When I was younger and much less incorrigible, I remember seeing a car that forced me to stop and stare, jaw unceremoniously agape. That car was a Mercedes SL600, just like this beautiful example. What’s even more mind boggling is that you can now buy it for entry level Mustang money and have enough change left over to fill your piggy bank.
This 2004 Mercedes Sl600 is a car that did everything so right that this model, albeit with a facelift, was in production for damn near a decade and this version (the earlier one) was far and away the better looker in my humble opinion. But that isn’t the best part - not by a long shot. It has an engine that’s a derivative of the one in the Pagani Huayra, enormous six piston front/four piston rear brake calipers, a retractable hard top, panoramic glass roof, heated and ventilated seats, a sound system that adapts to the ambient noise in the cabin, 500 horsepower, and almost 600 ft-lbs of torque. That’s a long-ass list. This one has low miles, no accidents, and a clean title. With the limiter removed, it’ll do north of 200 miles per hour. Why, then, is it less than $25 grand? Because people are scared of astronomical repair bills and they run screaming, but we know better.
With a clean carfax and miles that would be considered just breaking in for this powerhouse of an engine, this car looks every bit as good as it did when it left the showroom - at least as far as I can tell by the pictures. The main fault to worry about with these cars is twofold: the Active Body Control hydropneumatic suspension which can be a few thousand dollars to replace and calibrate by a dealer, and the engine’s two ignition coil packs, which are $1500 apiece. Both issues, if assessed and ruled out beforehand, aren’t deal breakers and easily taken care of with good maintenance and a trustworthy independent mechanic. I owned an S600 of similar vintage and it was one of the best driving experiences I’ve ever had. It’s also piss-your-britches fast.
This car is so worth it, but only if there aren’t any looming mechanical issues that need attention. It was the better part of $200,000 when new, and new wasn’t that long ago, proving once again that depreciation is the gift that keeps on giving if you buy used. For those of you that are angrily writing in the comments saying that likely no one would cross-shop a Mustang with a Mercedes SL, I understand that this person may not be the average buyer - but what I present is the possibility of doing something extravagant and memorable with your money versus going the path of maximum mediocrity. After all, you owe it to yourself not to be boring.
Tavarish is the founder of APiDA Online and writes and makes videos about buying and selling cool cars on the internet. He owns the world’s cheapest Mercedes S-Class, a graffiti-bombed Lexus, and he’s the only Jalopnik author that has never driven a Miata. He also has a real name that he didn’t feel was journalist-y enough so he used a pen name and this was the best he could do.