By on May 12, 2011

Bruce writes:

As of today I have a: 997 ‘06 Carrera, E39 ’02 525i Sport Wagon, ‘08 LR3. The cars I wish to own include a Boxster Spyder, VW GTi gen VI and an ‘07/08 AMG E63 wagon. I can have four vehicles, three in the garage, one in the sun.

The LR3 is my wife’s company vehicle and our family hauler, three kids under 10 and hopefully a forth soon. So the LR3 will stay. That leaves my 12 000 mile Paint to Sample, Maritime Blue, Carrera and my 70,000 mile Sport Wagon. The Carrera is unique and a keeper, it’s won two concours awards and enjoys lapping VIR. The E39 Sport Wagon is immaculate with new brakes, next up I’ll be replacing the water pump as a preventative measure.

Soooo, I miss the top down driving of my now departed 986 Boxster S and think the Spyder is damn cool if a bit “spendy” as of today. The AMG wagon (I like me a wagon), spendy too for sure, can seat the entire family as a bonus (2 rear facing jump seats in back) and I’ve always loved that AMG naturally aspirated V8 sound. Get a big V8 while the oil lasts! Then there’s the GTI: I’ve always wanted one, it would be more frugal than my Sport Wagon, or the AMG for sure, but then I work from home most of the time anyway. However in 8 years when my eldest starts driving I think a 4 cycl. man tran is best for her.

Desperate for help! ;-)

Sajeev answers:

While I understand the allure of an AMG wagon (my brother owns an E55 of that variety) I don’t see why you’d want it after owning the best: E39 wagons rock. More to the point, you want a convertible and you really like V8s:  those two items came up frequently in your email. So broaden your horizons.

Handling is a must, considering your current fleet.  Why on earth aren’t you looking at an LS-1 powered Miata?  It will eat your 997
alive on most any track, sounds kinda like an E63 wagon and you won’t mind letting Mother Nature have its way with it in your driveway.  Its obvious you have money,  a passion for cars and a desire for owning the best of the breed, so do things right with the best machine known to man. Several shops do this for you, and plenty of conversions show up on eBay on a regular basis.

Steve answers:

I would keep the Carrera.
You won’t get that much of a bump by dumping it and getting yet another sports car. That model is among the best of the decade. Boxsters however tend to have issues as they age (engine, electric, suspension) and I would definitely sell that.

Your idea of buying a convertible is spot on. Everything you will have is already a hardtop and Sajeev’s idea of a souped up Miata is on
target. Although I think since you folks have kids, a Jaguar XKR would be a far better choice. This model has all the power you would ever want for the open road. Add a world class interior and seating for at least four (five hypothetically), and you have a world class touring convertible for the warm months. I do love the Miata; especially the 4000 or so Mazdaspeed’s that were released. But if I already had two Porsche’s and planned on ridding myself of one, I would opt for a soft top.

Not just any convertible mind you. But one that would have the right combination of ride, luxury and other-godly levels of horsepower. You already have a Mercedes. BMW’s have cheap interior parts and a Bangle butt design that’s as overwrought as it is copied. I would get the Jag (XK).

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

43 Comments on “New or Used: Help Me Build My Fleet...”

  • avatar

    1st or 2nd gen Viper convertible and an Audi RS6 Avant.

    Sometimes instead of fast what you really need is scary. Sometimes you just want to get the family and the dog to soccer practice at 100MPH.

    Or instead of either a Hennessey Grand Cherokee srt600…

    Because that’s what you would buy if you cared more about cars than gossip at the country club…

    Also a vintage 911 carrera RS could be quite a bit of a$$ out harry chested good time…

  • avatar

    Why not an M3 vert? Decent space for the kids, drop top, and a v-8 if you choose to spring for a newer model.

  • avatar

    I, too, am insanely wealthy and have worried over whether to buy a $26k GTI…

  • avatar


    • 0 avatar

      In 3 or 4 years yes maybe with the V8 for $25k!
      Of course everyone thinks it’s BMW “Aztec” but no matter it certainly is a well engineered machine if waaayyy to heavy.

  • avatar

    I’d forget about the W211 E63. Sure, the engine or should I say, the NOIIIISE is great fun (for some time?) but the car around it by all accounts isn’t that spectecular. I’m not sure if the later iterations of the W211s have improved a lot over the earlier ones but as many can attest to, the W211 pretty much picked up where the W210 left off; electrical gremlins and rust. Personally I also don’t like the interior and compared to the E60/1 and the last A6 it seems like a pretty dated car to me. So you’d be dropping a lot of coin on a 3 year old car that (will soon) look(s) dated.

    Sadly, I’m guessing the E61 (wagon) M5 was never officially sold in the US and even a 550i would be hard to find, so if it’s going to be a wagon and it’s going to have to have that amount of power, I’d second the RS6 (boring but fast in a straight line and lots of grip for cooler weather).

    For the convertible, I’d skip the Boxster Spyder since I think it will ultimately be a pretty close experience to the Boxster S you had with a little more of the 911 injected into the driving experience. Haven’t driven one but I can’t see that it would be a completely different experience, yet again, you would pay a big premium. Something that might work (pricey, but still) is one of the early AM V8 Vantage Volantes (not the 80s one obviously). People complain that it’s a little underpowered (too little torque down low) but the NOOOOOOISE is great and with the top down you can enjoy it that much more.

    Then, people are going to scold me for ever suggesting this, but I’d skimp on the GTI by going for a used gen V. People with a bias against VW are going to call me insane cause VW has such a bad reputation in the US (not here in Europe) and GTIs are driven by hoons, but then you can also use that reputation to get a sweet deal. Also, I think the gen V GTI looks better than the Gen VI, but that’s just me. You can leave it standing outside, not worry too much about it…it’d be kind of like the premium version of a beater. Maybe when the time comes get something else for the daughter though.

    • 0 avatar

      You saw that MBs tend to rust but go on about how great a VW is…maybe the sell better Benzes here in the states.

      My folks have had 3 MBs, in the Rocky Mountain states (plenty of winter, no salt though) and never had rust issues. The 02 E430 4matic just started having some electrical issues at 147k miles…little sensors that do add up quickly.

      Any car becomes dated, interior or exterior, but you shouldn’t buy it for just that reason. If it is functional and works well for the individual, than there is nothing wrong with it. My 1998 Acura is very dated but everything works like new and while it is a boring design, it’s linear and symetrical (something I do value). I really love the low cowl too.

      • 0 avatar

        Well the rust issues are pretty well documented though, particularly on the W210 but also the (early versions) of the W211. As the E63 is always the facelifted model it might be better.

        The rust issue in general got quite a bit of coverage here as it also affected the Vito/Viano/ commercial vans (and V-Klasse) that are obviously used extensively and sometimes spend a lot of time standing outside and owners (businesses) were not pleased to buy a reliable Merc only to then have it rust away on them.

        Also, not saying VW is the most reliable brand ever (not at all), just that all the ‘I’d never own one outside of warranty’ talk you often find here is IMO, exaggerated. Bruce might be able to use this to his advantage if he can get a good deal on a Gen V and save himself some cash he can spend on other vehicles. Plus, the most important drawbacks of the potential unreliability that would usually apply if this would be ones only car or if a (out of warranty) defect would put a dent in ones financial situation don’t (seem to) apply here, so yeah, it could be an oppertunity to save a couple K and still have pretty much the same experience.

    • 0 avatar

      From what I can see the 211 chassis is holding up very well to rust, and I don’t think I’ve seen come in that has had serious rust issues. You can’t compare it to the 210. The top front spring perches regularly rust off. The 211 has been decently reliable and rust free. Besides, the 211 won’t even be a consideration when compared to a 212 E63. Idling they sound like a normal Mercedes, but give it some throttle and it sounds like the Apocalypse has started. I would recommend waiting for the twin turbo 5.5L “63” to come out. That is going to be insane.

  • avatar


    I had a neighbor who parked his Ferrari 456 GTA on the street to leave room in the driveway for his Pontiac Aztec, (in)complete with two missing hubcaps. I figured the Aztec got the driveway because other neighbors would have the city tow it were it parked in the street. Gotta say that the 5GT and any other vehicle mentioned in this thread would raise the bar for absurd vehicle pairings.

  • avatar

    M3 or S4 convertible. Maybe even an American “pony” car convertible with a V8…Mustang or Camaro.

    You’ve got a fun coupe, you’ve got a fun wagon, you’ve got a ute…if you want something else, get something that you can take out on the weekend and your 2 best kids and can ride in. Or leave your wife at home and take the kids. Or leave them all at home.

    Man, life can be tough sometimes.

    The problem with any 7-seat vehicle, at least the LR3 and MB wagon is that when all seats are used, there isn’t much room for luggage/cargo. Might have to get a roof carrier.

    • 0 avatar


      Please don’t cut the roof off S4. I’m assuming you are referring to S5 convertible instead.

    • 0 avatar

      TEXN3, you’ll appreciate this, it’s me:

      Indeed unless I drive a Chevy Suburban I will soon need a cargo trailer.

      • 0 avatar

        Ok, now that was cool, love how you have the Porsche with 2 baby seats in the back! Definitely the “cool dad” in the car circle.

        Do you have to travel with ALL the kids a lot? If you have a 4th on the way, then that could really limit your options. Once you get past 3 kids, vehicle choices drop off dramatically. I dont think the rear-facing seats in the Benz wagon is a safe option for kids(and I am not even sure the AMG versions include those seats). 3 rows of seats and fun to drive dont usually go together. Someone mentioned the Benz R63 AMG, or you can go with another SUV, there is the upcoming Dodge Man-Van. Its going to come down to your needs for the kids. If you dont have to worry about shuttling all 4 kids (and your wife) in the car at the same time, sure, your options are wide open. How about a Wrangler??

