Affordable E34 Face-Off: 1990 Alpina B10 3.5/1 v. 1991 M5

Update 6/15/18: After not selling last year with a $14,500 Buy It Now, the Alpina B10 3.5/1 part of this duo is back up for sale having finally been washed at the same asking price. Will it find a buyer this time around?

Just because it’s got an exotic name or badge doesn’t mean it’s automatically out of your reach. That’s the lesson for today’s twin E34s. If you’re willing to undertake a bit of a project you can certainly save money up front. Just like we saw with the S65 AMG Andrew wrote up, the initial cost you pay only going to be part of your total outlay but for the price of a small economy car, you can grab another league of luxury, performance and exclusivity that a Nissan Versa could never dream of matching. So which of these project E34s is the one you’d chose, or are both busts?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Alpina B10 3.5/1 on eBay

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1991 Mercedes-Benz 300SL 5-Speed

Fresh off last weeks bit of random Mercedes-Benz facts about the 1990 300E that came in both a 2.8 and 3.2 liter, I’m back again with some information that might be useful every once in a blue moon. From 1990 to 1993, you could purchase a 300SL with a dogleg 5-speed manual gearbox. Yes, the same dogleg from the 190E 2.3-16v cars. You might think this is the best news ever, but not so fast. This gearbox in this car has often be described as sloppy at best and really isn’t an enjoyable experience. The throws are long and vague, with any hope of fast gear changes being wishful at best. Rumor has it that there were only 166 examples of these 5-speed cars bought to North America which make this a pretty rare car to say the least. But if no one wants it, does this make it valuable?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Mercedes-Benz 300SL on eBay

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1991 Mercedes-Benz 300CE

I’ve said this before, but I want to reiterate it once again. The Mercedes-Benz W124 Coupe has quickly become the next classic Mercedes that everyone is searching Craigslist and their neighbors garages for clean examples to snatch up. For the longest time these were just another old Mercedes that was a really good car in its heyday but time soon passed by for newer cars. Well, now that it is very clear that cars like the W124 won’t be made again and the gold rush has started for the pillarless coupe. Some of these really nice cars, especially face lifted E320 Coupes, have been bringing five-figure prices regularly and there doesn’t seem to be a short of willing buyers — myself included. Thankfully, there still seems to be a few of these cars out there for sale that represent good value if you want to get in one of these. This example up for sale in Eastern Pennsylvania seems to be just that. Don’t get too excited though, this one is far from a showroom example.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Mercedes-Benz 300CE on eBay

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1991 Mercedes-Benz 300SE

A few months ago I checked out a great W126 Mercedes-Benz 300SE painted in the rare Willow Green with just 66,000 miles. As you can see, another W126 300SE in, you guessed it, another cool color happen to pop up for sale. This 1991 happens to have almost twice the mileage and reside on the total opposite side of the country, but the condition remains just as nice and maybe even a tad better. The price? I’m really surprised this one is even still for sale.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Mercedes-Benz 300SE on eBay

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1991 Volkswagen Golf Country

I was in Stuttgart in 1998 when what I thought was someone’s version of a good joke rolled by me. It was a dark green Mk.2 Golf; not particularly abnormal since they were still mostly less than a decade old and Germans notoriously care for their cars better than most other nations. However, it was about a half-foot taller than it should have been, equipped with some cool looking Speedline wheels, brush guards and a spare tire mounted to the rear. Germans have an odd sense of humor, so it seemed to fit that this was one mullet short of a Hasselhoff Fan Club. I had no idea that I was looking at a factory model; remember, this was in the infancy of the internet and as an American, knowledge of every single European model of the Mk.2 was hard to come by. But the “Country” graphic scrolled down the side gave me a clue, and after some research I found out that this was more than just a one-off.

Though the idea sounds simple enough since parent company Audi had an all-wheel drive system that was ever so popular, mounting that longitudinal transmission and drivetrain into the transverse engine Golf was impossible. Instead, Volkswagen contracted Steyr-Daimler-Puch to design a viscous coupling setup for the Golf with a new independent suspended rear. Like the contemporary Quantum (Passat) and Vanagon setups, it was dubbed “Syncro”, though outside of all-wheels being driven the three systems shared almost nothing.

The result was a few fan-favorite models. Performance types love the Quattro-inspired Golf Rallye, Golf G60 Syncro and Golf Limited models. But undoubtedly the most recognizable Golf to wear the Syncro badge was the jacked-up Golf Country. Utilizing an already heavily modified Golf Syncro, Daimler-Steyr-Puch installed some 438 unique pieces to create the light offroading Golf way before the Outback was conquered by Subaru. Since new, they’ve always commanded a premium and have been the object of lust for American Volkswagen fans who like to do things just a bit different. Now legal for import, they’re popping up time to time:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Volkswagen Golf Country on eBay

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1991 Audi V8 quattro 5-speed

Back to big Audis! The early 1990s were, as I’ve described in the past two posts, a period of change for the Ingolstadt firm as they closed down production on the Type 44 to introduce its new replacement, the C4. That led to a dizzying assortment of models from the one chassis. There was the aforementioned 100 and 100 quattro. You could move up to two turbocharged models, too – the 200 Turbo gave you 165 horsepower through the front wheels, and the new-and-only-for-91 in the U.S. was 200 20V quattro. Europe and the rest of the world got even more options; production lasted right up through 2006 in parts of China, where they even made a crazy long-wheel base 4-door convertible version of the Hongqi.

But the top of the heap for the U.S. market was a derivative of the Type 44, the D11 chassis. Of course, that was Audi’s foray into the top-tier luxury market with its new all-aluminum 32 valve double-overhead cam V8. Body revisions to the front and rear along with flared fenders made the V8 quattro seem like a completely different car to the slab-sided 100. V8s had, and have, serious presence. Big news, too, was that for the first time Audi was able to match its all-wheel drive quattro setup with a new 4-speed automatic transmission.

For die-hard Audi faithful, though, for a short while you could still opt to row-your-own with the 240 horsepower 3.6 liter V8 singing to your right foot. These manual V8 quattros are legendary because of their rarity and that they are the only car Audi brought to market with twin Torsen differentials. The combination of a more rearward weight bias, big and instant torque from the V8 and those clever diffs made for one of the best driving experiences in a big sedan from Audi:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Audi V8 quattro on Grand Rapids Craigslist

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1991 Audi 100

Today’s car is going to start a bit of a series of big-body Audis from the 1990s for me. Why start here? Well, the 1991 Audi 100 was a end of an era for Ingolstadt’s products in the U.S. For a little over a decade the big-body cars had been powered by inline-5 motors, and the NG 2.3 liter unit under the hood of this 1991 was at the end of its life span. 1991 would see the introduction of the new V6 motor that would become the staple of Audi for the nearly decade and a half. Late 1991 also saw the introduction of the Type 44/C3’s replacement – the all-new C4 chassis. Well, I saw “all new”, but inside it didn’t really look like it changed much. Outside, though…

There were other changes to the new 100 that I’ll go through in the next post. But let’s talk about today’s 100, which was really just a dressed up 5000. Like all the Type 44s, it received a revised interior with the nomenclature swap in late 1988. Dynamically, though, there were basically no changes from 1987. In fact, the ’87 5000 front-drive shared more in common with the Turbo than the later model which shared many components with the small chassis cars.

The front-drive 100 soundly outsold its more expensive 100 quattro and 200 brethren. Somewhere around 5,000 1991 100 front-drive sedans and Avants were sold here, but finding them today can be a bit of a trick:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Audi 100 on eBay

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1991 Porsche 911 Turbo

This Black on Black 1991 Porsche 911 Turbo has been for sale for a few months and I suppose the question is whether it still should be? With the air-cooled market not really blowing anyone’s doors off these days it perhaps is not surprising that no one has taken the plunge with this one. You can find an early 964 Turbo in the low $100Ks. Were this one priced there it obviously no longer would be for sale. Were it priced higher – like the $150K Grand Prix White example I featured not long ago – then I’d suspect it to have little chance of selling. As it stands now, this asking price splits the difference, which given the fairly low mileage is understandable and not at all unreasonable. Is this a sign that the market for these Turbos might be struggling even more? Or is simply a little more patience required?

