A common misconception among car owners in America is that Henry Ford invented the automobile. In fact, Henry Ford only popularized the automobile for American consumption with his use of assembly line production, and the car as we know it first came into being thanks to Karl Benz, a German inventor whose name makes up half of the Mercedes-Benz brand.
Since the very first cars, German engineers, designers, and inventors have shepherded development and innovation over the past century and a half, helping to define the automobiles on the road today. From the Wankel engine to Quattro all wheel drive, Germany’s contribution to the industry can’t be understated.
Germany’s modern manufacturers tend to occupy higher market positions based on luxury and performance when compared to American or Japanese companies. Powerful sedans, nimble coupes, and stately SUVs are shipped by the thousand from Germany to the United States every year.
German cars make up a large part of the secondhand market as well, thanks to a history of reliability and engineering prowess. However, not all German cars are made equal. Much like American ones, they have high and low points in their history.
Keep scrolling for 12 used German cars that are worth every penny, and for 13 that should be avoided at all costs.
25 Worth It: E36 BMW M3
The E36 era BMW M3 emerged during a time when computers were starting to take full control of automobiles. It still has enough of that analogue feel to attract the true driving enthusiast, but also features an ECU to aid in efficiency and power delivery while making problem diagnosis an easier task.
The later E36 M3’s S52 engine is slightly larger and heavier, with a smoother power band, where the S50 is its happier-revving, lower displacement predecessor.
In reality, both options are marvelous, thanks to impeccable weight distribution and a suspension setup that makes this generation M3 one of the best handling cars ever made.
Used examples range anywhere from $7-15,000 depending on mileage and condition, but with the right maintenance, these can be reliable and fun cars for hundreds of thousands of miles.