Feature Listing: 1977 Porsche 924 Martini World Championship Edition

In 1976, Porsche won the World Sportscar Championship for makes with successful runs in both the 935 and prototype 936 chassis. The 936 was triumphant at Le Mans in the already famous Martini livery, while a series of 935/76s carried the colors in Group 5 FIA sports car racing. It was there that Porsche introduced the ‘slant nose’ aerodynamic bodywork that became the hot mod on 911s in the 1980s; however, in the 1970s you could get a very nice slantnose Porsche – replete with Martini Racing colors – for a lot less than a 911 Turbo.

To commemorate the success of the 1976 season, in 1977 Porsche released a limited run of Martini-colored 924s. Option M426 was the Martini World Championship Edition, and it cost $450. Add in a removable roof like this one for about $350, and the sticker price of this car just passed $10,000. For that sum, Porsche gave you quite a lot of visual enhancement; bathed only in pure white, the 924’s 8-spoke alloy wheels were color-matched to the body. Martini stripes ran the length of the sides, their design mimicking the wedge shape of the 924. Inside, a special two-tone interior of scarlet corduroy and black leatherette was offset with Martini stripes stitched into the upper portion of the seats and blue piping ran throughtout. A commemorative plaque was added to the back of the center console, too, reminding you that the car you were driving was from the house of a champion. You held a real leather steering wheel, and helping execute your commands was achieved by Porsche adding sway bars to the suspension both front and rear. It was a series of small changes that resulted in a neat package, and one that is sought by collectors of the transaxle design today:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1977 Porsche 924 Martini Championship Edition on Hemmings

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1998 Volkswagen Golf GL with 17,355 Miles

In roughly 1999, a local-to-me European car business turned up with something quite unusual. It was a pastel blue 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit. There was nothing particularly special about it; it was a base model with steel wheels. It wasn’t unusually optioned. It wasn’t a GTI. In fact, there was only one really remarkable thing about it – it had only 5,000 miles on the odometer from its single owner, and was in close-to-new shape.

The story went that the original owner had suffered a heart attack when the car was quite new. The widow had left the car in the garage, untouched by all but dust, until finally an estate sale liberated the single oil change bunny. The condition was certainly astounding, but to me the asking price at that time was, too. The seller was looking for $5,000.

It was pretty cool that the car was like a new fifteen year old car, but then cars had come a long way since 1984 in 1999, and the collector market on the Rabbit hadn’t really taken off. In 1999, $5,000 would have bought you a very nice 2.0 16V GTI, after all.

Fast forward to today.

It’s been an astounding nearly twenty years since today’s equivalent to my parable was new in the dealership. Like my memory, it’s a very basic Golf in very good condition with very low mileage. Similar to my story, cars have come a very long way in the past twenty years, and a quick jaunt in this buzzy, basic and slow Golf will quickly remind you of that. So has the market on a clean, low mileage automatic base Golf taken off yet, or is this doomed to a similar fate as my Rabbit – to sit and wait for jsut the right nostalgic buyer?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 Volkswagen Golf GL on eBay

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2000 Volkswagen Cabrio

In an attempt to challenge Mercedes-Benz’s R107 for chassis longevity, Volkswagen’s introduction of a more affordable German drop-top in the 1980 Rabbit Convertible stretched production until 1993. That meant that the A1 outlasted all of the A2 production cycle and was no squarely into the newly launched A3. Volkswagen introduced their replacement for the aging and renamed Cabriolet with the Mk.3 Cabrio in 1994. As with the A1, production again would extend beyond the A3 chassis life, because in 1999 VW introduced us to the fourth generation Golf. As with the 2nd generation, VW didn’t plan a convertible version for the Mk.4 – well, at least, not for the Golf, as convertible duties would be handed off to the New Beetle. But since the launch of the nostalgic Beetle Convertible waited until 2003, VW covered the gap with the “Mk3.5” refresh on the Cabrio. It received softened and rounded bumper covers, Mk.4 inspired lights, and a lightly revised interior. As with other VW models, there was a base GL model or the better equipped GLS, like today’s example:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 Volkswagen Cabrio on eBay

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1977 Porsche 924 Martini World Championship Edition

Last month I wrote an article for The Truth About Cars where I covered the special models of the Porsche 924. Recounting the various special editions drew into sharp focus the general lack of any performance gains with those models. Sure, some had sway bars and fog lights – two of the best known performance upgrades in the 1980s. But generally speaking, most of the Porsche 924 limited models were just a special color stripes and/or special interior. The 1976 and 1977 World Championship Edition 924 is probably the best example of that, but before it’s completely dismissed as a mega-poser, it’s worth a look if for no other reason than it’s quite the looker:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1977 Porsche 924 Martini World Championship Edition on eBay

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1996 Volkswagen GTI

The third generation Volkswagen GTI 2.0 might just go down in history as the least appealing of the brand name. Starting with the move to 16 valves in the second generation, the 8 valve models would play second fiddle as mostly an appearance package slapped onto an economy car. But while the second generation had the benefit of butch good looks, flared arches and the signature quad-round headlight arrangement to make you feel that you had gone upscale, when it came to the third generation’s base GTI it was a bit of a head-scatcher. It wasn’t that you didn’t get equipment; your $16,000 got you lots of standard items such as air conditioning, an upgraded stereo, power sunroof and door locks, and a few other premium-feel items (An alarm! Specially colored seat fabric!). The meat of the GTI was the appearance changes, though – from the 14″ alloy wheels to the dual-chamber headlights and projector fog lights, along with smoked tail lenses and a roof-mounted antenna, the special grill held the all-important letters “GTI”. But the performance of the ABA 2.0 inline-4 was standard Golf fair and the suspension wasn’t upgraded – this was, after all, just a Golf. That meant 0-60 in a lethargic 10 seconds unless you fried the front tires and knocked .2 seconds off – the result of all those “luxury” item additions. The 2.0 was a poser, then, and lived fully in the shadow of the high-output VR6 model which packed a full 50% more power in the same package but with upgraded brakes, suspension and wheels. The premium to jump to the VR6 was about $3,500 – a lot of money. But the leap in performance well paid off for your additional indebtedness, and consequently the 2.0 seemed to be popular only with college-bound Jersey girls who were convinced their compact economy hatch was actually a bumper-car ride at an amusement park. Few survive in the condition of this one today:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1996 Volkswagen GTI on eBay

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1993 Audi Coupe

Though it lived a short life in the United States over only two production years in 1990 and 1991, the Audi Coupe both started before that run and continued after in Europe. Along with the rest of the B lineup, the Coupe was refreshed for the “new” B4 lineup after 1992. Most notable in this production cycle of 2-doors was the introduction of the convertible model, the new V6 engine and of course, the fan-favorite S2. However, for those with a more modest budget and interested in better fuel economy, you could still get a EA827-based motor in a 2-wheel drive configuration. Displacing the same 2 liters an with 16 valves clattering away, the 138 horsepower front driver wasn’t much of a match for the girth of the B4, but it was cheaper than the 5-cylinder quattro models:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1993 Audi Coupe on eBay

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1998 Volkswagen GTi

The internet has been abuzz in recent months about how horrible Mustang drivers are in aggregate. Citing the numerous video records of late model Mustang burnouts gone horribly (and sometimes hilariously) wrong, the conclusion seems to brand all pony drivers as PBR sipping, Larry the Cable Guy watching, Copenhagen chewing knuckle draggers who greet each other with “OH YEAH? WATCH THIS!” Outside of some really special models, I’m generally not a huge Mustang fan – but here’s the thing. I’m really not sure it’s fair to brand the entire ownership of a model like this based upon the video witness of a few yahoos. After all, the Mustang is a hugely successful model. They sold a half a million of them in the first model year alone, which wasn’t even a whole year. To put in in perspective, yellow is considered one of the least popular colors on the car, yet there is an online support group enthusiast page devoted to them with over 10,000 members. Ten thousand – just yellow ones. Sufficed to say, there are a lot of Mustangs out there and odds are that most are probably pretty reasonable, non-crashing into crowds at Cars and Coffee event owners. I’ll come back to this in a minute.

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Tuner Tuesday: 1992 Volkswagen Golf GTi 16V

On a recent visit to Coventry Motorcar I was shown the “Tuning Drawer”: one pull-out drawer in an admittedly large and cool rolling tool chest full of cords, plugs, and modules. Today, that’s what it takes to tune a car; not cams, throttle bodies, head work or a high pressure fuel pump. Designing those parts to fit into modern motors and still have them leap through the hoops of getting certified by the EPA means that only the richest and most respected tuning firms can produce parts to fit into these complicated motors, and even then they’re more often than not highly reliant upon computer reprograming rather than internal rebuilds. Today’s GTi may not look particularly outrageous from the outside, but it brings us back to a more simple time in tuning, an analogue age where jumps in horsepower were measured in single digits, not in groups of 100 or more:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 Volkswagen GTi 16V on eBay

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1988 BMW 320is

We try to stay far away from politics on these pages, but there’s a story I have to share with you that has hit the news here in Rhode Island over the past few weeks that in a round-about way is relevant to this car. Rhode Island, if you’re completely unaware of its reputation, isn’t known for having the most…shall we say morally upstanding lawmakers and leadership. A few years ago, twice-convicted felon Vincent “Buddy” Cianci was nearly elected for the third time to run the capital of Providence. So notorious is the corruption on Capital Hill that when RI recently announced its complete debacle of a revised state slogan in “Cooler and Warmer” (reportedly, it cost 5 million dollars for a firm to produce that), people on social media changed the catch phrase to “Lobsters and Mobsters”. That gives you just a hint of context to contemplate the next story with.

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1986 Audi Coupe GT Turbo Diesel

The flexibility of Audi’s B2 platform and the huge number of engine choices that manage to fit under the hood make it a natural choice for swaps. Most popular are the all-wheel drive quattros, but the Coupe GT models are also well built, hugely capable cars that react pretty well to increases in power. And just about every period Volkswagen/Audi motor has made it under the hood of the Coupe GT; from 10 to 32 valves, rev-happy DOHC 16Vs and turbocharged inline-5s to narrow-angle VR6s and even the 4.2 V8s. But this car caught my attention because of the very unusual choice of mill to squeeze juice from. This no-spark Coupe GT has a tuned and turned up 2.0 inline-5 turbo diesel:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Audi Coupe GT Turbo Diesel on Vancouver Craigslist

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