Welcome to Used Car Face Off, where we find two similar or similarly priced used cars and ask you which one you would buy. Choose wisely!
There’s no way you could call me a fan of body kits. Don’t call me Mr. Sensible Quentin Willson or anything, but there are so few of them that actually improve the looks of a car rather than make it look like a prop from a nasty car racing movie. Or worse, an ’80s hangover.
Speaking of the ’80s, I’d like to throw out a couple of names: Carlsson and Lorinser. Think body-colored body kits on some of your favorite cars of the period. And after lots of thinking, decide whether or not these body kits were good ideas in the first place. Did they actually improve the look of the car or did they just make entering driveways much more nail-biting? Tellingly, are we able to laugh about them now?
OK, you can call us unabashed Saab fans at Jalopnik. I definitely have an incurable case of it (but I have been listening to Vampire Weekend’s new album all week) and you should get on the turbo wave, too. But was there anything more 1987 than a Saab 900 Turbo with a body kit? Specifically, the body-colored Carlsson body kit, a pretty rare addition that I’ve never been able to come to terms with. I mean, it’s impossible to go wrong with 3-spoke Aero wheels on a Classic 900, but COME ON that front spoiler is insane! The only way it would be more over the top is if the back window had some louvers. Don’t get any ideas, future owner.
Otherwise, this is a really nice 26-year-old 900 Turbo, with the ideal five-speed manual and gray leather interior and it even has a claimed fewer-than-100,000 miles – $6,400 seems like kind of a bargain. The Carlsson kit gets some recognition for being rare, since I honestly don't think I've seen one in person in a year beginning with a "2." Still, I'll give massive props to someone who is able to drive through dips without ripping the front and rear spoilers to bits. How did they even get it on that dirt road?
As yuppie-tastic as the Saab is, though, this 1987 Mercede-Benzs 560SEC screams cocaine-fueled American Psycho terror. The ad even describes it as "Miami Vice White" and with the wide Lorinser kit and electroplated gold package it sure does look the part of Florida. Take a look around and there's more gold on the BBS alloys and a fat rear spoiler, too. It's the kit that keeps on giving.
Again, we have an allegedly low-mileage '80s hero and it has a minty interior. And just look at the size of that phone! (Does it look a little '90s to anyone else, though?) The precursor to the modern CL, the old SECs screamed "personal luxury" before anything like kits or wheels were added, so this very special Lorinser version makes you look like a very important person. Just put that massive phone against the side of your face and people will think you're moving billions of dollars – in something. Is that worth almost $20,000, though, for the privilege of driving this time machine into 1987?
Even though I love old W126s and especially SECs, it’s up against a bizarrely dressed love of mine. To be honest, I’ve warmed up to the Carlsson but it’s proof that certain fashions don’t look good on everyone. Time, though, has been much more kind to the Carlsson than the Lorinser, though, which hasn't quite hit that nostalgia level and is still a reminder of how wrong things can go with car styling when people have too many options. Give it time.