2002 Audi TT 225 Coupe ALMS Edition with 18,000 Miles

2002 Audi TT 225 Coupe ALMS Edition with 18,000 Miles

I watched this past weekend’s Le Mans with diminished interest compared to the past few years. The loss of the great champion Audi narrowed the likelihood of overall victory to a two-horse race. And within that duo was one horse who, if it didn’t have bad luck, would have no luck at all. To be honest, I was rooting for Toyota to finally come good on their promise of the (gasp) last 30 years of racing at Le Mans.

Of course, the curse of Toyota struck once again and with a vengeance, leaving Porsche to smirk in their pits until an equal fate befell them. It would have been Audi’s year, almost for certain, had some engineers not decided to push the limits of diesel technology.

It brought me back to the golden era of Audi’s dominance; the early R8 period, when the cars seemed unstoppable in endurance racing. So successful was the company in making the leap to Le Mans that they generated a special model just to celebrate; two alternate color options for the 2002 Audi TT 225 Coupe. All were laoded manual quattro coupes only in 225 horsepower form; the only choice you had was whether you wanted Misano Red Pearl Effect with Silver Gray Nappa leather interior or Avus Silver Pearl Effect with Brilliant Red leather. As like the rest of the S-Line models of this period, the TT also got a special set of “Celebration” alloy wheels inspired by the RS4 design. Lastly, you got a commemorative sticker and a membership to the Automobile Club de L’Oeust for a year.

While no performance gains were to be had, these smart looking 8Ns are still among the more favored examples of the first generation TT – and this one might be the best out there.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Audi TT 225 Coupe ALMS Edition on eBay

1978 Porsche 924

1978 Porsche 924

I’m going to continue my string of 924s with an interesting 1978 today. This car represents the early run of the original design. It was a simple, no-frills, lightweight sports car – in essence, what Porsche was all about. However, Porsche’s headlining cars had moved on to powerful 6- and 8-cylinder designs, and turbocharging ruled the roost in performance options – so the EA827 derivative normally aspirated 4-cylinder from corporate partners Volkswagen and Audi was selected. That relegated the 924 to only about 100 horsepower, but with good handling and excellent aerodynamics they were still entertaining – albeit relatively slow – drives.

And, at less than $10,000 new, they were an affordable sports car with good build quality and a name established in winning prestigious races around the world. Yet, as Porsche does, sales success didn’t stop them from launching marketing-targeted limited production models nearly every single year – and charging a lot more money for them with options (up to around $15,000!). Today, if you want to collect an early 924, they’re generally the ones to grab. 1976-7 saw the Martini World Championship cars, while in 1978 you could have the Limited Edition model, and in 1979 the Sebring model. There was a 1980 Le Mans edition and further specials that we’ve seen, too. Along with the addition of the Turbo to the lineup in 1980, then, there generally isn’t much of a call to look at a non special edition early 924. But, this is one that might buck that trend….

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1978 Porsche 924 on eBay

Tapas Turbo: 1977 Porsche 924 Carrera GT Replica

Tapas Turbo: 1977 Porsche 924 Carrera GT Replica

If the 924 Turbo was an impressive development of the first water-cooled chassis for Porsche, the subsequent developments were outstanding. Porsche brought the Carrera name to the 924, added GT and turned up the boost, widened the flares and created a legend in its own right. The 2.0 in GT form produced over 200 horsepower; in later GTS form, nearly 250 horsepower. Instead of the 6″ wide wheels of the 931 we saw yesterday, 911SC front 7″ Fuchs were matched with 8″ wide 930 spec rear wheels. Konis were standard, but early 924 springs were used to actually lower the car slightly. Boxed flares in the rear were met by better integrated flared fronts to cover the much wider track. But the big story was the boost; the M31.50 engine was a tower of power in period, giving the lowly 924 Le Mans winning speed and making it faster than the 911SC. Indeed, the model was a homologation special to allow Porsche to race the car in Group 4 racing. Porsche would use the development GTR models to score impressive class victories in 1981 and 1982 at Circuit de la Sarthe, but it was the 1980 result of 6th overall that was most impressive.

