Ending Soon: What We’re Watching

Ending Soon: What We’re Watching

Last week’s What We’re Watching post seemed to be a hit, so I’ve lined up another group of auctions. This time, they’re all affordable no reserve classics (or soon to be?). Care to wager on what each will sell at? Let’s start with a 5-speed Euro Porsche 928.

Click for Details: 1981 Porsche 928

It’s far from perfect, but here’s a 1981 Porsche 928 5-speed in Euro trim. The BBS wheels might look more at home on an early E39 540i, the paint is tired and the engine hasn’t run in some time (and what the heck is up with that shifter surround???) but hey, at time of writing the whole package can you yours for $3,000. Certainly it’s worth at least that in parts?

Click for Details: 1960 Volkswagen Bus

I said “affordable”, right? Well, with VIN tags of 23 Window Sambas selling for upwards of $11,000, this no reserve auction on a lovely restored ’60 seems like a deal. The color combination and condition are spot on, and it will be interesting to see where it ends.

Click for Details: 1993 BMW 740iL

Back to great values, and this 1993 BMW 740iL seems ready to please. It’s got lower mileage, the great E32 shape, a nice color combination and very good overall condition. Usually the big money has been reserved for the follow-up E38, so I think someone will get a great deal on this very nice ’93.

Click for Details: 1988 BMW M5

There’s been a lot of speculation on the 80s BMW M market, so seeing a no reserve auction on an M5 is both rare and offers us the chance to litmus test the market. Usually the cars that come up in no reserve format aren’t the nicest ones out there, but this one generally looks great.…

1975 Sbarro 328

1975 Sbarro 328

One of the most enjoyable aspects of writing up cars for GCFSB has been the head-scratchers I come across; cars I knew little (or, in the case of today’s, nothing) about. This Sbarro 328 Roadster replica is a great case in point. Of course, replicas are neither a new phenomena nor are they particularly unique. Often, they fail to capture the essence of the original car and if an enthusiast is unwitting enough to actually mistake the fabrication for the original it can be borderline offensive to real examples. Volkswagen based Bugattis, Fieros turned into F40s, Bentley badges slapped on a Chrysler 300 – you name it, it’s just downright ugly.

But this one is interesting, at the very least to me. Italian-born Franco Sbarro started his company in 1971 in French-speaking Switzerland and immediately started copying German automobiles. They’re still open today, continuing to build limited-run prototypes, but in the 1970s a majority of their work seems to have been based upon historic cars; Bugattis, GT40s, Lola T70s. What was interesting was what they built these replicas on; Sbarro installed fiberglass copies of the originals over BMW or Mercedes-Benz chassis with original components. In the case of the 328 replica you see here, the engine, chassis, rear suspension and transmission was based upon the E10 2002. Some of them even wore 2002 Turbo alloys. In front, Sbarro utilized NSU components for the front suspension and steering. Headlights came from a Mercedes-Benz. The result of this hodge-podge was surprisingly good, managing to capture a fair amount of the aesthetic of the original without looking too out-of-shape, though they were admittedly slightly shorter and more squat that the original. Having standard BMW running gear simplified the importation process, and consequently Sbarro offered these replicas in the US market through a Florida dealer.…

Double Take M-Sports Wagon-off: 2017 BMW 330i xDrive Individual v. 2014 BMW 328i xDrive

Double Take M-Sports Wagon-off: 2017 BMW 330i xDrive Individual v. 2014 BMW 328i xDrive

There’s an entire sub-culture of automobile enthusiasts that MUST have everything wagon. And for those people, there have long been many options to choose from – expect recently. Since the 2000s, the number of wagons available to U.S. fans has dropped off a cliff so that today precious few are left. I detailed what I felt was the height of the market last year over at The Truth About Cars.

Today, enter the marketplace and there are very few options left. The staple Audi A6 and BMW 5-series wagons have left the market, as has the regular A4. Sure, today you can finally get an all-wheel drive Golf Sportwagon that was promised for so long, but outside of that, you’re left really with the Allroad, the expensive and numb (but potentially ridiculously quick) Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon, or the BMW 3-series.

Options for the 3-series have dwindled as well as the price has increased. From rear-or-all-wheel drive a few years ago with multiple engine options, only two remain – you have a choice or gas, or diesel. The Sports Wagon has gotten pretty ridiculously expensive, too – starting at $43,000, it’s not hard to break $60,000 when you start to add options (which you’ll see below). Even more ridiculousl is the naming convention, to the point of I’m not sure what the word order is in the title of these cars anymore. Seriously, consider our first example – the “2017 BMW 330i xDrive Sports Wagon M-Sport Individual”. Or was Individual first? Or M-Sport second?

Nevertheless, these wagons remain popular among sport-minded German car freaks who need to carry more than just themselves. Today I have two interesting blue options to consider – one a special-ordered Individual in Laguna Seca that is brand spanking new, or a lightly used Estoril Blue Metallic example.…

