Recently on our Facebook page I posted a poll to see what our fans would like us to write-up. The choice in that poll was between two different generations of Grand Tourer; cars with the same purpose but very different execution. The Porsche 928GTS was at the end of its illustrious production run, the ultimate evolution of the V8 transaxle design. On the other hand, the fairly recently introduced 850CSi wasn’t quite the ‘M8’ BMW had teased, but in a post-Recession economy it was still pretty special. The 928GTS clocked in to work with a slightly revised exterior, 17″ Cup wheels, giant Brembo brakes and a stonking 5.4 liter 4-cam V8 capable of 345 horsepower. The 850CSi was, of course, also naturally aspirated, but a 5.6 liter V12 lay under its computer-designed angular bodywork. The E31 was heavily breathed upon by BMW’s Motorsport division, the S70 laughed at Porsche’s V8 by channeling 372 horsepower to the rear wheels solely through a 6-speed manual gearbox. Like the 928, bodywork revisions, M-System II forged wheels and mega brakes along with suspension updates helped justify the lofty price.
In their days, both of these cars could eclipse $100,000 easily with options. The thing is, they’ve never really come down in price. Both were quite limited production; a total of 1,510 850CSis were made with only 225 sent to the U.S., while 2,877 928GTSs were made, with I believe 451 landing in North America.
The Facebook poll came down to a dead heat between the two, each with 44 votes. So, I did my best to come up with two worthy examples priced closely to consider today:
The past few weeks I’ve come across a few Mercedes-Benz SL500 Silver Arrows that have garnered some attention. This car in Florida ended up selling for $16,900 and this car in Atlanta looks like it is still for sale. Today, I came across one of the 100 SL600 Silver Arrows that were made for the US market. The SL600s differed from the SL500s in that they didn’t receive the two-tone white interior but it did get the very pricey panoramic glass hardtop as standard. You also got a cool metal briefcase with some goodies inside of it that matches the car. Of course, you paid for all that at nearly $140,000 in 2002. Today, I have found one of these SL600 Silver Arrows for sale in Texas with just 5,400 miles. The price? Well, if we are on planet earth, this price is somewhere on Neptune. Seriously, I spit water on monitor when I saw this number and I wasn’t even drinking anything at the time. It is just that crazy.
There aren’t enough words to describe a Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG — both good and bad. You can probably guess the bad words, but I’m pretty high on these cars, especially the W221 chassis. I think the most impressive part is that you could have 604 horsepower and 738 ft-lb of torque in a normal four door sedan that can give you slow and gentle massage, all while being totally silent. Normally, to get that kind of power you would need to buy something Italian that is reliable and usable as a wild pack of possums. (Or maybe just buy a 911 Turbo.) Yes, you paid dearly for an S65 when new, over $200,000, but you got what you paid for. A vehicle with hyper car power that a grandmother could drive. Now that we are over a decade in to W221 S65 and they’ve reached Honda Accord levels of purchase price, is it worth rolling the dice on one? Maybe if you are a little crazy. Although this 2007 in Utah might just be the one to get.
Considering just how rare they are, it’s quite special that we get to look at a second Colorline 850CSi in such short order. And this one is quite a bit more rare to find than the prior Tobago Blue example. Only 13 were ordered in the rarest combination – Calypso Red Metallic with Trinidad Red and Black Nappa leather. This is really about as rare as an E31 gets.
Since I didn’t cover the differences between the EG91/2 (Euro) and EG93 (US) 850CSis, it’s worth taking a look at that. Euro-spec 850CSis got additional oil cooling for the differential and engine, along with 13.6″ floating rotors and different side mirrors. The front end also got special smoked lenses. I covered a bit more about what made all 850CSis special in the last post:
1994 BMW 850CSi Colorline
There are a few reasons to really prefer today’s CSi over the Tobago Blue. Beyond the increased rarity, this one has far fewer miles and the presentation is much better. There’s a lot more information provided, too. And, it’s already on this side of the Atlantic, though you’ll need to wait a few more months until it’s ready to roll into the U.S.. Of course, there is one drawback…and it’s a big one:
Continuing on the theme of defacto M cars started with the South African 745i, today let’s look at the much more famous example of the 850CSi. I came of driving age during the reign of the E31, and I still remember magazines taunting that the ‘M8’ would soon be with us. Of course, it never came – at least, not until today. But we still did get an E31 breathed upon by the Motorsports division in the spectacular 850CSi.
Like the SA 745i, the heart of the CSi was a special “S” motor. In this case, BMW Motorsport GmbH took the M70 and beefed it up seriously. Bored out to 5.6 liters and with compression bumped up and revised electronic programing, the resulting S70 took BMW’s V12 from 296 horsepower to 372 with 420 lb.ft of torque on tap. Macht schnell, indeed! But there were a host of other changes; offered only with a manual 6-speed gearbox, the CSi also got a quicker steering rack, Euro M5 brakes, shorter and stiffer springs, and M System II ‘Throwing Star’ 17″ staggered wheels. A new body kit made the elegant E31 look much more menacing, too. Europeans even had the option of 18″ M Parallels and, amazingly, 4-wheel steering.
