My adventures with the 1965 Volvo 122S continue. I am thoroughly enjoying being back behind the wheel of a vintage vehicle. The joy of driving a classic sports car reminds me of why I started SCM 32 years ago.

It also reminds me of how many stories you readers have shared with me.

For 90% of the driving I am doing, the BorgWarner Type 35 3-speed automatic transmission in the 122 does just fine. (Of course it’s the other 10%, with upshifts and downshifts, that we all live for.)

I tried driving our GTV and Giulia Super today. I have had smaller steering wheels fitted to both cars, which gives my left leg a little more clearance. Although I did better than I did two weeks ago, I still don’t have the fine motor control necessary to lift my left leg from the floorboard and place it on the clutch in a reliable manner.

I know that day will come. But in the meantime I’ve been thinking about other automatics that might provide a little more comfort than the Volvo. Perhaps more power and creature comforts, such as a/c, would be nice.

I want to stay with cars that would be eligible for the SCM 1000, so I’m looking at 1974-and-earlier cars.

Our resident Mercedes expert, Pierre Hedary, forwarded me a classified ad for a 1966 250 saloon automatic. It was only $6,000. But once I talked with the seller and found about the rusted-out driver’s door and sill, the chowed leather interior and the checking paint, $6,000 became the down payment on another $20,000 in repairs. So I passed.

However like a hound dog, once I have the scent of a more powerful sports car with an automatic transmission, it’s hard to back off.

Pierre also has a 1968 Mercedes 280SEL in very nice condition for under $20,000. It’s a little big for my taste, but I could be convinced. I’d prefer a W114/W115 4-door.

And there is a Jaguar SIII V12 automatic on Bring a Trailer right now with sluggish bidding. If you decide to buy a Jaguar vehicle, you may need to look for a Jaguar Specialist who will maintain your car.

It’s no secret that the market is slow, and these cars, especially with archaic automatics aren’t exactly A-list collectibles. Which would you choose, and what would you pay?

You can contact me directly at [email protected], text 503.970.1070 or comment here on the blog.

I look forward to your thoughts.


  1. Jaguar! Only because it’s about time you drove one! Not sure about pricing on the V-12 series 3, but the automatic vs. manual will save you money, as would a coupe–though I’d wait for an OTS. Any E-Type is a ton of fun, but the extra leg room in a Series 3 with hood-down air conditioning makes any excursion both comfortable and exciting.

  2. Buy the Mercedes, although for 20K the car had better be perfect.

  3. I own a beautiful 1956 Jaguar XK140MC FHC. It has an original equipment BorgWarner 3 speed transmission. A joyful cruiser. Very rare, but if you find one they are relatively affordable and would be a perfect fit.

  4. why not a pagoda? most have automatics and its a keeper car, for most people anyway, HA.

  5. Go for the Jaguar! It is far better looking and much more of a “sports car” as per your fine magazines title, than the Mercedes. Besides, a solid reliable car like the Benz would be strange for you, while a Jag that could fail at any moment would feel just like home.

  6. Jaguar try Florida we picked up two x300 xj6s for $4k each a 1996 with 57k and use them to supplement a 150 on rainy days
    I know you need something older but hang in for a Jag

  7. You might consider early to mid-seventies MB CE250-280 coupes- completely different feel from the sedans.

  8. I wish you a speedy recovery, didn’t hear you were I’ll. I’m 68 and I hope my stick shift days last for ever. I have a 67 XKE FHC, that I’m getting back on the road to make it good touring car. But it’s hard to get in and out if and I’ll have to test it’s reliability. Drove it every day in 1983. But I have a 82 300D Turbo MBZ. 200 K drive all the time taught both daughters how to drive in it. Owned for 13 years love it. Gave it to my oldest when the turned 16. She drove it for 10 years was going to sell it and get a new car. I said I’d buy from her. So I’ve owned it twice. Almost 40 years old, almost all parts easy to get. Just make sure the AC works, expensive to fix. Perfect size, built like a tank. I’m in Northern Calif, but both daughters live in Portland. I’ll drive up there on my next visit and let you drive it for a couple of days. Good luck with your recovery.
    PS I know Jags. 04 and newer decent reliable almost. Older not so good but beautiful to look at.

  9. Jaguar, then the Jaguar, and finally, the Jaguar. Since it it is the V12, you may need some additional maintenance, but OH MY a V12.


  10. I agree with Shawn Miller: if you are considering a Mercedes, why not a Pagoda? Yes, it would be more expensive, but would probably hold its value better than a sedan. And with the Volvo 122, you already have hardtop, 4 place, classic.

    The idea of an automatic Jaguar leaves me cold, but then I’ve never been a Jaguar guy. Maybe you’d enjoy it.

  11. I would keep my options open to both makes, and then buy the best car I find, in a color I like and start driving.
    I have always enjoyed driving and shifting, but looking for a good Jensen Interceptor, if there is such a thing, and they are automatics…variety makes life interesting! And, I’m all for a 5 speed conversion if I get the urge, I always change my cars to meet my needs.

  12. Having owned older Jaguars AND Mercedes, I found the MB to be the most reliable, easiest to source parts and proper service.In dayes of olde when I had a larger house and bank account, I’d host large parties. You attended many of them. Though many of my friends are British car enthusiasts, there was a line of Audi, Mercedes, BMWs parked outside. Remember the Lucas company motto: “Home Before Dark”.

  13. I’m Tim Glace, (Russell’s brother). I’ve had ambulatory problems which required me to drive automatic’s since I was18 years old. Although not a classic, my favorite driver’s car, and I have had many, is the Porsche Macan S with the PDK transmission. BTW:I have found the best personal solution for getting around at car shows. I purchased a Jazzy Passport made by Pride (no affiliation). This automatic chair folds and weighs 50 pounds and cost $ manuvers across all surfaces and easily fits in my wife’s BMW i3 Last fall, Clyde Cussler’s assistant (?) sam me with it at Hershey and was amazed. Good luck with your recovery. TG

  14. I had a 1971 280SE that I put 145,000 miles on for a total of 245,000 on the odometer…. I still regret selling it. Solid as a bank vault and very comfortable and predictable at speed.

  15. Gabriel Hernández

    Being a sports car fan, as you are, why not to check out a pagoda? I have driven a Type E, an it is not easy to get behind the steering wheel, nor to get out. A 68′ 280 SE could be the perfect roadster. For the pleasure of the challenge, I would get a project car and bring it back to life, for the excitement of your readers and followers. Or for a more comfortable and fashionable ride, you could get a 280 SE, the ultimate convertible (cabriolet, they say in Europe) to enjoy its six cylinder powered luxury. ¿Why not?

  16. There’s a reason why we still see many older Mercedes on Rallies, at car events, on the road- they’re very reliable.
    One has to make the determination whether the thrill of owning an older collector car is for the enjoyment of fixing it, or the enjoyment of drìving it. As we get older, the fixing part starts to have less appeal than the driving part.
    Hard to go wrong with an older Mercedes. Pierre can guide you with the selection.