Last week, I wrote up a 944 Rothmans Cup car, a model that introduced the idea of a factory-backed, one marque race series as an opener for larger races. In truth, this was no new concept; the unused M1 race cars got turned into the “Procar” series in the late 1970s/early 1980s and run with F1 drivers before races, as well as prior forays by Porsche in the IROC series. But the 944 Rothmans Cup was an effort that any gentleman driver could partake in, and that made it a bit more special. While the racing was close for sure and generated plenty of great action, the lightweight 944s really weren’t particularly fast in the grand scheme of things. Having launched a new Turbo model of the 944 in 1985, Porsche nearly immediately started development of the Cup version of the 951. With sealed motors pushing a bit more power that stock thanks to some revised engine mapping, catalyst-free exhaust and a revised magnesium intake, the real gains came in further use of exotic materials to lighten the cars. While the regular 944 was a bit lighter, the Turbo Cup went the next step; lightened suspension, magnesium wheels, stripped interior and plastic pieces. Undercoating was never installed on these cars and as a result of many small changes, the 944 Turbo Cup weighed in some 400 lbs less than the roadgoing version. Even with a modest power increase, this made for one potent and very special race car:
Quintessentially British, the MINI has BMWs fingerprints all over it and thus, is a welcome addition in the usual GCFSB roundup. Yours truly is an R53 Cooper S owner. For four years, the car has had very few issues and has been a pleasantly fun and trusty motoring sidekick. I’ve never grown tired of driving it and the power delivery by the supercharger makes this 1.6 liter feel a lot mightier than its displacement would suggest. At the end of the R53 run, MINI unleashed a special version, the Cooper S GP. Only 2,000 examples were produced, which featured no rear seats, reduced sound deadening, optional A/C and a few other weight savings measures. One color was available, Thunder Blue with a Pure Silver roof with the serial number on the roof and dashboard. This particular GP for sale in Virginia is a low production number and was brought to our attention from our reader Walker.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2006 MINI Cooper S GP on Williamsburg, Virginia’s Craigslist
Not that long ago, if you were at a gathering of automobile enthusiasts and said you had a diesel race car, you would likely have been laughed out of the group. And if I’m completely honest, I probably would have been one of those laughing. The term “diesel” coupled with “performance” just were two words at opposite ends of the spectrum to me even as recently as the mid 1990s. I recall that I had a friend who was very excited about the then relatively new TDi Golf and Jetta, reciting from carefully memorized brochures the fuel economy figures in any given situation. But then, something strange happened. I grew up and got a job where I had to drive – a lot – and was footing my own gas bill. Suddenly, the concept of 50 m.p.g. and having something a little different than the typical performance cars made sense to me. I was contemplating all sorts of weird permutations, generally into the cars I owned. For example, I thought the concept of swapping a diesel motor into the V8 quattro chassis was an interesting one, or for that matter an Audi S6 – the look of performance, but the mileage and run-for-eternity longevity of a diesel motor. Then Volkswagen did us all a favor and started bringing over performance versions of their TDi cars, starting with the Jetta TDi Cup Edition. An effective homologation of their one-make race series, the TDi Cups were essentially a GLi with the TDi powerplant – and offer performance in corners to make things fun coupled to fuel economy that makes life more practical:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2010 Volkswagen Jetta TDi Cup on eBay
Thanks to a reader’s keen eye, we snatched this 1995 M-Sport E34 up for a mention on the site. One of my personal favorites, this 540 combines rarity with performance and much stronger day-to-day livability compared to the hand-built M5. With only 104,000 miles and the replacement Alusil engine block in place, this car has the hard questions already answered, with plenty of attentive maintenance items already addressed. Mostly stock configuration and a fully-operating adaptive suspension puts this one near the top of the list in terms of an M-Sport equipped 540 that you can get in and drive and not be afraid to use daily – just as the current owner has used it.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 BMW 540i M-Sport For Sale in New Hampshire
I don’t talk about it often, but my first car was nearly a BMW 2002 tii. It was a bit of a rookie mistake in many ways; I was 17 years old and had been going to the track with my father for many years and wanted my own track car. As my father was in to BMWs, it was a natural thought that I’d end up with one. The search led me to a green over black 2002 tii, and after not much looking at the car or knowing what I was looking for I put a deposit down. When I got home, I told my father who suggested we have a mutual friend who knew the 2002s better than me go look at it before I paid. The friend agreed, we arrived at the seller’s home and after what seemed like a shockingly short amount of time he came over to me and said “walk away”. The car had prohibitive amounts of rust, and it would have taken a miracle to return it to nice condition. Shortly after I ended up with my 4000CS Quattro, and the run of Audis began – but I often wonder what would have come if I purchased that 2002. I’d like to think it would have ended up something like this one: