The hot hatch may just be the perfect have your cake and eat it too automobile. And though many argue that they weren’t the originator and didn’t produced the best example in the market, Volkswagen’s GTi has been intrinsically linked with the moniker. It always raises an interesting question of which generation is best, and while there are plenty who would contend that the model never got any better than its original configuration, fans of each iteration of the venerable model abound. Like some others that read the blog, I came of automotive age in the midst of the Mk.2 model run. A Mk.2 Golf was also my second car, and as a result I have quite a soft spot for them. In the days before the internet, my knowledge of European models like the Golf Limited was non-existent, so at the time it got no better than the late GTi 2.0 16V. Wider arches, deeper bumpers, fog lights and the signature red striped quad-round grill setup coupled with some great colors like Montana Green. The roof mounted Fuba antenna was like a remote control pickup for fun, and capped with some awesome BBS RM multi-piece wheels and slick looking Recaros, the package might as well have said “Ferrari” on the front. But if the looks of the Mk.2 GTi were the best in the line, quite a few VW souls would point out that the fantastic sounding VR6 model that followed had the performance that really backed up the hot-hatch name. As a result, swapping the VR6 into the Mk.2 has not only become popular but almost a given, and VR swaps are nearly as prevalent as the ubiquitous S50/S52 in a E30 swap. This particular one has been dialed up a few more notches with a turbo, but channels the look of the 2.0 16V with some updates and a whole lot of black paint:
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Pre-War cars aren’t often featured on these pages; for Germany, the number of available machines manufactured before 1939 just isn’t huge compared to some other countries. That’s because in part the image of the modern nation of Germany rising like a Phoenix from the ashes of World War 1 to become a nation of drivers was entirely a construct of the Nazi party. If anything, pre-World War 2 Germany was a nation of riders, as motorcycle ridership far outstripped automobile ownership. Hitler spent considerable resources not only building the Autobahn, but in advertising its success by having cars do loops up and down the road while cameras filmed. By the time the German economy had rebounded to the point where people could actually buy cars and companies had the productive capacity to provide them, material shortages due to rearmament meant established companies like Daimler-Benz and Auto Union – fresh from their victories in international Grand Prix races – could not deliver cars to meet the demand. Imagine how it was for an upstart company like BMW, then, who struggled to put together a race program based upon its sporting 328. Yet achieve success it did; while BMW failed to get the headline attention of the Silver Arrows, the 328’s success drove sales of the more pedestrian 326 sedan, and the 327 cabriolet model which was derived from it. Light, nimble and quick, they were driver’s cars in the great tradition BMW has come to be known for since. But since only around 1,400 were manufactured in Germany before the War and how many survive today is far short of that number, they’re pretty rare to see today. And, generally speaking, if you want to get into a nice one your bank account better have a quarter million dollars that you’re ready and willing to part with.
Now, all that said, what’s this 327 doing in a Tuner Tuesday feature? Well, it turns out that the 327 wasn’t always so highly valued in the used market. So, around 25 years ago when this car was restored, the decision was made that the 55 horsepower 1.9 liter inline-6 just wasn’t enough to motivate it. Instead, it now sports a 5.7 liter V8 motor from the General. Is this an allied victory?
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1938 BMW 327 Sport Cabriolet on eBay
The other day I read an article on Petrolicious entitled “Which classic car gets on your nerves?” The photo was of an E30 M3, and it wasn’t far into the article that it became clear that this was a decidedly anti-E30 stance. In many ways, I agree with the author – having a conversation with an E30 enthusiast and trying to convince them that there are other cars (even within the marque) that are much better values or offer more performance per a dollar is akin to attempting to blame mass shootings on assault rifles in the middle of an NRA meeting. Now, to be fair, there are quite a few very reasonable E30 enthusiasts out there and just like it’s not fair to generalize about any group, they’re not all the same and most haven’t been recent bandwagon jumpers. But the rocketing to fame of the E30 and the ascending prices of the lineup have become somewhat laughable; take Paul’s mint, low mileage 318is for $30,000 the other day. Is it a lovely car? Sure, and if I’m honest I agree with Paul that it’s one of the neatest options in the E30 lineup to me – but is it worth the same as a brand new, replete with warranty 228i coupe in your choice of colors? That’s where the wheels start to fall off the bandwagon, because while I can rationalize a lot of automotive things that are pretty ridiculous I find that one hard to stomach. But, if the market has spoken and a 318is is “worth” $30,000, surely a super limited production Alpina C1 2.3/1 is more highly valued?
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1984 Alpina C1 2.3/1 on eBay
Though they may not generate the gasps and pleasure groans of the RS models Craig and Andrew wrote up last week among enthusiasts outside of the brand, classic Audi fans in the U.S. still regard the original S4 and S6 one of the best models produced by the company. Indeed the S6 Avant has gained notoriety as a “Holy Grail” for fans of the marque here, as it offered the ultimate development of the C4 chassis and inline-5 coupled to analogue all-wheel drive offered in this market. Only a few hundred of these wagons made it here, increasing the mystique and desirability of the package. Both of today’s examples are presented in the defacto signature color of the C4, Emerald Green Mica (Smaragdgruen Pearl) with Ecru leather and both have been turned up a notch from stock. The first example has all the wizz-bang completed, while the second has been maintained and is ready for further upgrades. Which is the one you’d like?
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995.5 Audi S6 Avant on quattroworld
A few days ago we featured a W211 E63 AMG wagon that is one of the baddest long roofs you can buy. In the later half of the 2000’s, getting that kind of power from your wagon was easy. You could ride down to your local Mercedes-Benz dealer, write a large check, then ride off and answer the question that no one ever asked. Why does someone need a station wagon that damn fast? In 1996, it wasn’t that easy. In order to pin your groceries to the back window when you accelerate, you needed to do a little more leg work. Enter legendary Mercedes tuner Brabus. This 1996 E430 Brabus 6.0 Wagon located in Estonia was transformed from an adequately powered kombi to supercar with a hatch.