Illustration for article titled Project Car Hell, Big Sporty Germans Edition: 560SEC or Audi V8?

Welcome to Project Car Hell, where you choose your eternity by selecting the project that's the coolest... and the most hellish! You want a great big Teutonic luxury car, but you also want pizzazz? And you want it cheap?


Hey, these tough economic times mean that you can score great deals on super-high-end machines that you once considered firmly out of your reach. We considered this $2000 BMW 850i, but two grand is a lot of green these days. How about a big ol' V8-powered German luxury machine for one thin grand?

Audi has quite the name for all-wheel-drive V8 bruisers these days, but let's roll back the calendar to the reign of Bush I and recall how exciting the brand-new V8 Quattro sedan felt. 240 or 276 horses, slick Audi styling… and a hefty price tag of $83,000 (in 2010 dollars). Getting one today for just a thousand bucks means that you're profiting from a staggering 98.8% depreciation shot. But no, it can't be possible, this thousand-buck Audi V8! Not only possible, my deal-eyeballing friend, but mandatory! For one thousand American dollars- or, probably, quite a bit less depending on seller desperation motivation- you can own this beautiful silver V8 Quattro (go here if the listing disappears). Now, we're not going to claim this German high-performance sedan is perfect, mind you; the seller declines to state the car's model year and provides the following poem by way of description:
Hood Stuck Open
Cant open it

Does it run? How can a hood be stuck open, yet cannot be opened? Aren't all cars parked when not in motion? All these points will be strong negotiating levers in your car-buying toolkit, and you'll be sure to emerge from the deal as the sucker winner, towing driving away your new nightmare pride and joy.

That Audi would be pretty cool, but serious Hell Project Poster Children know that Audi is the new kid on the block when it comes to conspicuous consumption props truly high-end German luxury automobiles. You'll have a Mercedes-Benz, by God, and nothing else! Naturally, your Benz must be a coupe, because the sedans tend to be more appropriate for the portly 68-year-old VP of a medium-sized investment firm in Dortmund than for a devil-may-care rake such as yourself. What would the ultra-hip kingpin of a West Berlin MDMA-smuggling operation have driven in 1987? Exactly: a Mercedes-Benz 560SEC. Priced at about $130,000 (in inflation-adjusted 2010 bucks), the sinister-looking W126 coupe came with a 238-horsepower 5,549cc SOHC V8 and all the cool in the universe. Could it be within the realm of possibility that you, a mere mortal, might be able to score one of these gems at 0.7% of the original purchase price? Ja! Simply head on over to North Hollywood and offer 900 greasy Washingtons to the owner of this 1987 Mercedes-Benz 560SEC (go here if the listing disappears) and you'll sputter roar off into the sunset in your new self-torture device ride. The seller appears to be every bit as much the poet as the Audi's owner, as the description attests:
cluster doesnt work
reverse barely works
inteior needs atention

So much mystery! Should you be intimidated by electrical woes and transmission problems in a Mercedes-Benz flagship? By all means! Not at all! The junkyards overflow with W126 sedans, so the application of every tool you've ever heard of a few wrenches and a tiny fraction of every one of those bad components will be back in semi-working order. How hard could it be?

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