Tuesday, October 25, 2016

WWzD: Big and Classy, but Cheap

I like to kill a few minutes here and there by browsing through the Hemmings app, usually looking at cars I can't afford but occasionally finding a few gems that make me consider clogging up my driveway. I'm typically looking for something undervalued or underappreciated by the masses, ideally for sale by the original owner. One particularly effective category of zclickbait is big classy old cars that are surprisingly cheap. And by "classy" I mean the type of car that people notice and recognize but isn't overly ostentatious. You can find a Turbo R or Eight for under $20,000 but unless you're a senior citizen with a British accent you'll look like a dooshwhistle in a Bentley. I'm looking for the type of car your grandfather bought as a gift to himself on his 69th birthday.

For example, this 1983 BMW 733i is available for "$15,000 negotiable." And it looks pretty crispy. I love the angular shark-like front ends of early 80s BMWs and the 733i was the flagship of the US line in 1983. It has a straight six making 181 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. The 5 speed manual transmission makes it especially choice. It only has 88,000 miles and it's being sold by the owner (as opposed to a used car dealer) who bought it new and states "As I approach 90 need for a highway tourer has diminished and I believe it is time for another caring owner." And it's in Greenwich so the whole story sounds legitimate. The price is well above book value but I suspect it's worth it. If you're looking for a big old Bimmer this is a great place to start--see if you can haggle your way down to $12k and don't look back.

This 1986 Jaguar XJ6 can be taken home for the paltry sum of $7,900. If not for the fact that we're redoing zbathroom next month I would be hard pressed to come up with a reason not to buy this. The XJ6 might be the most beautiful sedan of the past 45 years. This one has the classic Jag straight 6, under 58,000 miles, very good paint, an excellent interior, and it's about 13 miles from my house--for sale by owner nonetheless. It would be perfect if it were green. But if you're looking to get into a hand-built British luxury car for less than a Nissan Versa (which is the cheapest new car in America), look no further. It's less reliable than the 733i, but you won't find a better combination of price and beauty. People will automatically assume you're old money when you pull up in this thing.

The most obvious big classy cheap car is a four-door Mercedes. There's a reason Jay-Z has a thing for them big body Benzes. They're iconic. The W123 series are also plentiful, nearly indestructible, and typically pampered by their original owners. I have a soft spot for the ones with matching hubcaps and my love of station wagons is well documented. This 1981 300TD pulls especially hard on my heartstrings because it has the legendary turbodiesel 5-cylinder engine. And it's a manual. Yes, that's right, a 35 year old red Mercedes stick-shift inline-5 turbodiesel station wagon with matching hubcaps. I'm completely smitten. It's for sale by a dealer, which gives me pause, but their video is absolutely pornographic.



I would eventually swap out the clear fog lights for yellow ones, that's easy. I can live with the few interior flaws, but the hood ornament doesn't stand up straight which makes me wonder what happened to the front end over the past three-and-a-half decades. And it's in Michigan. If a little old lady in Bronxville was selling this thing though ... I'd be hurtling up the Henry Hudson with $9000 in cash instead of writing this post.

15 comments:

TR said...

Zman forgot to mention that he enjoys driving around our town and heckling joggers. I was six miles into a run y/day afternoon, prepping for a 10K in a few weeks. He came driving up next to me and started heckling me. I had headphones in and had no idea what he was saying. Good times.

zman said...

I was saying "Run swiftly my little joatley! Click your hooves!!"

Squeaky said...

The wagon has a trailer hitch. Even though it looks awesome that alone would give me pause. Lord knows what the hell they've hauled with it.

TR said...

That's not what I heard, bro. I heard something like "hey stranger...twenty bucks... bj." And then you looked all kinds of embarassed when you realized I wasn't a stranger. Weird.

Dave said...

why do i want to buy one of these cars?

Squeaky said...

Headed up to NoVA in a few weeks. Any recommendations on restaurants out near Reston and Leesburg area?

rob said...

i'm pretty familiar with leesburg, squeak. since i, y'know, live here. what kind of grub are you looking for, after you grab a beer with me?

mr kq said...

Had an 83 240D 4 speed. Had to floor that bitch everywhere and wasn't always sure I'd make it up steep hills. Loved that ride. Leesburg Public House for great beer and food.

zman said...

The ever-so-classy Giants cut Josh Brown. At last.

TR said...

The Knicks' apathy is in mid-season form.

rob said...

mark, you staying up for spurs/warriors?

Whitney said...

That game is called Spurriers for short.

Whitney said...

As is a really good reality show that never was matching housemates Steve and Bryan Spurrier. Wow, that would draw ratings.

Won't help much, but to shed light on the musing, Bryan was a fraternity brother who also lived with Rob and me in Arlington right out of school. Lot of energy. As much a clown. Loved to stretch it as far as it would go. Literally.

TR said...

The 1030 start time for Spurs-Warriors is a dagger.

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