Editor’s Corner: 2016 Retrospective

Editor’s Corner: 2016 Retrospective

*Website analytics corrected:  1.9m pageviews and 500k viewers in 2016! -dc

As 2016 quickly draws to a close, I thought it would be a great opportunity to reflect on German Cars for Sale; where we’ve been, and where we’re going.

Collectively, we published 1,151 articles in 2016. January 5, 2016 represented our highest traffic on the site to date, with 1.9 million pageviews and nearly 500,000 distinct readers! We’ve steadily grown our social media presence, and as of writing are on the cusp of eclipsing 28,000 followers on Facebook.

In May, we welcomed two new authors into our fray. Andrew and Craig both showed their merit with impressive Mercedes-Benz knowledge, but also enjoyed taking a peek at Audis and BMWs. Andrew’s favorite article was the Betsey Johnson pink interiored 280SL.

#FailFriday: 1969 Mercedes-Benz 280SL

Craig enjoyed memories of his W201 with this similar 1991 190E 2.6.

1991 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.6

Rob continued to fill us in on all modes of flat-6 Porsches,but his favorite was a gorgeous 1974 911 Carrera 2.7.

1974 Porsche 911 Carrera 2.7

And for me? I had quite a few favorites, as it turned out. But I think if I chose just one, I’d probably choose the European-spec 1985 Audi Coupe Quattro RE2500 tuned by GTi Engineering.

Tuner Tuesday: 1985 Audi Coupe Quattro RE2500

One of the more surprising cars we covered this year was the neat single BMW Individual example of the already rare E36 M3 Canadian Edition. Beyond the unique Giallo color and European specification, the low miles and pristine condition really stood out. But what was really amazing was that the near $65,000 price tag was realized, perhaps signaling a new collectability level of the chassis.

1994 BMW M3 Canadian Edition Individual

I also moved into a new partnership this year with The Truth About Cars, thanks to some strong encouragement from one of our readership.…

Mystic Fiver: 2006 BMW 530xi Touring

Mystic Fiver: 2006 BMW 530xi Touring

Well, it’s been a few weeks so I suppose that it’s time to introduce the newest addition to the GCFSB fleet. My wife and I spent months searching for a potential replacement to her Subaru Outback. She had bought the Subbie new in 2006, and under warranty it had been a great car. However, once out of warranty it had been problematic; unable to go much more than 10,000 miles without eating a wheel bearing, dumping oil all over the exhaust or any other number of various maladies. The “big one” was the timing belt service at 103,500 miles; already pricey on Subarus, it became obvious as we got close that the 2.5 liter boxer was suffering from the notorious head gasket failure. A $800 job soon became a $2,800 job. As my wife pointed out, those are the types of repairs you’d expect on a nicer German car, but not ones you’d associate with the stars of Pleiades. How Subaru has managed to maintain a reputation for quality is beyond me, and with prices of new Outbacks well into the $30,000 range, suddenly the gap to some of the German cars wasn’t so outrageous.…

Wednesday Wheels: 2003 BMW M3 ZCP BBS

Wednesday Wheels: 2003 BMW M3 ZCP BBS

Hard to believe because it seems like yesterday and I still have to pinch myself when I see it sitting in the garage, but I’m entering my 5th month of BMW M3 ownership. As I covered in the introduction back in December 2015, the new-to-me pride and joy is a 2003.5 M3 in Phoneix Yellow Metallic. There was only one change I wanted to make – the addition of the ZCP Competition Package 19″ BBS wheels, and the solution ended up coming to me unexpectedly quickly.…

Realization of a Dream: 2003 BMW M3

Realization of a Dream: 2003 BMW M3

PY1

To say this has been a long time coming would be an understatement. You see, a small BMW was very nearly my first car some 20 years ago. As a teenager, I had dreamed of driving behind the wheel of a Roundel through many high school classes and once out, I carefully searched for just the right car for my first foray into the Bavarian realm. I had a pretty well established background, too – having grown up with a ’82 633CSi, ’85 635CSi, M5 and 735i 5-speed in the family. But, being a teen, I was not particularly well versed nor was I actually careful about what I looked at. What came up was a somewhat green 2002tii, and without being able to drive it or knowing enough to look under it, I put a deposit on it. When a car-dealer friend of mine came along with me to pick it up, the door of the car we arrived it hadn’t fully shut before he said “Carter, walk away.” The tii was full of rot and while it probably could have been salvaged and would have made a neat car for someone, it was nowhere near my budget level. A few weeks later he turned up with a then-9 year old Audi 4000CS quattro for around the same amount at the BMW, and my two-decade love affair with the Ingolstadt firm began. But BMWs have always been in the front of my mind, and someday I promised that I’d buy one.…

Shifting Gears: 1987.5 Audi Coupe GT Part 3

Shifting Gears: 1987.5 Audi Coupe GT Part 3

Has it already been two months since my last update on the project 1987.5 Coupe GT? It seems hard to believe, but the date doesn’t lie. In that time there have been, predictably, some successes and some setbacks, coupled with a fair amount of waiting for both parts and diagnosing the problems. If you want a refresher, you can check out the introduction piece on the new-to-me 1987.5 Audi Coupe GT “Special Build”, or Part 2 when I finally got it running. Now, what’s next? Well, as it turns out, a whole lot….…

The Spark of Life: 1987.5 Audi Coupe GT Part 2

The Spark of Life: 1987.5 Audi Coupe GT Part 2

About a month has passed since my introduction piece on the new-to-me 1987.5 Audi Coupe GT “Special Build”, and since then a fair amount of work has occurred. There have been a few successes and a few setbacks; as with any project, some things were unexpected and have complicated matters slightly, but then this is a car that has been sitting outside for over a decade non-running – it was never going to be a cake walk. Still, I’m quite a few steps closer to it being a viable car again, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to update the readership as to just how well it is (or, isn’t) going. …

Wednesday Wheels Event Report: Sunday in the Park – Lime Rock Vintage Festival 2015

Wednesday Wheels Event Report: Sunday in the Park – Lime Rock Vintage Festival 2015

$_57

For those with a good memory, you may remember my posts about last year’s work on refinishing a set of BBSs. Well, the time had finally come and a killer deal on Dunlops from The Tire Rack presented itself, and I pulled the trigger. Stories of leaky RSs and my father’s experience with his vintage Euro M6 TRX RSs led me to look for a sealant to add; although I hadn’t pulled apart the wheels, there’s no denying that they’re the best part of 30 years old at this point and the original seal could be suspect. I picked up some GE metallic-colored silicone from Amazon, and about 10 minutes of work applying, smoothing the bead in between the sandwich of the 3 piece wheels and 24 hours of drying later the RSs were ready for rubber for the first time in a decade.…

Waking From A Coma: 1987.5 Audi Coupe GT Part 1

Waking From A Coma: 1987.5 Audi Coupe GT Part 1

For those of you who follow the blog, my affinity for the Audi Coupe GT will come as no surprise. Few cars embody the “more than the sum of its parts” ideology better than the GT; a competent cruiser, fun to toss around corners, reliability and longevity all coupled with great and unique looks to create a package that was better than its peers. Previously, I’ve covered some of the history of my 1986 Coupe GT 20V; a unique car that’s been with me since 1998. Still running strong and delivering smiles, it is the third of four coupes that passed through my hands. It’s also an interesting example; a non-Commemorative Design car, it was one of the few 1986s delivered with a digital dashboard and in the rare shade of Oceanic Blue Metallic. I’ve also owned a Tornado Red, Graphite Metallic and another Oceanic Blue Metallic example – but there was one I always really wanted; a 1987.5 “Special Build” in Alpine White.

A few weeks ago, I received an email from a friend with the subject line “Coupe for sale”. Of course, I didn’t hesitate to open up the email even though I was on vacation and not looking to buy a car. But the message inside was too intriguing to pass up; my friend told me he could get a whole car minus wheels and radio for free – did I want it? The questions went down the rabbit hole; what color was it? White. What year? 87. And, according to my friend, it looked very solid. With each answer, my hopes increased. I asked for pictures; worst case, I could grab some parts for it. The picture above was the first one I got; there it was, a 87.5. I could tell right away by the white spoiler, mirrors and window trim.…

Avant Time: 2004 Audi S4 Avant Cleanup

Avant Time: 2004 Audi S4 Avant Cleanup

Recently I relayed to the group that a family member had bought a 2004 Audi S4 Avant 6-speed. It was with some excitement and trepidation that this car actually came into the family; after a long search through seemingly countless cars, my cousin finally found one that looked right. It was a silver over silver/black Alcantara 6-speed with just over 100,000 miles. 2004 isn’t the preferred year of the S4 Avant, nor does it have the reputation as being the most reliable Audi ever produced – but overall, it was priced right for what it was and he dived in. There were some exterior condition problems, though, and I offered my assistance with a detailed refresh; I thought it would help to show how you could take a reasonable but not exceptional example of a nice car and make it look pretty special. So, starting with a rather tired and tatty exterior, I dove in:…

GCFSB Project: 2002 Volkswagen Passat GLS 1.8T Variant Part 2

GCFSB Project: 2002 Volkswagen Passat GLS 1.8T Variant Part 2

It’s been nearly a year since I did the introductory piece to my 2002 Volkswagen Passat GLS 1.8T Variant. Too much of that year was filled with snow in New England, which allowed me to get one more season out of my pretty tired Blizzaks and dream of warmer climates while pondering what to do. One thing that kept coming to mind was that even though the Passat still feels relatively new to me, the reality is that it’s a 13 year old car already. That’s older than both of my B2 Audis were when I originally bought them – something that I still find pretty staggering. As such, there’s a length list of minor things that could be refreshed on the cars, and unlike the lack of aftermarket support for the Type 85 Audis the Passat still has lots of parts available to buy on the open market. Thus, sitting through one of the many snowfalls this year, I crafted some minor upgrade plans to address a few trim items that annoyed me.…

Motorsports Monday Special: Racing to Sell – The ‘Silberpfeil’: Part 6

Motorsports Monday Special: Racing to Sell – The ‘Silberpfeil’: Part 6

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Start of the 1939 German Grand Prix with Auto Union Type D and Mercedes-Benz W154 M163s – their last meeting in the nation of their birth

Yesterday saw an interesting comparison in racing; in F1, Mercedes-Benz once again dominated the field with seeming ease, dictating the pace and watching the strategy of its competitors from Maranello. While truth told my focus remained squarely on the Formula 1 race, there were several other popular race series running concurrently; both wildly popular Moto GP and World Endurance Championship races were contested as well. Notably, Audi won the WEC Silverstone 6-hour contest, continuing its quite remarkable run in endurance series amidst rumors that they could be heading to Formula 1. The question posed by me in my conclusion to the investigation of the Silver Arrows period is simply if the racing was necessary? There were other options in terms of racing for both companies to explore, and indeed they could also have taken the Opel strategy in no racing at all. Did the companies choose the right route?

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank our readers for the positive feedback to this feature. It’s been wonderful for me to revisit this research and have the enthusiast community enjoy it. I’d also like to thank Dan and Paul at GCFSB for not only affording me the opportunity to put this research up, but indeed for encouraging me to do so. Though they’re not likely to be paying attention I’d like to thank the Saxony State Archives in Chemnitz and the staff at the Mercedes-Benz factory archives, both of which were very welcoming and accommodating during my time there. Lastly, I’d like to thank my family who has been both encouraging and patient while I’ve spent countless hours working on this site. Without further ado, please enjoy the conclusion!…

Motorsports Monday Special: Racing to Sell – The ‘Silberpfeil’: Part 5

Motorsports Monday Special: Racing to Sell – The ‘Silberpfeil’: Part 5

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A 1936 Auto Union Type C sits below a similarly streamlined Junkers JU-86 at an exposition

As we saw in the last few installments, Daimler-Benz and Auto Union had heavily engaged in racing – a massive investment for both, pushing the boundaries of existing technology and redefining how motor racing was to be undertaken. The question in today’s installment was who this methodical approach to racing benefited the most. Was the government’s investment in racing worthwhile? Was Auto Union’s gamble on building an unconventional race car a success? Were the extremes to which Daimler-Benz was willing to stretch its racing budget realized in results over the competition? Today we look at some of the more pragmatic reasons behind the motivations of both companies and some of the ideology behind government which helps explain the involvement of both.

Link to Part 1

Link to Part 2

Link To Part 3

Link To Part 4

FIVE: FOR COMPANIES, GOVERNMENT, COUNTRY?

GTi-Killer: 1987 Renault 5

GTi-Killer: 1987 Renault 5

What can be said about the Renault 5 that hasn’t already been said? The R5 was a pioneering design, a monumental testament to the power of the French automobile industry. So confident were French engineers in the inherent superiority of their design that when it came to marketing the car in the United States, they simply called the R5 “Le Car”. Why else would any consumers buy anything else? This was, after all “THE CAR” – the only one you’d ever need. Notably, Ferrari has recently attempted to mimic the success of this marketing ploy with its new eco-friendly hybrid car, though it’s doubtful the Ferrari “The Ferrari” will ever be as memorable as the Renault “The Car”. The hot French hatch was an instant hit amongst U.S. consumers, who didn’t require such decadence as luxury, build quality, fuel economy, or performance in their cars. Sure, the GTi had more power and better handling. But looks? No, Marcello Gandini famously said “I have penned cars such as the Countach, Miura and Stratos, but I refer to the second generation refresh of the Renault 5 as my masterpiece”. And Renault made sure that this was a constantly evolving design by once again being a market leader and providing no rust proofing, ensuring that these cars would be on a steady weight-loss program. Okay, so truth told Renault did offer a performance version in the R5 Turbo. It was the worst car ever made, period. Where were you supposed to carry your baguettes, after all, since they mounted the motor in the back where your groceries and your guppies would be placed? No, smart consumers saw right through that ploy and bought what was a better and smarter long term value in the normal model.

Since it was really only a discerning few who saw through the market hype of the plethora of reliable and good performing Japanese and German automobile options in the 1980s to find the true diamond in the Renault, very few remain available today.…

Motorsports Monday Special: Racing to Sell – The ‘Silberpfeil’: Part 4

Motorsports Monday Special: Racing to Sell – The ‘Silberpfeil’: Part 4

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A 1935 Auto Union Type B Streamliner used for both records and the annual Avus race in Berlin

This past weekend weekend we saw a bit of hubris and bad strategy lead to Mercedes-Benz losing to Ferrari in the Malaysian Grand Prix. Despite the massive investment and seemingly pedantic attention to detail, the same problems existed in the 1930s for the company. Increasingly Mercedes-Benz needed to differentiate itself from Auto Union by undertaking extreme efforts. These efforts were not always profitable; indeed, one could argue that – as we saw last week – since they were already having difficulty delivering cars thanks to raw material shortages, undertaking new forms of racing and record-breaking might have seemed ill-conceived for the company. However, still at stake was preferential treatment from the government, especially when it came to lucrative military contracts. As such, Mercedes-Benz undertook some unlikely projects to not only gain international prestige for the Daimler-Benz model range, but indeed to curry favor with the government.

Link to Part 1

Link to Part 2

Link To Part 3

FOUR : PUSHING THE LIMITS – THE GOVERNMENT GOES RACING

Motorsports Monday Special: Racing to Sell – The ‘Silberpfeil’: Part 3

Motorsports Monday Special: Racing to Sell – The ‘Silberpfeil’: Part 3

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A Mercedes-Benz W125 leads an Auto Union Type C – the height of power for these Grand Prix cars in 1937

As we’ve seen in the last two parts, both the motivation and need was present for a concerted racing effort by the Germans. The promise of political and economic support from the government only sweetened the deal for both Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union. What resulted, as we’ll see, redefined what it meant to go racing – not only for Germany, but for the world.

Link to Part 1

Link to Part 2

THREE : REDEFINING AUTOMOBILE RACING

In theory, the successful plan worked perfectly for all involved. The two car companies would gain international prestige for themselves while boosting domestic car sales through promotion of their abilities, while the government – their fairly public backer – gained support for the entire automobile industry, cash flow for the country through increases in sales and exports, and international prestige for Germany as a whole as well as promoting the modernity and advanced state of German technology. In practice, however, there was a drawback to the plan for the two companies. The problem derived from the rules and competing against one another for the same prize.

The rules presented a problem because in an attempt to quell every increasing speeds, the AIACR had established the 750kg maximum weight rule based on 1932 technology, believing that in order to go fast the car must be larger and heavier. This had certainly been the case in the past, whereby under free racing regulations constructors had merely installed two racing engines into the car and combined their efforts – with resulting staggering speed. However, under the new racing rules both Daimler-Benz and Auto-Union developed cars that met the requirements, yet provided even more powerful engines. The result was incredible speed, speed that had never been seen before at this level.…