1983 BMW 320i with S50 Swap

I have to hand it to the BMW crowd; no one pulls off as many clean swaps as we see from the them, and no group gets as creative. Sure, there are plenty of VR6 Mk.2s that look slick and the 1.8T is finding its way into plenty of different Volkswagens, but often the VW swaps have a list of needs longer than their builders’ ironic beards. That doesn’t mean we don’t see our fair share of poorly executed BMWs too – but today isn’t one of those days. While the current swapoholic candidate is the E30 chassis, this enterprising individual decided to go all vintage on the bandwagon and chose a clean E21 instead. Kudos, sir – well done right off the bat. Then, with a clean motor swap, a slick interior from a Volkswagen, brakes from a Volvo (no, really!), and some minor plastic surgury, they created one heck of an appealing package – perhaps one of the nicest aftermarket-built E21s I’ve ever seen:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1983 BMW 320i on eBay

Wednesday Wheels Roundup

Time for another Wednesday Wheels roundup – but this time, I’m looking at some great steering wheels I found. Check out the rare Volkswagen Petri model – or the equally rare Personal Audi Sport wheel. Then there are a brace of Momo Mercedes-Benz wheels including a neat original AMG wheel, and why not throw in a Ruf wheel for giggles even if it costs more than some cars? What’s your favorite?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: AMG/MOMO Mercedes-Benz Steering Wheel on eBay

1985 Audi Quattro

If the GTi from earlier was expensive for an economy car in 1984, the Audi Quattro was near ridiculous in its pricing; at over $35,000 in 1982, it was more expensive than most Porsche models at the time, including the 911. But the Quattro was the R8 of its day, redefining Audi’s place in the market and introducing exotic performance to a more mainstream crowd. It wasn’t revolutionary in any one particular way; turbocharging and 4 driven wheels has previously hit the market in other applications. But the Quattro combined World Rally Championship performance in an everyday package that could comfortably carry 4 adults with luggage in style. They’ve been legendary since new, but not always appreciated as such – though Audi’s recent acceptance and acknowledgement that it did indeed build cars before the A4 has helped the rising market value of these models. Arguably the most valuable in general are the last model year; updates to the weak point computer and fuse box, coupled with the perfect stance 8″ Ronals and updated interior, along with slightly revised headlights and trunklid meant these were special cars amongst an already rare bunch. Less than 100 made it to these shores, so coming across them today is something of a treat:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 Audi Quattro on eBay

1984 Volkswagen GTi

Isn’t it amazing how far cars have come? Just yesterday, I was walking with my wife and we were talking about the cost of living today versus when our parents were our age. Certain things are significantly more expensive proportionate to what income was then; housing, for example, and utilities are – at least where we live – much more expensive than when our parents were young. In the early 1980s, the housing market was such that an average amount of money today would have bought you a real mansion – or in some cases, you could have easily owned two or three houses for the same amount as a not particularly extravagant home today. But then you turn to computers, phones, and music technology – remember the CD collection that you used to have? Or perhaps it’s taking up shelf space or boxes in the attic while you walk around with all of the music you can ever listen to on a device that’s smaller than your hand and cost only about a fifth of what a CD player cost new. But technology hasn’t just improved our musical library – technology has made cars safer, faster, and more luxurious – but amazingly, not more expensive. Sure, the dollar figures are higher and it’s worth a laugh looking at the original sticker price of this GTi; a paltry $10,300 in 1984. You can’t even buy a new car for that amount today! Of course, factor in inflation, though, and that $10,300 roughly equates to the best part of $24,000. Guess how much a base GTi costs today? I’ll save you some time….$24,395 gets you a base GTi. But base doesn’t mean what it used to – the “base” model comes with a 210 horsepower turbocharged inline-4, LED foglights, 18″ wheels, iPod connectivity, a touch screen radio, trip computer, and heated front seats – not to mention that things like power windows, air condition and power steering are all standard items now.…

Tuner Tuesday: 1997 Alpina B6 2.8 Touring

While some other aftermarket tuners such as Ruf and Renntech offer turned up versions of the already potent cars, Alpina operates slightly differently – filling in the voids of models not offered by the manufacturer. There are plenty of examples of this, and if often seems to be misunderstood; Jeremy Clarkson’s review of the Alpina Roadster is probably the most notable case. A slower, softer, automatic version of the hardcore roadster certainly doesn’t make a lot of sense at first glance. But what Alpina does is give enthusiasts the opportunity to enjoy the performance that BMW offered in a slightly different package that sometimes outperforms the original platform car – Chris Harris recently found the B3 Biturbo to be nearly “the perfect car“. One of the notable missing gaps in the BMW lineup was a faster version of the E36 Touring; building off the earlier B6 – effectively, Alpina’s 4-door M3 challenger built between 1992 and 1993 with a bespoke engine and typical Alpina upgrades, the company later launched the Japanese-only market B6 2.8 Touring. Produced between 1996 and 1998, only 136 of these small wagons were produced, again utilizing the 240 horsepower bespoke Alpina motor, special wheels and interiors, Alpina’s own body kit, exhaust and suspension. They were available in 3 colors only; red, silver, and green:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1997 Alpina B6 2.8 Touring on eBay

Tuner Tuesday: 1989 Volkswagen GTi “EVII”

Do you ever wonder what happens to all of those wild magazine cars? You know the ones I’m talking about – the ones you flip to first, creations that make you wonder what the motivation of the builder was? Honestly, most fade into obscurity – but once in a while one pops up again for sale, and today’s GTi EVII built by Guy Light is one of those cars that may just may you say “Oh, yeah….I remember that!” It’s been a full 25 years since this car was new and a flash in the pan. Light chopped the top off the car, added a body kit and some great BBS wheels and Recaro seats, and Viola! He made the Mk.III Cabrio prototype. Seriously, look at this car – if it doesn’t scream Cabrio to you, I’m not sure what would. Reading through the period article about the car, it was certainly an interesting and unique vision with an extraordinarily limited scope. The part that I found most fascinating? Light offered to charge individuals a staggering $13,000 – on top of the price of the car – to complete the conversion. Aren’t you surprised that you don’t see more of these floating around than the original prototype?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Volkswagen GTi “EVII” on eBay

Motorsports Monday: Mild or Wild M3s

Going to the track is like any other addiction; it has its highs and lows. You may start going with a stock car, but soon you’ll feel the need to modify the suspension, beef up with wheels and tires, throw on some racing brakes, strip the interior and all of that heavy stuff that slows you down like air conditioning, sound deadening, and seats. Then you drop a cage in and hit the track; all smiles, no doubt, but it’s been an expensive journey and your track weapon is really only good at fast laps for a small percentage of its existence; the rest of the time, it just sits or is exceptionally uncomfortable and inconvenient as a daily driver. Plus, modern cars have gotten so expensive and complicated, with enough computer aids that they can nearly lap themselves. What is an enthusiast to do, then? Well, you can look towards some perennial favorites that helped to establish the reputation of BMW; the M3. In this case, I have two examples that are set up to hit the track – a racer E30 and a street-drivable but track-biased E46. Which is your flavor?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 BMW M3 on eBay

2002 Audi S8

A few weeks ago I wrote up three rare-to-see colored S8s. If the S8 wasn’t already a bit of a special item to spot, seeing them in shades outside of the normal black or bright silver is a real treat. While I know that not all enthusiasts feel that the Audis of this generation are the most reliable or fastest cars (they’re not, I agree), the combination of the 360 horsepower V8 and that silky-smooth exterior create a really desirable package. The D2 is just right; well proportioned, a perfect stance, some great and unique properties like the Aluminum Space Frame design to keep weight down, and a luxurious and well appointed interior. The result? One heck of a well rounded packaged that is very affordable. Missing from the last roundup was one color that our reader John and I had been exchanging – the 2002-only color “Espresso Brown” – while we found two examples, both advertisements had disappeared by the time of writing. Well, today one is back with some new photos:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Audi S8 on craigslist

Fantastic Phaetons – 2004 and 2006 Volkswagen Phateon W12s

The Volkswagen Phaeton has been, since introduction, quite an intriguing car. Generally passed off by those out of the know as a rebadged A8, every time I see one I’m blown away that Volkswagen pulled the project off. Despite what the American enthusiasts think, the exclusive executive sedan has been very popular in Europe and specifically Germany – where it’s much more in vogue to fly a little lower on the radar. Fly low the Phaeteon does; for many, at first glance it doesn’t look much different than the B5.5 Passat, and many of the styling cues were incorporated into the B6 Passat sedan. Couple that with a general resemblance to the D2 Audi A8, and not many notice this serene Volkswagen shuttling its passengers in near silence. I say near silence, since the only noise you hear inside is the slightly slower beating of your heart and heavy breaths as you soak in the luxury. They’re disturbingly quiet inside, thanks in no small part to extra thick glass and soundproofing. Every conceivable option available in the Volkswagen catalog was thrown at these cars, including the top-spec W12 motor. Shared with the Audi A8, Bentley Continental GT and Flying Spur, the W12 is a monster of power – easily capable of propelling the very important people riding along with you quite close to 200 m.p.h. when deregulated. This is especially shocking given the Phaeteon’s weight – a staggering 500 lbs heavier than the Audi A8 you’d presume was the same car, the Volkswagen was simply in another weight class and quite different than the D2/3 chassis. Yet, despite the exotic Bentley stablemates that share many components and the D1 platform, today you can pick up one of these expensive cars that were a bit of a sales flop at a substantial discount:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2006 Volkswagen Phaeton W12 on eBay

2007 BMW M Coupe

The current BMW market is quite interesting. The three posts I did on BMWs yesterday really drew that into sharp contrast for me; first, the E34 M5 Double Take underscored a more simple time at BMW with classic designs and classic motors. Then the “New Blue” BMW roundup outlined what’s currently available – progress happens, but it’s apparent that BMW’s current market has diverged substantially from the blueprint of the 1980s and 1990s success. But capitalizing on that 1980s legend are perhaps some undeserving cars, as the E30 M3 fail from yesterday proved. Where is an enthusiast to look, then? Well, you could argue you don’t have to look back very far to get a great, classic piece that follows in the footsteps of some of BMW’s great designs, but still with a modern twist. The Z4 M Coupe is a great example of this – a slick design, rear drive only, a 6-speed manual transmission and the last of the great normally aspirated inline-6s, the S54, hiding under the long hood:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2007 BMW M Coupe on eBay