Speaking of new(er) cars we don’t cover much on these pages, how about the Panamera? By my reckoning, we’ve never covered one here. They seem quite new, but in reality they’re now over a decade old in the market place, and a funny (and quite predictable) thing happened – they’re now very, very inexpensive. Of course, this is a relative scale, but we’ll get there in a minute.
The Panamera S grabbed the 4.8 V8 from the Cayenne, which was good for 400 horsepower, and stuck it into Porsche’s first attempt at a four-door sedan. Yeah, I’m discounting their involvement in the W124 500E, the RS2, and the Volvo 850, because those were not sold in their dealerships. So we got a hatchback design that sorta looked like a 911 imagined as an ex-collegiate swimmer, and you could have it in typical Porsche style – a ton of configurations and with multiple engine choices. Bottom of the barrel was the V6, top-tier was the twin-turbo V8, with all-wheel drive optional between. Dynamically, these were regarded as good driving cars if not great to look at. And Porsche-quick they were – 0-60 for the S was 4.8 seconds, and the quarter mile was disposed of in 13.3 seconds. Of course you got tons of tech, and in also typical for Porsche-style optional equipment would push the S’s $91,000 base price up towards six-figure territory quickly. But today? Not so much:
For the US market, the last of the D2 Audi S8s were brought here as Audi Exclusive packages; 100 each of three color combinations, with one new color of Avus Silver Pearl Effect over burgundy leather and revised ‘Celebration’ wheels. For the European market, though, the last S8s got a different Audi Exclusive package. Dubbed the ‘Final Edition’, the car came with 20″ high-polish ‘Celebration’ wheels, Bose audio with a six-disc changer, bi-xenon headlights, an extended leather interior, and dark myrtle wood trim. Four colors were offered with four total interiors; Avus Silver Pearl Effect over either Brilliant Red or Mauve leather, Misano Red over Silver Grey leather, Aqua Blue over Morning Dew leather, or Ebony Black over Brilliant Red or Silver Gray leather. What we see here is the latter of those; a lower-mileage Final Edition in Ebony Black Pearl Effect over Silver Gray leather. It might not be the highest-spec car out there, but boy are these Final Editions impressive-looking!
To me, if you’re going to go through the effort to get into a B6 and pay a lot of money as you would with the 2004 A4 3.0 quattro Avant Ultrasport I just looked at, why would you not consider the S4 Avant? Not only is it a lot more powerful, you could get them in splashy colors, and with a 6-speed manual to boot. Add in better seats, better looking wheels, and…well, better stuff, there’s only one real reason to not consider the S4 over the A4 – and that’s the engine’s incomprehensible chain system.
But let’s say that the chain repair upgrade was already done, for argument’s sake…
Prior to the R107 generation Mercedes-Benz SL-Class, your thirst for a V8 couldn’t be quenched. Your only options in prior generations 300SL and W113 Pagoda were inline-six powerplants in various guise. Don’t get me wrong, they were very sweet engines, especially that in the Gullwing, but V8s they were not. However, it looks like there was someone who wasn’t going to accept that. Leave it to the sneaky Germans to pull this one off.
I can walk down to any dealership just like anyone else, and provided I have a pulse, probably walk out with financing for most mid-range cars regardless of whether or not I could actually afford them. Indeed, easy credit has led to the proliferation of many of our favorite brands and cars to the point where most don’t feel all that special anymore. A $2,500 1990 Jetta, for example, is much more rare to see today in that condition – or, at all, truthfully – compared to a new M car.
So all modern cars aren’t really all that exciting? That’s far from the truth, too, as there are many special examples that float by our feed. So while the F10 M5 isn’t a model often featured, it’s probably our loss for not doing so. It’s also easy to forget that even though it feels pretty new, the F10 has been out of production for almost 4 years and the earliest examples are now nearly 12 years old. Plus, as most M5s do, the entry price point on the antiquated models has dropped considerably compared to their original MSRP, while their performance is still contemporaneous to today’s cars.
The S63B44T0 found under the hood of this particular example was good for 550 plus horsepower; not much more than the model it replaced with that wicked V10. But torque? That’s another matter. While the S85 cranked out an impressive 380 lb.ft at 6,100 rpms, the two turbos tacked onto the S63 V8 produced 500 lb.ft of torque with a curve as flat as the Salt Lake from 1,500 rpms through over 5,000. That massive power could be channeled through a manual gearbox, to boot!
