2004 MINI Cooper S MC40

Almost five years on, every time I slip behind the wheel of my 2006 MINI Cooper S, it still puts a smile on my face. I remember the first time I drove one of these supercharged pocket rockets almost a decade ago. I thought to myself “someday, you’ll be mine.” After four years of running a 2007 Mercedes-Benz C230, I finally had enough of the 7-speed automatic AKA the gearbox with a personality disorder. I was lusting after something more fun, and with a manual gearbox. And seeing how much my father enjoyed his 2002 MINI Cooper, I went to work in search of a final year R53 Cooper S. It’s been a fairly trouble free ownership experience and I don’t see myself selling it anytime soon.

Two years before the R53 hardtop disappeared, MINI payed homage to their past with the Cooper S MC40. Dedicated to Mini’s historic win at the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964, this car was equipped with the Sport Package, driving lights, special interior trim, magnetic body decals and a numbered plaque with Paddy Hopkirk’s signature. One color was offered, Chili Red with a White roof. This MC40 for sale in Florida has just over 60,000 miles. Even with the limitless color and trim combinations MINI offers, this special edition is a good way to stand out from the crowd.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 MINI Cooper S MC40 on eBay

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1995 BMW M3

$_57 (6)

When looking at E36 M3s, there are many different approaches. Do you want the lowest mileage example around in case they go the way of the E30-dodo? Perhaps you’re looking for a driver-quality, mid-mileage example. Is it four-doors or nothing? (For my money it would be!) Or maybe you’re a bit more adventurous and 240hp just won’t do so you’re after some performance mods, maybe even a supercharger?

These are all rational approaches to one of the best performance bargains available today and illustrate what a broad spectrum of driving enthusiasm the E36 M3 can fulfill. For today, however, just one item composed my rubric: WHICH ONE HAS THE BIGGEST WING? Well, folks, I’m confident I’ve found it, and as opposed to the rear-view problems monster wings typically present, this one avoids that problem altogether by just placing the spoiler higher than the roof!

Now, the reason this car has a GT3RS-rivaling spoiler is because it’s been fully outfitted for the track. A supercharger and upgraded exhaust/suspension/brakes combine with a rollcage in the bare interior to make this M3 all about the go, not show. Which rationalizes the wing a bit – sure, it looks silly, but with the S52B30 putting out over 400hp at the crank now, some high-speed stability is a prudent priority. Somehow registered for the street, this complete track build clearly demands a closed course so you can exercise this E36’s full potential instead of garnering Nelson Muntz-ish “Ha Ha!”s from the general public.

Click for details: 1995 BMW M3 on eBay

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Cosworth-off: Real v. Replicas

Is there a better known name across multiple marques than Cosworth? From the DFV formula one engine to Can-Am, Touring Cars to Rally, I can’t think of a more versatile or storied engine supplier. Just the other day, Paul took a look at an expensive and questions asked 1986 190E 2.3-16V Cosworth, and that got me thinking about some listings I’ve run across. Today, then, I have an interesting question and two very different cars that share one word – Cosworth. Both are legends in their own right and both are rare to see in the U.S.; and each for each model I have a valuable original and a replica. Which would you choose?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16V Evolution II on eBay

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1996 Volvo 850 R Estate

Fashion icon Iris Apfel was noted for saying “life is gray and dull and you might as well have a little fun when you dress and amuse people.” Adapt this quote to automobiles and you are speaking my language. So much of what we see offered today by manufacturers is boring and drab, trying to maximize profit while giving consumers the vague whiff of individuality. There are still a few cars out there which will help you stand out. Continuing on with the Swedish theme I seem to be on this week, Volvo has been one of the few brands to offer what has become a niche vehicle with a rabid following: the performance estate. These cars are an attempt at offering the family man his cake and allowing him to eat it, too. And with this formula comes a bit of whimsy.

It all started in the 1980s when they started turbocharging their five-door offerings. Then, in the 1990s, Volvo went all out and fielded an 850 Estate in the British Touring Car Championship, with the help of Tom Walkinshaw Racing. This spawned a street version, the 850 T-5R. With an engine developed in conjunction with Porsche, this car packed 243 horsepower and was available in both sedan and estate form. The T-5R was then succeeded by the 850 R, essentially the same car with some improvements. This 850 R for sale in Kentucky is a rare sight, an example in very good condition with just 65,000 miles on the clock. Want some sport with your utility? Read further.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1996 Volvo 850 R Estate on eBay

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1972 Volvo P1800ES

Just two scant years ago, Volvo killed off it’s C30 hatchback. It wasn’t a huge seller, but this car offered unique styling and competent performance in a tidy, near luxury package. It was also a flattering throwback to this car we see here, the P1800ES. The P1800ES didn’t have a long production span, but it made an impact on an otherwise staid lineup at the time, save for the P1800 coupe that it was based on. This example for sale in New York has the desirable 4-speed manual gearbox and benefitted from a bare metal respray. On Minilite style wheels, this is one attractive shooting brake.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1972 Volvo P1800ES on eBay

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