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Automotive Classifieds of Interest German Cars For Sale Ramblings

Two 90’s Modern Classic Convertibles for Under $15k: What’s the Worst that Could Happen?

I still haven’t replaced the M Roadster, but as you may have guessed, I’ve been looking at ads almost nonstop since it sold. Our local market within 300-400 miles hasn’t turned up much in that time that I considered a must buy. And when I contemplate long distance spotting’s, not only does the cost of shipping come to mind, but of course the uncertainty and anxiety of buying remotely — without seeing it in person. I know a PPI is usually available by a nearby shop, but another expense to factor in.

Maybe all that this hesitation demonstrates is that I’m not ready to be a committed collector yet. But here are two interesting examples that have popped up for sale (nearby for once), and with asking prices well below my budget for the next enthusiast car in the driveway. Maybe I can be a pretend collector and enthusiast in the meantime as I soak in the details of these two contenders.

$12,500: 1997 Mercedes-Benz 500SL 40th Anniversary Edition for $12,500 with 83k miles

1997 Mercedes-Benz 500SL Anniversary Edition

rare find, 40th Anniversary Edition, 500 made (imported 250 to US), looks new, runs great, crimson metallic ruby red, parchment leathers seats, chestnut wood dash, never wrecked, all options, new soft top and lifts, separate hard top, 81,000 miles, 12,500, garage kept, never driven in winter, excellent maintenance upkeep

Once upon a time, I test drove a 97 500SL Sport in Portland with almost the exact same miles and a mountainous stack of receipts. It was in truly amazing condition inside and out, and I didn’t buy it for the mere $10,500 then asking price because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to afford to keep it in that shape. It didn’t deserve my ownership. I have regretted making that adult decision for years though. I routinely check the R129 listings around the web and wonder if I should pull the trigger now as they’re just starting to appreciate but still very affordable to attain. Of course these do require a significant amount of maintenance and care to stay in nice condition, but the asking price is barely over $10k to start and already has a new top and hydraulic top cylinders (an expensive and expected cost of doing business with an R129). After owning the W202 C43 AMG of roughly the same period, and enjoying the hell out of it with minimal expense during the two years of ownership, I’m thinking it’s worth budgeting several thousand a year in maintenance and repairs to get one of the best built cars of it’s time.

{if you’ve ever contemplated R129 ownership, this video should do the rest…}


$13,500: 1991 Mazda Miata M Edition with 25k miles

Greetings everybody here’s your situation if you had a bad 2020 make up all for it with this 1991 Mazda Miata hardtop convertible with only 25,000 original miles garage kept four-cylinder manual transmission British racing green rare color combination runs and drives like a dream everything functions clean title time capsule piece

NA Miata Hardtop BRG

If you’ve read this self-indulgent post this far, you are likely the kind of person who has driven, or even owned, an NA Miata in the past and longingly appreciated it as one of the most affordable, best executed, and graceful sports cars of it’s time. How many sports cars in this price range can claim that in the past 30 years of ever expanding safety and emission standards?

This particular example isn’t the nicest I’ve seen but it meets the criteria of being local, low miles, and cheap. You can spot comparable or better examples on Bring A Trailer routinely for about the same price, and being what it is, I’d feel a lot more comfortable about a long range purchase if that’s the best we could do.


One more to consider?

No Reserve: 2002 Porsche Boxster S 6-Speed, 113k miles, sold on Bring A Trailer for $10,250

Another obvious contender in this modern classic segment is the 986 Porsche Boxster S, like this one that sold a few weeks ago on BaT. Definitely an easy car to find in the same price range and condition, many even with the hardtop. This example has more miles than I’d usually consider but was well represented and a fair sale price. But if I’m honest, the one time I test drove one I was really underwhelmed. The journals of the time all basic said the same thing because the 996 Porsche 911 of the era was really the one to have with an appropriate 315hp on tap from the start compared to the Boxster’s 240hp. On the other hand, if one comes up in your backyard at a good price, you should check it out and see if you feel the same way.

Closing thoughts

During this world-wide pandemic I’ve been finding it difficult to pull the trigger when I consider I could be taking advantage of someone’s misfortune or the fact that I’m lucky enough to still hold a rewarding career job that affords me such leisurely considerations. But at this price point I tend to allow myself the opportunity to consider one of these on a Thursday night after work. After all, in 2020, what’s the worst that could happen?

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