1999 BMW 540i Touring 6-speed

Back to wagons!

Today’s example is another fan-favorite model, of which it seems surprisingly hard to find a great example. The E39 continued and expanded the 5-series wagon’s popularity by bringing bigger wheels, more power and updated looks to the mid-range Audi-challenger. Like the first generation, these were only available in rear-wheel drive in the U.S., so matching the all-wheel drive variants available from…well, everyone else, required a very good looking and potent package. BMW pulled that off, with the Sport versions of both the 528i and 540i Tourings thoroughly encapsulating the ethos of the great Euro wagons.

But there was a catch.

If you wanted a manual gearbox, you had to select the lower output 528i model. For all its shouty V8-ness, the 282 horsepower 4.4 liter M62-equipped 540i only came with BMW’s Steptronic if you needed to haul ass and a family. Of course, that hasn’t stopped a few enterprising individuals from combining the manual from the sedan with the more desirable wagon:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1999 BMW 540i Touring 6-speed on eBay

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1990 Audi V8 quattro

Weather. It’s today’s weather that makes me instantly think back to my V8 quattro. Here in New England this morning I emerged from my weather-proof cocoon hidden carefully under several layers of blankets to reveal the foot-plus of powdery snow, blowing fiercely with a sustained 35 mph wind, and a temperature hovering around 9. Maybe for you folks in Minnesota that’s a nice Spring day, but I think it’s just brutal. Yet when it occurs, I instantly think back to the car I had that made me relish those conditions. It was my ’93 V8 quattro, without hesitation.

When the mercury dipped below freezing and the roads were covered in snow, that car was simply a monster. Audis certainly have a reputation for being good in the snow, it’s true. But here’s a hint – I’ve owned a lot and driven even more, and they’re not all great in the white stuff (ducks). They’re also very tire-dependent, perhaps moreso than other cars. Because with all-seasons on an Audi, you’ll have no problem going fast in deep snow, but you’ll have quite a few problems turning and more problems stopping.

But I had snow tires on my V8. Tiny little A4 steel wheels overshadowed by the widened flares with tires that look fit for…well, an basic B5 A4 rather than a large executive. When that white stuff fell – look out. It was unstoppable, but not in the bad way I just mentioned. And unlike the terminal understeer some of my other Audis suffered from (I’m looking at you, 200!), all you had to do in the V8 if the nose wasn’t heading where you wanted to was to give it a boot-full of throttle. A tremendous roar would emerge as the 4-cam all-aluminum V8 sprung to life, the multi-plate center differential channeled power towards the back, and the Torsen rear diff limited the slip of the unladen tire. The result? Sideways. Totally awesome, controllable drifts at nearly any angle you wanted for as long as you wanted. I drove through a blizzard, seat heaters set at “just so”, automatic climate control dialed in to 70 with the exterior temp suggesting it was Saskatchewan I was in rather than Southern Massachusetts. The V8 ate the miles up leisurely. It was the most comfortable I’ve felt in a very bad driving environment, and I’ve driven through a few in some pretty good cars.

Then there’s the ‘whether’. It’s more than whether or not you live in a climate where my scenario will play out for you. It’s more than whether or not this car is worth purchasing. It’s whether or not you’ll be able to find parts. It’s whether or not all of the items work. Heck, with a V8 quattro, sometimes it’s whether or not it’ll feel like starting. And when it does, it’s whether or not it’ll feel like shifting, too.

Whether be damned, these cars still capture my imagination every single time I see one.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Audi V8 quattro on eBay

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1989 Porsche 911 Carrera Coupe

I’ve been looking at a decent number of high-end and modern Porsches lately – something I’ve enjoyed more than I realized when it comes to the modern cars – but it’s time to, at least briefly, return to the roots of my 911 obsession: the classic 911. We won’t be moving into the territory of incredibly reasonable pricing because this one is pretty expensive, but it is the ethos of the machine that draws me back. In truth it is the 911SC that really started it all for me, but the 3.2 Carrera is a close enough sibling that I tend to group the two models together as one long evolutionary development.

Here we will move right to the end of 3.2 Carrera production for one of the best looking examples I’ve come across in a while: a Guards Red 1989 Porsche 911 Carrera Coupe, located in Ft. Lauderdale, with a Beige interior (more on that later) and 65,980 miles on it. It seems nearly the entire car has been replaced, restored, and/or rebuilt making this Carrera look almost factory new. Outside of a few ultra-low-mileage examples I cannot recall one whose condition looked this good.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Porsche 911 Carrera Coupe on Rennlist

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2005 Mercedes-Benz SL500 for $9,000

”How cheap can they really get?”

That is what I ask myself all the time when checking out almost any car. I understand why cars get to a certain point, even ones that were really expensive to start with. Sometimes it is just the natural cycle of used cars. Sometimes it is a situation where the car just isn’t worth the trouble and prices hit the floor. Of course this is a case by case basis, but it is always interesting to see how certain cars slot into the market when they’ve matured to over 10 years old. Today’s car, a 2005 Mercedes-Benz SL500, is one of these cases where I always wonder how cheap they are going to get.

The R230 generation isn’t like SLs of years past; this is a modern-era SL with a retractable hardtop and a sleek design. Gone are the square slabs and lightweight feel, this is a bloaty, heavy grand tourer. Of course all this came at a very expensive price. The 2005 SL500 started at $92,000 ($118,000 in today’s money) and only got significantly more expensive from there. The thing is, these are pretty stout cars. They aren’t mechanical nightmares like a Land Rover (I know this from personal experience — I own one) and maintenance won’t bankrupt you even if you daily drive one of these. But this SL500 isn’t a mint to get into: it is a mere $9,000. That’s it. No, it doesn’t have a rebuilt title and it’s not full of mold, it is just a 2005 SL500 with a 141,000 miles. This makes me wonder; are all R230s heading towards this level of cheap buy-in?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2005 Mercedes-Benz SL500 on eBay

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1999 Volkswagen Golf with 23,000 Miles

The last Golf I took a look at was a high-spec GLS TDi model from the end of the run. A popular niche vehicle, the turbo diesel Golf is a hot commodity and even with over 170,000 miles bids were quick to crest $4,000, finally ending with a $4,350 sale. Yet it’s far from the most desirable, or indeed the most valuable, model within a robust lineup of favorites.

There’s the all-wheel drive 3.2 liter VR6 R32, often with asks that rival multiple generations of M3s:

2004 Volkswagen Golf R32

There’s the 20th Anniversary Edition GTI, a turbocharged terror with great looks:

2003 Volkswagen GTI 20th Anniversary Edition with 9,800 Miles

There’s the Edition 337 – a limited collector-friendly model that kicked off a new generation of turbocharged Golf performance:

Feature Listing: 2002 Volkswagen GTI 337 Edition

And though it carried a ‘Jetta’ badge, we finally got the “Golf Variant” wagon, replete with your choice of 1.8T, 2.0, TDi or even a gutsy 2.8 liter VR6 hooked to a manual:

2002 Volkswagen Jetta GLX VR6 Wagon

So the Mk.4 range really has a devoted following and plenty of love to spread around to make you a bit unique. Today’s car, though, is none of those collector favorites. What we have here is a Flash Red first-year Golf. No TDi, no VR6, not even a GLS. No, this is a standard Golf. Except it’s not a standard Golf, because it’s an automatic. But before you click away, this one’s odometer hasn’t yet turned 23,000 miles….

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1999 Volkswagen Golf on eBay

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1994 Porsche 911 Turbo S Slantnose

With the January auctions approaching I always like to check in on what sorts of interesting cars will be crossing the blocks this year. Even though this auction is still a couple weeks away, I couldn’t resist posting this now. I could be wrong, but I think this is the only air-cooled 911 model I have never featured. It’s one of the rarest 911 models there is. We’ve featured the North American only Turbo S Package car previously, of which there were only 17 produced. For this model there are even fewer.

This is a Japanese market 1994 Porsche 911 Turbo S Slantnose, also known as the X83 Turbo S. And, yes, I do mean Slantnose and not Flatnose. Of the various markets only Japan received the 935-derived slantnose that was commonly found on the 930. The rest of the world received either the 968-derived flatnose or the standard 964 front of the Turbo S Package. Only 10 Slantnose Turbo S were produced, all nearly identical with Polar Silver Metallic exterior and Black interior. The biggest difference among the 10 was the choice of rear wing: you could have either the standard Turbo rear spoiler or for a little extra money you could choose the spoiler from the 3.8 Carrera RS. 4 buyers chose the RS wing.

I have never seen one for sale. Until now. This one will be up for auction at Gooding and Company’s Scottsdale Auctions on January 19 & 20.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 Porsche 911 Turbo S Slantnose at Gooding & Co.

