Where Your Author Considers Many Impractical Used Car Suggestions (Part II)

where your author considers many impractical used car suggestions part ii

I’m back with more boring used car content, a topic some of you apparently despise with a passion. Caution: More used-car discussion ahead, get out while you still can if this is the case! For the rest of you, let’s review the impractical car suggestions you’ve made that earned a spot on the Yes, I Like list.

In alphabetical order, here’s the list of impractical cars that check all the requirements from the initial post a few weeks ago:

  • Cadillac ATS Coupe
  • Cadillac CTS Coupe
  • Cadillac XLR
  • Lexus IS 250 C / IS 350 C
  • Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe
  • Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe
  • Mercedes-Benz SLK350
  • Volvo C70

Four coupes, three hardtop convertibles, and many variables lie within this list. I’ve been researching lately, so we’ll start with most likely contenders and head toward the outliers.

Lexus IS 250 C / IS 350 C

The IS convertible is the most likely option here. On sale from the 2010 to 2015 model years, earlier examples are in budget. They were expensive and not popular and are not exceedingly available in the convertible-avoiding Midwest, but I could grab one from elsewhere. I like the looks (darker exterior colors are preferable) and I like the quality. The hardtop look is also nice, as with the roof closed all windows can be lowered away. The 2.5-liter V6 250 C is much more available on the used market; the 350 C will likely be outside budget. That’s fine by me, I’ve owned cars with many fewer than 206 horses before. Challenges here include finding one without an accident history and finding interior colors other than black. Fortunately, cream, saddle, red, and light gray were offered. Nearly all examples have the Luxury Package, which included HiD lamps, semi-aniline leather, and navigation.

Cadillac ATS Coupe, XLR, CTS Coupe

Cadillac offers three models that suit my requirements. The ATS is one of the newer cars on this list (2015-2019), so I’d need to find an earlier example with around 70,000 miles or so to stay within budget. The vast majority have the 2.0 turbo rather than the 3.6, and most are equipped with all-wheel drive (which I don’t especially need). The ATS looks great in navy, pearl white, or even a darker red, and overall the styling is sharp too. The biggest issue I’ve noticed with the ATS in searches is the availability of interior colors other than black. Dealers ordered white, silver, or black, a black interior, and called it a day circa 2016.

The XLR comes second of the three Cadillac considerations. The oldest car here, XLR was produced alongside the Corvette from 2004 to 2009. The front end is a bit dated, but the car certainly stands out among other options here. The standard Northstar 4.6 version is near the top of the budget; the V-spec supercharged version is not affordable. The Northstar here is the later LH2 version used from 2004-2010 in various Cadillacs and does not seem to suffer from head gasket issues. However, cars built in 2004 had roof adhesive problems so that year is best avoided. Generally, these have covered relatively low miles and have been maintained by their owners. It is not difficult to find examples with tan or gray interiors. Downsides include the potential for expensive repair work to the completely unique folding metal roof and body panels, which I’m guessing jacks up the insurance rates, too. These are most commonly for sale in red, silver, or champagne. XLR is the only car on this list that’s a future classic.

Last for Cadillac is the CTS Coupe. Readily available within budget, this CTS was offered from 2011 through 2015 (a shorter time than I thought previously). Non-V examples used the common 3.6-liter GM V6, and it was available in RWD or AWD guise. Used examples seem a decent mix between rear- and all-wheel drive, but are often seen in ratty condition because of their age and prior depreciation. Interiors here are especially dated. Even in Performance trim, the CTS Coupe seems like a big hefty chunk of a car. I’m yet to drive one to see if it changes my mind.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe, E-Class Coupe, SLK350

There are also three Mercedes models that fit the bill, the first of which I mentioned last time. The W205 C-Class Coupe is the only model here still in production and has been around since 2017. It’s available in a wide range of nice exterior and interior colors, and overall it’s a looker. Affordable examples will be the C300, with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four. The majority seem to have 4MATIC. The issue here is availability, as to be within budget it would need to be a higher mileage example with around 75,000 on the clock.

More affordable but slightly less sexy is the E-Class Coupe, the C207 offered from 2010 to 2017. Within budget, it would likely be model year 2010-2014. Offered in E350 and E550 models outside the AMG range, the one to get seems to be the 3.5-liter (the V8 had some issues). It’s the most developed engine with the longest and most widespread use at Mercedes. Various exterior and interior colors work for me, and the upgraded equipment of the Designo package is desirable. Of note, it’s a real live hardtop coupe, no B-pillar in the way. Combined with the panoramic roof, it’s as near to convertible as you get without a folding roof. Most examples near the Midwest have 4MATIC. A CarFax history of consistent servicing at a Mercedes dealer is common. Concerns here are the maintenance of a 10-year-old Mercedes, even one that’s among the “more reliable” offerings from the brand.

