Monday, September 30, 2019

Luxury Car Roulette: Mercedes-Benz S430 vs BMW 750li vs Audi A8L vs VW Phaeton

A quick look in your local craigslist for $5k cars is an experience not too far from dangling in a La-Z-Boy recliner above a hungry sarlacc pit with nothing holding you up but a harbor freight bungie cord that's on fire.  Sure, its a great way to get your adrenaline flowing while being super comfy, but that warm feeling in your gut isn't just the two week old Mexican food leftovers that you probably shouldn't have is also the fact that most sub $5k cars for sale or total junk. Salvaged late model Japanese economy cars are everywhere...but there is hope.  And that hope lies in the over priced German luxury tanks that have depreciated into poor man's territory and the only downside is a threat of doom from lurking expensive repairs.  Just don't say it was my idea to drive one of these cars.  They all came as a tip from FuelTruck.  So if your wife needs someone to blame...blame the tipper. Which would you pick?  Mercedes-Benz S430 vs BMW 750li vs Audi A8L vs VW Phaeton

First up is this 2002 Mercedes-Benz S430 offered for $6,400 in Federal Way, WA via craigslist.

From the seller;
2002 Mercedes Benz S430
VIN: WDBNG70J22A265324
condition: excellent
cylinders: 8 cylinders
drive: rwd
fuel: gas
odometer: 97300
paint color: silver
title status: clean
transmission: automatic
Selling my Mercedes S430. This clean title car runs beautifully, and is the definition of a luxury vehicle. I am the 3rd owner, and there isnt a single light on the dash. It literally has no issues. I'll keep the rest short and sweet.

The car:
- 2002 Mercedes S430
- V8, 4.3L
- 97,3XX miles
- CLEAN title
- Title in hand

Notable features:
- Adjustable air suspension
- Power Close Doors
- Bose Stereo System
- Good tire tread remaining
- OEM Mercedes Benz all-weather rubber mats.
- Incredibly Spacious
- 3rd owner
- Regular Oil changes, and all 100k miles-mark maintenance completed including:
- New spark plugs
- New coil plugs
- New O2 sensors
- Transmission flush
- And MUCH more

I am open to offers as well.
Thank you. 

Next is this 2006 BMW 750li offered for $4500 in Lynnwood, WA via craigslist.

From the seller:
2006 BMW 750li
VIN: WBAHN83536DT60601
condition: excellent
cylinders: 8 cylinders
drive: rwd
fuel: gas
odometer: 152500
paint color: black
size: full-size
title status: rebuilt
transmission: automatic
type: sedan
2006 BMW 750li E66
The car is in a very good condition and low mileage for 2006 car, the car is driving very smooth doesn't need anything to be fixed.
The car was checked by BMW of Bellevue on may 2019, and I have the car report.
I'm selling this car because I have three other cars and I don't use it anymore.
No pets no smoking
The title under my name handy.

Leather Seats, power steering, back seats window shades,
Front air conditioning: automatic climate control,​ Rear air conditioning zones: dual,​ Rear air conditioning: independently controlled,​ Front airbags: dual,​ Knee airbags: dual front,​ Side airbags: front,​ Side curtain airbags: front,​ In-Dash CD,​ Radio data system,​ Radio: AM/FM,​ Subwoofer: 2,​ Total speakers: 10,​ ABS: 4-wheel,​ Braking assist,​​ Armrests: rear center folding with storage,​ Cruise control,​ Cupholders: front, power steering wheel,​ Memorized settings: 2 driver,​ Multi-function remote: keyless entry,​ One-touch windows,​ Power steering: variable/speed-proportional,​ Reading lights, Steering wheel mounted controls: audio,​ Steering wheel: tilt and telescopic,​ External temperature display,​ Gauge: tachometer,​ Trip computer,​ Warnings and reminders: low fuel level,​ Daytime running lights,​ Exterior entry lights.
do NOT contact me with unsolicited services or offers

Next is this 2004 Audi A8L offered for $4900 in Vancouver, WA via craigslist.

From the seller:
2004 audi a8l
cylinders: 8 cylinders
drive: 4wd
fuel: gas
odometer: 126000
title status: clean
transmission: automatic
2004 Audi A8L with only 126k Miles. 4.2 V8 engine, Quattro (awd). It's fully loaded with all options for the year(heated/cooled seats, navigation, powered, air suspension, hid lights, sunroof, etc.). Very spacious, lots of room everywhere. Runs and drives great, very comfortable and smooth ride. The body is in good shape with minor scuffs/scratches. Interior is okay, seats have some rips which are taped up. No mechanical issues. Air suspension works great. Has 20" wheels off a 2013 Audi A8. Gets really good mpg. Clean title in hand.

Timing belt/water pump done at 89k miles
New fuel pump at 124k miles ($800)
New front air struts at 126k miles ($1,500)

Price is $4,900.

Last is this 2004 Volkswagen Phaeton 4.2 offered for $5950 in Ridgefield, WA via craigslist.

