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

1981 Porsche 924 GTR Tribute

For some times, I had grandiose plans for a derelict 924S that my father had. Source a 931 bell housing, mate it up to a spare Audi 4.2 V8 I had, slap on a Carrera GT body kit, strip it out and stiffen it up and Viola! Instant track weapon on a budget. I had planned it out pretty well, but the timing just never came together quite right, so eventually it went by the wayside. I’ve since seen a few tribute Carrera GTs pop up and even a GTR over in Europe, and every time it makes me think “what if…”; today is no exception. As I came upon this posting, a sly smile crept across my face and thought about it all over again. Today’s example doesn’t follow the plan I had though; it takes an early European-spec 924 2.0 and swaps on the super-wide GTR panels with some crazy Compomotive wheels:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1981 Porsche 924 GTR Tribute on eBay

#FailFriday – 1990 BMW M3

Last week, Nate wrote up a 1991 Volkswagen Corrado G60 that we summarily picked apart. It was horrible. But what was great was Nate’s critique and the universal comments that agreed. One of our readers, Ry, suggested that we make it a habit – and so enter a new segment we’re going to call #FailFriday. My nomination to open this segment is one of the darlings of the car world right now, a 1990 BMW E30. This car looks pretty good from afar, but get closer and in my opinion it’s far from good. Calling all backseat drivers, keyboard warriors and internet vultures – let’s pick this one apart:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 BMW M3 on eBay

BlueMWs – A Roundup of Newer BMWs

If I’m brutally honest, I’m not a huge fan of most of the newer BMW designs. As my wife says, I’d be happy if Journey was still on the radio and everyone was walking around with a mullet (that’s only half true…). But that’s not it; as I was saying to her just yesterday, I just don’t get excited about most of the new designs that come out. It wasn’t always this way – I remember eagerly awaiting the next issue of the multiple car magazines I subscribed to so that I could immediately flip to the section I found most exciting – the upcoming cars feature. But that enthusiasm has waned as cars have grown more complex, isolating and expensive. Sure, they’re faster – and even basic models do everything much better than even some “supercars” from the 1980s. But I don’t look at them and get excited like I did when the S4 first launched, for example. But, a thought occurred to me – while I’m not the biggest fan of these cars, proportionate to what you used to receive they’re simply a better value and better cars. We can pontificate about the virtues of the E30 M3 to no end, but the reality is that even around a track, the bone-stock 328i all-wheel drive wagon below would give it a run for its money without much difficulty – and in every other aspect, it’s a better car. We’re really still in the midst of a horsepower revolution, but that power is translated to the ground better than before with more sophisticated transmissions and computer aids along with all-wheel drive available in most packages. But it’s not just speed – not only can these fast cars get you to the Alps, they are like the luxury resorts when you get there, with fine materials and fit and finish that are really top quality.…

Double Take Handbuilt Drivers: 1991 and 1993 BMW M5s

As M prices continue to soar, one of the safe havens if you want something special that isn’t outrageously priced is still the E34 M5. The E34 is often overlooked by enthusiasts because it’s the slightly conservative filling in a legendary bread sandwich. With the bookends of the E28 and E39 M5s, the E34 in comparison seems understated and perhaps even a little boring when you first look at it. It doesn’t visually look much different than the rest of the production line other than two M5 badges (do you read that BMW? You only need TWO badges to make us take note. TWO!). But that understated presence hides driving dynamics that are second to none – this is a Q-Ship in the greatest sense, perhaps even better in its execution of that goal than the E28 was, and certainly less showy than the E39. For those who want a great driver from one of the best periods of BMW history with a legendary engine, excellent build quality and enough luxury to make you and your 3 friends feel very special on your weekend getaway while staying on a reasonable budget, look no further:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 BMW M5 on eBay