  • avatar

    Sounds like he prefers the MB for the seven seats, which BMW never offered. Other performance wagons with a third row include the Audi A6/S6 and Volvo R, but the third row in those essentially sits on top of the floor and so is pretty much only for small kids.

    For that V8 sound and a truly usable third row, there’s only one option without stepping up to an SUV: R63 FTW!

    A Jag convertible handles nothing like a Porsche. With so many cars, there’s no need for the convertible to have a back seat.

    • 0 avatar

      +1 on the convertible not having to have 4 seats. The times you’ll use the extra seats (for people, not luggage) will approach zero over the life of the car. Scratch the Jag, get an AM V8 Volante instead.

      Side note; learned something new here about the Audi A6/Volvo R. Didn’t know about the extra seating option, but maybe it’s just not available here in Europe (less children).

      • 0 avatar

        I’m with JJ – if you think the MB v8s make a sound, wait until you have a Vantage v8 vert.

      • 0 avatar

        Volvo offered the seat as a dealer-installed accessory, so it should be possible to add one to a car without it. I don’t remember the specifics with the Audi. Definitely available in the allroad, where you could also get a manual with the turbo V6. Not sure about the S6 Avant. Probably not.

      • 0 avatar

        Oh don’t worry I’ve scouted the pages of the internets for the R63 AMG, now that would be off the wall!
        Correct my convertable doesn’t need rear seats, an AM Volante sounds like the ticket!

    • 0 avatar

      A nationwide search on autotrader finds three R63s for sale right now. All of them are black, asking prices from $47k to $65k.

      I hadn’t realized these were 4Matic.

  • avatar

    R8 if you are rich. A5 if you are not.

  • avatar

    The back seats of the MB wagon are certain death in a rear-end collision. Sit back there yourself and then strap your kids in. Just kidding. Dont

  • avatar

    Hey…I got my eye on a sweet 08 Stang V6. Promise you won’t move on it dude.

  • avatar

    I would definitely vote against the GTI. It will NOT be more frugal than your BMW, I can barely coax more than 22mpg out of it unless I do highway only road trips. Sure, if you baby it you might get closer to 25mpg, but then whats the fun in that?!? Plus, to be honest, I am sure it feels slow to you coming from your Porsche, but its really too quick for a teenagers first car. Too easy to lose traction in the rain, too much power for FWD, and in 8 yrs it might have all those terrible VW problems everyone warns you against!

    Yea, I still love my GTI, but I am way more jealous of your garage and your choices!! My advice? Park the BMW outside, make it your daily driver, and get yourself something unique. You have an awesome sports car and a great family hauler/SUV. How about a classic muscle car? 1970 Boss Mustang maybe?

    • 0 avatar

      In my Stage 1 MK6 GTI I get just about 29 mpg commuting (last tank was 28.7 according to my spreadsheet) and I am NOT babying. That said, I can easily rip through a tank at 24 or 25 mpg as well.

      If you have an Mk6, it sounds like you need the TSB described here completed:

      • 0 avatar

        Thanks for the info! I have a 2008 Mk5 (TSI) with DSG, but I was under the impression that the engine in my car was the same as in the Mk6. Either way, what the link describes is exactly what I notice about my car.

        I have tried babying it for an entire week (not easy!), and the best I could do around town was 24, and I am talking hypermiling techniques here; neutral coasting, turning the car off at lights, never accelerating at over 2500rpm, etc. At a track event one weekend, I drove it very hard all day and that tank I got 18mpg, which was what I would expect after a day of abuse. Under normal driving, I consistently get 21-22mpg, and thats calculating it myself, not by the trip computer (although they tend to match). I dont drive it crazy, but what I consider normal, sometimes I get into the turbo to get around traffic, but mostly just regular driving. On the highway, if I keep it under 60mph, I do fine, 34-35mpg. But thats not practical when the limit is 70, and as soon as I cruise at 70-75mph, my mpg drops down to 27-29.

        BTW — what do you consider Stage 1? The APR tune? I dont have mine chipped yet, but I have heard mileage can actually improve with a chip. Maybe if the TSB isnt for my car, I should move up my plan to get the APR tune…

        The mileage is my only real issue with this car, I could have gotten a Mustang GT and done about the same!

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    SRT-10 Ram Truck just for $hits and giggles.

  • avatar

    Bruce, if you don’t know what you want, it’s because you’re too closely attached to the automotive category. I’d take a detached approach and look for parallels in another product category. Say, luggage.

    Automobiles are like luggage: it’s useful for carrying stuff, gets you around in style, and people size you up based on what you roll with.

