My recent M5 v. Alpina B10 post took a look at two exotic versions of the E34. Of course, BMW offered their own alternative to the M5 late in the production cycle, as the introduction of the M60 V8-powered 540i produced nearly as much usable power as the more expensive M variant. Such was the success of the 540i that BMW initially judged the M5 dead in this market; it was removed from the U.S. in 1993 after slow sales and wouldn’t return until the new millennium.
As a result, the 540i flew the 5-series performance flag for two generations and still is very popular today. Especially in Sport versions, the E34 and E39 540is offered power, refinement and outstanding chassis dynamics in a package that was attainable for more people. So which is the better buy today – the first or second generation?
After looking at the wild GT R with an asking price over $260,000, I thought I’d get back to something a little more affordable. This 1995 SL320 painted in Teal Blue Metallic checks in with a hair under 43,000 miles and is a prime candidate to drive everyday or stash away in the garage for those nicer days. The tried and tested M104 inline-6 engine is a great engine to live with and won’t cost you a mortgage payment if something goes wrong unlike the V8 and V12. But like anything, there is a catch, and this catch makes me bang my head against a brick wall.
At the beginning of the 1990s, pretty much everyone was stepping away from twin-cam inline-4s. While they had been the rage in the 80s and “DOHC” was nearly as popular as Miami Vice, buyers demanded more power and refinement. Sure, you could make 200 horsepower from a high-strung four-pot; but making it tractable for daily driving, passing emissions, and reliable? That was another ball-game. As a result, most major manufacturers went to larger displacement 6- or 8-cylinder motors in their small performance cars.
Everyone, that is, except for Porsche.
Porsche dialed in the 944S2 a bit more with updated 928-inspired looks and a new ‘VarioCam’ adjustable valve timing on the 3-liter inline-4. Now with 237 horsepower and an impressive 225 lb.ft of torque, it roamed the sports car elite field like a small dinosaur. Porsche added another speed to the mix, but since this was a relatively expensive 4-banger coupe based on a twenty year old design, they didn’t sell particularly well. A total of 2,234 Coupes were imported between 1992 and 1995; the last year was the worst seller, with a scant 259 making the journey. This particular last-year example may just be the best one left in the country:
While you’re no doubt familiar with the great lament of the de-tuned E36 M3 and the inflated price of the very limited Lightweight model, Europe enjoyed a full spectrum of Motorsport performance. One of the potent additions to the lineup was that of the M3 GT. Intended to homologate racing bits and aerodynamic tweaks for the E36, 350 limited BF99 examples were produced in early 1995. The motor was turned up to 295 horsepower with hotter cams, special oil pumps and Motorsport oil pan and revised computer controls. They also had stiffened and lowered suspension, a strut brace and a 3.23 final drive. Outside new spoilers front and rear increased downforce, and like the Lightweight the GT wore the M forged double spoke staggered wheels. Harder to spot were the aluminum doors the car wore to help keep weight down. All were painted 312 British Racing Green and featured Mexico Green Nappa leather interior with Alcantara bolsters, special Motorsports badging and carbon fiber trim.
They’re a very special and rarely seen variant of the E36 M3, and increasingly in this collector market that means a higher asking price:
After two clean 90s, it’s time to look at the much greater appeal of the turbocharged S6 Avant. Imported in even more limited quantities than the 90 quattro 20V, the wagon form of the C4 with AAN turbo power has been legendary since its inception. But with a very limited stock and a chassis known to pile on mileage with aplomb, clean and low mileage examples are few and far between.
So I’ll start off with admitting that this S6 Avant is not perfect; if anything it’s probably far from perfect by most standards. There’s body damage, a replaced hatch, the wrong wheels, a fair chunks of missing paint. It’s got 179,000 miles and is in need of a suspension refresh. It’s 22 years old, too, so you can bet it’s got some Audi idiosyncrasies. And with that, most of the 911 crew just tuned out.
But, and it’s a big but, it’s a S6 Avant. As such, it’s automatically worth investigating if it runs at all. And dig beneath the (admittedly somewhat ruined) exterior, and there’s a fair amount to like here:
In my opinion, the W140 coupe didn’t age particularity well. That isn’t a huge knock on it because not a lot of cars from the early to mid-90s did age all that well. I think in some angels the C140 looks very handsome, not very offensive. But from other views, mainly the front profile like you see in the photo above, it all looks very odd to me. I totally get why I think it looks this way, you have massive flared fenders up from and a giant rear quarter panel in the back. This is all very good except for the fact that the 16 inch wheels don’t fill out these spaces. The car looks almost top-heavy to me. This of course can be fixed with a proper set of wheels and some suspension modifications. (I still regret not buying that car.) Then again, the main reason you bought this massive coupe is to relax, not worry about bending a $2000 wheel on a minor pothole. You can see the how much I think about this stuff.
Engine: 5.0 liter V8
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Mileage: 76,500 mi
Price: No Reserve Auction
· Mileage: 76,500 Color: White over gray exterior/Grey leather interior Owners: 5 Clean title and Carfax
· W140 series (last of the “because they could” big cars built by MB). Classic design coupe; rare, less than 15,000 total production from 1992 – 1998. Car spent the first 18 years in California and Florida.
· Legendary 5 liter M119 V8 engine (last engine to win overall at Le Mans for MB): 315 hp at 5600 rpm and 347 ft/lbs of torque at 3900 rpm. 4-speed automatic transmission/no shift problems.
· California/Florida car.
Watching the Goodwood Festival of Speed feed live this weekend yielded a bit of aural and visual treat for Audi fans as the quite rare S4 GTO took to the famous hill. As esoteric Audi racers go, it’s pretty high on the list – especially given the performance on tap. Basically, the defunct 90 IMSA GTO was selected to head to South Africa to race and replace some also defunct 200 quattros. But since the 80/90 weren’t sold in South Africa, instead of the B4 Audi utilized a C4 chassis. Prepared by Voldi and raced in the hands of Hans Stuck, the 700 horsepower all-wheel drive monsters were immediately successful and were run for several years. Although the car running at Goodwood was in the later Rothmans livery (it’s worth watching the clip here!), the original model was in Audi’s adopted racing silver of the early 1990s. This S6 immediately reminded me of it:
I’ve gushed over the W124 Estate before and really can’t say enough about this wonderful vehicle. It has everything you really would need out a wagon, even in 2017, all while not breaking the bank when it comes to maintaining and repairing it. But like all cars that get old, finding a really nice one can become a little bit of a tough job because these were at the end of the day still station wagons. People bought them for their utility to use. I highly doubt the majority of the buyers out there treated these as a garage queens because lets face it, they had R107s and R129s for that. So when this mint 1995 outside of Boston popped up for sale, I had to take a closer look. But fair warning, the price on this one isn’t cheap.
Model: E320 Estate
Engine: 3.2 inline-6
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Mileage: 87,975 mi
Price: $16,800 Buy It Now
1995 Mercedes Benz E320S W124 chassis station wagon, S/N WDBEA92EXSF338486, 744 Brilliant Silver with grey MB Tex upholstery, 3.2 litre in-line 6 cylinder gas engine, automatic transmission, power front seats, factory power steel sunroof, climate control, factory rear facing 3rd seat with 3 point seat belts, original owner’s manuals, one of 4,607 E320S wagons imported by Mercedes Benz North America in the final year of W124 chassis manufacture. Clear CarFax title history. To see additional photos, please send us a note and we’ll send a link to the complete photo file. Nationwide and international delivery arranged from our suburban Boston showroom. We reserve the right to end the auction early. For more information about Copley Motorcars, please refer to the “About Me” button in this listing. Telephone: 781.444.4646
This final year W124 Estate is probably one of the nicer ones I’ve seen in a while.…
In my last C4 S6 post, I mentioned how the mid-year changes of the short run for the re-badged C4 made each one feel a little bit bespoke given that so few were sold. That’s certainly the case here, as the running changes manifest themselves in interesting ways on this particular 1995.
The most obvious of the items that can be seen is that this car wears the earlier 16″ Fuchs-made forged wheels more traditionally associated with the S4. These were replaced later in the run by the Avus design Speedline wheels the S6 (and most S models for the next few generations) wore, but early production S6s were delivered with the leftover Fuchs wheels. Which is more desirable varies by preference, but in this case I think the Fuchs work really well. Early cars also retained the infrared locking system (denoted by a receiver at the base of the B pillar) and the manual locking rear differential button in the center console. These were replaced later by a radio locking system and electronic rear differential, respectively, in the 1995.5 S6 refresh. But what also is interesting to me, and perhaps one other Audiphile, is that this car has the later closed headrests, unlike the S6 we saw last week.
At the end of the day, these minor differences matter little in what was otherwise a very desirable package no matter what parts Hans grabbed to install that groggy Monday morgen. Presented in semi-ignominious yet signature Emerald Green Mica with Ecru leather, this one nonetheless looks like a keeper:
Before the W124 bowed out in 1995, the last oil-burning version you could buy was the E300 Diesel. It received the exterior tweaks associated with post-facelift cars of the late W124 era, including a rounder front grille, updated glass headlights and smoked taillights. It also got the OM606 engine under the hood, a 3.0 liter inline six cylinder diesel unit making about 135 hp. Unlike earlier W124 diesels, there was no turbo. But fret not. These were still fast enough (for a diesel), and the OM606 is one of the most rugged engines Mercedes ever made. These cars will cruise effortlessly on the highway while returning 30+ MPG. Perfect for the commuter looking for tank-like build quality, reasonable running costs and a bit of class.