Swede Week: 2008 SAAB 9-7X Aero

So the GM-takeover of SAAB is to be completely lamented? Not so fast. A few really cool vehicles came about as a result of SAAB’s combined efforts with other automakers; the 9000 is probably the best example, but the Viggen, the ‘SAABaru’ 9-2X, and 9-5 Aero are also popular alternatives to the normal German performance rides out there. Today, though, I want to take a look at what many consider the low point of SAAB’s GM connection and try to unearth a diamond in the rough – because there was one.

The ‘Trollblazer’ was just that; a SAABafied version of GM’s GMT360 Trailblazer. It was really just a light reskin of the vehicle and was even assembled in Ohio. That doesn’t sound too exciting, as indeed the Trailblazer was not the shining star of GM’s catalog nor its best example of vehicle dynamics. But late in the run, GM upped the game with the ‘SS’ version of the ‘Blazer, which added a 400 horsepower Corvette-sourced LS2, giant wheels, and suspension and body tweeks that somehow made the mundane grocery-getter instantly cool. And for good measure, just over 600 were changed into SAAB 9-7X ‘Aero’ models:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 SAAB 9-7X Aero on eBay

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2001 Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG

Nothing makes me smile more than high performance variants with a bunch of miles on them. Especially when I don’t own them. The supposedly finicky and fragile nature of them sometimes hold true, but for the most part if you just maintain them, you’ll be fine. Granted, today’s car isn’t exactly a Maserati Biturbo when it comes to build quality and complexity, but it is a hand-assembled super sedan from 20 years ago. As always, in full disclosure, I have one of these in my garage sitting under a cover, but that doesn’t mean I’m not realistic about them. That subject is none other than the W210 Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG – a car which predates bi-turbo V8s and crackling exhausts. Just a big engine, some subtle body work changes, and some wide tires. That’s it. This example up for in Washington? Thoroughly enjoyed.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG on eBay

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1997 BMW 540i Sport

This week I ran across this early production 540i Sport package car. It’s interesting for a few reasons. First, I’ve always really liked the clean look of the early sport package cars with either the turbine Style 32 wheels or the multi-piece BBS Style 19s as shown on this example. Something really worked for me about this wheel on this body style. An early 540i Sport, it’s missing some of the later additions I covered on later 540s, but still carries the aforementioned 17″ wheels and M-Sport suspension. However, this car is a bit different than the usual one that you’ll come across.

Having covered only 61,500 miles in its life, it’s almost completely original. It sounds strange to trumpet that, but most of the 540i Sports seem to be modified – even slightly. This one just looks like it’s got tint. And everything is there – it’s a California car with all original literature. It also doesn’t have the standard sport seats that would have accompanied the sport package. It was ordered in Arctic Silver Metallic with black leather comfort seats, but it’s got the all-important 6-speed manual transmission. Here, the pre-facelift orange directionals and less fussy taillight design work in harmony with the lack of body kit and beautiful exterior hue. Is it a winning combination?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1997 BMW 540i Sport on eBay

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2000 Mercedes-Benz CLK430

The transition from the W124 Mercedes-Benz E-Class coupe to CLK-Class coupe, which for all intents and purposes is an E-Class coupe as well, was a very clear evolution. It was an abrupt switch from the old-school Mercedes feel into a new modern age with softer styling and softer materials. Of course the wrench thrown into this is that while the W208 looked like a W210 E-Class both inside and out, it was actually built on the W202 C-Class chassis. You’d never really know this and Mercedes did a really nice job of covering that up, but none the less, the new-era of Mercedes was here. It was a very fresh design for the time and while impressive for its day, signaled a very clear end to philosophy of over-engineered and over-built coupes that Mercedes was known for since basically the beginning of the automobile. Times change and you need to adapt, and this is what Mercedes did. Just looking at the front end, you went from squared off and boxy look with headlights that were literal rectangles, to a set of ovals that were split apart into two different lights. A massive change in direction for sure, but it was new, and people bought them.

