20k: R230% Depreciation: 2004 Mercedes-Benz SL600

This next car came to us from DT regular Andy L, it is a 2004 Mercedes-Benz SL600 offered for $23,250 buy-it-now located in St. Louis, MO here on eBay with 2 days to go. Andy included a nice writeup with the tip — here it is in its entirety:

You roll in the throttle as you see a straight away
open up in front of you through the mountain pass and the full
621 turbocharged, V12 horses are brought to full song. Your car
rustles the leaves behind you, just as a 300SL of the same
lineage may have done some 60 years ago in this very place.  You
are a part of a part of elite automotive history as a driver of
the flagship of the Mercedes Benz fleet: The SL600 AMG V12
Bi-turbo.  Best of all, you shrewd devil, you finagled your way
into this enviable position for just a shade over $20K.  You
must be one astute businessman, to boot.  
So why aren’t you clicking the Buy-it-Now button? 

All the blocks are checked: Low miles at only 48K, 3
owners, auto-check score is above range at 90 (whatever that
means), and a clean title. Sure, there are a couple of
nittanoid, superficial flaws, but nothing you can’t fix over
a couple of cold ones.  A new base model Mustang is more
expensive than this car, so you know you can swing the deal.

  

But you balk.  You don’t just balk, you don’t want
anything to do with this Benz. Why?  Well, this isn’t your
first day searching car ads.  You have seen myriad cars
similar to this. Mercedes, BMWs, Lexi, Jaguars.  All
gorgeous, seemingly well maintained cars with fantastic
engineering and performance.  The problem?  Their warranties
ran out and, like Cinderella’s coach, they became virtually
worthless at midnight on the day they turned 10 years old.  

Pop the hood.  See that plastic cover?  Bad stuff lurks
beneath it.  What was promptly adjusted and brought back to
life by dealer technicians just yesterday while you were
tooling around in a courtesy car is now a collection of
hundreds of unknowns just waiting to wreck you financially. 
All that watch-like precision and computer-engineered
marvelousness is not your friend anymore. There is a timing
chain longer than your small intestine in there, probably on
the firewall side of the engine.  There is a labyrinth of
oil passages that would fascinate Rube Goldberg.  Hundreds
of feet of wire control everything from the trunk release to
the crash sensors. One thing goes wrong, and it will, and
you are on the hook for thousands.

 

You look at the ad and start to imagine possible
floggings by the previous owners.  Was it broken-in
properly?  Someone probably stomped on it when the engine
was ice cold.  It was driven through road salt that was
sprayed into every nook and cranny of the car.  89 octane
ethanol was no doubt pumped into the tank for months on
end.  And those little nittanoid flaws?  Why wouldn’t the
current owner just go ahead and take care of them?  Grammar
and spelling in the ad and the surroundings of the car in
the photos become omens of misfortune ahead.

Oh, and depreciation.  This was at least a $100K car
new.  Surely it has reached the bottom of it’s depreciation
curve.  Not by a damn sight.  The march to scrap metal value
will continue, in case you are thinking of cutting bait
after the first expensive repair.  By now, you have no taste for this car.  If you have done
any car shopping, you went through this entire thought
process in about five seconds and without even opening the
ad.     

Big thanks to Andy for the tip and words — got your own story to tell?  send it here: tips@dailyturismo.com