$100,000 can buy you an awful lot of cars these days. This morning I could have bought a 2011 Lotus Elise with 1100 miles ($42k), a 2003 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 with 16,000 miles ($24k), a 2003 BMW 745Li in mint condition with 80k (18K), and enough left over to take my family on a two month cruise.
But back in 1989 I could not have bought this car brand new for $100K. Not even close. A Mercedes 420 SEL would have set you back $111,000 in inflation adjusted terms before adding options, taxes and bogus fees.
Rent: Hell no!
Finance: Double hell no!
Sell: An awful lot of these cars are doing time in junkyards and inop sales throughout the country. Why? Because they are hellaciously expensive to fix. Little issues require constant attention in 80’s Benzes. A/C systems. Electrics. Powertrain issues. Paint. When a Mercedes gets to be 22 years old and 201,000 miles it becomes a rolling money pit.
But this one is different.
It has over 70 maintenance records. We’re not talking about Jiffy Lube and Wal-Mart maintenance records either. Try $5000 for a rebuilt Mercedes factory transmission that was installed only 20,000 miles ago. $2000 for a completely remade interior less than 10,000 miles ago.. $3400 for an engine rebuild about 50,000 miles ago. Not to mention near $100 oil changes and brake jobs that were firmly in the four figures.
This car is a rolling testament to blind love… and maybe even a bad marriage.
So where you can find buyers who love a car beyond all logic and reason? Ebay. When it comes to old non-collectible cars, Ebay can provide a price premium that goes far beyond the realm of reason.
I sold it for $2850. Not a lot of money. But more profit than I can likely get anywhere else.
Keep: There is one thing you can’t avoid if you sell cars on Ebay. Clueless people buying cars they know nothing about. Despite verbose warnings about my desire to sell it to a Mercedes enthusiast, I ended up meeting a nice older lady who was clearly out of her element.
“Thanks Mr. Lang for getting back to me so quickly. Does the car come with a warranty?”
“No maam. My policy has always been if you don’t like it, you don’t have to take it. It’s as simple as that.”
“I got the car for my daughter who is a single mom with kids. Do you think this will be a good car for her? I do like Mercedes.”
“Oh, hell no!”
I went on to explain to her ‘why’ a car like this needs so much maintenance. She hightailed it back to North Carolina and now I get the pleasure of relisting it.
Hopefully it will go to a better place. Perhaps some enthusiast who can match their blind love with a big fat wallet.