1952 BMW/EMW 327

1952 BMW/EMW 327

World War II changed the map of Europe, and the post-War period was a strange rebuilding and re-allocation period which saw serious changes to some of the names you know today. Volkswagen, a brand that effectively hadn’t really existed before 1939 and the outbreak of war, found itself the benefactor of British intervention afterwards and became the company we know today. Mercedes-Benz, similarly, picked up the pieces and continued on. Auto Union and the companies of the four rings fell inside the Soviet area of control, and as a result many of the plans, factories and engineers were removed from Germany and sent deeper into Russian control. Then there was the strange plight of BMW. Prior to World War II, though BMW had been a very successful aircraft engine producer and motorcycle champion of Germany, they were a minor player in the automobile industry. Still, they had produced some beautiful and notable designs, including the successful sports car racer 328. Although technically Munich lay in the American area of Allied occupation, there would be an interesting future for BMW. Connections with the British Army allowed a pre-War BMW dealer from Britain to jump into the Munich factory, grab a bunch of plans and some engineers, and return back to the island nation. That would yield the Bristol 400 – a car so heavily influenced by BMW’s 326, 327 and 328 designs that they even retained the signature kidney grills. More strange, perhaps, was the BMW plant at Eisenach. Unfortunately for the city, though centrally located in Germany and not particularly far from Munich, it lay about 6 miles inside the Soviet control border. But their factory had all the plans for BMW’s road cars, so after the war, they turned on the lights and started pumping out BMWs not made by BMW.…

Heap of the Week: 1951 Bristol 401

Heap of the Week: 1951 Bristol 401

We’ve gotten some flak lately whenever we post a non-German car, so I fully expect to be reminded that the brand Bristol does, in fact, not originate from Germany. Okay, now that we’re over that hump, why is this heap of a Bristol here? Well, if you’re in the know, you already are aware why the Bristol 400 and 401 might make an appearance here; if you’re not, prepare for a bit of a history lesson. Post World War II, many British companies moved in to run German businesses or took advantage of some of the very advanced designs. Two in particular, Frazier-Nash and Bristol Aeroplane Company, involved themselves with BMW. Now, pre-World War II, BMW in truth wasn’t much of an automobile producer. However, BMW had great success with motorcycles especially in the early to mid 1930s, and the success of both Auto Union and Mercedes-Benz spurred BMW’s efforts in sports cars. They ended up producing some fairly stunning designs right before the outbreak of the war, including the Mille Miglia-winning 328 sports car. Featuring a lightweight body and stout 2 liter inline-6, the 328 was an instant fan favorite. The success of BMW’s sporting car designs didn’t go unnoticed by the British companies; notably, BAC decided to develop its “own” car based upon the BMW designs. They utilized the BMW 326 chassis and 328 engine to create a larger grand touring car than the 328 had been. Outside, park it next to a BMW 327 and the Bristol appeared to be nearly a identical copy. Bristol didn’t even bother to hide the lineage, proudly displaying the distinctive kidney grill BMW fans are so familiar with. While the 401 started to deviate the styling slightly from the 400 it replaced, outwardly early models just appeared to be slightly refined and still showed a very similar design to the BMW 327:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1951 Bristol 401 on eBay

Snow Patrol: 2008 Audi A4 2.0T Quattro Avant S-line v. 2007 BMW 328xi Touring

Snow Patrol: 2008 Audi A4 2.0T Quattro Avant S-line v. 2007 BMW 328xi Touring

We had a bit of a surprise a this past week in New England – snow fell early in November throughout most of the area. I promptly updated my calendar for this weekend to change over snow tires – always a bitter-sweet time of year. As much as moving all that snow is a pain, if you have the right car it sure can be fun to drive in! In my case, I’ve been suffering a 8 year quattro drought, but thankfully my wonderful wife lets me sling her Subaru Outback through some parking lots from time to time – and importantly, she lets me take it to winter driving schools. Winter driving schools in general are one of the best ways to learn car control. Effectively, the same things occur on ice and snow that occur on the track – they just occur at a much, much lower speed. Ice and snow point out both strengths and faults in the chassis. Few people drive away from these events without a giant smile on their faces, even when they arrive afraid of driving in the white stuff!

You can buy many cars that are good in the snow or you can slot snow tires onto your winter ride; but if you want to combine some sport, some utility, and fantastic performance in the snow into one package, few do it better than these two. Unfortunately for American consumers, the days of Audi wagons in the U.S. are gone; we’re currently limited to the A4 Allroad. BMW still offers the wagons but at over $40,000 new without options, they’re not exactly affordable for most folks. What’s a German car fan to do? Well, you can look back a few years and find some great options – such as today’s A4 and 328.…

1936 BMW 328

1936 BMW 328

BMW fans, here’s where it all started. You may think the 2002 started it all, but in reality, the 328 was Genesis. Truth be told, BMW was quite successful in the 1930s and before in the motorcycle scene, and indeed was a well regarded manufacturer of airplane engines. But in the changing climate of German politics in the 1930s, it was clear that the government wanted to steer the population away from its chosen method of transportation – motorcycles – and towards automobile ownership. To this end, BMW’s main competition at this time, Daimler-Benz and Auto-Union, were quick to enter into the premier form of Grand Prix racing in order to promote both the government’s agenda and their own technical superiority in automotive engineering. Thus would be born the legendary Silberpfeil – the Silver Arrows of Grand Prix racing. Behind the scenes, BMW pursued a slightly different course, and as the Italian and French automakers fled the all-conquering German Grand Prix cars in favor of sports car racing, BMW took them on with their newly designed 328 sports car. Few survive today, but every once in a while one comes up for sale, such as this silver example today:

509

Year: 1936
Model: 328
Engine: 2.0 liter inline-6
Transmission: 4-speed manual
Mileage: “10” mi
Price: $350,000

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1936 BMW 328 on eBay

Before we proceed to the details about this truly work of Art and Craftsmanship I felt to share a little history about the uniqueness of the 1936 BMW 328 Roadster. Enjoy reading it ………..

……………….”A small brochure circulated among a select group of people in late 1935 revealed the existence of a new 2-litre sports car to be known as the “Typ 328”. The description of the car was deliberately low-key and avoided giving any performance or speed figures.