1986 Porsche 944 Turbo

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?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Porsche 944 Turbo on eBay

1990 Audi 90 quattro 20V

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:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Audi 90 quattro 20V on Chicago Craigslist

Motorsports Monday: 2006 Volkswagen Rabbit

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?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2006 Volkswagen Rabbit on eBay

Tuner Tuesday: 1987 Alpina C2 2.5

Alpina values might be as hard to follow as those in the 911 world. As with all proper marque-specific tuners in the German world, there’s a fair amount of attention being levied upon the Buchloe firm, and some models are demanding outrageous premiums; for example, recently one of the ultra-rare B6 3.5S models sold for a simply staggering 200,000 Euros.

Does it follow, then, that all E30 Alpinas are outrageous money? Some asking prices would seem to equate that, but the asking prices have often failed to be recognized. Take, for example, the 1984 C1 2.3/1 current for sale on eBay. I looked at this car the best part of a year ago when the asking price was an eye-watering $99,000. I suggested that if you were willing to pay that amount for that example, men in white coats may be locking you up. It seems that most agreed with me, as the car has moved to a new dealer and is still languishing, now with a more reasonable still insane $67,500 asking price.

So, when a more potent version of the Alpina C series pops up with an actually realistic price, we should take note. But should we click the Buy It Now immediately?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Alpina C2 2.5 on eBay

Tuner Tuesday: 1985 Audi Coupe Quattro RE2500

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:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 Audi Coupe Quattro RE2500 on eBay

Feature Listing: 1999 BMW 323is

The BMW Car Club of America isn’t exactly a tough to join organization. Fill out a form, pay your dues, and you too can receive an honorary doctorate in BMW ownership. Heck, for a while if you bought a new BMW they automatically signed you up for the club! However, it’s not the joining that is particularly noteworthy in this discussion. Don’t get me wrong, they’ve got a fantastic magazine that is filled with a tremendous amount of useful information and reviews. But where the BMWCCA membership really shines is when you’re selling your prized car, and you see it all the time with older models. As a BMWCCA member of a no longer new car, you’re probably more diligent about oil changes. You may even be engaging in preventative maintenance. You’ve likely documented all the work you’ve done. And, more often than not, you’ve taken very good care of your car. Downstream, these little (or not so little) things add up.

Now, finding an E36 for sale isn’t particularly a rare event – they’re everywhere, and most are pretty cheap. As I said in a recent M3 article, there are quite a few cheap and tired options to fit any budget. But a well cared for, maintained and tastefully modified E36? Now, that’s reason to take notice:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1999 BMW 323is on eBay

Tuner Tuesday: 1988 BMW M3 AC Schnitzer S3 Sport 2.5

Though ultimately not as well known as Alpina, AC Schnitzer replaced the more famous brand a the defacto factory race team in the late 1970s and 1980s. To capitalize on their success at the race track (including the successful campaigns in the DTM), in 1987 AC Schnitzer launched their first brand-specific model based upon the new E32. That was followed by a more sporty E30-based model, dubbed the ACS3 Sport in 1989. It was available based upon either a normal 3-series, or those with a bunch of dough could opt to allow Schnitzer to modify their prized M3. And modify it did; subtle changes outside included revised mirrors, a light change to the rear end and a single-wiper conversion to really channel the DTM spirit. Wheels were either 17″ multi-piece Schnitzer design, or the ever-popular BBS RS model in 16″x8 or 9. As Alpina did, Schnitzer included their own steering wheel (4 options available), a numbered plaque, bespoke suspension 20mm lower than the standard ride height, and a unique rectangular-tipped exhaust. However, the real treat was the full 2.5 conversion, which really packed some extra power in the S14. Schnitzer brought the total displacement to 2,431 cc – just shy of the 2,467 BMW themselves would produce in the 1990 Sport Evolution. Coupled with a revised DME, the S3 Sport 2.5 produced an impressive 245 horsepower. They are exceedingly rare to come across, but our reader Daniel spotted this fully converted 1988 example for sale:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW M3 AC Schnitzer S3 2.5 at Garage Current

Tuner Tuesday: 1985 Alpina C2 2.5

It’s a strange world we live in when I first looked at the $39,500 asking price of this 1985 Alpina C2 2.5 and thought, “Well, that’s pretty reasonable”. But at what may be the height of the Zeitgeist of E30, when asks on 318is models are in the 20s, 320is are in the 30s and you’ve heard enough about the M3’s race winning streak to nauseate Jochen Neerpasch (no, no, I’m sure you know who he is without looking it up, “lifetime” M3 fan!), is it really all that outrageous to ask $40,000 for an excellent condition, ultra limited Alpina model? This particular one was a stranger even in Europe; the C2 2.5 was a Japan-only model with 74 reported produced. It was also the second least powerful on offer from Alpina, with only the C1 2.3/1 below. Although that meant it was more a sheep in wolf’s clothes than the typical other way around, the C2 2.5 still packed 185 horsepower and matched it with upgraded suspension, wheels, brakes, exhaust, and of course the typical Alpina décor. This particular example, looking splendid in Lapis Blue, comes to the market with only 46,000 miles:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 Alpina C2 2.5 on eBay

1990 BMW M3 Sport Evolution

There is nothing that I can say here that will matter at all. I won’t convince you that the E30 M3 is overpriced – maybe, compared to some of the other limited run homologation vehicles like the Sport Quattro and even the asking price on Paul’s 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II two weeks ago this Sport Evolution is downright cheap. Despite that, I could tell you that for the for the asking price of this car you could have a whole fleet of very interesting cars. Heck, you could buy a lesser E30 M3 and still have a huge chunk of change left over to buy many other vehicles and even maintain them. Some houses are less expensive than this car. College for most is less expensive than this car. The average worker at Walmart won’t make in a decade what the asking price is here. But none of that matters, because if you’re even still reading I’m just making you tread water until you can see more photos and drown in the eye-watering price:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 BMW M3 Sport Evolution on eBay

Feature Listing: 1987 BMW 325ic

April 2017 update: The seller of this car has relisted it HERE!

It’s very interesting to me to look back and compare the 1980s offerings from the big three luxury producers in Germany. In many ways, BMW lagged behind the competition early on. Audi launched the B2 chassis in 1980, and it revised the standards of the near luxury market for Germany. There were diesel and gas motors, two or four-door configurations, and even a wagon from sister company Volkswagen. But the real addition gearheads loved was the wide-winged turbocharged and all-wheel drive Quattro, the first of the hot versions that would come to the market for junior executives. Indeed, it was the Quattro that changed the future of the W201, as Mercedes-Benz changed the mission of the future 190E 2.3-16 Cosworth from rally to circuit racer. So, Mercedes-Benz had a track version of the W201, and it also set the standard in build quality. Bringing those reputations to the small luxury market meant a whole new class of clientele and the W201 was massively successful thanks to a bunch of factors. While VAG produced about 1.6 million B2 chassis cars between 1976 and 1987, an amazing 1.8 million W201s made it to market. Those successes put more pressure on BMW, and it responded.

The E30 was without doubt the sportiest of the three out of the box, and just like the B2 is was amazingly versatile. There were sedans and 2-door sedans, and BMW was able to match the Volkswagen Passat with a Touring offering. Hot shoes liked the addition of the Motorsports division M3, which not only met the challenge of the Quattro and Cosworth but exceeded it by nearly every measure. Build quality was great but performance was even greater. But BMW wasn’t done, as it took the versatility – and the small executive market – to a new level.…