PCH, Book Of Revelations Edition: Gray Market V12 Jag or Cheap 6.9 Benz?

Illustration for article titled PCH, Book Of Revelations Edition: Gray Market V12 Jag or Cheap 6.9 Benz?

Welcome to Project Car Hell, where you choose your eternity by selecting the project that's the coolest... and the most hellish! It seems that the Japanese won't be celebrating an improbable victory over PCH Superpower Britain this time around, with the Land Rover beating the Nissan Patrol 57% to 43% in our poll. Today we're going to return to a couple of perennial PCH heavy hitters, cars that we all really really want, yet make us stagger back in awe and horror when contemplating the magnitude of the task they represent: the Mercedes-Benz 6.9 and the Jaguar V12!

There are ordinary Project Car Hell vehicles, and then there are the heavyweights. The projects that, in the words of the prophet John in Revelations 20:10, will have you "thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever." In fact, the Book Of Revelations is the only shop manual you'll need with a PCH Heavyweight, and quite a bit of it is devoted to the V12-equipped Malaise Era Jaguar. In '82, you could buy a new XJ-S in the USA for $32,100 (about 72 grand today), but some pollutin' folks decided they wanted the 299-horsepower UK-market engine instead of the emissions-friendly 262-horse unit and imported their own. And, of course, those buyers headed right to the DMV, where Franz Kafka himself was waiting for them behind the counter. Fast-forward 25 years, and we find this '82 (go here if the ad disappears), which has a steering wheel on the left side and a price tag of just $695. Whoa, that's just over $50 per cylinder! Only 37,000 miles on the clock, never titled in the USA… is that the deal of the century or what? In a sentence that pretty much sums up Malaise Jag ownership, the seller states that he or she "Had running once but not run in the past few years." Perhaps the Prince Of Darkness fuel injection (PODFI) system is a contributing factor to the non-runningness, but you'll sort that out. Thanks to Delsysdsoftware for the tip!
We never get tired of V12s here, and we also never get tired of the Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9. It's got a big hairy V8, it's got a Citroënesque hydropneumatic suspension, and it's got Top Mob Boss Grade luxury. In 1977, you'd have spent $39,377 for one. In 2008 dollars, that's about $141,000… but some folks don't understand the real value of these machines, which is why depreciation has gnawed away an astonishing 99.7% of the inflation-adjusted value of this 1977 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 (go here if the ad disappears). That's got to be some sort of record, and you can be the beneficiary of this madness. Fainthearted types might think the seller's statement "this was a parts car i didnt use very many parts off of" is on the disquieting side, but the engine is (allegedly) good! We'll admit the transmission is bad, but the junkyards are full of V8 Benzes, and maybe the transmission out of a non-6.9 will bolt right up and not explode immediately. As for the suspension, how hard could it be? Hey, you can probably get this car for less than 400 bucks; in fact, "whatever you have to get it out of my yard" will take it away.



Rob Emslie

Okay, that's hysterical; the seller is promoting the Jag as an "XJ5.2" denoting the displacement of the boat anchor under the bonnet, but in reality a good way of describing the condition of any particular example of this marque. That being said, this is more accurately an XJ1.7, as it's pretty much a fright pig, and why would you want a gray-market edition of a car that exists in more numbers than there are poor fools who pine after them?

If you want the thrill of owning a gray-market car, always staying one parking space ahead of John Law and a quick trip to the crusher, why wouldn't you go for something that was never available here in any edition? Like universal healthcare and all-day antipasto, something exotically unobtainable like a Ginetta, Opel Monza or that freaky-deaky Isdera from back in the day, might be more likely to get those adrenal glands a pumpin'.

And that 6.9 Benz? Yeah right, if you've always dreamed of being a dentist. The big kraut offers ostentatiousness with anonymity . Mmmm, unobtrusive. These things are pretty much a dime a dozen, and with 8MPG city, you'll need all those dimes.

Of the two, you know that the Jag was built by unionized British auto workers who were more interested in planning their next strike and ogling the racks on the Page 3 birds than tightening all those bolts to the specified torque settings. The Benz, on the other hand, was built by Turkish immigrants who were petrified of not doing an acceptable job and being sent back to Turkey to participate in camel wrestling matches and eating awful falafel waffles. So, win goes to the Jag.