Every time I see a Porsche 968, I sit there and contemplate that this is a sports coupe that would not look out of place in the current lineup. Like the 928, the 968 was ahead of its time in the styling department. A rather minimalist design, there is little clutter that we tend to see on vehicles today, such as excess styling creases, front fascia openings or spoilers. I’ve longed to own one of these coupes for quite some time, and this low mileage 1994 example is pushing all the right buttons. Guards Red over black is a classic look, and the all-important 6-speed manual and Cup 2 alloys finish off the package.
Turn the clock back one year and nearly every classic 911 we featured seemed caught up in a whirlwind of ever-escalating value. Cars that had long been the standard for value-conscious buyers were now being snapped up almost immediately once they were put up for sale. It was clearly a seller’s market for cars that probably had been undervalued for a long time and we were seeing the market correct itself. Much of this craze affected the 3.2 Carrera, but values of its predecessor, the 911SC, also increased quite a bit, especially for excellent low-mileage examples. Sitting here now, the market has stabilized for all but the absolute best cars, which gives those searching for a good driver-quality example reasonable benchmarks for evaluating their options. Prices are higher than they once were, but at least in relative terms the 911SC still represents a nice value for those looking to own a classic 911. The example we see here is a 1982 Porsche 911SC Coupe, located in Virginia, with 106,000 miles on it.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1982 Porsche 911SC Coupe on eBay
Okay, so maybe the Renault 5 isn’t your thing. I get it, it’s not mine either. I like the ideal and audacity of the Turbo models with their mid-engined lunacy, but pricing on good examples is pretty outrageous and if the videos of them driving are to be believed, they’re not the best hatch dynamically. No, I’ve pretty much always been a Golf fan, having owned a few of them now. But I must admit I had a soft spot when the E35/5 hatch popped up for sale. To me, it combined some luxury looks with practical performance. And when I say performance, honestly there wasn’t much available. The M44 engine that was fit to the 318ti was a decent performer, but it had only 138 horsepower, and at the price point you were much better off getting a GTi VR6, which oddly was more luxury oriented than most of the 318tis and offered more performance. However, the base of the 318ti was a good idea; a smart looking, light and nimble hatchback with a manual transmission and rear drive. And, of course, being an E36 platform, it was ripe for engine transplants. Today’s example is one of the more rare M-Sport equipped models, but this one has yanked the M44 in favor of an odd choice – the M52B25:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 BMW 318ti M52 on eBay
What can be said about the Renault 5 that hasn’t already been said? The R5 was a pioneering design, a monumental testament to the power of the French automobile industry. So confident were French engineers in the inherent superiority of their design that when it came to marketing the car in the United States, they simply called the R5 “Le Car”. Why else would any consumers buy anything else? This was, after all “THE CAR” – the only one you’d ever need. Notably, Ferrari has recently attempted to mimic the success of this marketing ploy with its new eco-friendly hybrid car, though it’s doubtful the Ferrari “The Ferrari” will ever be as memorable as the Renault “The Car”. The hot French hatch was an instant hit amongst U.S. consumers, who didn’t require such decadence as luxury, build quality, fuel economy, or performance in their cars. Sure, the GTi had more power and better handling. But looks? No, Marcello Gandini famously said “I have penned cars such as the Countach, Miura and Stratos, but I refer to the second generation refresh of the Renault 5 as my masterpiece”. And Renault made sure that this was a constantly evolving design by once again being a market leader and providing no rust proofing, ensuring that these cars would be on a steady weight-loss program. Okay, so truth told Renault did offer a performance version in the R5 Turbo. It was the worst car ever made, period. Where were you supposed to carry your baguettes, after all, since they mounted the motor in the back where your groceries and your guppies would be placed? No, smart consumers saw right through that ploy and bought what was a better and smarter long term value in the normal model.
Since it was really only a discerning few who saw through the market hype of the plethora of reliable and good performing Japanese and German automobile options in the 1980s to find the true diamond in the Renault, very few remain available today. However, luckily this pristine example has been imported. Smartly, the seller has not only left the engine configuration up to the next owner, but also which side the steering wheel will end up on. Even more amazing is that you can decided which year this car should be. Should it be 1987 or 1978? Either way, this pioneering design is a rare opportunity to own what virtually all automobile enthusiasts consider the definitive hot hatch:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Renault 5 on eBay
Depreciation: it’s a wonderful thing if you’re a German automobile fan with an affinity for a good bargain. What was once an astronomically priced vehicle could be firmly within reach thanks to the passage of time and a reputation for wallet draining repair bills. Of course the latter is the reason many people still steer clear of used German vehicles, even in today’s world where any question you need the answer to is just a Google search away. Nobody should be afraid to work a car these days, unless it’s so new that you can’t do anything without a computer or you’re completely helpless when it comes to wrenching. If you have the space, tools and the time, there’s nothing you can’t do. I say all of this because I know that right off the bat people will point out that the W220 chassis S-Class is a big scary car with little mechanical demons lurking in its bones just waiting to wreak havoc on your bank account. While it did have its issues, it was actually rather reliable and parts for these things are very easy to come by, even the AMG examples like this one. Sure there is a learning curve when it comes to working on over engineered vehicles but it’s really not as daunting as armchair experts would have you think. Between brand-specific fora and YouTube there’s plenty of information out there to keep you from loosing sleep over things like a vanity mirror door break or armrest failure.
The tradeoff for taking the plunge seems well worth it, especially with pristine examples like this one. The seller’s pictures of the gorgeous Designo Espresso don’t do the color justice which is too bad because the right setting would show off just how much this paint pops. Early morning light along the Hudson, now that would have been the way to go. Even with some glare the car still looks great, a testament to just how nice this color is. What he did do a good job of was taking pictures of the very clean interior with those cozy looking Light Brown Nappa Leather seats. It’s hard to see some of the special details included in the Designo Edition from the photos, such as the extended leather (it even encircles the floor mats!), the Alcantara details and the lovely Elm trim. I have only been in one W220 S-Class and I was riding in the back, reclined with the massage function going and let me tell you, it’s everything it’s cracked up to be and then some. Of course this is the S55 AMG and behind the wheel isn’t a bad place to be sitting either. The 493hp, 5.4L supercharged V8 will take you and 3 willing participants to 60mph in 5.5 seconds. Even by today’s standards those numbers are impressive and this is a 4,260 lb car built in 2003 that you can generally get for under $20k. Just think, you could have this and some sort of two seat canyon carver with plenty of money left over to cover replacement parts for less than a Lincoln MKZ.