The beautiful M3 Convertible I looked at yesterday was a reminder that I often skimp on drop-tops entirely. On top of that, I’ve been ignoring one of the most popular options in the classic German car market – the E30.
Introduced midway through E30 production, the Convertible you see here was the first factory BMW convertible since the 1950s. It showed in the execution; BMW’s slick top folded neatly away under a hard cover, in stark contrast to Volkswagen’s Cabriolet which looked like it was sporting a neck support pillow in back. Little trunk space was lost in the execution, meaning you had a fully functional 4-seat convertible replete with storage for the weekend. Base price was nearly $29,000 in 1987, but that included leather sport seats, electric windows, anti-lock brakes, cruise control and an on-board computer. For the U.S. market, there was only one engine option, too – the M20 2.5 liter inline-6, meaning no “E” model and plenty of spin on the tach, along with 168 horsepower. This helped make up for some additional weight from the top mechanism and structural strengthening, resulting in around 3,000 lbs of curb weight. But while the E30 was the benchmark as a driver’s car, many more of these were used in a relaxed manner; top-down luxury cruisers to enjoy the sun:
This is a car I feel I have to bring more attention, but I’ll admit I find the ad quite strange. Not strange in the sense that I think something fishy is going on, but in the sense that this isn’t really the best way to get maximum dollar for your car. It should sell fast though and maybe that’s the point.
This is a 1989 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet with the M491 Turbo-look package. If you’ve been following along lately you’ll know that these are rare. Very rare. Once the 930 returned to the U.S. market in 1986 sales of the Turbo-look package went down rather quickly. That makes decent sense. We also must add to this that Porsche debuted its new G50 5-speed transmission for the 911 in 1987, thus making the last three model years of the 3.2 Carrera a little more special on today’s markets. By the time we get to the final model year in 1989 the number of M491-equipped 911s had become quite low. Granted, of the three available models, the Cabriolet was produced in the greatest numbers so this one isn’t as rare as these 911s get. Nonetheless, there only were 24 of them. Oh and it’s up for auction without reserve. Rare indeed.
And now for something completely different.
Just left of zero of you will have ever heard the name Barkas, and yes – it’s German. Well, at least technically it’s German, because it was built in half of Germany. And if you had to venture a guess, which half would you suppose that would be?
That’s right! While the Trabant was the people’s car, the Barkas was the worker’s truck. Produced starting in the late 1950s in
Chemnitz Karl-Marx-Stadt, the Barkas stole some technology from DKW, who had moved their pre-War headquarters from Zschopau to that fatefully renamed city in 1932 when they joined the Auto Union. Under the “hood” was the same 0.9 inline-3 two stroke you’d find in a DKW F91 and (rather unsurprisingly) the Wartburg, which also stole all the DKW tech. The drivetrain was borrowed, too, meaning that unlike the Volkswagen T-models, these vans were front wheel drive. The layout left Industrieverband Fahrzeugbau Barkas with the flexibility to create all sorts of configurations right up until they (and, the GDR) closed their doors in 1991; from mini-buses to delivery vans, from semi-trucks to even a pickup:
Update 10/15/18: This M3 Convertible sold for $22,100.
Like yesterday’s base 944, the M3 Convertible isn’t a car I spend a lot of time on. However, the recipe is hard to argue with; you get the beautiful lines of the E46 mated to the sonorous S54 with limitless sky over your head at the touch of a button. When this car was new, it was the fastest production 4-seat convertible available, though at nearly $60,000 it was hardly cheap. Fast forward to today, and it’s generally become the cheapest way to experience BMW’s gem of a motor in the ultimate development of the naturally aspirated inline-6.
Though I don’t write of them often, I do keep my eye on them from time to time. And today’s particular 2003 is a very special package. Presented in 400 Steel Gray Metallic over N5ZM Cinnamon leather, visually this car is quite a looker. Inside you’ll find a 6-speed manual, too, and a scant 34,866 miles on the odometer. Oh, and the auction is no reserve, too:
This is a Tangerine 1970 Porsche 911T Coupe located in Malibu. It has a black leatherette interior, 123,042 miles on it, and is up for auction without reserve. Next to Signal Yellow, Tangerine (also called Blood Orange at times) is my favorite of the early Porsche colors that isn’t blue (it’s hard to have just one ‘favorite’). Tangerine is a color that is hard to pin down. In cases like the photos here, its red tones show up quite vibrantly and it almost looks like Guards Red. Truth be told I have many times checked out a 911 that looked like it might be Tangerine only to discover that it is Guards Red. The lighting in the photos just wasn’t very good. In other cases the orange tones stand out and you’re pretty sure you know what color you’re seeing, but ultimately it does look like a bright orange car and not everyone likes a bright orange car.
However, it is precisely this mix of red and orange that I find so appealing about the color. Under the right conditions it looks absolutely phenomenal. It is definitely not for the faint of heart, but I can think of few better options on any long-hood 911.
The Mercedes-Benz W140 Coupe, or C140, is one of those cars that you might have forgotten about until you see one in the wild or stumble across one for sale. There is good reason for that seeing that Mercedes made a little over 400,000 W140 sedans while only producing 26,000 coupes. You can see that is quite a difference in production numbers and now that the youngest W140 is almost 20 years-old, they are only are getting more rare. Today, I wanted to check out the rarest W140 ever produced, the CL420. Just 2,500 CL420/S420 Coupes were produced from 1994 to 1998 and exactly zero ever made it to America. These Coupes used the 4.2 liter M119 V8 borrowed from the sedan and was the smallest engine choice available in the C140. This 1996 up for sale in Spain is probably one of the most well-preserved CL420s out there despite its 112,000 miles. I just wish I could bring it to America.
This Porsche 944 sold for $7,800
I don’t often look at plain 944s, especially late examples, for a reason. By the end of the run, the standard 944 was overshadowed by the introduction of the 944S and 944S2 with their twin-cam motors and even a Cabriolet. Of course there was still the 944 Turbo and for 1988, the pumped up Turbo S. Then there was the Special Edition and the 944 2.7. Nevermind that there was also the lightweight 924S Special Edition, too. In short, there aren’t too many reasons to look at a “normal” 944 from the late production run. But with 924 Carrera GT/GTS DNA pumped into it, this particular 944 is anything but normal looking:
This is a Turquoise Green Metallic 1996 Porsche 911 Carrera Coupe, located in Florida, with Cashmere Beige interior and 50,324 miles on it. It also has the factory Aerokit. The paint code is 25D, which I mention because there are a few colors that went with some version of Turquoise during the ’90s and in some cases they can be dramatically different colors while in others very similar. Turquoise Blue (code 3AR/3AS) is a phenomenal non-metallic blue and one of my favorites from the period. It has some of the brightness of Riviera Blue, though in a darker hue. It’s great. I believe there also was an earlier version of Turquoise that was non-metallic and much closer to the blue of Turquoise Blue than the color we see here. Similar to this 993 is Turquoise Metallic (code 25C), which is a slight variation of this Turquoise Green. The German helps differentiate the two: Tuerkis Metallic vs Tuerkis Perlcolor. Add in the even more green Wimbledon Green Metallic and then we have nearly the whole spectrum for this one type of greenish blue exterior. Porsche certainly knows how to provide options. All you have to do is figure out which one you like best.
Of course, the ultimate evolution of the Type 43 blueprint emerged in 1995 with the launch of S6. If you want to be technical, it wasn’t really – there was a far more potent and special version in the S6 Plus to come for Europeans, and truth told there weren’t many changes from the prior S4 to the re-badged S6. Despite this, for U.S. fans of the traditional Audi inline-5 mated to a manual transmission and all four wheels driven, it didn’t get much better than the S6 you see here.
The last S6 we looked at seemed to be a pristine example, and bidding was very aggressive – in fact, problematically so. Several times it was bid to $12,200 and though it was a no reserve auction, each time it failed to trade hands. I ran across the listing again on Craigslist, where it was listed for $19,900. Ouch! Worse, there were claims from a reported ex-owner that the car was grossly misrepresented. Today we have what promises to be a better one to pick up, then – and it won’t cost you nearly as much:
I have always found this to be one of the more peculiar 911 models. This is a Midnight Blue Metallic 1992 Porsche 911 America Roadster, located in Miami, with a Tan/Black leather interior and 73,368 miles on it. These are pretty rare – only 250 were produced – and this one looks in very nice shape. The price is pretty high, but given their rarity these do tend to have a high price attached.
So why do I find them peculiar? Well, maybe because I don’t really know why the model exists. Were buyers clamoring for a wide body Cabriolet? Was the 911 Speedster based off the 3.2 Carrera so successful that Porsche felt they needed to produce something similar for the 964 as well? I don’t know, though the Speedster would return in 1994 after America Roadster production ceased so perhaps there was some desire for one.
Regardless, these are pretty neat even if I’m not quite sure about their appeal. The idea was to build a more driver-focused Cabriolet in the spirit of the 356 Roadster, which had replaced the 356 Speedster. As the Roadster moniker suggests, the rear seats have been removed. The rear is wider and the America Roadster received the brakes and suspension from the Turbo. It’s basically a Turbo-look Cabriolet and given that the 964 Turbo only came in Coupe form the America Roadster was your only shot at getting a Cabriolet with the wider rear.