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Roll the Dice? 1969 Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 6.3

Earlier this week I check out a handsome 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 4.5 that looked to be a great driver and probably not a bad buy for the long run. Today, we have another W109 that has a little bit more risk attached to it. This of course is the king W109, the 300SEL 6.3. I’ve covered these many times before and every time I see one pop up for sale I always try to take a look at them. Unfortunately, this 6.3 needs a lot of help and even more money to make it worth it.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1969 Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 6.3 on eBay

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1992 Porsche 911 Turbo

I still feel as if I come across way too few of these early 964 Turbos. Compared to its predecessor the 930 it’s as if they don’t exist. While the later 3.6 liter Turbo is more rare I feel like I see them more often. Or, at least, this is all how I perceive the whole thing. It may be more a matter of coming across examples I like rather than coming across them in particular, but I’m not sure. I like this one and whether there are few of these for sale or simply few of them I actually like for sale the result is the same: opportunities for a nice 3.3-liter 964 Turbo don’t come around all that often. They certainly don’t come along often in brighter colors.

This one checks all of those boxes: a Guards Red 1992 Porsche 911 Turbo, located in New York, with Cashmere Beige interior and a mere 16,427 miles on it.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 Porsche 911 Turbo on eBay

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Euro Touring: 1994 BMW 525tds

Continuing on the wagon theme, today we’re going to take a look at something in a similar vein – but oh, so very different. This 1994 BMW E34 Touring is in many ways the antithesis of yesterday’s S6 clone; it’s an original European model, it’s very bare bones, and it’s a diesel.

The story behind BMW’s foray into diesel power in the U.S. was pretty interesting. BMW had developed the M21 2.4 liter turbocharged inline-6 diesel in the 1970s with fuel prices rising; it finally launched in the early 1980s with the E28 524td. But you probably best know that motor for its appearance in mid-80s American iron; an attempt by Ford to improve the fuel economy of its large executive Lincoln Continental. The marriage didn’t work; although the M21 was a good motor (especially when compared to GM’s diesel!), gas prices were falling and the economy was recovering by the time it finally came to market. But since BMW went through the effort to get the M21 legal for U.S. shores, they brought the 524td over here, too. It was a slow seller in the E28 lineup; equipped only with an automatic, BMW dealers shifted 3,635 of the diesels.

No surprise, then, that when the E34 launched, the diesel didn’t come back with it. Though the U.S. market didn’t see the M21 in the lineup though it soldiered on. The M21 was replaced in 1991 by a new version, the M51. Now displacing 2.5 liters and with an intercooler in “s” version, the 525tds upped the power from the 114 seen in the 524td to 141 and it had 192 lb.ft of torque at only 2,200 rpms. This motor carried BMW’s diesels through the 1990s, and was available in everything from the 3-series to the 7-series.

So it’s a bit of a treat to see the M51 in North America. It’s more of a treat to see it in a Touring, and in great shape, and hooked up to a manual transmission. Yes, the want is strong in this one!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 BMW 525tds on eBay

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Tuner Tuesday: 1997 Porsche 911 Turbo – RUF Turbo R Conversion

Yesterday I featured a regular 993. It was very pretty. Today we’re going to take that design and turn everything up. The performance, the look,…, the price. But I have to say this one isn’t any less pretty than the other one. It’s a heck a lot more aggressive looking though.

The 993 Turbo already does great things with the 993’s lines. With a couple of small tweaks by RUF it looks even better. We all know RUF GmbH. In the tuner world they may be the most well known name around. For Porsches they are certainly the most highly regarded. Unlike some Porsche tuners that followed more in the footsteps of Porsche’s racing designs, RUF stuck mostly with subtle modifications to its road cars. The uninitiated might not have even known the car had been modified. While few Porsches could ever qualify as sleepers, a RUF almost could, assuming that others mistook it for a “regular” Porsche.

For the 993 RUF gave us the Turbo R: 490 twin-turbocharged horses directed to all four wheels through a 6-speed manual transmission. That’s 82 more hp than a standard 993TT and still 66 hp more than the Turbo S. Heck it’s even well up on power compared to the GT2 all while retaining a healthy does of civility. And here’s one such beast for sale!

This 911 began life as an Arctic Silver 1997 Porsche 911 Turbo before undergoing a conversion to the RUF Turbo R. At 37,500 the mileage is quite low, the condition looks great, and it’s said to come with its paperwork.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1997 Porsche 911 Turbo – RUF Turbo R Conversion on eBay

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