ITT: Rufus Gets A New Car

The Subaru WRX has seen it's day... I've passed it on to a guy who's going to turn it into a race car, with his son (father/son project). After 10 years with the WRX, it was time for a new car.

2003 Mercedes-Benz E500. 5.0 L V8 (302 HP), 146,000 km (91,250 miles). $6,158.50 CAD ($4,807.10 USD at today's exchange rate). It's practically mint condition (I found one stone chip on the hood). I'm fairly certain that it belonged to a couple of grey-hairs, who parked it in the garage and flew to Florida for the winters.

It's faster than the Subaru... It pulls like a freight train, on the highway. The specs I found on-line claim it will do 0-60 in 5.8 and 13.9 in the quarter. Wooo!


  • I'll never get over how little room there is inside some modern engine compartments.

    Nice car!

  • edited March 2018

    @Clme said:
    I'll never get over how little room there is inside some modern engine compartments.

    Nice car!


    The shock towers are big and intrusive... and Mercedes packages everything really tight. The big plastic engine cover exaggerates the size of the engine, too.

    What cooks my bacon is that this engine and transmission have no dip-sticks. You check the engine oil on the dash (in the menus) and the transmission is "sealed for life". Smart people still change the transmission oil, in spite of Mercedes intentions. There's a dip stick in the power steering, but the instrument cluster will tell you if it's low, also.

    I didn't set out to buy something this complicated and daunting to work on... I was originally planning to buy something cheap, easy to work on and 4-wheel drive (for the winter). An '05 or newer Grand Cherokee with a Hemi was at the top of the list, but I couldn't find one that wasn't rusty. I started looking at 4matic Mercedes and found this one. It's not a 4matic, but it was SO PRETTY... It's in way better condition than the E500 4matic I looked at the same day, so I bought it.

    This is (supposed to be) the daily driver, bad weather car. The plan is to buy something "special" this summer for sunny days. A BMW E92 M3, or a 996 generation Porsche 911 are at the top of the list, but I'm conflicted.

  • Love the car. Big powerful sedan.

    It'll be cheaper to run the M3 than the Porsche.

  • edited April 2018


    2004 Porsche 911 Carrera, 6-speed manual. 73,160 kms (45,725 miles for the non-metric). 3.6 L H-6, 320 HP. Can't find a flaw on it. No evidence of the IMS having been done, so I'll likely lay out the money to do that later this year ($2,000-$3,000).

    The pics are screen caps from the AutoTrader add... I'll take better pictures once I have it. I should be able to pick it up tomorrow.

  • Needs a racing stripe and a NOS sticker. :-)

    Also: Holy shit, nice.

  • edited April 2018

    @Clme said:
    Needs a racing stripe and a NOS sticker. :-)




  • edited April 2018

    It's been a anxious and stressful week. I'm kinda flying without a parachute, with this car, since I've spent a LOT more than I set out to spend; when I decided to buy a summer-funtime car. I'll be fine, financially, but I don't have much in reserve if it breaks. And with the IMS bearing; the car has a potential (however unlikely) to break catastrophically.

    Buying the car was a story, in itself. The wife and I decided to go car-shopping this past Saturday. I'd made a list of cars, in the Toronto area, to look at. I'd been shopping AutoTrader, Kijiji, etc. for months and hadn't gotten real close to making my mind up what to buy. I figured I wouldn't get any closer, unless I actually looked at, touched and test-drove some cars. I had three 996 Porsches, a low mile 2011 Mustang GT and an e92 M3 (also low mile) on the list to see. There was a black e92 M3 I'd been watching for weeks and was really keen to see ($27,000, 130,000 km), but it sold Friday. :-P

    The first Porsche (2000) was nice... ish. It was a little rough around the edges. It was also a US car, which I wasn't keen on. The mileage was a little high (155,000 km), but the clutch was new and the transmission had been rebuilt. No record of an IMS retrofit. It was black and the guy had refinished the factory wheels in red (to match a "Porsche" decal he'd put across the bottom of the doors (meh). It'd been sitting in the showroom all winter and the left rear tire was flat. The headlights needed to be replaced, also ($1,200 a piece, new from Porsche). The car was cheap, at $21,800, but I wasn't sold.

    Next stop was the black 2011 Mustang GT. One owner, solid service history. Sold the day before ($19,000 for a 70,000 km car... good deal... not surprised).

