10 Great and Affordable Used V12 Powered Cars

V12 Cars that won’t break the bank

V12 Cars are inherently balanced, extremely powerful and it sounds just about right more often than not. On the downside, it’s heavy, bulky and expensive to manufacture. In other words it’s usually reserved for powerful luxury sports cars with prestigious badges. Usually doesn’t have to mean exclusively, however. If you’re thinking what I’m thinking, and that’s somewhere down the line of: “I might just be able to afford one” – you’re in for a treat. Out of scarce selection of V12 powered vehicles, we’ve found 10 that can pass as affordable. Of course, affordable is relatively subjective matter, and we’re talking about used cars here. Moreover, we had to list couple of W12 powered cars as well in order to round off the figure to 10. Hope you won’t mind. Finally, one of the reasons these cars are affordable is the fact that they’re bottomless money pits more often than not.

Mercedes-Benz S600 (W140)

Years: 1993-1999

Price Range: $3,500-$15,000

W140 generation models were the first Mercedes-Benz S Class cars as we know them today. They first appeared in 1991, but it would be two more years before the most potent, V12 powered S600 arrived. When it did arrive, sedan cost $130,300 and coupe had the MSRP of $133,300. Today, you can get them for as little as that $3,000 difference between the body styles. However, better preserved, younger S600’s with somewhat lower mileage can easily cost around $15,000. And you don’t only get the pure nineties refinement with them. You also get the 4-speed auto trans, 389 horsepower out of that bulky 6.0L V12 engine, and 15 mpg combined. Coupe will usually garner somewhat larger sticker, but there are no rules more than 20 years after.

BMW 750i (E38)

Years: 1995-2001

Price Range: $3,500-$15,000

Although slightly younger than the W140 Mercedes-Benz S Class, E38 BMW 7 Series garners pretty much the same price in used cars market. However, they weren’t as expensive as the Merc’s when new, averaging around $90,000 for V12 models cars. Of course, newer models tend to be more expensive today, but they also come with updated tuB54 version of the M73 engine. 1995 through 1997 models came with older B54 version of the SOHC M73. Performance, however, remained the same over the entire length of the E38 generation. Every 750i, 750iL, 750iL P and 750 iL S cranks up the same 322 hp and 361 lb-ft of torque. All that power is sent to the ground via ZF 5-speed automatic transmission. 

Jaguar XJ-S

Years: 1976-1996

Price Range: $7,000-$30,000

The British grand tourer enjoyed quite a long spell of 21 years in the markets. During that period, more than 115,000 of them were produced, but you’ll still be hard-pressed to find a well-preserved V12 model XJ-S in the US. Those that are around for sale, cost between $7,000 and $30,000, but can easily be more expensive as well. It’s a classic car, after all. A classic with either 5.3L or 6.0L V12 engine churning out as much as 304 horsepower. Furthermore, most of them are newer generation cars which often come with low odometer count. And they didn’t depreciate as much as the Mercedes-Benz or BMW since nineties models were all available for less than $60,000 tops.

Mercedes-Benz CL600 (C215 )

Years: 2000-2006

Price Range: $5,500-$25,000

Based on the W220 S Class coupe, C215 CL Class was available between 2000 and 2006. Millennium models can be found for less than $6,000, but more realistic price range for them is between $8,000 and $10,000. Since they’re around 10 years old, CL600 coupes from the end of the run tend to require more than $20,000. Even more when something goes wrong. Another reason why they’re more expensive is their 5.5L twin-turbo V12 mill capable of making 493 horsepower. Older models had the naturally aspirated 5.8L V12 engine delivering “only” 362 horses. When they arrived to the market, they cost north of $120,000. Considering their current prices, they’ve depreciated more than $10,000 a year.

Volkswagen Phaeton

Years: 2004-2006

Price Range: $10,000-$20,000

Although $70,000 Volkswagen Phaeton was a refined technological marvel, it lacked one thing in order to succeed in the US. A luxury badge. Sales were slow and Phaeton was pulled out from the US market only two years after being introduced. That’s why it might be hard to find one today. When you do find one, however, it’ll likely cost anywhere between $10,000 and $20,000. Although a Volkswagen, Phaeton yielded 444 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque thanks to its 6.0L W12 mill. You also got the mandatory all-wheel drive and  5-speed automatic transmission with it. If you’re genuinely interested in Phaeton, all-electric second generation might be making a comeback in near future. Don’t expect it to be as cheap as used W12 Phaetons, though.

BMW 850i/Ci

Years: 1991-1997

Price Range: $8,000-$32,000

At its introduction, BMW 850i was another car offered with the 5.0L V12 engine capable of producing 296 horsepower. Later on, BMW decided to change the name of the car to 850Ci due to the introduction of 5.4L V12 mill. However, during 9 months or so of 1994, 850Ci was offered with both engines. Larger displacement unit was now capable of making 322 hp. Apart from being one of the most powerful cars in its day, BMW 850i/Ci was also one of the most beautiful ones. This classy grand tourer can be obtained for less than $10,000, but its prices have been known to soar way above that. If you find the most powerful 850C Si version of the car with 375 hp, expect it to cost even more.

Audi A8 (D3/4E)

Years: 2002-2009

Price Range: $15,500-$33,000

Although north of $30,000 can’t really be considered affordable (especially for a used car), W12-powered Audi A8 is not your run of the mill car. Being a flagship car of a luxury German brand such as Audi ensures that. Moreover, mid-second generation models are available for 50% of that figure. Although not technically a V12 car (has the same VW 6.0L W12 powerplant as the Phaeton), long wheelbase A8 is still silky smooth and yields 444 horses. A figure that enables 4,300 pounds of its curb to accelerate to 60 mph in just 5.1 seconds. Plus, it didn’t depreciate in value as its Mercedes-Benz or BMW competitors. At least not yet.

Jaguar XJ-12

Years: 1972-Present

Price Range: $6,500-$28,000

Jaguar XJ Series has been around for almost 50 years, and V12 was the part of its lineup since 1972. Unlike the aforementioned XJS which was a 2-door car (coupe or convertible), XJ-12 is a 4-door saloon. Contrary to common sense, XJ-12 sedans are actually a rare find in the states. So rare in fact, that they cost almost as much as the coupes. You’ll find them for little more than $6,000, but you’ll also find them for as much as $30,000. All depends on how well preserved they are and what’s the state of their venerable Jaguar V12 mill.

Mercedes-Benz S600 (W220)

Years: 1999-2005

Price Range: $4,000-$20,000

Successor to the above mentioned W140 generation, Mercedes-Benz S Class W220 was offered between 1999 and 2005. Until 2002, S600 was powered by the 5.8L V12 M137 engine generating 362 horsepower. After 2002 until the end of production, Merc’s flagship non-AMG sedan boasted 5.5L twin-turbo V12 mill with as much as 493 horsepower. They can be obtained for as little as $4,000 (similar to their predecessor), but newer models are usually a little bit more expensive. Not by much, though. For a car that started with the sticker of $115,000, depreciation has really taken its toll.

Lincoln Continental (First Generation)

Years: 1940-1948

Price Range: $14,000-$90,000

Consider it an icing on the cake. Even though well-preserved and fully restored models cost almost $100,000, V12 powered Lincoln Continental can still be found for less than $20,000. And that is affordable for such a classic car. Classic and classy, the original Continental came with Lincoln-Zephyr V12 and nothing else under its hood. Furthermore, 292ci 4.8L mill was the last V12 engine ever to grace one American production car. So, if classics are your thing, there’s hardly a better choice than the first gen Lincoln Continental. They could either serve as an affordable classic car or expensive project car. Or you can splash the cash and snag one already restored up. It’s up to you, really.


Categories: List Articles

Nikola Potrebić
About Nikola Potrebić

Although driving a piece of junk, Nikola is a true car enthusiast. Precious few things move him as muscle cars do - especially those from the bygone golden era. Which makes him wonder; why wasn't he born a few decades earlier? Well, at least he's been able to enjoy the likes of Pontiak Aztek, Fiat Multipla, and their "lovely" coevals this way - right? (sigh)