But it’s really the color combination of Amazonitsilber Metallic (X07) from BMW Individual that has us looking at today’s example:
Last week I took at a look at a Mercedes-Benz E350 in a very interesting color that drew an above average reaction in the comment section. Personally, I wasn’t a fan of the shade, but some enjoyed it and at the end of the day, I’m just glad they still offer some crazy colors. Today, I wanted to take a look at another Mercedes-Benz in a maybe not so popular color, but a lot easier to sallow.
This 1987 560SL is finished in Ivory, and that name pretty much nails it. It is an off-white, eggshell, beige, kind of color. Exciting? No. Understandable on a luxury convertible in 1987? Very much so.
I did not expect to see this. In a world where all the 1990s Mercedes-Benz AMG cars were painted in some sort of black/white/silver/grey, seeing the rare one in red was a treat. However, I was not expecting a bright blue.
This is a 1999 Mercedes-Benz C43 AMG is Lapis Blue. Looking at the build sheet, this one was a Mercedes version of “paint to sample” judging by the ‘Z98 Painting outside the sample card’ entry on the decoder. This color is not to be confused with Porsche’s Lapis Blue which is clearly a much darker blue. Needless to say, a rare example. You know what that means.
I think the days of V8s in mid-size sedans are numbered. With emissions regulations and fuel economy standards becoming more stringent as the years go on, you’ll be seeing smaller and smaller displacement engines along with hybrid systems becoming the norm in almost every car except the ultra-high performance models. Look right now, the current Mercedes-Benz E-Class lineup lacks a V8 until you get to the top of the range E63 AMG, which starts at $110,000. Even ten years ago, you could get your E500 with a 5.0 V8 and call it a day. Not anymore, two 2.0L inline-fours and an 3.0L inline-six are what awaits your down payment. Buyers don’t really care, as long as the car looks good and the lease numbers and performance are good, sign ’em up.
So rewind 20 years and head back to the new Millennium where the E-Class lineup was simple. There was the 3.2L V6 E320, 4.3L V8 E430, and 5.4L V8 E55 AMG. Done. The buyers for E320s and E55s were very different people, as the E320 was $47,000, while the E55 was a significant amount more at $72,000. Turns out its not cheap to pay a bunch of Germans in a small town to hand-assemble a car. So what about the E430? $53,000. Suddenly that extra six grand seems like a worthwhile upgrade over the E320. You had more than respectable numbers at the time with 275 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft of torque. Still, every time you saw an E55, which lets be honest probably never because of the extremely low production numbers, you wanted those 18″ Monoblocks and special body kit. Now that is 20 years later, does it still make sense to buy an E430? I think so, especially this one.
Back to big Audis! The early 1990s were, as I’ve described in previous posts, a period of change for the Ingolstadt firm as they closed down production on the Type 44 to introduce its new replacement, the C4. That led to a dizzying assortment of models from the one chassis. There was the aforementioned 100 and 100 quattro. You could move up to two turbocharged models, too – the 200 Turbo gave you 165 horsepower through the front wheels, and the new-and-only-for-91 in the U.S. was 200 20V quattro. Europe and the rest of the world got even more options; production lasted right up through 2006 in parts of China, where they even made a crazy long-wheel base 4-door convertible version of the Hongqi.
But the top of the heap for the U.S. market was a derivative of the Type 44, the D11 chassis. Of course, that was Audi’s foray into the top-tier luxury market with its new all-aluminum 32 valve double-overhead cam V8. Body revisions to the front and rear along with flared fenders made the V8 quattro seem like a completely different car to the slab-sided 100. V8s had, and have, serious presence. Big news, too, was that for the first time Audi was able to match its all-wheel drive quattro setup with a new 4-speed automatic transmission.
For die-hard Audi faithful, though, for a short while you could still opt to row-your-own with the 240 horsepower 3.6 liter V8 singing to your right foot. These manual V8 quattros are legendary because of their rarity and that they are the only car Audi brought to market with twin Torsen differentials. The combination of a more rearward weight bias, big and instant torque from the V8 and those clever diffs made for one of the best driving experiences in a classic big sedan from Audi, and they’re exceedingly rare to find:
Red is a funny color when it comes to cars. Coupe or sports sedan? Sure, looks great. Full-size luxury sedan or SUV? Are you out of your mind? Even when it is offered on a SUV, it is usually in a much softer red that borders on burgundy. Same with the full-size sedans, a soft red. However, sometimes you do find the rare luxury sedan finished in the brightest red you can think of and it catches you off guard. Wouldn’t you have it, this is exactly what we have today in the 2003 Mercedes-Benz S500 I found up for sale in Poland. It is literally called “Magma Red” and isn’t shy about it. The thing is, I’m not sure if I like it just because it’s different or because it actually looks good.