    I went on to see the 2008 e92 M3. Beautiful car... 88,000 km. No service records, so no idea if the throttle motors have ever been done or the rod bearings ($5,000-$6,000 to do both). Also, some minor blemishes (dings in the rims, small crack in the carbon fiber in the dash, etc.). Of the two rim designs you could get on the M3, it had the rims I don't really like. I had the guy talked down to $31,000 (from $32,888). I liked the car a lot, it ticked a lot of boxes, but it didn't scream "buy me", and I had more cars to look at.

    Saw a 2008 4-door (e90) M3 just around the corner from the first M3... I liked it, but the wife hated the red leather in the interior. I really wanted a 2-door, also.

    Didn't get a call back for the '99 Porsche that was for sale, privately ($25,000, recent engine rebuild, 120,000 km).

    Last stop of the day was the 2004 996. I put it on the list, because it ticked every box, but the price was much more than I planned to spend ($34,950 + Tax). I didn't expect to buy it.

    The sales guy took us to see the car. It was in the shop, because it was sold (sort-of), so no test drive. On inspection; it was in excellent condition. Looking at the engine, it looks like new. Everything looked like new. There was a Porsche car cover in the frunk (I have to be one of those people who say, "frunk" now).

    I thought; maybe if they could come down on the price, but the dealership is one of those no-haggle lots. The price was the price... They had only had the car for three days and they'd already sold it once. They had no incentive to cut a deal.

    Someone had already put down a deposit and agreed to buy the car (probably Friday). The guy was unable to get financing through the dealership (the sales guy told me later that his credit score was around 400, so terrible credit). He had put a deposit down and was given until Monday to get the money. The sales guy encouraged me to put down a deposit, to secure the car in case the first guy couldn't get the money. They didn't seem optimistic about the guy, which (I think) is why they showed me the car even though it was (technically) sold. I declined to put down the deposit, because I didn't know if it would cripple my finances for the summer; to pay that much for a car. The sales guy said something about someone else having an appointment to see the car later that day... I believe it was one of those lies salesmen use to get you to commit to a car. I never respond to that... I believe in karma... If someone else gets the car first, then I wasn't meant to have it. I'll move on to the next one. There'll always be another car.

    I suggested the sales guy keep in touch, in case the guy can't get the money. I said I would look at my finances.

    I ran the numbers at home on Sunday and it looked like I'd be ok, financially (surprised me a little), but I wasn't certain I wanted to spend that much on a car. I slept on it some and talked with the wife... It occurred to me that, after seeing the Porsche, I really didn't think about the e92 M3 much any more... My wife also suggested that the M3 was more of a rich guy's (maybe not the words she used) daily driver. The Porsche was more "special". Since "special" was the point... I decided that I'd buy a Porsche (the one I'd seen, or some other).

    I checked with my insurance Monday morning, to make sure I could afford to insure it ($786 a year... not bad). I called the sales guy, to indicate that I'd likely take the car, if it was available. He told me they were giving the guy till 2:00 PM to show up with the money... Fine... I waited around till 2:40, on pins and needles... Called and the sales guy again and he said now that the manager was giving him till the end of the day.

    Finally, after 6:00 PM, the sales guy called to say that the guy was there with money. The car was sold... {sigh} Fine... Back to AutoTrader to look for another one... There were a couple others on AutoTrader that looked like they were worth a look. A rare 2004 996 Targa, even... didn't like the wheels, though.

    Tuesday morning, around 9:30, my cell phone rings... It's the sales guy... The guy showed up Monday night with only $20,000 (all that the bank would give him). He wanted them to let him give them $1,000 a month to pay the balance. They told him where to go... politely, I assume.

    I put a deposit down, over the phone, and went to test drive it after work. No issues... everything seemed fine. The sales guy said it was a trade-in at the local Porsche dealer and the Porsche dealer had inspected it before passing it over to them to sell (no Porsche dealer would bother trying to sell a used 996... it's too old). Everything supposedly works (although I couldn't figure out the cruse control last night... ).

    During the test-drive the sales guy told me that the first guy had called twice more on Tuesday, trying to buy the car. The first time, begging them not to sell the car and to give him till the end of the week to get the money. Later, again, begging them not to sell the car... going so far as to offer to pay $5,000 over what I would pay. They told him where to go... politely... again.

    There had been several other calls from people interested in the car... including one couple from quite far away. The sales guy was genuinely surprised by the response. He asked me about it (he knew I'd done my homework). I explained that the price wasn't necessarily too low, but the car had a lot of things that made it a rare find (coupe, 6-speed, low mileage, clean, good colour, good rims, best version of the 996). I wasn't too surprised it was in demand. I felt good about getting my deposit in early.

    I was sold...

  • edited April 2018

    Continued... (wow, long post)

    There was a couple extras costs for the sale (car dealer up-sale FTW)... $199 for some sort of any-theft program where I get a $4000 discount on my next car, if it's ever stolen and not recovered (whatever). I let them talk me into $1467 for tire and wheel protection for six years (he gave me the sixth year free). Given the number of times that I curbed the wheels on the Subaru (and some tire problems too), possibly a good idea. Two of the custom rims for the Subaru were cracked, when I got rid it. I'm sure Porsche wants stupid money to replace a factory Porsche wheel. The rear tires (295/30-18) are probably $350 a piece.

    Final bill was $41,161.38. Ouch... A good $11,000 more than I intended to spend. Seems like that's always how it goes. Prior to this, the most expensive thing I've every bought (not including house) was the Subaru, at $12,500. It's a BIG leap for me, and a bunch of stress, to spend that kind of money. I might have to work an extra year to finish the mortgage, before I can retire... It's a dream car, though... :-D

    I'm a little terrified about the whole thing... Things have been going really well lately. The wife got a new job in March. After 6-7 years of austerity, we've finally turned a corner, financially. No dramas at work (though the job situation still kinda sucks). New cars all around (my wife bought a really nice 2008 MKX in March). Yes, the transfer case seal leaks like the Exxon Valdez, but it's repairable. Few issues with the Mercedes too, but nothing that can't be fixed without too much drama. Things are fairly positive right now.

    This all seems wrong and contrary to the universe's design... I'm terrified that the next disaster is right around the corner...

    I just hope it's not a catastrophically failed IMS bearing. A catastrophic failure leads to a $20,000-$30,000 engine rebuild or replacement. The failure rate is only 8%, and most will say not to get too worked up about it. The experience with the Subaru was an expensive one, though. Lots went wrong with that car.

    I need until the fall, before I have the room to invest in the retrofit, and a new clutch. The transmission comes out to change the bearing and it seems silly to take the transmission out and not change the clutch. I figure probably $4,000 for the best (permanent) IMS fix, plus a clutch. After that, the car should be bullet-proof.


    My stomach doesn't feel good. I may have a dream car, but I might be working on an ulcer too... :-\

  • TL;TR???

    I bought and old Porsche... It's wonderful... I'm freaked out...

  • As a side-show for this whole saga... We stopped for lunch at a KFC, after seeing the M3s. As we're sitting down to eat, the wife pointed out a black e92 3-series (328i or 335i) that had just been pulled over by the Toronto Police out front. "There's a good reason not to buy a BMW...", she said. Ha-ha...

    It got funnier when the tow truck showed up. The young guy, and his friend, got out and stood on the side of the road while they hooked up his car. There would only be two likely reasons for this. Driving without insurance, or much more likely, the cop caught him in excess of 50 KPH over the limit. That's an automatic 7-day impound of the car and 7-day license suspension. You also get a court date to explain yourself to a Justice of the Peace and negotiate a fine amount with the prosecutor (the max is $10,000, but $1,000-$3,000 is typical).

  • edited April 2018

    @Rufus said:
    What cooks my bacon is that this engine and transmission have no dip-sticks. You check the engine oil on the dash (in the menus) and the transmission is "sealed for life".

    Oh yeah... No dipstick for the oil in the Porsche either. It checks it on the dash every time you start it...

    Germans... They think they're so clever...

  • Old Porsche you say?

    Seriously though. Reading that was a pleasant distraction from the new war we're apparently in.


    Oh yeah... dip sticks. I've just started having to actually use mine regularly after 11 years.

    I pause here for "I finally had to use my dipsticks regularly after 11 years" to sink in appropriately

    I was reminded of that because I just had my car serviced. New water pump, brakes all around, a few vehicle recalls (airbags), a check for the Toyota 2.4L oil usage bug, tuning the flux capacitor, flexing the tune capacitor, etc.

    So... I shouldn't have to do any more work on this thing for 11 more years, right? :-)

  • @Clme said:
    Old Porsche you say?

    Relatively speaking...

    @Clme said:
    Seriously though. Reading that was a pleasant distraction from the new war we're apparently in.

    You Americans... You think your bombs and missiles are so smart.

    @Clme said:
    So... I shouldn't have to do any more work on this thing for 11 more years, right? :-)

    HAhah.... It's all down-hill from here...

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