From the seller:
2004 Volkswagen Phaeton
condition: excellent
cylinders: 8 cylinders
drive: 4wd
fuel: gas
odometer: 106
paint color: black
title status: clean
transmission: automatic
Up for sale is this beautiful rare 2004 volkswagen phaeton. Very special car only 2 years in production, not many of them for sale. Comes with a 4.2 v8 engine making 335 hp! Interior comes with leather-power-heated-cooled-massaged seats, very very comfortable. Navigation, DVD, AM/FM, power windows/door locks, cruise control, parking sensors, moon roof and a lot more! For those that have never driven a Phaeton, you wont understand the attraction and uniqueness of this car. This vehicle does everything well, quiet, fast, handles, luxury ride, go anywhere, and extremely safe. It shares parts with Audi A8 and Bentley Continental. Only about 4,000 sold in US. If you want the ultimate car, a piece of history, large roomy performance German luxury car, this is it. Don't miss your chance to own one of these! Clean carfax no damage or accidents. I have a clean title in hand and asking price is $5,950. 

Which beast would you pick? Comments below.


  1. Man, it's a little early for the Halloween "horror-rod" posts, isn't it? These are all equally terrifying. I'd probably pick the Mercedes because of parts availability.

    1. I'm with you there. The Mercedes is probably the least scary, but all four scream "Mechanic's boat payment."

      With the Phaeton, though, I'll admit I'd be tempted to buy it just so I could put Passat badges on it and see if anybody realizes what it is.

  2. Every one of these automotive sirens has passed its design lifetime. I love the A8, but mine started to almost literally come apart after 80,000 miles, and only lived as long as it did because I found an independent mechanic who was a magician with the thing. The Phaeton is a cool car, but some of the parts for the thing will be unobtainable. The Mercedes might be the best bet due to mileage and easier parts access, but you can find AMGs for this kind of money if you keep looking, and I would start there.

  3. The VW is, IMO, the most comfortable of the four choices. But, with so few qualified shops around to work on this car, I'd have to pass on that one, even if it had a solid service history.

    The M-B would probably be the smarter choice. They had got rid of the nonsensical "bio-degradable" wiring crap by then, and were back to being a nice, reliable car. If the service history were complete and reliable, I think that would be a solid choice for a daily driver in this age of $25K "base" package Korean and Japanese cars.

  4. First off: Audi...? No. Because Audi.
    The Bimmer has no shot here either. Why? Are you kidding?? How many of these ads do you need to see before accepting the fact that these are total crap that only still change hands for ever-reducing sums in order to validate the wannabes’ personal bling factor...while perpetually parked unceremoniously due to a transmission that was apparently built solely to remind people how stupid we are?
    The Phaeton...Oh my God...don’t get me started. Four pennies for every MSRP dollar sounds about right for the average example of a megalomaniac’s personal attempt at paradigm-shifting...until you realize that, yeah, paradigm shifting is hard freaking work for about an Avogadro’s worth of reasons and not even Herr Skeletor cracking double fisted whips on his People’s Car minions can bend space time/resurface the Titanic/get my son to eat Brussel sprouts/build a reliable luxury VW because these are all impossible things. Autodom is rife with examples of “one man’s vision” that had goals ranging from changing the world to beating your own path and Peich’s ambitious pet project certainly was better funded than most. But all I know is that when my dad was a line mechanic working on VWs every day, he sure as hell didn’t come home after 16 hour days to put me on his lap and regale me with tales of how reliably luxurious they were. No, his torn up hands and perpetually aching joints told a different story altogether. Pass.

    Which leaves the car that we all knew would win this snail race to the bottom. Seriously, is there a more hilarious question to ask a group of bargain-hunting jalopy-junkie motorhead-masochists than which of the following money pits would you least wish to avoid for fear of defunding your 401k for the duration of your ownership? Answer: gotta be Mercedes. Dad is an M-B shop foreman for years now and says that, as long as you can keep the computers talking the same language, these are pretty solid and parts are easy to come by. This particular color isn’t quite my jam but, like the man said, these were made in pretty large numbers so finding the right one online could likely be accomplished before you finished up in the bathroom after reading this.

    Don’t forget to wash your hands.

  5. I am not sure that I agree with the comments about the 2002 Mercedes S class? Did MB have the problem with rust due to the poor paint quality figured out yet? And that is the time the MB bean counters were busy buying up Chrysler and not paying attention to MB quality?

    1. True, but he S always gets the most attention at Benz. Plus, in this competitive(?) field, the M-B takes the win even with their Daimler-Chrysler woes.

  6. Gee you can get a V12 Mercedes for that price, and a BMW V12 750i/750iL for about half. Granted the W12 Phaeton is a bit more pricey but not much. If you are going to throw caution to the wind why not go for a tornado of trouble?
    Why settle for the high wire of German car ownership when you can go all in walking that high wire over a pit of flaming Lamborghinis* backwards wearing greased snowshoes and a hazmat suit full of yellowjackets.

    I mean, really! This seems almost sensible.

    *Flaming Ferrari’s would fit my alliterative affinities but just look at all those burning Lamborghinis!

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