The model was largely the basis for the more mainstream 944 Turbo that was developed later, and often is mistaken for being the later model because of the similarities between the body and look. But a fringe of Porsche enthusiasts appreciate the early Carrera GT even more than the 951, and consequently quite a few have undertaken making replicas. As only 406 Carrera GTs were made, they’ve become fairly unaffordable for most, so this exacting replica in Spain offers a chance to drive a legend at a fraction of a real one’s price:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1977 Porsche 924 Carrera GT Replica on eBay

1980 Porsche 924 Turbo

1980 Porsche 924 Turbo

Because it’s an early 1980s Porsche and the model ends with “Turbo”, it must be automatically unaffordable, right? Not so fast. While the air-cooled market has lost some of its forced-induction steam as of late, few would consider the 930s out there “cheap”. But there is still plenty of value in the transaxle marketplace; and from early 928s to the fledgling 924 Turbo, automotive journalists are pegging these cars as the ones to buy before they, too, head upwards.

The 924 Turbo, or 931 internally, was a huge upgrade from the standard 2.0 924. The addition of a KKK K26 turbocharger and 6.5 lbs of boost did the best part of double the power in Europe – even in U.S. trim, an impressive 140 horsepower was available. Yet they developed a reputation as expensive to run and finicky; when later, equally powerful normally aspirated 944s and even more potent 944 Turbos came along with fewer drawbacks, the 924 Turbo fell into relative obscurity. Today, find a good one though, and it’s a recipe for an instant classic collectable:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1980 Porsche 924 Turbo on eBay

Time Machine: 2015 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen TDI

Time Machine: 2015 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen TDI

Recently, I went on a train ride with my son to the local airshow at Quonset Point in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. The location also is the port which brings in a fair chunk of the Audi and Volkswagen products destined for New England. And, more recently, it’s also become a graveyard.

As the train rounded the corner onto the siding heading towards the port, what used to be an abandoned rail yard of a forgone era – a reminder of when the Navy had a major presence and money in Rhode Island – has been filled to the brim with a new activity. Yet it’s equally as sad as the dusty boarded up military buildings which once lined what has become an industrial park. That’s because it’s the home of all of the local “Dieselgate” buybacks of Volkswagen TDis.

Row after row of (to me) effectively brand new or lightly used TDis greeted us as the train shook on the decrepit rails. So bad is the condition of the track in that area that the train is limited to nearly walking speed; fitting, as it made the procession by the flocks of abandoned Volkswagens all the more painful to witness. We couldn’t just buzz past quickly; it was as if the antiquated rail system was offering a commentary on the VW scandal.

It brought me back to a little over a decade prior when Volkswagen came roaring back to the U.S. with its promise of “Clean Diesel”. A fan of the brand, I – like so many others – felt genuine enthusiasm as the products which dominated Europe were finally coming to the U.S.! Real world mileage was met with manual 6-speed transmissions and even a wagon – and more people than ever were flocking to the brand, happy to identify themselves as budding environmentalists because of their discerning automotive choice.…

1987 Audi Coupe GT

1987 Audi Coupe GT

The 1987 Audi Coupe GT is an interesting bird. Well, to be more precise, 1986 and 1987 Audi Coupes were a mixed bag and there are always little details that are interesting to see. In 1986, Audi offered the Commemorative Design model Coupe GT, which offered no performance upgrades but was a neat looker with unique red leather interiors. One of the other items the GT had which the 4000CS quattro Commemorative Design didn’t was a digital dashboard. The lower center panel, which normally had three VDO gauges, instead held a VDO electronic display with only oil temperature and a voltmeter. There was no oil pressure gauge. Where the normal dash held analog gauges, instead the Commemorative Design had a three pane electronic display. On the left was a increasing scale tachometer with a lower section readout for the (standard on electronic dash) trip computer. The center display held the speedometer and the odometer only. Below were the standard array of warning lights. On the right, the display had a fuel reading up top, temperature gauge up amidship and a clock below. The trip computer’s toggle functions allowed you to swap the dash readout between U.S. and Metric settings – always fun to surprise passengers when you announced you were cruising at “130” and comment on how quiet the car was. Using the dimmer switch, you could also engage “Night Mode”, which would drop all but the speedometer display off the dash. Should a warning light appear or the fuel level get too low, the car would automatically revert to the full dash.

Was it a gimmick? Sure, but it was the 80s, and it was pretty damn cool at the time. Of course, it wasn’t as cool as the full talking dash available on European Quattros, but we take what we can get, right?…

1990 Volkswagen Cabriolet

1990 Volkswagen Cabriolet

The first water-cooled entrant into the Volkswagen world had remarkable staying power, just like its air-cooled brethren had before it. Construction of the first models began back in 1974, and though the convertible version didn’t begin production until five years later, the renamed (but largely unchanged) Cabriolet wouldn’t wrap up production until an amazing 1993. Granted, by that point the Cabriolet was more niche model and nostalgic throwback than practical transportation, but nonetheless it was an impressive return on investment in the chassis design that 19 years later it was still being produced. And, if you want to count the reworked South African version, technically the Mk.1 was still available for sale until 2009!

What we have here is one of the later U.S. specification Cabriolets. In 1988, Volkswagen updated the look of the aging model (which, incidentally, had just been lightly refreshed in 1985 and renamed Cabriolet from Rabbit Convertible) to the “Clipper” models. Signature would become the four-headlight grill, deeper and smoother front fascia, wider fender flares and side skirts. The Cabriolet became the first Volkswagen model to sport an airbag as standard in 1990, too, as well as a new knee protection bar to the lower portion of the dashboard. 1990 also marked the change from the ex-GTI CIS motor to the Digifant electronic fuel injection. The more upscale models, like this “Best Seller”, also received the 16V model “Teardrop” alloys making for a slick looking package:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Volkswagen Cabriolet Best Seller on eBay

Diet M3: 1994 BMW 325is M-Design

Diet M3: 1994 BMW 325is M-Design

Just prior to the launch of the E36 M3 for North America, Canada got a special run of European-specification M3s. However, they weren’t alone in terms of custom E36s available. 1994 also saw the United States get a pretty unique, and quite limited, E36 model.

It was the 1994 325is M-Design. Fans call it the M-Tech, and it was very similar to the Clubsport Coupe that was available in Europe.

While underneath this was basically a stock 325, it was still pretty special. It included nearly all the items that the M3 would have outside of the motor and brakes. You got the M-Tech body kit, mirrors, steering wheel and shift knob, along with the Anthracite M cloth (0506). Many (if not all) were painted Germany’s racing color – Alpine White. Additionally, the M-Tech included a cool set of 17″ BBS 2-piece wheels. They were referred to as Style 29s, but were actually a multi-piece version of the forged BBS RG wheel. A limited run of only 150 (according to fans, BMW isn’t sure) were produced by BMW Individual with a $4,700 premium on the base price of the 325is.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 BMW 325is M-Design on eBay

Ending Soon: What We’re Watching

Ending Soon: What We’re Watching

Has it really been a month since our last “What We’re Watching”?!? Today I’ve lined up another group of rare and rarely seen models that all have their fans. Once again, they’re all no reserve, offering us a great glimpse at where the market is heading on some models and where deals can still be found:

Click for Details: 1984 Volkswagen Transporter Syncro Panel Van

This one ticks all the right rarity boxes in the T2 market; it’s a Syncro and very unique in that it’s a panel van, though admittedly that probably limits the appeal to those who carry passengers. The “Expedition Build” makes up for it, though, and this adventure van looks prime for traveling anywhere. Bidding is heating up on the no reserve auction, but this one is still a lot cheaper than you’d expect normally for a built Syncro at only $15,000 with a few days to go.

Click for Details: 1989 Volkswagen Fox Wagon

It takes a strong VW lover to appreciate the Fox, but the diminutive 2-door wagon has arguably the greatest appeal of the run. Built in Brazil, these models shared a lot in common with Audis of the same period with a longitudinal layout. Unlike what the seller indicates, that makes a VR6 swap not impossible, but not hugely easy. It sounds like the running condition could probably be sorted reasonably easily if the car at least starts, and the chassis is reasonably clean appearing with lower miles. Right now, a single $1,500 bid buys it, but that’s probably still strong considering it’s only a roller.

Click for Details: 2002 Mercedes-Benz SLK32 AMG

We definitely don’t give much press to the R170, but we probably should since the nutters at AMG got their hands on them and crafted a great option. The SLK32 might not have had the big V8 like the later 55s did, but you still got 349 horsepower from the 3.2 liter V6 for top-down 0-60 in 5 seconds.…

Roll the Dice? “1973” BMW 2002 Turbo

Roll the Dice? “1973” BMW 2002 Turbo

Most of our ‘Roll the Dice’ series involve cheap asking prices, needy restoration candidates, or oddball cars that are great values. This is not one of those.

The BMW 2002 is a legendary giant killer, and the predecessor of the market darling M3. Introduced before the M1 and 3.0CSL, BMW’s Motorsport division designed and modified the E10-based model to such an extent that it received its own model code – E20. A KKK turbocharger was fit to the M10 2.0 inline-4, generating 8 lbs. of boost at 3,500 rpm and a screaming 170 horsepower. Only available in two colors, the expensive ($6,600 list price in 1974) 2002 Turbo sold in scant numbers – a total of 1,672 were produced. And since all things special BMW are highly prized in today’s market, you can bet that when 2002 Turbos come to market, those in the know take notice.

So, how is this one a ‘Roll of the Dice’?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1973 BMW 2002 Turbo on eBay

2004 Audi TT 225 quattro Roadster

2004 Audi TT 225 quattro Roadster

Like the Audi Cabriolet which preceded its introduction, the TT Roadster lives in a strange no man’s land; traditional Audi folks usually aren’t very interested in them, and those from outside of Camp VierRinge (who generally hate Audis to start with) really dislike the TT. Most decry its lack of sport car attributes and claim it’s just a poseur for hairdressers and trophy wives.

That’s a shame, really. The 8N chassis might not make for an M3 killer, but it was a serious step up from the Cabriolet if you enjoy canyon carving. First off, it came with more power – in any configuration. While the B4 had droned on with the reliable but not powerful or exciting 2.8 liter V6, the 8N got turbo power from one of two 1.8T motors initially. Later in the run, as with the R32 they added the 3.2 liter VR6, and yes – you could get that in convertible. Unfortunately in the first gen TTs, the big horsepower came at a cost – it was a bit nose heavy and only available with the admittedly trick but also complicated dual-clutch DSG box here. So, if you’re really in need of the 6-cylinder powerplant, your better bet is to look towards the second generation TT; better driving dynamics were mated with the option for a 6-speed manual there.

But all is not lost on the first gen, because the 225 quattro is the real gem of the lineup. And, it’s quite affordable, all things considered. Towards the end of the run, they were heavily optioned up and even available in some wild colors:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 Audi TT 225 quattro Roadster on eBay

1977 Volkswagen Scirocco

1977 Volkswagen Scirocco


ANOTHER Scirocco?!?!

Yeah. Another Scirocco. If you can be fascinated by the proliferation of the mega-Beetle 911, though, you can bear with me. Volkswagen’s replacement for the Karmann Ghia, what would become the Porsche 924, proved to be perhaps a step too far for the company. What it created instead, once that was abandoned, was a bit of a legend in its own right. Based upon the pedestrian underpinnings of the Golf but actually developed in tandem and released prior to the more famous hatchback, Giugiaro’s penning of a slinkier two-door coupe variant of the platform was simply beautiful. As the Ghia had before it, it married serious Italian styling credentials with the practicality of an economy family hatchback.

