In my recent double Porsche 924 post, the rhetorical and problematic question posing entry-level Porsches arose – ‘why not just get a 944’?
It’s a very valid question. Indeed, why would you choose a 924 – even a very nice, limited production one – over a 944? The answer is simple. Price.
When the 924S Special Edition was last on the market in 1988, you could stroll down to your dealer and pick one up for around $23,000. If you wanted to step up to the 944 – which offered no practical improvement in performance, mind you, as it was actually slower than the 924S – you’d have to shell out an additional $10,000. In many ways, that gulf of value perception remains today; it’s possible to find deals on 944s, but equal 944s to the two 924s I looked at? They don’t come cheap, at least not in asking price.
Yet while I’ve spent considerable time talking about the 924S Special Edition and what a cool package it offered you on the cheap, we never really look at its 944 equivalent. Often referred to as the ‘Celebration Edition’, just like the 911 and 924S the 944 received a Special Edition package in 1988. Built to commemorate the 250,000th 911 produced but coinciding with 100,000 944s made, too, Porsche officially referred to the 944’s trim as the “Special Edition Package”. What did you get?
For $2,437, Porsche equipped your car with option code M757. This gave the car “a unique leatherette/gray-plaid cloth interior, silver velour carpeting, and a commemorative plaque which may be personalized with the owner’s name” according to Porsche. You also had to select metallic paint, a $645 charge, in one of two colors; Satin Black Metallic or Zermatt Silver Metallic. Otherwise these cars were pretty well loaded; the antithesis of the lightweight, stripped-down 924S SE.…
Increasingly as some of our childhood (or, adulthood) heroes get priced out of sensibility for weekend warrior on a budget status, there are still some bastions of hope for the shoestring enthusiast. One of the best must undoubtedly be the underrated Porsche 924. As Sciroccos, GTIs, 944 Turbos, Quattros and the like take off in value, here lies a plethora of well-cared for, well-built and fun-to-drive cars that have good parts accessibility, reasonable repair costs and surprising amounts of practicality. Sure, it’s ‘just’ a 924, and Porschephiles will probably poo-poo your choice. So, too, will most of the rest of the automotive world. Their loss is your gain. Try as they might, outside of some very special 924 Carreras, these models that helped to keep Porsche afloat in the 1970s and 1980s still haven’t caught on with collectors.
So today I have two special 924s to consider once again. The first is a lofty Turbo model; finicky even in period, they’ve developed a reputation for lack of reliability and expensive repairs, but then have you ever seen the bill on a proper flat-6 rebuild? I’m going to compare it to the end-of-the-run 924S, and this one is the lightweight Special Edition model, too. Both are quite affordable and both appear to be in great condition, so which one is the winner?
While the name “Evolution” become synonymous with Mitsubishi’s WRX-fighting Lancer for the X-Box generation, the term had much greater meaning for racing fans in the 1980s and 1990s. That was the period where homologation really took off; in order to be eligible to race, the FIA stipulated a certain amount of vehicles generally matching the race version of a car would have to be produced. This resulted in some great race-inspired production cars, and in order to best each other on the race track manufacturers would be forced to modify those cars. In order to have the modifications legal to race, the maker would have to introduce those significant changes to the road-going model, too. Those changed models would be termed “Evolution” to differentiate their model changes. As a result, enthusiasts ended up with ‘Evo’ versions of the Ford RS200, the V8 quattro, the Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 and, of course, the M3.
The M3 Evolution I was first introduced in 1987 with only a slightly revised motor. The Evolution II followed in 1988, and signaled the first real changes in the lineup. Major alterations to the aerodynamics, bodywork, chassis, and engine netted more power, more downforce and less weight for the FIA-regulated 500 units sold to market. Iconic even within the impressive normal M3 production, these fan-favorites generate feverish bids when they come to market.
But there is an even more desirable variant: The Sport Evolution. BMW Motorsport GmbH maxed out its E30 development in an all-out attempt to dominate the world’s racetracks. A new 2.5 liter S14 cranked out nearly 240 horsepower, while the same ‘add lightness’ recipe was prescribed; lightweight glass and body panels were met with adjustable front and rear spoilers. Signature 7.5″ wide BBS wheels were now darker Nogaro Silver and 10mm closer to the body thanks to lower suspension, while special Recaro seats kept you firmly planted inside from the g-force they were capable of generating.…
We last got to look at a modified E30 through the disappointing realization that finally after years of trying to sell with different dealers, the car listed as an Alpina C2 2.5 was just a very convincing replica. But as noted, the car was clean and wore a lot of really expensive Alpina bits – so while the price tag of $22,800 seemed high for a replica, it was in some ways amazingly justified.
So what happens when the car in question is a real Alpina? We find out when we look at an actual Alpina C2. The asking price in that case was nearly double at $39,500. And when you factor in that the C2 is one of the less desirable E30 Alpinas out there, that’s drawn into sharper contrast.
So here we are again with another Alpina to consider, but it’s not alone. One of our readers spotted a Hartge H26 – an even more rare to see variant of modified 1980s E30. And to kick the rarity up a few notches, both are 4-doors instead of the usual 2-door sedans. So how do they compare in terms of pricing, and are these cars all that they seem?
We’ve covered the Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II here many times in the past and for good reason, it is a hell of a unique car with a price tag to match. You can get your 1990s DTM kicks on the street all while being in the lap of luxury (at the time) with things like air conditioning and leather seats. This car is not shy, it is not subtle and most importantly for everyone, it is not cheap. When this thing launched in 1990, asking price for an 2.5-16 Evolution II from Mercedes was around $80,000. That isn’t in 2017 money, that is in 1990 money. Just to give it some perspective, factoring in inflation and other things, this W201 would have run you around $155,000 in terms of buying power. Yes, for a W201 190E. Unfortunately, this 1990 for sale in the Netherlands isn’t cheaper either.
Back in February, I took a look at very hot item in the marketplace – a clean, European-spec BMW E30 modified by Alpina.
Or, at least that was what was claimed.
Further research pointed out some problems. I found it to be a car I looked at two years ago in 2015, then listed as a 1986 C2 2.5. The VIN was transposed incorrectly, but the stranger item was that the year was wrong. Stranger still was that a tremendous amount of the car didn’t seem to work. Yet it was a lot of Alpina for the money even as an automatic, as it was relatively clean and priced well below other similar E30 Alpina asks.
Well, here we are some ten months later and it’s popped up in a new listing with a new seller. We’ve seen that before, so no big surprise there. As I started to look through the listing, though, I was struck by just how lazy it was. Okay, there were new photos, but none of them were detailed. The VIN is filled in with “1”s. Then I got to the text, which is a near-carbon copy of the last listing. I say near for two reasons – one, the current listing cut and paste the prior listing….twice. So, halfway through the details, you start all over again!
But perhaps that was done to distract you from the one detail which was added to this listing. Cleverly stuck in after the copying of the prior listing, just before all the fees you’ll need to pay, was a second change and the line which finally answers the questions about this car:
Note this is an Alpina clone with correct Alpina numbered engine.
That’s a pretty frustrating statement to bury in the end of the listing. The ad listing has, for the last several years, maintained how rare this car is and they’re just now getting around to admitting it’s not a real example?…
The world of collector cars is full of hyperbole. Yesterday’s Quattro is a great example of this; take a legendary car and start pontificating about how it’s a collector model, and reason, objectivity and affordability fly out the window. Certainly we’ve seen this most in the Porsche world; the whiff of air-cooled over the past half decade has translated into moving the decimal point one position (or more, in some cases) to the right.
But that doesn’t mean automatically that all cars that come to market are fakers. Some are the real deal – good values in the marketplace and a collector car that should be both a good return on investment and enjoyable to own. They can be quite eye-catching, too, so while you’re rolling down the street looking like a million bucks your smile will be all the wider.
So which scenario is this 1986 944 Turbo – the real deal, or more fluff for the nutter market?
Just as they had with the development of the 10V Turbo for their top tier products, Audi’s work on the Group B, Sport and later RR 20V Quattro (along with the creation of the original S-series cars soon after) trickled down into the rest of the range, but only in a very limited fashion. The 7A 2.3 liter 20V motor was the beneficiary of that racing work, and it was at the time a pretty impressive unit. Out of 2.3 liters, Audi squeezed a very reliable 164 horsepower with a screaming 7,200 RPM redline. While it’s true this was down on peak power to racing motors like the M3’s S14, the adding of the second cam and a modern EFI engine management also yielded nearly 160 ft.lb of torque.
So why does everyone claim that this car was under-powered?
Weight. The luxury-oriented B3 was most popular in Coupe form, where at 3,300 lbs in 1991 it was in need of a diet. It was 30 horsepower down on the BMW, and weighed 500 lbs more, with a more frontward weight bias. A performance car this did not make, and the result was that the expensive Audis leisurely gained speed. Despite the near 50% power increase over the outgoing Coupe GT, a stock B3 Coupe Quattro shared near identical 0-60 times and cost $10,000 more.
But if you were a clever buyer, you could get slightly better performance out of the 4-door variant of the naturally aspirated double overhead cam inline-5. That’s because concurrent with Coupe production, the motor and drivetrain was offered in the slightly lighter 90 quattro 20V:
This is a $18,000 11 year old Volkswagen Golf. And, by Volkswagen Golf, I mean Rabbit, because for a short time VW North America apparently decided to resurrect the small fuzzy bunny name which dated back to the first generation. Hey, it had worked with the Beetle, right? Except that most people had negative associations with the Rabbit which outweighed the negative associations with the Mk.4 Golf. It was a strange choice that was pretty quickly abandoned. Whatever, it’s the same car with a bunny symbol on it so you’ll make Playboy fans all excited to see a kindred spirit driving. Yes, that’s why they’re giving you a thumbs up.
Okay, back to the price. It won’t take anyone long to see that you can pop over to Volkswagen and buy a brand new Golf for under $20,000. This one is 11 years old and has nearly a quarter million miles on the chassis. I know Golfs retain silly residual value, but this is a bit ridiculous – or, is it?
Odds are that there are quite a few people who still don’t know that the narrow-body, non-turbocharged Type 85 Coupe Quattro existed at all. Move outside of the U.S. market, though, and the Coupe GT could be opted with the all-wheel drive underpinnings of the 90 (4000) quattro, resulting in the WRC-winning look without the Porsche 911 price tag. But while generally fans of the B2 chassis can’t be dissuaded that it might just be the best Audi product ever, the reality of owning one of these trustworthy steeds was that they were pretty slow. Dependable, tossable, still fun to drive – but slow. On top of that, the aftermarket industry for the inline-5 was pretty weak. There were some products out there; I had an original Abt header, for example, and you could buy a Schrick cam or briefly a neato Jamex air intake. But the real way to gain power was to swap in a turbocharged inline-5, right? Well, apparently no one told the folks at GTi Engineering in Brackley that: