first of all, i love this site!
second, i am glad to find an MB expert who has pretty much the same taste in the MBs models that i have. i have this thing for MB V8s so 420s and 500s are the only ones i would like to get. hopefully, with the E55 out it would drop the prices of the 500Es more. you are very on point about bad used cars vs. good ones. just got to be very careful about them.
well, after researching the market, BMWs are off the list. they dont retain value and seem to be so trendy "come and go" or "in and out" cars that values sucks and they seem to dwindle down to a Honda accord like status after a few years. you are ABSOLUTELY right about seeing VERY FEW BMWs even go past the 100,000 mark. i dont think they are built to last like the tank MBs.
Lee, how about a Euro delivered 500E? i hear they have more HP, more torque, are about 1" lower stance and other options that USA 500Es dont have. and the price is probably less. i heard the Euro 500E has about 20 more HP and 17 ft/lbs more torque. i am not sure, but the gearing might even be more aggressive. you will probably know more than me. Also, dealer auction is an option. do you think dealer auctions are good as well?
i am researching both options now and i will let you know what i find out. after evaluating things, it seems the 500E is the way to go. performance wise, it needs nothing except bigger rims, tires. Aestetics-wise, i would get AMG exhaust tips (can you recommend a good sounding muffler that doesnt cost $1000 like AMG or Remus?) and paint the bumpers the same color as the car. the black bumpers breaks up the continuity of the excellent mercedes paint job on the car.
where are you located?