    Sedans and coupes are garment bags: useful for formal situations, business-like, often beautiful, but when asked to carry big stuff, it fails because of its compartmental design.

    Wagons and hatchbacks are suitcases: a multitasking compromise between formality of a garment bag and capacity of a duffle.

    Compacts and sub-compacts are like carry-on’s: you sacrifice capacity for being able to brag how you don’t have to pay extra fees and taxes that suitcases, duffles, and suitcases do. Americans think you’re poor if this is all you have. Europeans like carry-ons because they can’t afford the fees and taxes.

    SUV’s are back packs: adventurous and rugged enough for a post-apocalyptic world, but looks stupid in the city or suburb. Really stupid. Bonus points for ladder frame construction and size.

    Minivans are duffle bags: formless jellybean shaped so you can stuff your kids’ junk into. But obviously it’s less cool hauling a duffle bag than a backpack to the shopping mall or cafe.

    Trucks are hockey bags: easy to shovel smelly outdoor and sport stuff into, but not what you’d take to business. European luxury brands don’t do luxury hockey bags.

    Sports cars are attaches and briefcases: sleek, aerodynamic, and broadcast that you are to be taken seriously. Your household still packs a suitcase or garment bag to carry stuff that the briefcase can’t take, but you like the image of the briefcase.

    Exotic cars are gun cases: everyone knows you pack heat, you attract the attention of law authorities, so you keep it hidden until the weekend when it’s time to exercise it true function with other like-minded gun case holders.

    Grand Turismos are like violin or guitar cases: it’s beautiful, and when you’re not playing it you’re always trying to keep it in tune.

    Luxury brand luggage and cars are expensive because they use finer materials, have big marketing budgets for lifestyle branding, and you’re paying for the logo and heritage. Esoteric maintenance is a must. And it has zero status when it’s scratched and beat up.

    Near luxury luggage and cars look the part but comes with a tag stating that their second-rate leather is natural and blemishes caused by barb wire or cow acne add character.

    My best advice? If you know where you’re going, you know what to carry.

  • avatar
    Sam P

    You like the sound of a V8? E39 //M5 or E90 //M3 sedan are right up your alley. Start looking in the BMWCCA online classifieds. There tend to be quality cars for sale from private sellers there.

  • avatar

    The M156 made me believe in God.

  • avatar

    You already have cars that are great drivers. I suggest a different approach: a convertible that focuses on luxury as opposed to handling or acceleration. Buy a used Rolls Royce Corniche in the newest model year your budget allows. Be picky about service records, especially in regard to brakes.

    True, there is no exhaust burble or growl as they are nearly silent. They do accelerate and corner remarkably well for vehicles of their weight and size, and you will have upholstery that puts almost every other car made to shame. You should be able to buy a very nice one for R63 money, and three kids will have plenty of room in the back seat.

  • avatar

    Until recently i had a similar set up
    ’06 C2S Cabriolet
    ’99 528it sport wagon
    ’06 Jeep Grand Cherokee

    Unfortunately I got rid of the E39 because the repairs, while not too expensive, were growing too unpredictable.

    I ended getting an ’07 GX470 with a third-row which is the family-hauler now.

    Anyway, the E39 was awesome (even in the snow when fitted with Dunlop WinterSports) so keep it. I regret getting rid of it every time I look the JGC.

    I would suggest selling the 997 and buying the same model year in a cabriolet. Cash out will be modest, you’ll scratch the convertible itch, and be able to keep an icon in the collection. Although it can’t match the visceral sensation of a V8, if you step up to the S version of the cabriolet, you’ll get a little extra punch that may make you forget about anything AMG-tuned (for a little while, anyway).

    Four seats in the convertible comes in handy – the 997 is a near daily driver for me and allows me to take the kids to school.

    good luck.

  • avatar

    A VW GTi gen VI? Honestly, great car BUT I would seriously consider a 2009 Audi A3 3.2 S-Line instead if you can find one. I traded in my A6 for one and its AWESOME. Launch control, Quattro, fast as all hell and an adaptive magnetic suspension with sport mode…the same suspension only found in the R8 now…used its a great buy. In canada it was 57,000 brand new. Got mine with 30,000km on in it (previous owner was the shop manager at the Audi dealership) and only paid 35,000. More than 20 grand less than new.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • Dan: Keystone wasn’t one decision this January that wouldn’t have affected production nor prices 6 months...
  • ajla: EVs becoming a normie culture war battleground will be bad for everyone so I’m sure it will happen.
  • ajla: The Keystone Pipeline decision may not be impacting current prices but I do think it is worth debating the...
  • Inside Looking Out: It is not that we lost civility. The problem is that spoiled children who become young adults now...
  • Inside Looking Out: @dal20402: It is the learning experience for you. Next time you will go directly to local shop. I...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber