1996 Volkswagen GTi

I still very much remember the launch of the A3 chassis Volkswagens and being less than impressed at the time. At least in my mind, the second generation GTi with the 2.0 16V was a hard act to follow and the 3rd generation – unless equipped with the sonorous VR6 – seemed downright soft in comparison. They looked a bit chubby, they were equipped with only 14″ wheels when everyone else was sporting 16″ wheels, and the base GTi was equipped with a lowly 2.0 8 valve inline-4. It seemed like Volkswagen was badge engineering a standard Golf just to make money, and in many ways you could argue that’s exactly what had occured. It wouldn’t be until 2007 that I would finally understand the A3 package a bit more. My dismissal of the entire “2.slow” lineup turned out to be very misplaced, as my foray into A3 ownership proved. I picked up a very second-hand but relatively low mile K2 edition 1998 Golf. Effectively, this was a 4-door GTi, with fog lights, air conditioning, heated sport seats and white-faced gauges. Was it a really special car? No. But for basic transportation, it was fantastic fun to drive, easy to maintain, got in excess of 30 m.p.g. no matter what you did with the throttle pedal and started every time I stuck the key in the ignition. Granted, it had typical Mk.3 problems with some electric gremlins and rust had started creeping through. But there isn’t a moment that I regret any part of my Mk.3 ownership other than that for so long I overlooked the 2.0 as a form of entertaining car ownership:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1996 Volkswagen GTi on eBay

Motorsports Monday: 1969 Porsche 911S

Well before the market on classic air-cooled 911s exploded, they were often used as intended – hard. If the 911’s natural habitat was the race track, enthusiasts outside of the factory efforts were happy to oblige as voluntary park rangers, taking streetable examples and turning them into race cars. While in international competition the FIA was the governing body, in the U.S. one very popular racing body many turned to was the Sports Car Club of America – still very active today. In stark contrast to earlier’s RSR tribute, then, and well before values were on the rise, an enterprising racer took today’s 1969 911S and turned it into a race car. Raced extensively in SCCA as early as 1980, this is one unique 911S:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1969 Porsche 911S on eBay

1989 BMW 320is

Just the other day I watched an auction on a 1983 Audi Quattro. Not considered to be the best of the breed, it was nonetheless an opportunity to buy one of the few that were imported to the U.S., since only a reported 664 were sold here. Many have died, several have been repatriated, and that leaves a precious few left if you enjoy the original box-flared wonder of the Quattro. What was interesting about this car was that it was in pieces; partially disassembled for a restoration, it looked like it was going to be work to put it back together – a lot of work. Despite that, bidding was quite active and I was somewhat surprised to see the final price crest $15,000 – money that would have bought you a really nice and complete 1983 last year. There were some extra parts and some desirable items like 8″ Ronals included with the sale, but for the life of me I couldn’t understand why the bidding went so high when it looked to me like there was another $10,000 worth of work waiting to happen. But cars from the 1980s are on the ups, and that’s especially true of limited models like the Quattro. You can thank, in no small measure, the recent popularity of the E30 M3 for that trend. And if you think the M3 has had a ripple effect on the rest of the 1980s legends, you better believe that it’s had a major effect on E30 sales. And within E30s, outside of M3s arguably the most desirable is the “Italian M3” – built for tax purposes, the special Motorsport GmbH S14B20 engined 320is:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 BMW 320is on eBay

Poor Man’s Dilemma: 1980 Porsche 924 Turbo v. 1988 Porsche 924S

As we’ve charted the demise of the 996’s residual value, it may no longer be accurate to say that the Porsche 924 is the best value for your money if you just want a Porsche crest. But with the rising prices of 911s, 944 Turbos and 928s, if you want a Porsche from the 1980s, there’s simply no contest – 924s represent the gateway into Stuttgart’s finest without obliterating your retirement fund. In fact, many nice Porsche 924s can be had for a song – even though we’ve also recently seen the elite 924 Carreras push well into 6-figure territory. As a lover of the Audi Coupe GT, which share a shocking amount of parts with it’s much more highly sought bulging brother Quattro but not the value, I can identify with the plight of the 924 enthusiast. Indeed, I consider the 924 to be a great design and love both the early, simple cars from the 1970s for the clean purity of purpose right through the upgraded 924Ss, one of which resides in my family and I’ve spent a considerable amount of time in, under and around. So it should come as no surprise, being a fan of the underdogs, that I ponder 924 ownership on a semi-regular basis. The question is, which 924 do I like more – the early, vented turbo models that were the homologation of much of Porsche’s racing technology, or the “real Porsche” 924S, replete with the underpinnings of the 944? I’ve found two pretty comparable models, so let’s take a look:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1980 Porsche 924 Turbo on eBay

Diet M3: 1988 BMW 320is

We often speak of sleepers on these pages, but in truth none of the cars we typically cover are truly sleepers. Cars like the E28 M5, 500E and Audi S4 all sported bigger wheels, special badges and fatter exhaust. Often you see flared fenders, special lights and in most cases you can see the lowered stance hinting at a stiffened suspension. Inside are special and unique interiors with heavy bolsters, badges and enough electronic gizmos to make a Brookstone blush. Sure, they generally wear the same clothes as a German airport taxi, but honestly unless you’re blind not going to mistake them for anything picking you up outside Frankfurt Flughafen. But there are some serious sleepers available if you like discrete performance and complete anonymity. I’d argue that likely the best is this particular car – the BMW 320is:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW 320is on eBay

Motorsports Monday: 1985 Volkswagen Golf 2.0 16V – REVISIT

I’ve been watching this Volkswagen Golf 16V come and go off eBay; non-running, it’s ask was likely too high despite the very cool nature of the car and neat build. Unsurprisingly, it’s continued to drop in price each listing. Now from the original $9,000 asking price when it was offered first in December of last year, it’s down to $7,800 Buy It Now. While that’s a substantial drop in price, I think this one still has a way to go before it’ll be snatched up. It’s a cool bit of Volkswagen history, but in non-running, non-original configuration it’s a hard sale and just a pile of rare assembled bits. I’d guess at $6,000 this car would find a larger audience. What would you pay?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 Volkswagen Golf on eBay

The below post originally appeared on our site December 22, 2014:

Motorsports Monday: 1965 Porsche 911

For some time, old race cars were near throw-away items. Vintage racing has changed that and given new life to old steeds to the point that some vintage race cars are actually more valuable than their road-worthy counterparts. This is especially true when you’re talking about very rare cars or cars with historic wins – but in some cases, provenance doesn’t matter quite as much when the market is red hot. One red-hot market right now is the early Porsche 911 market with cars tripling in value over the past year and a half. Couple a short wheel base ’65 911 with one of the most historic races linked to the Porsche name – Sebring – and you’ve got one desirable package:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1965 Porsche 911 on eBay

Motorsports Monday: 1985 Volkswagen Golf 2.0 16V

In the world of race cars, there’s something that gives enthusiasts like me raised hairs on the back of the neck. ‘Body in white’ cars are cars that were never sold to the public, but turned directly into racers either by a third party or by the manufacturer itself. What is extra special about them is that as more or less dedicated race cars, they were often sent with less options or even devoid of items that racers love to rip off. It might be no interior, less wiring, or a lack of undercoating but it all translates to the same thing – less weight, faster lap times and more wins. Today’s Volkswagen Golf may look like a run of the mill pocket-rocket racer that someone built in their garage, but it has an interesting history:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 Volkswagen Golf on eBay

1990 Volkswagen Passat GL

If the twin B4 Passat GLX VR6 Variants from the other day are a dwindling supply, the odds of running across a serviceable B3 Passat GL today are just about slim to none. While they were fairly expensive at the time, the 2.0 16V motored GL was seemingly a throw-away mid-level luxury car. It was quickly replaced at the top of Volkswagen’s food chain by the short-lived B3 GLX VR6 model – and in general, enthusiasts prefer those. That makes sense since they’re quicker than the early cars – but it also means that the odds of running across one of Volkswagen’s grill-less sedans or wagons is a rare occasion. It’s still neat to see them, though – even though they weren’t the fastest, best looking or best equipped Volkswagen, there were neat and innovative design elements that were incorporated into the B3. It was a huge leap forward from the outgoing Audi-shared B2 platform, a slick design which looked sportier, more angular and aerodynamic, and leagues more modern than the Quantum:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Volkswagen Passat GL on eBay

1981 Porsche 924 Weissach Commemorative Edition

It seems that Porsche has always been at the cutting edge of “special editions”. In fact, one could argue that the entire idea of the Porsche was really just a special edition Volkswagen. But by the late 1970s, race victories and a growing reputation as the go-to sports car meant that the marketing gurus at Porsche were working overtime. There was the Sebring ’78 edition 924; it looked an awful lot on paper like it was a normal 924, and that’s because effectively it was just a cosmetic package with some ’70s spectacular stripes. There was also a Martini Edition car, that similarly was simply a set of stripes and a unique interior on an otherwise normal 924. There was a further Limited Edition in 1978 for those that had missed out on the Martini cars in 1976-1977 and just couldn’t wait until 1979 for the ’78 Sebring Edition. Confused? Not to worry, because after a short gap in 1980, Porsche introduced another special “Weissach Commemorative Edition” alongside similar 911 and 928 models. While this, too, was primarily an appearance package, there were some small changes. For example, as with the Martini cars the Weissach got a unique interior; brown and cream seats with a brown dashboard. But there were 924 Turbo details that were included as well – the ATS-made alloy wheels from the drum brake Turbo appeared, along with the rear spoiler. The wheels were slightly different than the all-silver Turbo wheels two, as they appeared two-tone machined with black inserts. Painted a platinum metallic color and “limited” to only 400 production models for the U.S., it at least sounded more special than the standard 924 until you realize that Porsche only sold a total of around 2,100 924s (including the Weissachs) in the U.S. in 1981. As with other older 924s, they’re rare to find and not as prized as the 928 and 911 Weissach models:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1981 Porsche 924 Weissach Commemorative Edition on eBay