In 1994, this car cost almost $110,000. Today that’s nothing, as you can spec a special-order M3 up to that amount. But back then? That was nearly the price of three M3s. These super coupes have never really come down in price, as like their contemporary the 928GTS, they have maintained an aura of unobtainium and sacredness to a generation of motoring enthusiasts. With only 225 brought stateside, perhaps it’s worth considering importing this one?
Some of my favorite cars that I like to dig into are cars built for or owned by significant individuals. Sometimes it is wealthy or important business people, but most of time with Mercedes-Benz it is heads of state. These cars are usually built with no expense spared because the person riding inside the car is worth far more than whatever it costs to buy the car. This is true of today’s car, a 1995 Mercedes-Benz S600 up for sale in Florida.
This S600 was built by TRASCO, a company in Germany that builds Mercedes that can literally take a bomb and everything up to that. This car is built to ”B7 level”, which is every firearm up to and including armor piecing rifles. You are probably asking who needs this kind of protection in the United States? Well, none other than the Sultan of Brunei. You’ve probably heard the crazy stories of him owning over 7,000 cars and manufacturers building him one-off creations of cars that you don’t even know existed. He has 11 McLaren F1s, 20 Koenigseggs and 300 Ferraris. The guy loves cars and spends his out of this world wealth to buy them and basically let them sit. But again, why would the Sultan of a country off the South China Sea need a car in California? Well, so he has something to be chauffeured around in when he is visiting his 38 million dollar home in Beverly Hills, of course. It doesn’t even end there. This car is supposedly one of four examples built just for the Sultan to be used in America. That’s how crazy this guy is with cars.
Last week I checked out a 2015 Mercedes-Benz S550 with a little under 112,000 miles and while that number isn’t super high, when broken down by year, it is well above average. The price of the car reflected the above average mileage, as it should, but it probably wasn’t a great enough deal to be really temping since it still was almost $33,000. Today, I have another S-Class with a bunch of miles and a really attractive price that will probably make anyone consider it just to see what happens. This 1996 S600 with the M120 V12, checks in with a little over 243,000 miles and honestly doesn’t look all that bad considering its age and use. Again, it is all about price when it comes to rolling the dice on this car, but honestly, how can you go wrong?
Fall is officially here, so that means in roughly 11 days, we’ll be looking at about four feet of snow. (Florida and California residents excluded.) While there are still some sunny days left, why not enjoy them in none other than a V12 convertible from Mercedes-Benz. Truth be told, if you forced me to go buy a V12 Mercedes-Benz convertible, it wouldn’t take me any time at all the settle on the R129 with the M120 because that is the V12 that wouldn’t have me sleeping inside it because of how unreliable and costly it is. Granted, the M120 still isn’t an inexpensive engine to live with in the grand scheme of things, but compared to the M275 or god-forsaken M137, it is a far easier pill to swallow. Today, I wanted to check out a really tidy 1993 600SL up for sale in New York that has all the little goodies that makes it stand out from what you usually see from these early R129s.
Yellow is always a hit or miss color when it comes to German cars. Some cars it looks great on like a Porsche 930 or a Volkswagen GTI 20th Anniversary Edition. Other cars, maybe not so much. When it comes to yellow Mercedes-Benz, there aren’t a whole lot of them out there. This was a hot color in the 1960s and 1970s, but outside of the first-generation SLK and the new AMG GT, you won’t find many painted in this bright shade. When you do, it is literally just a handful of them and they were probably painted that way by special request. Today car, the king R129 SL600, is painted in the factory Yellowstone 685. At least that is how it sits now. Let me explain.
”The champ is here!”
This is it. The big one. One of the craziest road legal Mercedes-Benz ever produced and a car we probably won’t see anything like ever again. The CLK GTR. The result of a homologation requirement from the 1997 FIA GT Championship, this CLK GTR, along with the Porsche 911 GT1, literally took grand touring cars and made them road legal. Only 35 CLK GTRs were ever produced by Mercedes and AMG. 26 of them being production cars, seven racing cars for the GT Championship and two prototypes. Out of those 26 production cars, six were roadsters that looked even wilder. All of them were powered by the M120 V12 borrowed from the W140/R129 chassis with 21 cars being 6.9 liter variants that made 604 horsepower and the five other cars, called CLK GTR Super Sport, using a 7.3 liter making 655 horsepower. All of these CLK GTRs used a 6-speed sequential manual gearbox with gears that were so loud that the radio was hopeless in trying to drown out the noise. How much did these cost when new? $1,547,620. If you are wondering, yes, that was the most expensive price for any production car at the time. Just to put that into perspective, that is $3,255,285 in July 2018 money, which is right where a new Bugatti Chiron is priced.
Now that we have all that out-of-the-way, let’s get to why we are here. This 1998 CLK GTR is car number nine of 25 that was originally sold in Germany before being shipped to Hong Kong for a while before moving again to the US where it will go up for auction next month. It has just under 900 miles so it is safe to say this one didn’t get out much but that just means potential buyers will likely have another reason to send the bid into another league. How much is it projected to sell for? Well, you can cancel your order for your Chiron and still need to head down to the bank to withdraw a few more million from your checking account.