Volkswagen’s new EA827 was the power of choice. Here displacing 1588 ccs and generating 71 horsepower, it was adequate motivation to top 100 mph – just. Amazing at it may seem, the nearly 1.6 liter unit in this 1977 was an upgrade over the 1.5 from the model’s 1974 launch in the U.S., though it only gained one net horsepower. They were diminutive cars; a 94.5 inch wheel base and only 155.7 inches overall, the first generation Scirocco is an amazing 10 inches shorter than the model I looked at yesterday. Even though it had little horsepower, road tests revealed that the Scirocco could out-accelerate a Mustang II Mach 1 (its contemporary) in the quarter mile. How dreary must that shoot-out have looked to our modern eyes? Suspension in front was a strut with coil-over spring setup; the rear was technically independent with a trailing arm configuration. Wheels were 13″ by 5″, or about the same size as modern brake discs on high performance cars.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1977 Volkswagen Scirocco on eBay

Outstanding E32 Face Off: 1988 BMW 735i and 750iL

Outstanding E32 Face Off: 1988 BMW 735i and 750iL

Such was the depth of BMW’s great designs from the 1980s that often the E32 is overlooked. Unlike the E23 it replaced, the scaled-up Claus Luthe-inspired design really worked and the heavy-weight look of the 5-series in a fat suit was met with more aggression, yet still elegantly. As you’d expect from a car intended to challenge the W126, BMW threw the kitchen sink at the 7-series, upping not only the technology, luxury and interior materials utilized in the E32, but the engine offerings, as well – the M70 and later M73 V12s beat Mercedes-Benz to the market with silky smooth and powerful twelve cylinder motors that were the trump card with the Trump types.

Yet while popular and well built, finding good examples of especially early 7s has become quite difficult. Today we have two interesting examples to consider. Both are far from original, though each in their own way is compelling. For those who like subtle speed, there’s a M70-powered, low mileage 750iL Alpina B12 5.0 clone from Japan. If you’re a little more in-your-face and like to row your own, there’s a Racing Dynamics-inspired 735i 5-speed. Which would you choose?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW 750iL Alpina Clone on eBay

1982 Volkswagen Scirocco

1982 Volkswagen Scirocco

As I mentioned recently in my 1979 Volkswagen Scirocco post, early water-cooled Volkswagens are really beginning to stretch their legs in value. That’s especially true for survivor cars; those untouched by the hand of times and hands of the traditional Volkswagen crew. It’s unusual to see a Scirocco at all these days, but one in pristine original condition with low mileage? Yeah, play the lottery when that comes across your field of view. Well, at least some (the traditional fans of these cars, for the most part) will now have hope to hit the lotto to throw their hat into the bidding for some of these cars:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1982 Volkswagen Scirocco on eBay

1998 Volkswagen Golf GL with 17,355 Miles

1998 Volkswagen Golf GL with 17,355 Miles

In roughly 1999, a local-to-me European car business turned up with something quite unusual. It was a pastel blue 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit. There was nothing particularly special about it; it was a base model with steel wheels. It wasn’t unusually optioned. It wasn’t a GTI. In fact, there was only one really remarkable thing about it – it had only 5,000 miles on the odometer from its single owner, and was in close-to-new shape.

The story went that the original owner had suffered a heart attack when the car was quite new. The widow had left the car in the garage, untouched by all but dust, until finally an estate sale liberated the single oil change bunny. The condition was certainly astounding, but to me the asking price at that time was, too. The seller was looking for $5,000.

It was pretty cool that the car was like a new fifteen year old car, but then cars had come a long way since 1984 in 1999, and the collector market on the Rabbit hadn’t really taken off. In 1999, $5,000 would have bought you a very nice 2.0 16V GTI, after all.

Fast forward to today.

It’s been an astounding nearly twenty years since today’s equivalent to my parable was new in the dealership. Like my memory, it’s a very basic Golf in very good condition with very low mileage. Similar to my story, cars have come a very long way in the past twenty years, and a quick jaunt in this buzzy, basic and slow Golf will quickly remind you of that. So has the market on a clean, low mileage automatic base Golf taken off yet, or is this doomed to a similar fate as my Rabbit – to sit and wait for jsut the right nostalgic buyer?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 Volkswagen Golf GL on eBay