Two weeks ago, we saw a pan-off restored Volkswagen Type 3 Notchback, a car that rekindled my interest in these rare air-cooled VWs. This week we’ll take a look at another restored Notchback, this time from our reader Ben in North Carolina. While not stock, this Notchback has been modified tastefully, with selective accessories that lend a clean, period look. With an extensive record of receipts and photos from the restoration process, this is one Type 3 air-cooled fans won’t want to miss.
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I think it’s wonderful that, as automobile enthusiasts, we’ve been able to live in the time period that revolutionized cars. For some, the muscle car era was the best; for others, the cars of the ’30s are the way to go. But while there may be some aspects of those generations of cars that are better, compare them to the high performance vehicles of today; they all start, stop, turn and run better than anything that has come before them. Not only are the limits of performance higher than they’ve ever been, but today’s cars are frankly better at being cars than older examples. Quite simply, it’s amazing considering the amount of electronics that are now carried on cars; get my iPhone cold or drop it, and it goes all haywire – yet sub freezing (as well as scorching) temperatures and pot holes are the norm for cars to soak up. Inside, cars are more quiet and luxurious than they ever have been, in general. If you never went past 1/4 throttle in a B7 S4, you’d have a refined, quiet luxury car. It’s even handsome, too, with a smooth face giving way to the lovely flared arches, a slight uptick in the tail helping to direct the air. But really setting cars apart over the past few years has been the amazing power they’ve been able to produce and their uncanny ability to transfer that power to the road. Go past that 1/4 pedal in this S4 and the experience changes; suddenly, you don’t have a sedate cruiser, you have a warp-speed sports car capable of carrying four shocked friends being forced back in their seats as the 4.2 liter all-aluminum 340 horsepower V8 heads towards the stratosphere, announcing through the 4 exhaust pipes that you’ve now broken every speed limit in the country and you still have three gears to go. Yet while there have been fast Audis in the past, “true” enthusiasts always complained they were heavy and no fun in the corners. To remedy that perceived fault, starting with the 25th Anniversary Edition and going forward, S4s received the same T3 Torsen setup as the RS4, now with a rearward power bias and capable of moving up to 100% of the power to the rear axle. If you think you know what all Audis drive like by reputation, you probably haven’t driven one of these cars. By the end of the B7 run, it was not a beefed up A4 anymore; it was in reality a slightly detuned RS4:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 Audi S4 DTM Edition on eBay
For some time, the B5 S4 was dismissed by a fair amount of enthusiasts as a heavy, complicated car. Truth told, the B5 seemed a bit of a let down initially compared to the already gone and instantly legendary C4 S4/S6 with the venerable inline-5 power plant. But Audi had a new range of motors when it came to the B5, and the inline-5 did not really fit under the more compact hood in the lineup. Replacing the single turbo 5-pot was a new 2.7 liter V6 with not one but two turbochargers. Despite that, performance seemed a bit tame; 250 horsepower was nothing to sneeze at, but it was only a bit more than the outgoing M3, after all. However, the B5 had a few trump cards over its competition. Of course, the major one was that quattro all-wheel drive continued to be the high-performance platform for Audi. In this guise, the lockable options were completely removed from the driver, instead having the computer’s brain work electronically locking differentials coupled with electronic stability. While the combination of these things didn’t sound like an enthusiast’s dream, out of the box the S4 was a quite competent performer. Of course, the big bonus with turbocharging was that there was a tremendous amount of performance potential on tap with some upgrades. Free up the exhaust and turn up the boost, and these Teutonic turbocharged wonders went from tame to terror. There was one other major trump card the B5 had over the competition; as with the last of the run C4 S6s, Audi finally allowed their fast wagons to come over to these shores. They were an instant hit amongst the Audi faithful, and brought many more customers over to the four rings from other marques as well. Arguably the most popular were the two wild color options; the ever popular purple-blue Norgaro Blue and the retina-searing shade of Imola Yellow. Only a reported 64 Imola Yellow Avants were imported between 2001 and 2002, making it one of the more rare B5s produced. Paired with a 6-speed manual gearbox, these Avants have stood the test of time and are still highly sought by enthusiasts:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Audi S4 Avant on eBay
It’s hard to believe, but it’s approaching two decades that the “New” Beetle has been with us. What debuted as the Concept 1 at the 1994 North American International Auto Show begat the New Beetle for the 1998 model year. This revival of an entry-level motoring classic was offered with a 2.0 liter inline-4 or a 1.9 liter TDI engine initially, with a hotter 1.8 liter turbocharged petrol unit arriving shortly thereafter. Everyone from college kids to retirees began snapping these up in their quest for a little bit of nostalgia. These were not the most reliable of Volkswagens, suffering a lot of the same trim and electrical glitches that plagued the car they were based on, the MkIV Golf. A few years on, you could buy one for a song on the used market, and demand for new ones started to wane.
Enter the A5 based Beetle which debuted in 2011 for the 2012 model year. This was a larger, more powerful and feature laden car than its predecessor. Its appearance was meant to ape a bit of the cues from the original Beetle, with a modified roofline and available steel wheels with chromed trim rings and hubcaps. We’re a few years now into the current generation of Beetles, and this 6-speed manual example with low miles comes to us by way of our friends at Euro Automotion in Happy Valley, Oregon.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2012 Volkswagen Beetle at EuroAutomotion
Out of the box, the BMW E36 M3 offered almost everything a serious motorist could want. A lusty inline-6, slick manual gearbox and beefed up body cladding to differentiate itself from the lesser models on which it was based. But there’s always customers out there who want just a bit more or prefer to tinker with their ride a bit to stand out from the crowd. This 1997 BMW M3 comes to us from our friends at Sun Valley Auto Club and is equipped with a Hamann body kit and Hamann PG3 wheels, along with Sparco seats and H&R springs. Added in to the mix is a hue of purple that will certainly grab your attention.