Good points, maw. Now that the emotion relating to this car is dying down, more rational thought and observations prevail. Here are my own:
In all fairness, I do think this was an honest car, and I don't think the price it sold for was too far off -- I think $5-8K of the price was the BaT "chest-beater" premium. The low miles are what sold it. If it would have had 100K miles, it would have gone for much less -- probably in the mid-$20K range on the open market, or for the high-$20 to $30K range at BaT prices.
The problem with this car was that it was presented poorly -- there were issues with it as were noted, then deleted by the web site (probably at the request of the seller):
- Basic maintenance items - fluids and so forth
- Headliner needed a $500 repair
- Evidence of hurried/sloppy presentation/preparation for sale
- Lack of maintenance documentation on key needs that these cars have due to simple age and lack of use
None of these things take away from the actual honesty and value of the car. But once the car blew up with threads on TFTSNBN and here (and probably other sites) and in the BaT comments, it went off the rails. Accusations of trolling and ulterior motives by commenters to depress its price -- and the deletion of some very valid observations and comments -- didn't help things. Nobody out there is on a jihad to keep prices low; I just don't see how that works. People who know and want these cars will pay whatever they want to for them. This car was just not one that the average buyer would buy.
I honestly think that if the seller had spent a week or so actually preparing the car for sale and getting the minor things taken care of, it would have brought $50K+ on BaT (with their chest-beater premium). There is no doubt that my note of $10-15K of deferred maintenance was/is also correct. I predicted in my now-deleted BaT comments that the car would not get anywhere near $50K (it was stalled for a long time at the $37-41K mark), and I was correct. It had the potential to, but the seller did not want to invest the extra oomph to (with apologies to Capt. Picard) "Make it So!"
Nobody was decrying the basic solidity and honesty of the car itself, nor impugning the seller personally (though he did get butt-hurt early on, which one should NOT do). The seller realized this part-way through the auction, and self-corrected.
I have always believed that the C126 is an excellent long-term investment. Particularly honest cars with low mileage, good history, or documented AMG or other provenance. My belief has not wavered. 10-12 years ago, this car would have sold for one-half what it did on BaT.
The C126 is not a car for everyone; nor is it a car that is ever going to be the next 300SL Gullwing. It may well never achieve even the prices that the E500E has and will achieve. However, history tells me that as a top-of-the-line, two-door, status car of which not many were made by MB, and far fewer have actually survived, it will definitely continue to appreciate at a healthy clip over time. There will be peaks and plateaus, mountains and valleys in the prices (I'm expecting a good one for these cars and for our E500Es once the current bubble pops), but there is no doubt that these cars will appreciate, and in the next 10 years, they will appreciate significantly.
All in all, it's a data point in the current market. And in my view, it's a positive data point that reinforces that these cars have a following, are desirable and appreciated, and confirms that prices continue to be on the up-swing.
For my personal situation, it doesn't matter. I drive mine daily, it has nearly 250K miles on it, and it is mechanically very very sound (and now cosmetically quite good too with the repaint). These auctions and prices are NOT relevant to me or my situation in owning the car. I hope to drive mine and intend to keep it until I can't drive any longer, or cannot find the parts to keep it on the road -- value and prices be damned. A very different attitude than most, I realize fully. But it is who, and how, I am. I drive, enjoy, maintain, appreciate, and hopefully pass on to the next owner when I cannot maintain the car.