Where your author considers many impractical used car suggestions (part II)

I’m back with more boring used car content, a topic some of you seemingly despise. with passion. Warning: More used car talk to come, get out while you still can if so! For the rest of you, let’s take a look at the impractical car suggestions you made that earned a spot on the yes I love listing.

In alphabetical order, here is the list of impractical cars that check all the requirements of the original post from a few weeks ago:

  • Cadillac ATS Coupe
  • Cadillac CTS Coupe
  • Cadillac XLR
  • Lexus IS 250 C / IS 350 C
  • Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe
  • Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe
  • Mercedes-Benz SLK350
  • Volvo C70

Four coupes, three hardtop convertibles and plenty of variables feature in this list. I’ve been researching lately, so we’ll start with the most likely candidates and work our way towards the outliers.

Lexus IS 250 C / IS 350 C

The IS convertible is the most likely option here. On sale from model years 2010 to 2015, previous examples are within budget. They were expensive and unpopular and not widely available in the Midwest eschewing convertibles, but I could buy one elsewhere. I love the look (darker exterior colors are best) and I love the quality. The appearance of the hardtop is also nice, because with the roof closed all windows can be lowered. The 2.5-liter V6 250 C is much more available on the used market; the 350 C will probably be off budget. This is good for me, I have owned cars with much less than 206 horsepower before. The challenges here are finding one with no crash history and finding interior colors other than black. Fortunately, cream, saddle, red and light gray were offered. Almost all of the examples have the luxury group, which included HiD lights, semi-aniline leather, and navigation.

Cadillac ATS Coupe, XLR, CTS Coupe

Cadillac offers three models that meet my requirements. The ATS is one of the newer cars on this list (2015-2019), so I would have to find an earlier example with around 70,000 miles or so to stay on budget. The vast majority have the 2.0 turbo rather than the 3.6, and most have all-wheel drive (which I don’t particularly need). The ATS looks great in navy blue, pearl white, or even a darker red, and overall the styling is crisp too. The biggest problem I noticed with the ATS in research is the availability of interior colors other than black. Dealers ordered white, silver, or black, black interior, and called it a day circa 2016.

The XLR comes in second of the three Cadillac considerations. The oldest car here, XLR was produced alongside the Corvette from 2004 to 2009. The front is a bit dated, but the car certainly stands out among the other options here. The standard Northstar 4.6 version is near the top of the budget; the V-spec supercharged version is not affordable. The Northstar here is the last LH2 version used from 2004 to 2010 in various Cadillacs and does not appear to suffer from head gasket issues. However, cars built in 2004 had roof grip issues, so it’s best to avoid this year. Typically these have driven relatively low miles and have been maintained by their owners. It is not difficult to find examples with beige or gray interiors. The downsides include the potential for expensive repair work on the roof and the quite unique collapsible metal body panels, which I guess also increase insurance rates. These are most often on sale in red, silver or champagne. XLR is the only car on this list to be a future classic.

The latest from Cadillac is the CTS Coupe. Easily available within budget, this CTS was offered from 2011 to 2015 (a shorter time frame than I previously thought). The non-V examples used the common 3.6-liter GM V6, and it was available in either an RWD or AWD trim. Used examples seem a decent mix of rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive, but are often seen in a dingy condition due to their age and previous depreciation. Interiors here are particularly dated. Even in the Performance trim, the CTS Coupe seems like a big chunk of a car. I still have to drive one to see if that makes me change my mind.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe, E-Class Coupe, SLK350

There are also three Mercedes models that do the trick, including the first one I mentioned last time. The W205 C-Class Coupe is the only model here still in production and has been around since 2017. It comes in a wide range of beautiful exterior and interior colors, and overall it’s a looker. Affordable examples will be the C300, with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. The majority appear to have 4MATIC. The problem here is uptime, because to stay on budget would require a higher mileage example with around 75,000 on the odometer.

More affordable but slightly less sexy is the E-Class coupe, the C207 offered from 2010 to 2017. Within budget, that would likely be the 2010-2014 model year. Offered in the E350 and E550 models outside of the AMG lineup, the one to get seems to be the 3.5-liter (the V8 had some issues). It is the most developed engine with the longest and most widespread use at Mercedes. Various exterior and interior colors work for me, and the upgraded equipment of the Designo package is desirable. Note that this is a true hardtop coupe, with no B-pillars in the way. Combined with the panoramic roof, it is as close to the convertible as it does without a folding roof. Most of the examples near the Midwest have 4MATIC. A consistent CarFax service history at a Mercedes dealership is common. The concerns here are the maintenance of a 10-year-old Mercedes, even one that is among the brand’s “more reliable” offerings.

The SLK350 is also on my radar. I’m only interested in the appearance of the third generation R172 model, which sold from 2011 to 2020 and eventually changed its name to SLC. Two versions were initially offered, a 250 with a turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder and the 350 with the 3.5 V6 straight from the E-Class above. Model years for the 350 were between 2011 and 2015. It’s affordable with reasonable miles, around 55,000 or so. The vast majority have an acrylic panoramic roof panel, although very few come with the expensive Magic Roof glass. Others with the basic solid roof panel experienced delamination issues, and Mercedes replaced the solid panels with panoramic panels. I like several exterior colors, and tan, brown, and red are available on the interior. Availability is the main constraint with SLK.

Volvo C70

Only one Volvo is alone, and that’s an outlier. The second-gen C70 ran from 2006 to 2013, with a big update for 2011 to bring styling in line with modern offerings. I am only interested in a 2011-2013 example. Folding convertible made of metal, it has the same hardtop appearance as in the IS above with the windows down and the roof up. The C70 has a large price range for similar cars, and availability is an issue. Many have light interiors, but those interiors look rather spartan: lots of solid black materials. I’m also concerned about the dwindling Volvo parts (after all, they’re about to stop making gasoline and hybrid cars altogether), and this is the kind of car that will require a specialist mechanic.

there is the yes I love listing. America, Germany, Japan, and Sweden are all doing something to satisfy my impractical car desires. Now shrink it down a bit and find the right one for me.

[Images: Cadillac, Lexus, Volvo, Mercedes-Benz]

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