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$10,000 Large Luxury… Part 1

Big Power. Big Problems.

By: Anthony Fongaro | June 2014

A few months ago, I told you lucky readers that you can buy a new car for $10,000 if you want a car with doors and nothing else. Obviously, getting a car for this amount of money means you have to go down the dreaded USED CAR section of your nearest car dealership.

The good thing is you do have more choice than an all-you-can-eat buffet at a Las Vegas casino. The bad thing is…there are many bad choices. Not bad choices as in bad cars, but bad choices as in “you bought that!? That’s going to be expensive when something goes wrong”.

What are these? Cars in the luxury segment. These are vehicles that people once lusted after and now are worth maybe a 10th of what they originally cost back in the day. But are they worth it? To find out, let’s take a look at a car from the beautiful city of Stuttgart.

2003 mercedes benz s class sedan s600 fq oem 1 500 1 

2003 Mercedes-Benz S600

This is a car all about numbers. Take, for example, this 2003 Mercedes-Benz S600. The S600 has a completely not necessary 5.5-liter V12 engine producing 493-hp. Back in the early 2000s, this was considered passable. Having a near 500-hp in a giant sedan, who wouldn’t want that!? You’ll also get 13 mpg city driving if you’re lucky but who cares because you have a V12! That’s the sort of engine found in Ferraris and Lamborghinis!

When this was shiny and new in the showrooms, this top of the line S-Class started at around $120,000 before options. This car is so snooty that it starts to throw a tantrum when a Toyota Corolla overtakes it. In fact, you do have to bow/curtsy before entering it.

2003 mercedes benz s class sedan s600 i oem 1 500 1


Even back in 2003, S-Class Mercedes’ had navigation, heated seates, power…everything, and it looked tasteful. But are there any drawbacks to buying something with so much luxury for not a lot of money? Not really…but while we’re on the subject…

This is 12-year-old technology and will feel like it’s from the early 2000s. Also, this is an early 2000s Mercedes-Benz, so there are quality issues left and right. Not only will it feel old inside but it just looks old on the outside. Your neighbors won’t be saying “Wow! That sure looks like a brand-spanking new Mercedes! You’re really something else!” They’ll be saying “Wow! That looks like an old Mercedes! Are you doing alright?”

2003 mercedes benz s class sedan s500 4matic ri oem 1 500 1


Sure, the car costs around $10,000, but you’ll need the equivalent of a new Honda Civic in the bank for maintenance, oil changes, fuel stops, and other auto-related things. And let’s face it…493-hp just isn’t enough. These days, everything from washing machines to TVs have around 500-hp. Also remember that a S600 will more than likely have over 120,000 miles, and V12 engines with that kind of mileage aren’t exactly spring chickens anymore. So ask yourself: is a 12 year old Mercedes with shoddy build quality, a V12 engine with only 493-hp, and a very dated interior worth it?

Come on, you know the answer is yes. If you theoretically have $30,000, a spare car or three, an understanding spouse, and lots and lots of time, then a $10,000 2003 Mercedes-Benz S600 will be perfect for you.

For people that actually care about things like reliability, you’ll be stuck looking at something like a used Lexus LS430.  Actually, Part 2 of $10,000 Large Luxury will focus on the large Lexus so stay tuned!


Photos courtesy of Mercedes-Benz.

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