Home » Euro Movie Bad-Guy Cars: 2000 Mercedes S500 vs 2005 BMW 745i

Euro Movie Bad-Guy Cars: 2000 Mercedes S500 vs 2005 BMW 745i

Sbsd 7 18 2023
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Welcome to the Tuesday edition of Shitbox Showdown! Today we’re looking at a pair of German luxobarges that look like they belong in a movie chase scene. But first, we need to see which twin-cam sports car you chose yesterday:

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Wow, that’s a close race! British rarity beats out Japanese rust by a mere five votes. For what it’s worth, I’m on Team Jensen-Healey as well, but maybe because the only experience I have with that generation of Celica is test-driving one that smelled like somebody’s feet inside. Kind of a turn-off. But I’m sure this one smells fine.

You all know the movie scene I’m picturing for today’s cars, right? Our protagonist breaks out of a building carrying the stolen documents or diamonds or whatever, spots an unattended Moto-Guzzi nearby, tells his attractive female foil to “get on.” She replies “you can’t be serious,” but the two of them hop on, and despite having no keys for the bike, speed off down a cobblestoned street in Paris or Zurich or somewhere. Suddenly, a big German sedan fishtails out of an alleyway and gives chase, with four baddies in black turtlenecks inside. A second car joins the chase, with the head bad guy in it. “Do not lose them!” he shouts into a walkie-talkie, in a generic Eastern European accent. Crowds flee; a Renault Clio tries to avoid the chase and gets hit by a delivery van; a sidewalk café is likely destroyed. Eventually, our hero guns the bike and escapes through a gap in traffic, possibly riding down a staircase in the process. The first bad-guy car ends up upside-down or in a fountain or both, and the second one, with the head bad guy in it, screeches to a halt just before hitting something.

This happens to be a low-budget movie. You’re the head bad guy. Which one is your ride?

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2000 Mercedes-Benz S500 – $3,000

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Engine/drivetrain: 5.0 liter overhead cam V8, five-speed automatic, RWD

Location: San Jose, CA

Odometer reading: 158,000 miles

Runs/drives? Yep

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Since we’re talking about a German car, let’s get the alphabet soup out of the way right away: this is a W220-chassis S-class, with an M113 five-liter V8 and a 5G-Tronic automatic transmission. Roughly translated, that means “the big one, but not the biggest baddest one.” This is the car your boss drives if you work at a largish law firm. If memory serves, Ari Gold drove one for a season or two as well. (Actually, I think he might have driven the BMW below for a while too.) It’s a car that says you’ve made it, but you’re not wasteful with what you’ve got.

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At least, that’s what a new one says. Twenty-three years after rolling out of the factory in Sindelfingen, the message is a little less impressive. But it’s still a nice car. This one seems to be holding up well, but don’t expect much in the way of a service history – it’s being sold by a dealership. They do say it runs and drives well, but the airbag light is on.

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It looks straight, but tired; the headlights are cloudy and the paint is a bit dull. Let’s just say no valet is going to park this one in front. But if you just want a nice, solid car for yourself, this could be a good one. Set aside some funds for the inevitable repairs, and best learn how to do them yourself; it’s cheaper that way.

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And as a bonus, you get to spend the first week straight playing “Let’s see what this button does.”

2005 BMW 745i – $3,950

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Engine/drivetrain: 4.4 liter dual overhead cam V8, six-speed automatic, RWD

Location: Hercules, CA

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Odometer reading: 211,000 miles

Runs/drives? Sure does

And over here we have Mercedes’s arch-rival, BMW, with their competing flagship, the 7 Series. This is an E65 generation, one of the love-it-or-hate-it Chris Bangle designs, and the first to feature BMW’s infamous iDrive videogame controller doodad. This car was rife with complicated new technology like that; in a way this was the final turning point between the old lithe simple BMW and the whiz-bang gadgetry-laden new BMW.

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The Dinan badge on the back means that this might not be stock. Or it might be just a badge. The seller makes no mention of it, which means they may have no idea what Dinan even is. (Honestly, I just barely know myself; they make BMWs go faster is all I know.) They do say it runs and drives well, and that the all-important air conditioning works.

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It looks good, especially for being well over 200,000 miles. In this case, I think the higher mileage is actually a positive; the more miles it has covered, the more maintenance has been done to it. Cars like this just don’t hold up if you neglect them. Of course, that doesn’t mean all that high-tech stuff actually works, but it does mean the basic mechanical core is likely solid.

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And when I say it “looks good,” I mean condition-wise. I have never been a fan of the “Bangle butt.” Give me a nice sleek E38 any day over this. But to each their own.

