Is the answer always Miata? Not when the answer is “used S-Class.” Specifically, the one with a V12.
On today’s eBay Challenge, reader Land_Yacht_225 (of course that’s the username here!) pens as good a paean to the Mercedes S600 from the early 2000s as I’ve read anywhere. Sit back and enjoy.
Everywhere else on Jalopnik, the answer may always be Miata. But here, in Ebay Challenge Land, the answer is always W220 S600.
Here we have a lovely example in Midnight blue. 2006, last year of production for the W220. AMG Appearance package and Keyless-Go. 108,000 miles. Yours for $12,900.
Somebody at some point in time said, “Everybody should drive a V12 at least once in their life.” Most often that is attributed to Jay Leno, but I believe his contribution to the sentiment was an addendum to make it “once a week,” but who can really be sure anymore anyways? Point being that it is absolutely true. For me, pride swells within me to say that I do drive a V12 at least once a week. And when I’m not at school, it’s at least twice a day, to and from work. And let me tell you, you cannot possibly imagine what it is actually like. If you go into ownership knowing you’re gonna get kicked in the sensitive areas on upkeep, this is the hero that you want to meet.
The way this car drives has nothing to do with it’s power figures or 0-60 time, or 0-100 time, or 100-155 time. Although those numbers will blow your socks off, it’s all about how it’s delivered. You want 600 lb-ft of torque, a diesel truck will give you that. But it won’t deliver it silently, and without a single vibration. You have your pick of the litter these days when you want 500 horses under the hood, the top of the range hot Alfa Romeo Gulia has 505 out of a Twin Turbo V6, but it’s a frantic, high-revving, turbo whooshing, visceral experience. Not that there is anything wrong with that! I look forward to driving one, but I don’t know if I could live with it every day.
The S600 is Theodore Roosevelt. It talks softly, but carries one hell of a gigantic stick. From a standstill, you gently roll your foot onto the accelerator and, as best I can describe it, it’s like you’re sitting on a surfboard off some Hawaiian beach and a big wave comes up from behind you and pushes you into the shore. The rear end doesn’t really squat and the nose doesn’t rise because the hydraulic suspension doesn’t allow for it, so the car just sets off with no dramatics, but a lot off oomph. It’s like a tesla, but around 2500RPM you get a satisfying turbine kind of noise. You never really feel the need to go much higher than that. You’re in peak torque at 1800 RPM which is really nothing when you’re getting up to speed. Yea, you can get the same feeling from a Tesla, but it doesn’t take engineering for an electric motor to run smoothly. There’s physics at work in a V12.
Out in front of you, an engine with twice as many cylinders hurling around a common crank as the average car next to you, is just ticking away like a good watch. It takes time to spin up the revs. It’s an experience very indicative of pre-war motoring. Packard Twin-Sixes, Pierce-Arrows, the original Lincoln Continental, and the like. It’s not a free revving small displacement engine like an Italian V12. It concerns itself with only quality of acceleration. Slow down how fast the revs can climb, and you smooth out the forces acting on the car during acceleration. You also lose power. So you add more cylinders to make it back. Then you’re making lots of torque, so you can gear the transmission higher to keep revs low. Low revs are quiet. Then when all the grunt comes on low in the range, you get this swelling wave-like feeling when taking off or accelerating to a higher speed, like I was talking about earlier.
You must try it before you shuffle off this mortal coil. It’s intoxicating.
I’ll take two, please.