2013 Mercedes-Benz E350 Estate

Death, taxes, and Mercedes-Benz wagons holding their value. Few things in life are guarantees, but those seems to be a couple of them. Why people gravitate towards the W123 and W124 Estates is pretty self explanatory, but what really surprises me every generation after than seems to be following this as well. The general rule I’ve always gone by is that all things being equal, the cost of the sedan + $10,000 = cost of a wagon. Seems crazy for some extra cargo space, but the results don’t lie. I thought maybe this wouldn’t hold true for newer examples as Mercedes-Benz now offers eight (!) different SUVs in its current line up and just one wagon, but nope, still a premium. Worth it? Maybe.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2013 Mercedes-Benz E350 Estate on eBay

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GCFSB Alumnus: 2002 Audi allroad 2.7T Audi Exclusive Olympic Edition 6-speed

Way back in 2015, I looked at a special Allroad – one of ten that were used in the 2002 Sal Lake City Olympics. They were created through Audi’s Exclusive program and were finished in Sprint Blue Pearl Effect. Since they’re so rare, they don’t come up for sale often. But one did come across my desk this week, and it looked awfully familiar. That’s because it’s the same car I looked at back in ’15! So here it is again, about 70k more miles and not quite as pristine as it once was. But it’s still got the desirable 6-speed manual swap, it’s no reserve, and Sprint Blue is always an eye catcher. So let’s take a look at it today!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Audi allroad 2.7T Audi Exclusive Olympic Edition 6-speed on eBay

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1986 Volkswagen Quantum Syncro Wagon

The B2 Quantum has always been an interesting car to me. As my first car was an Audi 4000CS quattro, there were aspects of its Volkswagen sibling that I really liked. First, while I wouldn’t say that the Quantum was more handsome than the 4000, it was certainly more distinctive looking. There are some downright odd angles on the Quantum, but somehow the design pulls it off. It’s also more rare to see them, or at least it felt so when I was driving around in the 4000. Then there were more practical things; for example, unlike Audi who ran the odd 4×108 pattern for slightly larger brakes, the Quantum stuck to smaller stock and retained 4×100 mm wheels. That made upgrades a bit easier and gave the Quantum a signature look with the GTi-sourced snowflake wheels. You could also get the 5-cylinder in front drive sedan configuration with the GL5; it was something Audi offered early on but had dropped, instead having only the Coupe GT be the front drive 5-cylinder. But the real trump card for the Quantum was undoubtedly the Syncro Wagon, as there was no Audi B2 wagon available in any configuration. Effectively, they took most of the oily bits from a 4000 quattro and stuck them in the Volkswagen with little fanfare. Outwardly, there was really only a single badge to tell them apart from a GL5 wagon.

Pricing was on par with period 4000 quattros, though – base price was $15,645, but equip the Quantum similarly to the standard 4000 with power windows, mirrors, locks and sunroof and you’d quickly crest $17,000 – about $4,000 more dear than a standard GL5. Unlike the 4000, Quantum Syncro Wagons came standard only with power steering, brakes, cruise control and air conditioning. You had to opt-in the power package to get the other items.

That made the Quantum Syncro Wagon very much more expensive than, say, a Subaru GL 4WD Wagon or the Toyota Tercel SR5 4WD Wagon. But both of those cars were part-time 4WD; in order to get a car with similar build quality and seamless drive of all wheels, you’d need to pony up a staggering $30,000 for the Audi 5000CS quattro Avant. Also unlike the Audi, the Syncro Wagon ran through the 1988 model year, but never sold in large numbers. Finding one today is a bit of a treat, even if it’s not without its needs:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Volkswagen Quantum Syncro Wagon on The Samba

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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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2005 Mercedes Benz E55 AMG Estate

Hard to believe it has been over a year since the last time I looked at a Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG Estate. Time flies when you’re having fun I suppose, but I came across this 2005 up for sale in California that caught my eye immediately. Its really not any different than every other E55 Wagon I look at, but I thought it would be interesting to see where the market is at on these cars now that we head into 2020 and Mercedes-Benz is thankfully still gracing us with AMG wagons that are fast enough to put most exotics to shame. So are these still commanding strong money? Or are they starting to soften just a little? I think I have one of the answers to that question.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2005 Mercedes Benz E55 AMG Estate on Rennlist

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1989 Audi 200 quattro Avant

Its hard for me to believe that its been well over a decade since I bid farewell to my Audi 200. It was never meant to be; I had always admired the turbocharged Avants and so when one came up for sale for an incredibly low asking price, I jumped.

Turned out it was more than just me that needed a jump. And it turned out that the 200 needed a lot more than just a jump; the clutch was thoroughly fried, as were the brakes, and the fuel system, and a few other odds and ends. I patched it together and we enjoyed a memorable run of events. Of all my automotive calamity stories, about 50% revolve around both of my big body Audis. The V8 created more hair-raising events (such as the time the throttle stuck wide open and in an effort to stop it I managed to set the brakes on fire), but the 200 wasnt to be outdone.

There was the time I left the tollbooth on the Mass Pike. The car was running particularly well that day, so I gave it the beans leaving the gate. First to second and the nose was pointed at the sky! Surely, everyone must be saying “WOOOOOOOW!!!“, and it turns out they were because I had blown an oil cooler line and was crop dusting Sturbridge with a thick coat of atomized 10W-40. Another time the voltage regulator died, leaving me to switch various electrical items on and off to balance the charge between 11.5 and 14 volts throughout the 2 hour ride home from Cape Cod. It blew several tires while on the road, which admittedly probably wasnt its fault but was exciting nonetheless. I found out that the ABS worked well in an ice storm on 95 one time as I passed a braking BMW on the hard shoulder. The coolant lines froze one day a major feat, since there was at least theoretically antifreeze in them. It twice threw alternator belts, leaving me to drive home the length of Rt. 24 at 5am with no lights on. The air conditioner didnt work. Actually, basically everything electronic didnt work particularly well if Im honest. The radios blown speakers werent enough to overcome the wind noise created by the necessity to have the windows down at all times if the outside temp was over 60. But the kicker? The kicker was that the brake lines collapsed, leaving the calipers to randomly seize partially closed. As a result, you had to go full throttle to maintain 50 mph which, as you read at the beginning of this passage, occasionally presented an explosive problem. I gave up eventually, unable to stomach this car consuming more of my money.

Sound charming? It was. But most of my issues probably would have been remedied if I simply had bought a better example:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Audi 200 quattro Avant on eBay

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2003 Volkswagen Jetta GLS 1.8T Wagon

Although Volkswagen started its small 5-door wagon production in the Mk.3 era, it wasn’t until the early 2000s that they finally decided to bring their second generation Golf Variant in the form of the Jetta Wagon. It was part of an unprecedented wave of early 2000s wagon popularity which gave enthusiasts a lot of very nice options. Parked alongside the Passat Variant in dealerships, just like the B5 they were offered with a dizzying array of configurations. There were GLS and GLX trim specs, along with four different engine configurations. Base GLSs got the 2.0 inline-4 rated at 115 horsepower. Stepping up to turbocharged your experience with the familiar 1.8T, here rated at 170 horsepower just like the Passat – although they’re not the same motor code, as obviously the mounting is transverse. Optional was also the ALH 1.9 liter TDi which could return an honest 50 mpg and be mated to a manual (both not really options in the Passat diesel) and for a touch more sport you could kick up to the GLX model, which gave you the 12 valve 2.8 liter VR6 rated at 174 horsepower and 181 lb.ft of torque.

So there were a lot of options in the Mk.4 Variant’s trick bag, but they’re somewhat hard to find in clean, original condition. Today I came across a 1.8T model that just like Monday’s 300TE is a a rather boring color combination, but one that’s exciting to see in this condition today:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Volkswagen Jetta GLS 1.8T Wagon on eBay

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1992 Mercedes-Benz 300TE

Who says you can’t go home again? It seems like now more than ever the demand for nostalgic cars is thriving. Not just the really good stuff, but seemingly average cars that are extremely clean literally have people flowing in waves to check out and ultimately buy. Maybe because the 1980s and 1990s seemed like a simpler time, or because cars from that era literally were simpler. Combine that with the cars we lusted after growing up suddenly become available again and we don’t want to let this time pass us by. That leads me to an example of that, a 1992 Mercedes-Benz 300TE with just 18,000 miles. Either you grew up in one of these or wanted to grow up in one of these, the want for them is now strong even though it is a seemingly nondescript car in every way. Maybe that is a good thing?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 Mercedes-Benz 300TE on eBay

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Before B5: 1995 and 1996 Volkswagen Passat GLX VR6 Roundup

Not everyone agreed with my thought that the low-mileage 1995 Volkswagen Passat GLX VR6 Variant I looked at a few weeks ago was overpriced. I really do understand in many ways; a well-cared for, low mileage example of an unusual car can be virtually impossible to replicate.

Lo and behold, here we are again. Admittedly, none of the trio I have here is quite as low mileage or quite as mint as that October example. But all are also priced a bit more competitively. We’ve got two sedans and a wagon to jump through, with two being automatics and one a manual. All are basically very clean stock examples. Are any of them for you?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1996 Volkswagen Passat GLX VR6 on eBay

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2004 Volkswagen Passat GLX TDi 4Motion Variant 6-speed

Earlier this week I just about broke my neck to catch a second glimpse at a car which probably went unnoticed by nearly every other driver out there. It was a new what appeared to be a B8 Passat Variant, and you don’t have to know a lot about Volkswagens to know you haven’t seen one recently – or, probably ever – on these shores since VW dropped the large wagon from its lineup after 2010. Is this an indication they’re coming here? Unlikely, at least according to VW. With the Atlas and Tiguan relatively fresh and still selling like proverbial hotcakes, along with the many iterations of the Golf Sportwagon available, there just is no need. More likely than not, the car I saw was part of a VW testing program which makes sense since I live very close to one of the importation ports.

So that leaves fans of the larger VW wagon to clamor over older examples. So back we go fifteen years to a B5.5 again! This one, like the last, is a silver example from 2004. Also just like the last, it’s a manual and all-wheel drive. But unlike that rare factory 1.8T 4Motion manual, this one is a home brew, mating a 1.9 TDi out of a Jetta, a 6-speed manual from Europe, and a GLX 4Motion chassis into a neat and thrifty all-wheel drive combo that was never offered here:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 Volkswagen Passat GLX TDi 4Motion 6-speed on eBay

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