I have a hobby some may consider strange (probably not to this group degenerates, but normal people). When it comes to cars, I spend quite a lot of time perusing local classifieds and specialty forums looking at ‘For Sale’ listings. I am an active member of at least a half dozen forums that are specifically geared toward a particular model of vehicle I do not own (VW bug, Porsche, Ferrari, etc), and I am even a member of another handful of forums that I have forgotten about. Aside from finding some out of this world examples of many classic and cult cars (that have been built and/or restored with the utmost attention to detail), I get absolutely wrapped up in the “Vortex” of technical discussion. There is an unparalleled/monumental amount of information to be found on these sites. However, lately I have seen many listings of Luxury cars with interiors that were once graced only by the hands of the one percenters (and their chauffeur) for less than one percent of the original cost. This got me thinking; how much of that luxury still remains twenty plus years later?
With ever growing curiosity, it was only a matter of time before I would actually go and have a look at one of these rolling living rooms. The first listing that caught my eye was a 2001 Jaguar XJR for $2400 obo, (to be read; less than $2400). I know what your thinking, “A Jaaag ?!? Why would you buy an old used Jaguar?”.
Okay, so i didn’t really have any intention of buying the car (or did I?), but my curiosity had reached a point to where the itch had to be scratched. This sixteen and a half foot long lady cat was the cat’s meow. When manufactured in 2001, It’s 370 hp and 387 lb·ft of torque propelled it toward the checkered flag at the end of a quarter mile chunk of asphalt on pace with the likes of the legendary BMW M5. Yet for some reason this British version of the executive
sports sedan may be had at a fraction of the price of its German counterpart. So yes, it’s true that this particular example has some minor body damage, and nearly all two acres of wood trim was sun damaged and cracked. Not to mention once the engine started, the blower began to knock like an angry landlord looking to collect last month’s rent. Needles to say i passed on this offer as i would pass on just about any car that reminded me of an angry bill collector, and believe me in this case the bills would be immense.
Although the previous “too good to be true” luxury sedan deal was just that, I could not resist the allure of the unseen treasures awaiting discovery in the depths of the dark sea of the interwebs. After viewing several fine examples of luxurious automobiles (in their time), any dictator would be proud to be shuttled about in. What should I happen across, but low and behold... THE Grand Daddy of all luxury sedans; the bench mark of all future heavyweight contenders; the gold standard of comfort and class; a 12 cylinder 6.0 liter Mercedes-Benz 600SEL! This was a model year 1993, the second year in production for the behemoth V12 with 389 horse power in the United States Domestic Market (which is down from the 403hp of its Deutschland brethren). At over 17 feet in length from tip to tail, and tipping the scales at well over two tons, it only takes 420 tourques to launch this land yacht from 0-60 mph’s in under seven seconds. I may not have realized at the time, but the very minute I saw the glimmer of the V12 badge, I was being seduced by this
black beauty and its twelve thumping pistons. It deserves being repeated TWELVE PISTONS!! This is the very same engine that served as the power plant for the original Pagani C12, the remarkable German 6.0 liter M120 that served as the base for all subsequent models of the Zonda!!! This car is a true beast with the heart of a hyper car, and the class of the Queen of Whales (yes, its a pun i couldn’t resist).
The seduction continues when stepping inside, the doors agape with a wingspan greater than that of a North American Condor (literally... from door to door it measures twelve feet eight inches). Any seat you choose in this executive suite is absolutely dripping with burl wood trim and leather. Each corner has its own climate control with heated and reclining seats, all electronically controlled of course. Mercedes-Benz did not skimp on the amenities (many ahead of its time) such as self adjusting rear shocks, cruise control, traction control, active stability management, and dual pane windows. The attention to detail was paramount in designing the S-Class. For example, the trunk handle protrudes and retracts when opened and closed, so one hasn’t to sully their hands like a commoner.
When this car was new, the MSRP was over $120,000. Now, as the title suggests, it can be fetched for a sub $2000 price tag; however, that price tag doesn’t come without its hidden costs. Clearly, if this Benz was in perfect condition it would demand more than a measly $2K, and thus the caveat; when cruising around in such a stately chariot, one should simply lower their right foot a bit (or tell their driver to) and whoosh past those less important obstructions in
traffic, leaving the peasantry behind in unprecedented comfort and ease. This is not the case with this specific vehicle I have been seduced by. The acceleration feels absolutely anemic, albeit comfortable and drive-able, with most of the previously unheard of creature comforts still operable (that many cars today still cannot match), it is missing that super car grunt. This issue will no doubt be a costly repair. Nonetheless, sitting in the driver seat feels more like sitting in the cockpit of a 747 jet liner, floating down the highway, With a multitude of switches and settings. Not mention it looks as good in my driveway today as it did 25 years ago when it rolled out of the factory in Stuttgart Germany. So, how much luxury does $2K get you? Actually, quite a lot... quite a whole hell of a lot.
The question now is: was it worth it...?