In the mid-1980s, some 10 years after EPA emission controls began to strangle Detroit V8s, German manufacturers stood out for maintaining performance. And few of the German offerings at that time were more compelling than the Mercedes S-Class, available as a sedan and coupe.

Mercedes-Benz was ascendant, projecting across its model range the buttoned-down tonality of the ruling class. And if you tuned into Miami Vice, Mercedes supplied the gangster vibe of the unruly class. You conducted business in the four-door 'S', while in a two-door no one ever talked business.

Our sell-it-yourself example, a 1984 Mercedes 500, looks to be well-maintained and if the stated mileage is accurate, suggests a gently used coupe. As with anything vintage and German, I'd insist on a pre-purchase inspection, obtain a CarFax report and use as many independent perspectives to establish actual value as available.

If it's as clean as it looks, the ownership of a Mercedes coupe like this is both exciting and sublime. Countering that, of course, are frequent visits for service or replacement parts. At that point an old Benz can be its own kind of hell. This one, located in Milwaukee, is far removed from Miami's vice ... but what a great road trip.

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