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:
Last week I checked out an interesting Mercedes-Benz C36 AMG that needed some help up for sale in Canada. It seems like no one wanted to give a helping hand for this car as it ended with no bids even at it’s reasonable $2,500 US starting price. Today, I ran across another C36 AMG up for sale in Canada although this one has a much different story. This 1995 is actually a Japanese-spec car that has a few little touches that set it apart from the North American-spec cars. Unlike last week’s example, this one isn’t a basket case that needs thousands of dollars to make it presentable again. In fact, it is actually pretty clean. The price? Not all that bad in my eyes.
Saying that you like the Fast and Furious series at all to any dedicated car enthusiasts is a bit like saying you are a Bach and Beethoven fan, but you’ve got a penchant for Weird Al Yankovic too. But the Fast series is, weirdly, a great collection of car films. Okay, back out that the driving scenes are pretty ridiculous, the stunts completely implausible, the plots barely coherent and the acting often one step above pornography. The same claims could easily be said about the Cannonball Run movies, and yet they’re generally accepted among enthusiasts, no?
Each one of these movies is full of iconic cars from start to finish. I’ll admit that I haven’t made it through the most recent additions to the Fast series. They seem a bit contrived (I know, bold statement considering the topic, but work with me) compared to the original, but then it’s hard to argue with their success. Over the past decade a new sequel has emerged like clockwork every two years, and the last one – The Fate of the Furious – netted $1,234,908,020 worldwide. And that was $300,000,000 less than the previous movie, lead actor Paul Walker’s last before his untimely death. In total the series has generated over 5 billion (yes, with a “B”) dollars in ticket sales.
Perhaps it was Paul Walker’s involvement that gave the movies real car credentials. By all accounts, he was a true automobile enthusiast. Just check out some of the cars in his incredible collection. With everything from E30 M3s to R34 Skylines, this man lived life as if he was really in Gran Turismo.
But within the series, there’s still some laughable moments. From the first movie there was Jesse’s Volkswagen Jetta. A Mk.3, it already had lost some street cred in my mind, but the ridiculous body kit and paint scheme was only further underscored by the ABA powertrain. Of course, as VW fan I was outraged. They didn’t even need to open the hood, because the 4-bolt wheels gave away that this was a 2.slow drag racing?!? It was, however, one of the few and the only featured German car in the first movie, and now it’s for sale:
Update 9/13/18: This M3 sold for $19,201
While it was the E30 M3 that I lusted over as a young teen, I came of driving age with the introduction of the second generation E36. I still remember sitting in one just like today’s; a 1995 Avus Blue with gray manual Vaders. At nearly $40,000, it was about as far away from me as the moon landing, but it was my dream car. I didn’t really care that the engine wasn’t the special individual throttle body motor Europe got, or that the headlights weren’t as nice. I cared that it was in the U.S., it was a great color, and because they were being sold that meant that I might be able to get one some day.
Fast forward to today, and if I’m completely honest Avus Blue isn’t my favorite color from the early M3 lineup anymore. Given the option, I’d take either a Dakar Yellow or Daytona Violet example. But all three are fairly rare to see among the first 10,000-odd 3.0 M3s brought in before the light revision to the 3.2, when the color pallet changed. Few appear in the low-mileage, completely original condition of this particular Avus Blue and for me it’s a reminder of everything I loved the first time I saw it:
When the second generation Cabriolet finally launched for 1995, Volkswagen had waited so long to replace the A1 chassis that it completely bypassed the A2. What appeared then was a A3 chassis, and compared to the outgoing model it was bigger, rounder, softer and not appreciably sportier. Motivation was from the same ABA 2.0 inline-4 found in the standard Golf rated at 115 horsepower, so to make it ‘hipper’ Volkswagen dropped the “let” from the name.
It was, however, instantly recognizable as the new go-to affordable 4-seater drop-top, but sales were slow in the mid-90s. Volkswagen sold just over 5,800 1996s, for example. They were pretty expensive for a Golf at nearly $20,000 MSRP and over with some options, but then this was the cheapest German convertible you could buy. The big problem was that for less money you could get the much more entertaining (and reliable) Miata. The combination of low production numbers, the classic styling of the original and lack of enthusiast appeal mean we just about never feature them. I last wrote up a Cabriolet in July 2017, and the last Cabrio was a year earlier. So there’s nothing to see here? Not with this turned up and built one, that’s for sure!
There are quite a few collector cars out there that we talk about often. In most cases, instead of being ahead of the trendsetters, enthusiasts are left lamenting how cars that are now worth capital could once be bought for pennies. Name the classic that you grew up with, and for the most part really nice examples will be priced out of the reach of many. Because of this, often those that can afford these classics at top-dollar wouldn’t dream of daily driving them.
But there are still bastions of hope for those who want a special car that can be driven daily but will be quite unique and in good shape, yet remain within a reasonable budget. Sound too good to be true? These twin 1995 S6s spooling up their AAN 20V turbocharged inline-5s beg to differ:
About a month ago I checked out a 1995 Mercedes-Benz E320 Estate up for sale in California. It was a really clean example in a nice color combination but the asking price of $9,500 gave me a little pause considering the 156,000 miles. I understand that wagons demand a premium and those that want them usually will pony up the cash for the right example. The seller did lower the price by to $8,500 a week later, but still that seemed a little high to me. Today, we have another 1995 E320 Estate from California but this one in checks in with just a little under 60,000 miles and a laundry list of repairs and maintenance. The price? You can probably guess it isn’t going to be cheap.
Last week I checked out the ultimate Mercedes-Benz W124 Estate in the E60 AMG. It was everything and more in a wagon that not only laid down impressive power numbers even for today, but shows its longevity with nearly 250,000 miles on the setup. Of course, this all came with a hefty price tag of nearly $75,000. Today, I have a another W124 Estate up for sale in California that is a little tamer in the power and styling department, but surprisingly isn’t as inexpensive as I thought it might be.
It’s interesting to consider how enthusiasts today view the E36 M3. Generally speaking, you’re either a completely devoted fan who insists that the E36 is not only the best M3, but perhaps the best BMW ever made. Why stop there? Why not go straight for best car in the history of the world, ever? On the other side of the coin, detractors love to point out that the second M3 was softened up for the U.S. market, that it wasn’t as potent, as pure, as Motorsporty as the original curb-hopping, box-flared legend.
Arguably, they’re both right. It’s certainly true that BMW made the decision to tone down the M3 for North American consumption. That was a really good thing for two reasons: one, that we got it at all, and two, that it remained affordable. Consider, for a moment, that the E30 M3 had grown quite expensive to sport all of that motorsport heritage. By 1991, the base price of the M3 was $35,900. Of course, it was competing against even more expensive cars like the Porsche 944S2, which was a further $10,000 more dear. While we can talk about driving spirit all day long, if we look at the fact sheets what you got was a bit soggy in comparison to today’s cars. Inflation corrected, the M3 would be around $62,000 – pretty much spot on the entry price for today’s M3. The new car has more than double the horsepower of the original and enough tech to launch all of the Apollo program missions.
So what was really exciting when the new M3 was launched in late 1994 was that price point; $36,000. That was some $14,000 less expensive than the European model, and yet performance was within a few clicks thanks to a revised version of the 325i M50 engine. In fact, many – including notoriously BMW-savvy Car and Driver – suggested that the U.S. spec M3 was a better choice than the more exotic Euro model for our roads.
Today, the E36 M3 remains for many the smart choice within the lineup. Long overlooked as the obvious choice, prices have remained low relative to its predecessor and even its replacement. Modern comparisons often skip the E36 entirely. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get exotic performance and looks from the middle child:
A little while back I wrote about the joys of top-down motoring. And, of course, the weather has not been cooperative since then. Nonetheless, sunnier days are ahead so I shall return to that theme with what looks to me like a pretty nice example: a Black 1995 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet with just under 61,000 miles on it. Of particular note on this 911 is its interior, which features beautiful Flamenco Red leather throughout with just the right amount of black contrast in the dash and carpets. That interior is a pretty rare find on a 993 and it looks really good here. As always, its contrast with the black exterior shows very well and serves to liven up the atmosphere created by that dark exterior color. That the Cabriolet makes the interior extra visible just makes it all the better.