Well, there they are. That pesky hero is getting away with the prize. You’ve got to try to stop him. You’re looking down at a steering wheel hub, ready to start the engine. Does that hub have a three-pointed chrome star on it, or a blue-and-white roundel?

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(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)

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Matthew Humphrey
Matthew Humphrey
10 months ago

I went BMW, but only because the Merc was most certainly in a front-end collision.
The hood-headlight gap is way too big unless the hood is popped. But if the hood is unlatched, the hood-fender gap shouldn’t look even, as it does.
Hence, the airbag light. I’d bet it’s on because there’s not one currently residing behind the three points.

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
10 months ago

Both of these are oh hell no cars, the W202 is the model where Mercedes fell off the cliff from the spartan indestructible W123 to a gadget laden barge with the reliability of a Kia Sephia. The BMW is not quite as bad since it predates the legendarily hellish N63 but it’s still a Bangle butt with I-Drive and lots of fragile plastics.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
10 months ago

These are nice but no matter what you spend just German sedans never worth the cost of restoring and too unreliable and expensive to DD.

YALE70
YALE70
10 months ago

Around the time I got my first car in high school, I remember a guy in my class who got an E65 and was quite proud of it (this was 2015).

I think I only saw that car in the parking lot for like three weeks tops and then never saw it again.

S-class. Because it’s only slightly less of a bad decision.

Last edited 10 months ago by YALE70
PaysOutAllNight
PaysOutAllNight
10 months ago

The Mercedes is probably the far better choice, but I picked the BMW.

I like the interior of the BMW a lot better, and I really don’t want to be sorting out another airbag light, especially not in a German car.

They’re both maintenance nightmares, especially concerning the little stuff inside. If I’m going to be looking at a bunch of fancy shit that’s going to be broken sooner or later, I’ll take the one that looks better from the driver’s seat.

JDE
JDE
10 months ago

Man the S500 sure seems like the right choice when the basics are read out, but the sketchy radio station buy here pay here setup is beyond frightening to consider a purchase from. and The ugly 7 looks slight better up front so you can almost overlook the bangle butt. still neither of these should be purchased by anyone that is not a German Auto Mechanic with lots of patience.

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
10 months ago

Never the Bangle Butt. Never.

Mike B
Mike B
10 months ago

I wouldn’t really want either, but in my mind the Merc is probably the better bet. I feel like it would be slightly more reliable, and I like that body style and wheels better than the Beemer.

For 3k and a little elbow grease on the headlights and paint, it might make a nice cruiser till something catastrophic happens, and at that point 3k isn’t that much of a loss.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
10 months ago

That Bangle butt on the 7er is still a hard no for me. A lot of Bangle’s designs get unnecessary grief and look better in hindsight than folks gave them credit for, but that one deserved it.

That Merc still looks way better inside, and would probably shine right up with a little TLC. It gets my vote.

Rich Hobbs
Rich Hobbs
10 months ago

When I worked at a full service auto shop, I bought a BMW 328i convertible. My boss says, you know what BMW stands for? Me: Bayerische Motoren Werken…or something like that. He says no…Break My Wallet!

STEPHEN WALTER GOSSIN
STEPHEN WALTER GOSSIN
10 months ago
Reply to  Rich Hobbs

My buddy who lived in a crime-ridden location used to say “Break My Windows”.

STEPHEN WALTER GOSSIN
STEPHEN WALTER GOSSIN
10 months ago

These cars scare me, mightily.
I’ll walk, bike or call an Uber or friend instead.

Great Showdown though, Mark! You really nailed the movie plot.

Last edited 10 months ago by STEPHEN WALTER GOSSIN
OrigamiSensei
OrigamiSensei
10 months ago

Willing to take a “swamp thing” Buick and save it but these are a bridge too far. Folks, that should tell you something about the money pits these cars are likely to be.

STEPHEN WALTER GOSSIN
STEPHEN WALTER GOSSIN
10 months ago
Reply to  OrigamiSensei

Exactly, my good Sensei!

A ’94 GM product has legions of mechs in this country who are familiar with that 3800 V6, even if it is the supercharged one. I plan (well, hope, actually) on having the mystery electrical fault figured out by fall.

The $8K dealership quote to fix the ABC suspension on the car linked below was all I ever needed to know about these cars and their ilk.

https://www.theautopian.com/how-i-saved-a-once-90000-mercedes-sl-i-bought-for-1900/

Last edited 10 months ago by STEPHEN WALTER GOSSIN
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