For generations, we in the United States have been unjustly denied the most versatile of the fast BMWs – the M5 Touring. From its genesis in the E34 Touring through its evolution to V10-powered monster E60, the M5 Touring has remained one of the most desirable unobtainable German cars to U.S. enthusiasts. However, U.S. fans shouldn’t feel too discriminated against, because the fan favorite E28, E39 and even the new F10 have no touring option – anywhere. What is a lover of fast BMWs with 2.2 children and a dog to do? Well, you could take your E39 Touring to Dinan, who would be more than happy to turn the wick up for you:
Please join me in welcoming Pablo Deferrari as a Guest Contributor here at German Cars For Sale Blog. Pablo is the founder of flüssig, a journal celebrating the Porsche 924, 928, 944 and 968. Pablo will check in with us from time to time and offer up his vast knowledge of all things Porsche, in particular the water-cooled variety. Welcome Pablo!
If you stormed into any Porsche dealer, walked up to a salesman, and plunked down $75,845 on his desk demanding a 928, besides being looked at as if you were out of your gourd, you had two choices in 1990; the GT or this car, the S4. The only decision you needed to make was whether you wanted to shift the thing yourself, or have it shift for you, with a little omph, because as of model year 1990, Porsche no longer offered a manual gearbox in the S4. You got the automatic transmission standard. If you had to have a manual with your V8, you were shown the GT.
This was just one of few changes in this year’s S4, and you weren’t going to be disappointed with the rest.
The base price of $74,545 plus a $1,300 gas-guzzler tax was exactly the same for both the GT and the S4. Porsche was holding down their prices for 1990 with the hopes that the dollar would rebound. Well, it didn’t, and executives in Stuttgart began chewing off their fingernails. But that wasn’t your problem; in fact, it was to your advantage as a buyer of this Grand Tourer.
The S4 had been around since 1987 when it replaced the outgoing 1986 928S known by connoisseurs as the S3. What I find curious about the S4 is that it had the same 5.0 liter, 32-valve lump putting out 320hp (DIN) at 6000rpm and 316.9 ft-lbs of torque at 3000rpm throughout its life from the first one in 1987 until the last S4 made in 1991. It even kept the compression ratio the same at 10,0:1. Australia was the exception, their engine put out 300hp (DIN) through 1989. And since it was the same mill, Porsche used the same engine codes; M28/41 for the manual gearbox and M28/42 for the automatic.
Never one to leave things alone, Porsche, in their typical ethos of evolution and refinement, made lots of subtle changes throughout the model’s life in other areas. Since we’re talking about this particular 1990 model, let’s get a little more focused. For example; dual airbags made an appearance in the 928 for the first time, it had the RDK (Reifendruckkontrolle), or TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System), that made its debut in the legendary 959, twin outlet muffler like the GT’s, and all VIN tags were deleted from the body panels. The “Design 90” wheel (that’s on this car) was also available as an option for the first time on the S4 and standard on the GT. Known internally as option M400 Cast Wheel Club-Sport 7,5/9J x 16, the same wheels used on the factory prototype 1987 928 Club-Sport model. The slotted design “Manhole Covers” or “Gullideckel” wheels in 7/8J x 16 came standard on the S4.
Another technological marvel that was borrowed from the 959 made its debut in the ’90 S4: PSD (or Porsche Sperrdifferential). This system was nothing short of genius. I could go to great drool-inducing lengths to explain it in its entirety, but I’ll spare you and myself from committing Hari-kari. The short of it? It’s a one way variable ratio limited-slip differential relying on the ABS sensors to advise the computer when there’s traction loss, cornering, or braking variations. The computer then fires off synapses in nanoseconds using a hydraulic clutch to compress a set of multi-discs and transfer torque to the slowest turning wheel. It can variate the lock-up from 0 to 100% to compensate and save yourself from looking like a fool. I’ll sum it up in five words; electronically controlled limited slip differential. There.
Naught to 60 in 6.3 seconds bringing you back to naught with massive four-piston Brembos in a distance of 135 feet. And then you decide that what you really wanted to do instead was to put the hammer down, run the Mercedes guts in the transaxle through the 4-speeds and take her all the way up to a claimed 165mph. Not bad for a car nearly weighing in at 3,700 lbs. Imagine if you decided to fiddle with the 2.54 final drive ratio, trick the computer to give you 200 more revs and swap in the hotter cams from the GT. On second thought, don’t. Leave this one alone. She’s perfect just the way she is. They only brought in 455 GTs and S4s to the US and Canada in 1990, and she’s one of them, making her very special indeed.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Porsche 928S4 on eBay
Edit: One of our Facebook readers – Steve – correctly noted that this is Capri Green and was an 8V Golf to start out. In some ways, that makes it better that a real 2.0 GTi wasn’t sacrificed, though my feelings about most of the modifications stay the same. Thanks Steve, and sorry for the mistake!
I’m fairly certain that with the right backing and skillful marketing I could pitch a show to one of those
crappy cable networks. My premise? Take a car that has been modified and return it to OEM or OEM+ standards. Seriously, when talking about rare cars, aren’t there buyers for these rides? Don’t there seem to be lots of people endlessly browsing the internet looking for that hidden, unmodified and well-cared for gem that rarely surfaces? Heck, it’s what we’ve built a fair amount of our writing around. And even though there are plenty of people pining for original BMWs, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche models, there’s a special lot that love original Volkswagens. One of the biggest reasons they long for these “unicorn” models is that so few were properly cared for, and many of those that were have been modded within an inch of their life. Take the Mk.II GTi; a solid performing replacement for the “original” hot hatch. It’s near legendary status is well cemented in the halls of automotive history, and it’s even one of the few models that carries brand awareness outside of motoring circles. Seriously, even people who know almost nothing about cars know what a GTi is. Within the Mk.II crowd, there are several limited models that the U.S. didn’t receive, so our top of the heap has to be the 1990-1992 16V edition. With a close-ratio gearbox, revised and better integrated smooth big bumpers, the best set of BBS wheels and Recaro seats ever fitted to a Volkswagen and one stunner of a revy 2 liter inline-4, it was an awesome package. Specify it in Montana Green, and you’ve got the crowds drooling. Then someone goes and does this:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 Volkswagen GTi 16V G60 on eBay
When I look back through all of the cars I’ve owned, one car stands out. My 1998 Mercedes-Benz C230. Offered for two model years in the US lineup, this was the entry level Mercedes of its time, powered by a naturally aspirated, 2.3 liter inline-4 producing 148 horsepower. Not an earth shattering figure, but this car wasn’t about horsepower. For me, it represented the last of the old guard for Mercedes, a time when engineering took precedence over budgets. I miss that car to this day, but on a recent trip to Lisbon, Portugal, it was comforting to see a bunch of these W202 C classes pressed into service as taxis. These are cars with staying power. Those in search for a good one should take a look at this 1998 C230 with under 50,000 miles on the clock.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 Mercedes-Benz C230 on eBay
Last week, I wrote up a 944 Rothmans Cup car, a model that introduced the idea of a factory-backed, one marque race series as an opener for larger races. In truth, this was no new concept; the unused M1 race cars got turned into the “Procar” series in the late 1970s/early 1980s and run with F1 drivers before races, as well as prior forays by Porsche in the IROC series. But the 944 Rothmans Cup was an effort that any gentleman driver could partake in, and that made it a bit more special. While the racing was close for sure and generated plenty of great action, the lightweight 944s really weren’t particularly fast in the grand scheme of things. Having launched a new Turbo model of the 944 in 1985, Porsche nearly immediately started development of the Cup version of the 951. With sealed motors pushing a bit more power that stock thanks to some revised engine mapping, catalyst-free exhaust and a revised magnesium intake, the real gains came in further use of exotic materials to lighten the cars. While the regular 944 was a bit lighter, the Turbo Cup went the next step; lightened suspension, magnesium wheels, stripped interior and plastic pieces. Undercoating was never installed on these cars and as a result of many small changes, the 944 Turbo Cup weighed in some 400 lbs less than the roadgoing version. Even with a modest power increase, this made for one potent and very special race car: