feel of real wood – an airy feel of a ski chalet in Saint Moritz, but with the computing power of NASA and the convenience features of a Brookstone catalogue. They are made to have presence but not in a showy, pay attention to me way; more often, a regal, stately suit to brush the pedestrian cares of life away as you isolate yourself from traffic. They’re transportation cocoons spun by silk worms, and as such if you’re budget says “Versa”, they’re thoroughly out of your price range. Or, are they?
It’s pretty amazing when generations of cars come together in value; right now, there are 4 generations of Mercedes-Benz S-class models that all seem to hit market for around the same amount. From the beginnings of the “Sonder” Class Mercedes with the W116 through the W220 cars that are only just over a generation old, there’s a tremendous amount of luxury available in these super sedans and coupes. So what would be your choice? We’ll go by age this time, starting with the W116:
Every now and then we have to put up an oddity that doesn’t really fit with our normal listings. I saw this and couldn’t resist. The car has been lowered and had a body kit added, which is ok. It has had a two tone paint job, which, according to the seller, gives a bit of a Maybach effect, umm ok. What looks really odd is the third color dark paint coming up off the front fenders, those are some weird stripes. Shaving off the trunk hardware also hasn’t added a whole lot in terms of look.
Other mods include a high flow exhaust and more modern headlights and LED taillights.
The car has just under 90,000 miles and the seller seems to have taken care of it in terms of maintenance.
He had it for sale at $18,900, but now the ask is down to $16,500, that is on the high side for an 02 with this kind of mileage.
To each their own.