Affordable E34 Face-Off: 1990 Alpina B10 3.5/1 v. 1991 M5

Update 6/15/18: After not selling last year with a $14,500 Buy It Now, the Alpina B10 3.5/1 part of this duo is back up for sale having finally been washed at the same asking price. Will it find a buyer this time around?

Just because it’s got an exotic name or badge doesn’t mean it’s automatically out of your reach. That’s the lesson for today’s twin E34s. If you’re willing to undertake a bit of a project you can certainly save money up front. Just like we saw with the S65 AMG Andrew wrote up, the initial cost you pay only going to be part of your total outlay but for the price of a small economy car, you can grab another league of luxury, performance and exclusivity that a Nissan Versa could never dream of matching. So which of these project E34s is the one you’d chose, or are both busts?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Alpina B10 3.5/1 on eBay

Volkswagen Variants on a Theme: 2003 Jetta GLS 1.8T v. 2001 Passat GLS 1.8T

Obviously, this post comes to you from someone who likes Volkswagens – and, in particular, 5-door VWs. I’m not sure exactly what the attraction is for me, but the last two Volkswagens I’ve had – both Passat GLS 1.8T Variants – have been faithful and fun-to-drive companions. Despite their relative popularity (VW sold nearly 110,000 wagons in North America – 20% of production overall), they somehow manage to stand apart from the crowd. And for about ten years VW enthusiasts got to choose not only from the Passat’s fairly robust lineup of wagons which featured everything from luxurious automatic V6 all-wheel drivers to thrifty diesels and outrageous W8s, but there was also the slightly smaller Jetta Wagon as well. Like the Passat, several options were available, from a basic 2.0, the turbo 1.8, the TDI and the crazy VR6 model.

Today I’ve got two examples to consider; in this case, both are front-drive 1.8T 5-speed manual GLSs. Despite what should be a very similar basis, these two take on remarkably different character. Pricing is pretty similar but presentation and mileage are quite different. Which is the one to buy? Let’s start with the Jetta:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Volkswagen Jetta GLS 1.8T Wagon on eBay

Audi A4-off Double Take: 1996 A4 2.8 v. 2000 A4 2.8 quattro Avant

Following up on the A8 3.7 front-driver oddity I posted last week, today I’m going to look at a few of the cars that put Audi back on the map. 1996 was the year Audi brought the brand-new A4 model in to replace the aging B4 90. So successful was the A4, and so ubiquitous in the small German executive market today that you’d assume the early examples were far more prolific than they were, in reality.

Still, the A4 is credited with saving the company, at the very least for the U.S. market share. Is it true? Take this into consideration; Audi sold 18,960 A4s from the launch in late 1995 until the end of 1996. Doesn’t sound like much, does it? Toyota, after all sells about 400,000 Camrys every year for the last half-decade – and that’s in a market that very much no longer values the sedan. But in 1995, Audi sold a total of 18,124 cars including those early A4s. Go back a year, and the number was substantially lower; 12,575. Entering into the 2000 model year, Audi crested 100,000 A4s sold in the U.S. market. The proof was in the pudding. By the time the new C5 A6 launched, Audi’s sales had crested 65,000 units a year and they haven’t looked back. 1994’s sale figures represented 0.08 of the marketplace; today, Audi sells a still modest but sustainable 1.3%.

But while Audi and “quattro” are synonymous, like the A8 I looked at, a fair chunk of the early A4s avoided the extra cost of all-wheel drive and came configured as FronTrak models. About 7,000 of those nearly 19,000 1996 A4s were so ordered. The prolific nature of these cars, coupled with typical low Audi residual value, has meant that they’re hard to find in clean condition.…

Funny Fiber Double Take: 1974 Bradley GT II v. 1980 Aquila

Kit cars don’t get much love on these pages. Well, to be fair, they don’t get much love, period. But kits cars do offer something; exotic(ish) looks on a pedestrian budget. And strangely enough, some kit car and limited-manufacture cars have begun to be considered collectable in their own right. So when I came across two unique Volkswagen-based bits, I thought “why not?”

So today we have two very limited production examples of fiberglass laid over a VW chassis. Which is the winner? Let’s start with the Bradley GT II:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1974 Bradley GT II on eBay

Double Take: Brown 911s – Classic vs Modern

I will admit here I am really stretching the boundaries of what makes sense for a double take. I had already come across this Nutmeg Brown Metallic 1985 Porsche 911 Carrera Coupe and wanted to write it up because of its fairly rare and unusual exterior color. I like darker metallic browns a lot and we almost never see them outside of a few years in the 70s and 80s. I’ll admit that brown isn’t the most appealing car color for many, but in the right circumstances it can work quite well.

Then I came across a much newer 911 in a very similar color and thought, why not? So if you are a fan of these dark brown exteriors this might give you a sense of your options and, what for me is perhaps the most interesting aspect of this, the relative cost and performance that’s available to you. Let’s look at the Nutmeg Brown Carrera first:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 Porsche 911 Carrera Coupe on Excellence Magazine

Double Take: 1992 & 1993 Mercedes-Benz 500E

The last time I checked out a Mercedes-Benz W124 500E, it was none other than Rowan Atkinson’s that ended up selling for a whopping $86,700. It’s pretty clear his name had some serious value attached to it as not many W124.036s carry that kind of price tag, if any. That is until I came across these two beauties for sale in the Netherlands. One is a 1992 painted in Nautical Blue Metallic with the ultra-rare Alpaca Gray fabric and leather while the other one is a 1993 in Blackberry Bornite Metallic that there are only a handful of out there. Both of these cars are nearly flawless and as you might have guessed, carry some pretty serious price tags. But for these special examples, I can totally understand why.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 Mercedes-Benz 500E at Auto Leitner

Double Take: 1995 Mercedes-Benz E320 Cabriolet

In my long affinity for the Mercedes-Benz W124 Cabriolet, I have featured all kinds of examples. Rare color ones, expensive ones and even ones with V8s swapped into them. So naturally when I come across one in my cruise around the internet, I usually take a quick peek at it. Today’s W124 Cabriolets, a Signal Red example for sale in California and a black one listed in Connecticut, are both prime examples of these amazing drop top cruisers. You’d probably have a tough time finding any faults at all on either of these cars, but what if I told you that one was literally twice the price as the other? Yes, I’m serious.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 Mercedes-Benz E320 Cabriolet on Hemmings

Double Take: Grand Prix White Carrera Targas – Which 5-speed Will You Have?

If you find yourself desiring a classic 911 from the ’80s you’re immediately presented with a few decisions. The first of which, while seemingly the most straightforward, can actually present the biggest quandary: which model do you get, the 911SC or the 3.2 Carrera? Both are great and their similarities in design and performance are such that either model should fulfill your desires. But let’s say you’re set on the 3.2 Carrera. You want the improved performance and slightly more refined feel. You still have one more decision to make: would you rather find one of the earlier models (1984-1986) utilizing the long-standing 915 5-speed transmission or a later model (1987-1989) with the newer G50 5-speed transmission? It seems a minor detail, but the transmissions do make a difference. Most drivers find the G50 to be the nicer shifting of the two and it is a more stout transmission to begin with, a point that certainly could make a difference 30 years from new. However, the G50 also is heavier and typically the prices for the later Carreras, in part because of that transmission, tend to be higher. If you’re thinking strictly about adding one to a collection the G50 probably is the one to get. For a driver? It’s not so straightforward.

Generally speaking, unless you’re very patient most of these decisions will be made for you since you’re typically best off by buying the best available option from these years. A well sorted 911SC is likely to bring you more joy and fewer headaches than a 3.2 Carrera with some issues. Sometimes, however, the options are such that you really can have your choice and, in fact, in our case here your choice really is distilled down almost completely to the different transmissions.

Here we have two Grand Prix White 3.2 Carrera Targas with pretty similar mileage, pretty similar asking prices, and seemingly very similar condition.…

Double Take – 25,000 Miles Total: 1988 Porsche 944 Turbo S Silver Rose

Update 6/1/18: The 16,000 mile Turbo S in this post has dropped $5,000 in asking price to $64,995.

We’ve managed to stick to a red interior theme so far today, and I’m going to further that just a bit more. But while red interiors in the 70s and 80s were super chic, few for me match the sheer audacity or execution of today’s twin 944 Turbo S Silver Rose models. And as I’ve spent the last few transaxle posts dancing around special models, it would seem fitting to cover what many consider to be the most special of all. Coincidentally, outside of some exceptional limited production models like the Turbo Cup, 968 CS or Turbo S, and 924 Carrera GTS, few are worth as much as this model either.

1988 saw numerous changes in the 944 Turbo lineup. The new option M758 “Turbo S” included a new turbocharger with redesigned vanes and a remapped DME which increased boost to a max of 1.82 bar. The resulting M44/52 had 30 more horsepower and 15 lb.ft torque to a max of 247 and 258, respectively. But the “S” package was far more than just more boost, as the cooling system was revised, the clutch and transmission were beefed up with hardened first and second gears.

Brakes were borrowed from the 928 S4 and now measured 12″ in front with four piston aluminum calipers. Wheels were Club Sport 16″ forged, polished and anodized units measuring 7 inches in front and 9 in the rear. Suspension was also beefed up with the M030 package; this included adjustable rebound Koni shocks and adjustable-perch coilovers in front. Limited slip differentials (Code 220) were not standard, but a must-select option.

Within the already limited edition S (of which about 1,900 were shipped to the US), there was another special edition.…

VRffordable Double Take: 1997 Volkswagen GTI VR6

Update 2/6/2018: After selling in November for $2,250, the new owner of the Candy White GTI is selling it with an uninstalled turbo kit asking $2,900 now.

Tired of seeing high prices for Corrado SLC VR6s? Today is your day, because nearly all of the fun offered in the 6-cylinder Corrado was also slotted into the GTI. For a hair under $20,000, you got the same thrilling 2.8 liter VR6 mated solely to a 5-speed manual. Did you want an automatic? Well, then buy the Jetta. Sure, that motor and the bigger body of the Mk.3 meant it was quite a bit heavier than the previous GTIs had been – by 1995, the ‘hot hatch’ had bulked up with 700 additional lbs of super-weight gain Mk.3000 versus the A1. But faster? Without a doubt. With nearly double the horsepower of the original U.S. market model, 0-60 was sub 7-seconds and you could hit 130 flat out. Coupled too with VW’s ‘we don’t care if you think it’s broke we’re not going to fix it’ styling attitude, the Mk.3 might have not looked as slinky as the Corrado, but underneath it was still a Golf and as such, practical.

So while the Corrado pretended to be a Porsche, the GTI remained the answer to the ‘what if’; you wanted a Porsche, but you a) didn’t want to (or couldn’t) pay for a Porsche, and 2) you occasionally needed a car that you could actually use to transport things other than your smile. This was the recipe that made the first two generations successful.

It was no surprise then that the third generation GTI remained a niche hit for Volkswagen even in relatively dire times for European imports. While finding a nice GTI VR6 can be quite difficult, it was a bit of a Thanksgiving treat to see two pop up in my feed.…