Editor’s Note: We love scouring the internet for reasons to spend money we don’t have on cars we daydream about owning, and these are our picks this week. All prices listed are bid amounts at the time of publishing.
Traditional sedans might be slowly disappearing from manufacturer lineups as they take up less and less market share, but that doesn’t stop them from being some of the more practical and better-looking cars on the road. Unlike their two-door counterparts, sedans make more sense for a family of four or so, but what happens after the kids are dropped off and the long, winding route home beckons? That sort of lifestyle calls for an older performance sedan. The latest super sedans seem to pride themselves on shouting about their performance cred, signified by massive vents, wide fender flares and even wider wings. There’s a beauty in balancing subtle style and maturity with wild-eyed, corner carving abilities. These four sedans prove it’s possible.
2004 BMW 330i ZHP
Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
What we like: Ok, so a fire engine red (sorry, Imola Red) BMW isn’t exactly subtle, but nobody around you would know your 330i would give an M3 a run for its money. The ZHP package bridges the gap between the more pedestrian 3-Series cars and the top-of-the-line M3 with suspension tuning and a higher redline, plus a tad more horsepower, courtesy of hotter cams. There are a few visual upgrades but nothing like the litany of M badges you get on the M3.
From the seller: “Vehicle is in ZHP package-exclusive Imola Red and has natural brown leather, power and memory seats, power moonroof, Harmon Kardon sound, Premium Package and Performance Package, Navigation and Parking Sensors.”
What to look out for: After about 60,000 miles valve cover gaskets may start to leak, causing oil to burn. Luckily parts to repair this problem only cost between $200-$300.
2001 BMW M5
Location: Quincy, Massachusetts
What we like: The first generation M5 is one of the founding fathers of the modern factory sleeper sedan. The later E39 generation seen here continued that tradition — the only real giveaway that there’s some extra grunt under the hood is its solitary M badge on the trunk and the tiny M5 bade on its door strip. You can never go wrong with a classy silver paint job that comes with a 4.9-liter V8 and six-speed manual — ‘iron fist in velvet glove’ comes to mind.
From the seller: “This 2001 BMW M5 is finished in Titanium Silver over black Heritage leather and was purchased by the seller from the original owner in 2014. The car shows just under 162k miles and is powered by a 4.9-liter S62 V8 paired to a six-speed manual transmission, and maintenance performed under the seller’s ownership included a new clutch kit, rear main seal, driveshaft flex disc, fuel pump, water pump, oil change and more.”
What to look out for: The most commonly reported problem with the 2001 M5 is the tension strut bushings failing. It’s not a catastrophic problem, but it will give the suspension a more mushy feel.
2003 Audi RS6
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
What we like: Like the M5 above, this RS6 does a good job at misdirection thanks to a subtle silver paint job. Wider wheels and tires and its lower stance are bigger giveaways, but to the untrained eye, the 4.2-liter twin turbo V8 secret is safe — well, at least until the throttle pedal goes straight to the floor at every green light.
From the seller: “This 2003 Audi RS6 is powered by a twin-turbocharged 4.2L V8 paired with a five-speed Tiptronic gearbox and was previously sold in a 2016 BaT auction. The seller purchased the car in April 2017 and has since adjusted the ride height for improved ride quality, rebuilt the front CV axles, rebuilt the front Brembo brakes and performed cosmetic work to correct paint blemishes and interior faults.”
What to look out for: There was a massive recall for this generation S6. It centered around the fuel tank: a valve can develop a crack that causes a fuel leak which, of course, is a fire hazard.
2001 Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG
Location: Katy, Texas
What we like: At this point in the list, you’ve probably noticed the Germanic theme going on. These days the Big Three’s super sedans come with big grilles, ducts, vents and wings, but the Germans used to embody the ‘speak softly, carry a big stick’ approach. The ’90s and early ’00s were arguably the golden age of the super sedan genre, and this E55 AMG is a prime example.
From the seller: “The car was optioned with xenon headlights as well as Parktronic distance sensors, which can be seen on both bumpers. AMG Monoblock 18-inch alloys wear Bridgestone Potenza tires.”
What to look out for: Instrument cluster failing is one of the more reported problems with this year E55 AMGs. Unfortunately, it’s not just a matter of a simple fuse swap. The entire instrument panel needs swapping, so make sure that’s rectified before purchasin.