The SLK350 is also on my radar. I’m only interested in the looks of the third-gen R172 model, which was sold from 2011 to 2020 and changed its name to SLC at the end. Two versions were initially offered, a 250 with a 1.8-liter turbocharged four, and the 350 with the 3.5 V6 straight from the E-Class above. Model years for the 350 were between 2011 and 2015. It’s affordable with reasonable miles, around 55,000 or so. The vast majority have an acrylic panoramic roof panel, though very few were equipped with pricy Magic Roof glass. Others with the base solid roof panel experienced delamination issues, and Mercedes replaced the solid panels with panoramic ones. I like several of the exterior colors, and tan, brown, and red are available inside. Availability is the main constraint with SLK.

Volvo C70

A single Volvo stands alone, and it’s an outlier. The second-gen C70 ran from 2006 to 2013, with a big update for 2011 to bring styling in line with modern offerings. I’m only interested in a 2011-2013 example. A folding metal convertible, it has the same hardtop look as in the IS above with the windows down and the roof up. The C70 has a wide range of pricing for similar cars, and availability is an issue. Many have light interiors but said interiors look rather spartan: Lots of plain black materials. I’ve also concerns about dwindling Volvo parts (after all, they’re about to stop making gasoline- and hybrid-powered cars entirely), and this is the sort of car that will require a specialist mechanic.

There’s the Yes, I Like list. America, Germany, Japan, and Sweden all make something to satisfy my impractical car desires. Now to narrow it a bit and find the right one for me.

[Images: Cadillac, Lexus, Volvo, Mercedes-Benz]

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14 of 98 comments
  • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Aug 06, 2021

    OK, I got Part III. This dealer has both an MY10 Lex IS250 (ok miles, kinda high) and an MY13 C70 with no miles but really high (as all of the 11-13s are now). Messed up thing is that C70 probably wholesales 17-18+ because of the low miles so if one is going to choose and lose on these, that's probably not a bad example to do so on. https://www.germanautohouse.com/convertibles-for-sale-B100010

    • See 8 previous
    • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Aug 07, 2021

      @theflyersfan That Tom Gray place has lots of C70s there! It keeps coming up on my Autotrader saved search. (I've got saved searches for the list above, within 200 mile radius. That captures several major cities that are well within driving distance to go check out a car.)

  • Undead Zed Undead Zed on Aug 06, 2021

    Wow, that "saddle" is a lot more vibrant than I would have thought. This is the closest example I could find with a good title within budget. https://www.carfax.com/vehicle/JTHFF2C21C2526498

    • See 2 previous
    • Eng_alvarado90 Eng_alvarado90 on Aug 09, 2021

      Those seats look tasty, but something inside doesn't look cohesive. Maybe it's a touchscreen short of perfect?

  • Snickel Fritz I just bought a '97 JX 4WD 4AT, and though it's not quite roadworthy yet I am already in awe of it's simplicity and apparent ruggedness. What I am equally in awe of, is the scarcity of not only parts but correct information regarding anything on this platform. I'm going to do my best to get this little donkey back on it's feet, but I wouldn't suggest this as a project vehicle for anyone who doesn't already have several... and a big impressive shop with a full suite of fabrication/machining/welding equipment, and friends with complimentary skillsets, and extra money, and... you get the idea. If you don't, I urge you to read up on the options for replacing anything on these rigs. I didn't read enough before buying, and I have zero of the above suggested prerequisites... so I'm an idiot, don't listen to me. Go buy all of 'em!
  • Bryan Raab Davis I actually did use the P of D trope, but it was only gentle chiding, for I love old British cars of every sort.
  • ScarecrowRepair The 1907 Panic had several causes of increased demand for money:[list][*]The semi-annual shift of money between farms and cities (to buy for planting and selling harvests)[/*][*]Britain and Germany borrowing for their naval arms race[/*][*]San Francisco reconstruction borrowing after the 1906 earthquake and fire[/*][/list]Two things made it worse:[list][*]Idiotic bans on branch banking, which prevented urban, rural, and other state branches from shifting funds to match demands. This same problem made the Great Depression far worse. Canada, which allowed branch banking, had no bank failures; the US had 9000 failures.[/*][*]Idiotic reserve requirements left over from the Civil War which prevented banks from loaning money; they eventually started honoring IOUs illegally and started the recovery.[/*][/list]Been a while since I read up on it, so I may have some of the details wrong. But it was an amazing clusterfart which could have been avoided or at least tamed sooner if states and the feds hadn't been so ham handed.
  • FreedMike Maybe this explains all the “Idiots wrecking exotic cars” YouTube videos.
  • FreedMike Good article! And I salute the author for not using the classic “Lucas - prince of darkness” trope, well earned as it may be. We all know the rap on BL cars, but on the flip side, they’re apparently pretty easy to work on (at least that’s the impression I’ve picked up). On the other hand, check the panel fits on the driver’s and passenger’s doors. Clearly, BL wasn’t much concerned with things like structural integrity when it chopped the roof off a car designed as a coupe.