I don’t know the answer to that right now, but this is a nice example and while not the most exciting color combination it is definitely one that should have broad appeal.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Porsche 911 Turbo on eBay

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1991 Mercedes-Benz E60 AMG Estate

Every time I have looked at a pre-merger Mercedes-Benz AMG car it seemed to come to us from AMG Japan. What that means is that car would a leave Germany as a regular Mercedes-Benz until it hit Japan where AMG Japan, LTD. would modify these cars both cosmetically and with performance upgrades. You can always recognize an AMG Japan car by the crazy amount of wood that was added to the car and the AMG Japan plate that riveted in somewhere on the car. Were these”real” AMG cars? Technically, yes. AMG Japan official subsidiary just like AMG North America was. As special as these cars are, I always felt they weren’t as ”true” as the pre-merger cars that were built in Affalterbach. Maybe because I see them come up for sale way more often than cars built in Affalterbach and sometimes they are missing important engine modifications. I don’t know if that means that more were produced or maybe Affalterbach built cars don’t trade publicly as much. Luckily, I ran across one of those Affalterbach built cars for sale and what a car it is.

This is a 1991 E60 AMG Estate. This car started life as your standard W124 300TE until it was sent to AMG not once, but twice, to make it what it is today. This wagon has a M119 6.0 liter V8 and a boatload of other AMG parts to go along with it. The best part about this car? The original VIN was actually X’d out and replaced with an AMG-specific VIN that begins ”AMG124” instead of the standard ”WDB124” that every other W124 begins with. This is quickly shaping up to being my favorite car of the year.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Mercedes-Benz E60 AMG Estate on Mobile.de

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1991 Volkswagen Jetta Carat

When going through the not particularly extensive product range of Volkswagen in the early 1990s, I really find it hard to get excited about the Jetta. Okay, there were fast Jettas, like the GLI. And they were pretty cool in their own right. But as the GLI was available with less weight and better looks in more famous hatchback form, I’ve never been as excited about them.

I also found the trim levels very confusing. There was the standard Jetta, which pretty much got you nothing other than seats and a motor. Then there was the GL, which got you slightly more of something, but I’m not really sure what. Pretty much everything remained optional on these two models. Everyone knows about the Wolfsburg models, of course. They were more loaded, with special colors, interiors, radios and wheels – generally. Each model year was a bit different, and the A2 resource guide is helpful to sort it out..

In the middle was a strange one – the Carat. Technically, this model was placed above the GL and below the Wolfsburg model. But sometimes it wasn’t as well equipped as the GL, and other times it seemed better equipped than the Wolfsburg. It came with rear headrests (shared with the GL), power locks (shared with the GL), delay dome light (shared with the…are you seeing a trend?). So what did you get for the substantial premium in price? Unseen was the motor upgrade, which gave the Carat the 105 horsepower engine. Carats also differed from other non-GLI Jettas because they were equipped with 4-wheel disc brakes – but only for some years. In 1991, drums returned as standard. They also had an upgraded sports suspension, sport steering wheel, cruise control, sport seats and a power package which included mirrors and windows. So, it was a sporty option of the Jetta – wait, wasn’t that the goal of the Wolfsburg? It certainly seems like mission creep. Still optional were sunroof, automatic transmission, and somewhat shockingly alloy wheels. The Carats came standard with “unique” wheel covers – so unique, they were borrowed straight from the same year base Passat. It was a strange package of piece-meal parts for which Volkswagen charged a serious premium; the Carat cost nearly 50% more than a base Jetta out the door.

But in the company of the neat-looking and 2.0 16V-powered Passat, the supercharged and then VR6-powered Corrado, the legendary Cabriolet and Vanagon models, and the best looking GTI ever produced, it’s really hard to see the Jetta as anything other than an “also ran” for 1990-1992. Still, once in a while a nice one comes along…

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Volkswagen Jetta Carat on eBay

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