The excellent line of C4 Audis I’ve had the pleasure of writing up continues today! If you recall my last post about the 1995.5 S6 Avant, you’ll remember that I spoke about these cars having a bespoke feel. Here’s a great example of what I meant; what we have is a very desirable 1995 S6 Avant. Unlike the 1995.5, the 1995 model got the updates of the S4 to S6 like the bumpers, but retained the early driver-actuated differential lock rather than the ABS-system reliant electronic differential lock. But some of the differences were more subtle than just that; there were changes to the headrests, for example, though the Avants early on kept the open center headrests rather than the solid units found in later sedans and Avants. You’ll note, if you look carefully, that the 1995.5 in our other featured listing had the solid headrests. That would place this as an early 1995 S6, but some of the early cars carried over the forged Fuchs wheels associated with the S4, this car has the later Speedline-made Avus wheels in place. You’ll also note, again if you look carefully, that the early 1995 S6s retained the infrared central locking system (denoted by a button on the B-pillar) – a system later replaced by the radio frequency system found on newer models. Sure, these are all small items, but they’re interesting tidbits that once again make nearly each Avant a unique car – few are identical. This particular car was also specified in the classic color combination of double black; a classic color combination which gives this lovely example a sinister and standout presence:
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Like this past weekend’s 135i, a potential alternative to the M3 that I’ve considered quite a few times is the 335i. Upping the ante a notch, in 2011 BMW introduced the 335is; ostensibly, the spiritual successor to the ZHP package that the E46 had in the 330i. As they had with the 1M, BMW kept the N54 twin-turbo motor in the 335is instead of the usual N55 single turbo that was in the 135i and 335i. Tuned up to a reported 320 horsepower and 332 lb.ft of torque, the N54-equipped 335is also enjoyed a revised short-shift 6-speed gearbox and M-Sport styling outside, bringing it closer visually to the M3 – along with unique split 5-spoke wheels. While the 335is wasn’t much of a match for the high-revving V8 of the M3, in real world conditions it wasn’t much slower – and notably, with a healthy bump in torque over the S54, the 335is matched or bettered the reported E46 M3 acceleration numbers. Having just driven an E46 M3 this past weekend, the soundtrack is great but there’s a notable lack of grunt under 3,000 RPM – certainly to be expected, but when I get into even my considerably less powerful Passat, the fun of the turbo engagement at lower revolutions to provide a healthy kick in the pants – even at partial throttle – is something it’s hard to get out of a normally aspirated car without huge displacement. On top of a bit of extra grunt and some go-faster body kit, this particular 335is was optioned in one of the better blues BMW has offered in recent generations; LeMans Blue Metallic:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2012 BMW 335i on eBay
In yesterday’s S4 post, I covered many of the special items that made the ’92 model unique for the U.S. market; in fact, I said that in many ways it was the most highly sought of the C4 models. Well, that probably was a bit of overstatement in at least one regard, because while it may be true for sedans for many the Avant model from 1995 was much more special. 1994 to 1995 saw some major changes for the C4; the most obvious being the model designation change from S4 (1991-1994) to S6 (1995-1997). European models had some additional drivetrain options that weren’t available in the U.S., and indeed the Avant had previously been available in S4 form, but the 2.2 liter turbocharged inline-5 carried over largely unchanged into 1995. The big news was the addition of the Avant to the U.S. lineup; at the time, as expensive as an Audi got here. There was also the obvious external refresh; smooth body-colored bumpers and wider side trims eliminated the rubberized black moldings. The hood and lights were lightly re-sculpted too, along with the change (rolling, for some models) from the Fuchs-made 5-spoke alloys to the Speedline-made 6-spoke Avus wheels which would be the signature S-wheel for the next decade. Gone were two staples of the Audi lineup from the 1980s – Procon 10, the seatbelt pre-tensioning safety system Audi highly marketed in the late 1990s disappeared with little fanfare, but also, perhaps more strikingly, S cars would no longer be branded with “quattro” badges – a change that would carry on nearly until today’s models, where models like the RS7 re-introduced it in the grill. Inside minor changes were introduced; a revised dashboard, shift knob, along with the introduction of the most notable change (once again, rolling) to a 3-spoke sport steering wheel. It was a tremendous amount of minor changes that in sum resulted in a slightly different feel for the S6; slightly more polished and grown up, carrying the new design language for Audi that would remain for the next decade. Audi wasn’t done, though, because in “1995.5” Audi once again changed several items on the then-still-new S6. This included a major change moving forward – the elimination of driver control of the rear differential, a hallmark of Audis since the introduction of the original Quattro. Audi opted for an “electronic differential lock”, which in reality was a system which utilized the ABS system to detect wheelspin and apply the brakes. This major change resulted in some minor interior tweaks, such as moving the cigarette lighter, and there were additional revisions to the radio. The transmission’s traditional weak first gear was also addressed, as well as adding infrared locking and some other minor trim changes. All of these changes – some of them running changes – give the limited production S6s, and especially the Avants, a bit of a bespoke feel. With numbers produced only in the hundreds, these are special and coveted cars that are very capable – and highly sought:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995.5 Audi S6 Avant on QuattroWorld
This past weekend, Hagerty sent me a lovely email announcing the five cars that I should have bought when they were cheap. It should come as no surprise that the BMW E30 M3 was amongst them. Long considered the throw-away of the M lineup, their meteoric rise towards the top of the German collector car market has been pretty well documented. One of the lesser known aspects, though, is that combined with the Porsche 911 and a few other select cars, these market leaders have redefined the market in its entirety. Now all 1980s cars in good condition have been on the rise; we’ve seen $15,000 Volkswagen GTis and Audi 4000 quattros, mid 20s for good 944 Turbos and the R107 SLs have been the latest to surge upwards. So while I can gripe that the market is overpriced, it would seem that for the foreseeable future, the market is going to be high on these cars. How high? Hagerty now puts a condition 1-2 M3 between $45,000 and $70,000. We’ve seen even more for special editions. So, the clever and budget-minded enthusiast needs to look towards lesser known but equal provenance vehicles. Obscurity is your friend here, and the base 320is fades into the background of E30s perfectly. Outwardly, there’s nothing to hint that this is anything more than a stripped base-model 3-series. But as you can tell from the picture with the hood raised, the truth is far from that. That’s because the 320is was effectively a budget M3 underneath, perhaps in the most fitting tribute to the famous World War 1 “Q-Ships” the Germans have been able to produce. It is a truly special car, and this is a special example.