However, this also signaled the time where a Mercedes-Benz wasn’t really considered a car you kept for years on end, but rather a lease special and a race to get out the door with the lowest monthly payment. Twenty years later, this is still true across the entire model range with the exception of very few niche models. So where does that leave these now old cars? Nearly worthless, basically. There is no nostalgia for a 2000 CLK or 2001 S430. Any example that is more trouble than it is worth is scrapped without a second thought and only the nicest examples still remain. Today, I came across this CLK430 example in Philadelphia that still does maybe have some appeal to it. Outside of the terrible aftermarket grille, of course.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 Mercedes-Benz CLK430 on eBay

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2003 Audi S8

I still have this dream of getting a S8. This seems like a strange thing to dream about, I admit. And, it also seems like a quite attainable dream. My father-in-law often tells me about some day procuring his ‘dream truck’ – a manual mid-90s six-cylinder F150. I’ve found several for him that seem like good prospects, and none are ever more than a few thousand dollars. As I’ve said to him several times, ‘If you’re $4,000 away from your dream, what’s holding you back?’

Well, that comment coming from me is riddled with hypocrisy. I certainly could sell my very reliable Passat, save a bit of coin, and buy a S8. The problem increasingly inherent in that plan is that the S8 I can afford will probably not be the S8 I want. See, in the early 2000s I fell in love with the design. In the mid-2000s I lusted over lightly used examples that were out of my price range. S8s are now in a range I can afford, but it’s no longer the early 2000s and most are, to be frank, pretty used up. And though they’re far from the most technologically advanced vehicle, they aren’t exactly an F150 either in terms of complexity and parts availability (not to mention pricing). So looking at a S8 means you automatically need to budget in probably double the asking price or more in potential repairs between the transmission, timing belt service, and other deferred maintenance. Or, you can find one where that’s been done for you:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Audi S8 on eBay

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2006 Mercedes-Benz E500 Estate

Station wagon, estate, avant, whatever you want to call them, they are still popular. How did I come to that conclusion? Well, take a look at basically any German vehicle that is offered in both sedan and wagon and you’ll see that the wagon transacts at a higher price tag on the used market. This is especially true when it comes to high performance models like an Audi RS or AMG. A lot of that has to do with having your cake and eating it too, along with the exclusivity, as high performance wagons are made in extremely small numbers. However, even in standard base models, the wagons are still bringing premiums over sedans. Today’s car, a 2006 E500 Estate up for sale in California, follows that trend. Who says wagons are uncool?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2006 Mercedes-Benz E500 Estate on eBay

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2004 Porsche Cayenne S

It seems like the cheaper a vehicle gets, the most bold and crazy people seem to get with modifying them. Even better if it is a car that was rather expensive when new and/or from a traditional brand that doesn’t lend itself to custom builds. You can probably see where I’m going with this.

This 2004 Porsche Cayenne S up for sale in Spain was modified in some kind of safari-style or pre-runner-style off-roader with with a giant steel front bumper, bolt-on fender flares, and some all-terrain tires. Just to top it off, this one of the ultra-rare 6-speed manual Cayenne that I’m sure Porsche dealers were thinking about not setting the parking brake on when they found out they had to sell a luxury SUV with a 6-speed manual in it. Still, it looks pretty cool and could be a ton of fun. Or at least I thought that until I saw the price.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 Porsche Cayenne S at Auto Scout 24

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Imola Yellow 2003 Audi RS6

Well, if it’s not evident already, you know why this one is here. First off, it’s one of just about 1,200 RS6s imported. But the vast majority of those are black, gray, or blue. A little over a year ago I took a look at a rare one that wasn’t – one of five Polar White examples. But in terms of rarity, this one is 250% less likely to be seen. It’s one of a claimed two Imola Yellow examples sold in the US. Some people claim color doesn’t matter, but let’s be honest – here, it does.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Audi RS6 on eBay

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2001 Mercedes-Benz S430

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.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Mercedes-Benz S430 on eBay

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2001 Mercedes-Benz E430

For as bland and as boring as Mercedes-Benz can be with some of the color combinations, every once in awhile they’ll give us something that shows they still have a little bit of style. The W210 E-Class was pretty notorious for being offered in nothing but earth tones, especially the beige on beige examples. What we have here today is a 2001 E430 from the swanky minds at the designo department who offered up a color combination of Mocco Black Metallic over a Nappa Nubuck leather interior with natural elm wood trim. Even better, it has the classic 18″ Monoblock wheels and just 75,000 miles. To top it off, it’s had a single family ownership and service records from new.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Mercedes-Benz E430 on eBay

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