Vintage Porsche 911, BMW 6-series, Mercedes 450SL - which one to choose

Mahler

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
I'm looking into buying my first ever car (still in my 20s). I want it to be different from what one usually sees on the roads - classic, timeless, and stylish, but my budget of around $12K can't quite support Maserati Quattroporte yet.

What I'm thinking of is one of these three:

1. Porsche 911 from the 70s along the lines of this one:


2. Old BMW 6-series like this one:


3. Vintage Mercedes Benz 400 series, ideally 450SL with hard top:


Does anybody here have experience with any of these? What would be your recommendation? I want the car to be driveable, at least reasonably so for the car of such age. How much mileage would you say a well taken care of car like this has in it?

Any other recommendations perhaps? I thought of a classic American car, but since I will be bringing the car back to Europe this makes little sense.
 

The Gabba Goul

Elite Member
ummmm...if all you can afford is $12K...I'd recommend something a little more reliable if this is going to be your only car...

but of those three I'd say the Benz...although even that one will require maintenence at it's age...a lady I know just bought an old(er) BMW...she got it for a steal (like $2K)...by the time she had it fixed up where it would be reliable to drive, I think she had to drop like another 6 G's into it...a friend of mine is a Porsche collector...he has a 911 E from like 1972 that he drives pretty regularly...I mean the thing is pu$$; only like 80K original miles, he takes it in for meticulous maintenence...no real problems, except he pays like almost $200 every time he gets the oil changes, then last year the chain tensioners went out, and it ended up costing him like 5 grand...definately keep maintenence in mind when it comes to older European cars...
 
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radix023

Senior Member
I can't speak to the BMW, but the Porsche will eat you alive with maintenance. (my brother kept up a 944 turbo (1985) for a number of years).

The 1977-1979 Mercedes 450SLs have a reputation for a bulletproof engine. I almost bought one of those. I have no idea if $12k is a reasonable price for such a thing.
 

Rocker

Senior Member
ummmm...if all you can afford is $12K...I'd recommend something a little more reliable if this is going to be your only car...

but of those three I'd say the Benz...although even that one will require maintenence at it's age...a lady I know just bought an old(er) BMW...she got it for a steal (like $2K)...by the time she had it fixed up where it would be reliable to drive, I think she had to drop like another 6 G's into it...a friend of mine is a Porsche collector...he has a 911 E from like 1972 that he drives pretty regularly...I mean the thing is pu$$; only like 80K original miles, he takes it in for meticulous maintenence...no real problems, except he pays like almost $200 every time he gets the oil changes, then last year the chain tensioners went out, and it ended up costing him like % grand...definately keep maintenence in mind when it comes to older European cars...

Absolutley agree - buying the car is one thing. Paying for parts and labor on those types of cars can break the bank.
 

Kav

Inactive user
You also face cars made for the american market ( different headlight sytems and other fine details) and early pollution contol devices.
 

Laxplayer

Honors Member, <br>Varsity Captain
All of the three cars you chose are nice, but as others have stated, you will spend quite a bit to maintain them. I had an old SAAB, and I ended up putting a lot of money and work into it. It's not that it ran bad, it's just that it was an old car. Parts were hard to find, mechanics that work on them were hard to find and if something major goes wrong, it can be very expensive. I still want to find an old SAAB 99 and restore it someday though.
 

rip

Elite Member
I love Porsches; I currently drive a 1982 928 and the question you have to ask yourself about owning any vintage Porsche is not, do I have a budge for this car, but how on earth am I going to eat and pay rent if I own this car. They are absolute money-pits. Some of us think they are worth it, particularly the 928, which is a breed unto itself, but how else can you, for a few thousand bucks (mine cost me less than 5k in excellent condition), drive the flagship of the line? If you are interested in a Porsche, by all means, log onto https://rennlist.com which is a Porsche forum. Read very carefully the advice given to potential Porsche buyers. That said, for your first car with your budget, you'd be better off with the Mercedes.
 

Mahler

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
Gentlemen, thanks for all your responses. I can't say I was surprised with the overall line of argumentation, and I know such cars will require a lot of maintenance effort and money. But hey, I can also buy a small Peugeot or Audi A3 to get around town on a daily basis.

I can go up to $15K if I really see a picture perfect car from the 70s, but there will be other costs to think of (shipping from the US to Europe, for one thing).

I haven't looked at BMW and Mercedes yet, but quite surprisingly vintage Porsches are cheaper in the US than in Europe. Any ideas why that could be?

Laxplayer - I thought about a SAAB (or Volvo), too. A friend of mine drives a spotless vintage 900 cabrio, and it's a beauty. Don't know how much it costs him to maintain it in perfect shape, though. Old squarish Volvo is another way to go, although in that case I'd rather get something along the line of a S70.

Karl89 - when I was a kid my parents had a Little Fiat (Fiat 126p), and I've had bad dreams ever since...
 

omairp

Super Member
My understanding is German cars are a mo-fo when it comes to getting repairs done (lots of $$$) and finding parts for a car that old might be a big headache. You better really really love the car to go for it.
 

Wayfarer

Honors Member<br>P-Bomb
How long do you plan to stay in the US? Do you really want to ship a car back to Europe? What country in Europe, as you might have the wrong side for the driver's wheel!

If you are staying in the US for just a few years and want to maximize your cash outlay, get a lease.
 

rip

Elite Member
My understanding is German cars are a mo-fo when it comes to getting repairs done (lots of $$$) and finding parts for a car that old might be a big headache. You better really really love the car to go for it.
The most dreaded phrase in the world to a vintage car driver is NLA, no longer available.
 

vwguy

Honors Member
I say get yourself a nice VW ;) Out of the three you listed, the MB *probably* would be the least expensive to maintain.

Can you even import a US spec car back to Europe? I know it is a PITA if not impossible to import certain Euro spec cars to the US.

Brian
 

Albert

Super Member
Out of the listed, I would get the Mercedes. Mercedes cars from that period are quite reliable and IMO it's the most beautiful of the depicted cars, too.
 
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