It’s funny that as enthusiasts we desire what we can’t have; there are a plethora of Audis that aren’t import friendly currently that I long after and plenty of rare BMWs and Mercedes-Benz models that make the collective jaws of the automotive community hang low. Yesterday’s European-spec 1994 M5 3.8 is a great example. It’s a very rare car that in pristine shape draws some serious dollars out of the woodwork and enthusiasts pine over. But in terms of all-out speed and value for your money, the Audi S4 packs much more punch than than the boys from Munich or Unterturkheim. Available generally for a quarter to at most half the price of most of the E34 M5/500Es on offer that are in reasonable shape, they can easily be customized and upgraded – and the results can be fantastic:
While BMW was pulling out of the doldrums in the 1960s, few could have predicted that the 2002 would have been their sales savior well into the next decade. And so it went with the 2002’s replacement, the 3 series. This would be the bread and butter vehicle for BMW for years to come. By the time the 2002 was ready to retire, it had become saddled with the accoutrements of ever changing safety and emissions features for the US market, but it still offered the same honest charm that drew many aspiring folks to this brand in the first place. This example for sale in Oregon, while without documentation, has had a host of work done to it and looks to be representative of one of those storied West Coast survivors that East Coasters like me dream about.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1976 BMW 2002 on eBay
While we only saw a few special edition Volkswagens in the 1980s – mostly Wolfsburg Editions – the amount of special edition VWs available in the European market was staggering. Whether it was a fashion designer or a tribute to a particular sport, it seemed there was a trim package for just about every taste. This particular one, a Cabriolet Bel Air, is one that I haven’t seen before. These Bel Airs were available in three colors, Diamond Silver, Ruby Red or the Blue Pearl we see here, all with color matched Avus wheels and color matched trim. This low mileage example is for sale by the same dealer in Germany that had the BMW L7 we featured last month.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Volkswagen Golf Cabrio Bel Air on Mobile.de
It’s a bit of a Euro-spec day here at GCFSB, and both of the featured cars are rare to see on this side of the pond. In the case of the earlier 420SEC, it’s rare to see them because there weren’t many produced and stateside we have the 560SEC that ran at the same time; in many respects, the smaller motor is a curiosity and a neat side note, but offers no real advantage to U.S. buyers. However, this example is very different; a Euro-spec 1994 M5. While the M5 left U.S. shores in 1993, it soldiered on for a few years in Europe with a revised and enlarged motor. Dubbed the S38B38, the new motor gained 25 horsepower but importantly 30 lb.ft of torque – it was now only 17 horsepower shy of 100 more than the U.S. spec E28 M5’s S38B35. That made up for some extra pounds that adorned the E34 chassis versus the earlier M cars and the M5 was even more of a flyer once again. A few of these 3.8 cars and motors have made their way stateside but they’re still quite rare to find. Usually, they have some neat oddities that we didn’t get here, such as this example’s Hurricane cloth interior. All in all, it makes for one tidy performance package that’s still quite discrete:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 BMW M5 Euro-spec on eBay
The W126 is still considered by many to be the pinnacle of Mercedes-Benz’s combination of luxury, style, affordability and longevity, and it’s no wonder why. It was a huge sales success when new and the stout over-engineered design means that today there are plenty that are still available in good shape. It’s pretty amazing, actually – it’s quite rare to see a good condition E23 or C2/3 Audi in good shape today, but it’s almost rare to find SELs and SECs in poor shape. But at least on these shores, most of the later examples are the big-engine 5.6 V8 U.S. models – while there are some early 5.0 European market cars that were imported, it’s rare to see the later cars on this shore. That’s especially true of one of the lowest production number variants of the W126 – the 420SEC. With only around 3,600 total produced, they’re a fairly rare sight anywhere: