The eBay Motors Challenge


It’s a question that most car people are asked every now and then, “If you had, X amount of money, what car would you buy?” Most of the time, it’s difficult to answer this question with so many new and used car options and various needs and wants to take into consideration. But having the luxury of time, answering this question becomes an interesting exercise in eBay Motors research.

Inspired by the /Drive series of videos produced with the Classic Car Club, where Mike Spinelli, Mike Prichinello and Zac Moseley try to create a hypothetical car collection for a set amount of cash. The rules are simple; the cars must be currently listed on eBay Motors with a “buy it now” price and they must be sold within the United States.

I’ve chosen a budget of $50,000 imaginary dollars, and have tried to find a daily driver, a sports car, a boulevard cruiser and a project car. Unlike the /Drive show, I’ve tried to pay attention to potential maintenance costs and in some cases opted to buy a car that cost a little more but was in superior condition to other listings.

Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG

Daily Driver: 1999 Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG – $11,750 – 61,381 miles

The W210 Mercedes is a fantastic daily driver designed to power down the interstate briskly and comfortably. The car’s 5.4-liter 24 valve V8 produces 350 horsepower and 391 lb-ft of torque that pulls the Mercedes to 60 mph in a bit over 5 seconds. With steering that Car and Driver says “has plenty of feedback” this Benz offers the right balance of performance, comfort and sophistication – perfect for a daily driver.

Better yet, the W210 is as reliable as they come, there isn’t a lot that tends to go wrong with these cars with the exception of the window regulators. However, as with any AMG Mercedes parts are quite expensive, which is why it was worth spending a little extra to go for this well-cared for example. The exterior and interior look to be in fantastic shape, especially for a car that’s 15 years old.

While the rounded front headlights aren’t especially attractive, the car’s AMG wheels and black-on-black colors make it an imposing ride.

1999 Porsche Boxster S

Sports Car: 2002 Porsche Boxster S – $12,950 – 81,558 miles

It may not be the most macho sports car on the road, but since going on the market in 1996, the Boxster has offered driving enthusiasts a compelling package at a price point that has always been considerably lower than the storied 911. This well kept ‘02 Boxster S is fitted with the necessary bells and whistles to transform an otherwise fun little convertible into a truly road holding sports car.

Equipped with a 3.2-liter 24-valve flat 6, the Boxster S produces 250 horsepower that pushes the car to 60 mph in about 5 seconds, on to a top speed of 160 mph. This example is outfitted with Porsche’s paddle shift transmission, known as PDK, which means that this car will accelerate a bit faster than models equipped with the standard manual.

What makes a Boxster of this vintage truly special is that it’s light weight. At only 2,800 lbs. the Boxster is an incredibly nimble car. When paired with the bigger 3.2-liter engine, sports suspension and a PDK transmission, this Boxster S should prove to be fantastically responsive to driver inputs. Since this car is equipped with the optional sports exhaust system, the drive will be able to bask in the sound of a glorious flat 6 revving out to over 6,000 rpm. The noise will be made even better when the top’s down.

Finished in Guards Red paint, a black convertible top and a black leather interior, the Porsche appears to be in excellent condition. The listing indicates that the Porsche has been garaged since new, and the photos seem to bear that out. The seller also indicates that the Boxster S is fitted with new performance tires, which is a good thing considering Boxsters are known to wear through rubber quickly.

While doing some research on what constituted a good Boxster S buy, I found this helpful article from someone who bought a Boxster via eBay Motors. If you’re considering buying a Boxster, it’s worth checking out.

Jaguar XK8

Cruiser: 1998 Jaguar XK8 – $9,300 – 62,723 miles

There’s a reason I did not select a 90’s Jag to be my daily driver. It’s primarily because getting to places on time is a necessary part of most days. But I couldn’t resist adding this pristine looking Jag to the collection in some capacity. This Jag has been garaged in warm, sunny Florida since new. That means that the car should be in pristine condition, and based on the many high-quality photos provided by the seller, the XK8 looks as it should. Of course one look at the color combination of a gold exterior, beige convertible top and tan interior and it’s clear that only a Florida resident could have ordered this car new.

Condition and color choices aside, the XK8 is powered by a 4-liter V8 that produces 290 horsepower and 290 lb-ft of torque. The engine is mated to a 5 speed ZF transmission. The engine is powerful enough to get the Jag to 60 in just 5 seconds. That’s quick considering the XK8 is made heavy with ample embellishments of wood and leather.

Even though the XK8 is in great condition, something is bound to fail on a Jaguar of this vintage, most likely it’ll be something electric. Despite the car’s known reliability issues, it’s a buy I couldn’t pass up. It will look fantastic cruising on a summer’s night, or more probably, stopped on the shoulder with the hood up.

1970 Dodge Challenger

Project car: 1970 Dodge Challenger –  $7,500 – 89,127 miles

What better project car to buy than an iconic piece of American muscle. This 1970 Challenger has seen much better days, having been sitting disassembled for over 32 years according to the seller. With missing seats and front and rear glass in addition to what looks to be many other parts, it’ll take a lot of work to get this Challenger back on the road. That said, the work this car needs would be worth it.

While the Dodge Challenger’s 440 cubic inch V8 and transmission (it’s unclear if the trans is a manual or automatic) are not being sold with the car, the seller claims they can also be had.

This is the type of restoration that either requires a highly skilled do-it yourselfer, or else the expertise of a great automotive restoration shop. But once restored, the Dodge would become the centerpiece of an impressive collection.

The keen reader might be asking what happened to the leftover $8,500, given that this was a $50,000 challenge. I decided to keep that money on hand to keep my fleet or temperamental and expensive exotics on the road. So should someone ask me what car I’d buy with 50K, now I can tell them, I wouldn’t buy one car, but would use the money to buy an economical yet versatile collection of cars.

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