1987 Audi 4000CS quattro

Well, here it is – my first car. Okay, mine was a 1986, but it too was Alpine White with Brazil Brown velour. For all intents and purposes, the opening photo for this advertisement could be the same as the one I bought back in 1995. It was a pretty popular color combination on the Type 85 quattro. Coming from a family with European cars but never an Audi, the technology was intriguing. And, being 18 when I bought it, I did all sorts of stupid stuff with that technology. Locking the diffs on the highway? Yup, I did that a few times, because light up indicators on the switchable differential board were the talk of my friends. I also redlined the car pretty much every chance I got. On my first drive, with the car not even registered, I crested 100 mph. Fall soon turned to winter, and I turned into Hannu Mikkola, sideways as every – and I mean every – opportunity. It was a particularly snowy winter in New England from 1995-6, and my work lot was covered in a solid layer of slushy ice. Every morning I’d arrive, get onto the ice, cut the wheel hard and pirouette in a 270 degree slide into my parking spot. I drove through one memorable blizzard from Westerly to Hartford and back in the high speed lane the entire way, only dipping below 65 when someone lost control in front of me. One time I challenged my lifted Jeep-owning friend to see who could make it through 2 feet of snow. By this time, my CSQ was lowered on Eibach springs, but even though the snow was up to the headlights, it didn’t stop. The Jeep? It got stuck. I’d like to think that all of this was because this was I was a driving God, but the reality was that the survival of my 4000CS quattro – and, more importantly, me – came down to how robustly that B2 was built.…

No Reserve Boost: 1986 and 1987 Porsche 944 Turbos

It’s easy to get lost in a sea of low mileage, crazy asking price 1980s cars – they’re out there, and in reality not particularly hard to find. But then there seems to be a gulf between the cars that are above average with sellers hoping to capitalize on market trends, and forlorn project cars in need of more help than their value. While it would be wonderful to contemplate the salvation of every single example, it’s simply not economically viable. Nor, too, is the idea of just buying the best example in existence and paying a ridiculous premium.

Look in the right place and there is still a happy medium for enthusiasts. Today I’ve located two quite affordable options of 944 Turbos. The miles aren’t crazy, the condition of both is quite good, they each have unique options that make them appealing in their own way. And, each is a no reserve auction. So which is the one you’d want to take home?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Porsche 944 Turbo on eBay

1998 BMW 318ti M-Sport

Just the other day, Paul looked at a 1998 BMW 318ti in Oxford Green. An offbeat commuter, the condition of that car was great, but not so much was the near $7,000 price. Today I have another 318ti to look at, but this one ups the ante a bit. Again it is an original M44 car in great shape with well below average miles. The color is a little less 90s spectacular, but still looks nice in Alpine White. However, it’s the addition of the California roof and the M-Sport package which really helps this hatch stand out. Let’s take a look:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 BMW 318ti M-Sport on eBay

1980 Audi 5000S

The Type 43 Audi just isn’t something you run across every day. That’s because most are long gone; some had rust problems, but more suffered from depreciation such that a relatively minor repair could suddenly render the car worthless. Such is the case for today’s 1980 5000S, a car which ended up in an auction site likely because of a transmission falling to pieces. Yet someone saved today’s example, cleaned it up well and rebuilt the running gear, and now it’s set to remind show goers of an oft forgotten yet important page in Audi’s history:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1980 Audi 5000S on eBay

1982 Volkswagen Rabbit Convertible with 8,000 Miles

The product catalog for what Formula E is makes for a pretty hilarious read. “Passive Formula-E systems built in to your VW begin with an aerodynamic body design that cuts down on wind resistance.” Have you actually looked at a Rabbit? I guess in terms of footprint, it was physically smaller than a Chrysler Cordoba, so there’s that? But ‘aerodynamic’ is not the first thing I think of when I see an A1. It continues on touting the benefits of radial tires (Wooooow), a high-torque engine (compared to….?), and the George Costanza-inspired “breakerless transistorized ignition”. What it really was was a long 5th gear, denoted on Audis as the ‘4+E’ in the same year. What that meant was it spun the high-torque motor down to low revs, and that road better be pretty flat and not particularly windy if you’d like to maintain any speed. And, if you downshifted to pass anything or go the speed limit, immediately an arrow-shaped light would pop on the dash, reminding you that fuel was being wasted. But Volkswagen claimed it was good for 42 m.p.g. in a period still reeling from the fuel crises of the 1970s, and marketing is marketing.

What the Rabbit Convertible really offered you was one of the very few drop-top options in the early 1980s. Remember, this was a time when Detroit had pulled out of convertibles following hints they would be banned by the NHTSB. Japan didn’t really have much of anything on offer, either, as it hadn’t really established itself fully into the market in anything other than superb economy cars. And Germany? In 1982, you had two options – the Mercedes-Benz 380SL, or the Rabbit Convertible which had replaced the Beetle in 1980. That was it. In some ways, that makes these early Rabbits special, and though these Volkswagens were no where near as dear as the Daimlers, some who bought them treated them as royalty:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1982 Volkswagen Rabbit Convertible on eBay

1982 BMW 323i

Feeling blue that all of the affordable classic options are quickly becoming, well, not so affordable? There are still bastions of value if you’re willing to overlook the flash of the big names and instead just focus on a clever, unappreciated car. The E21 might just be the most unappreciated BMW ever brought to the United States, but most of that reputation is thanks to a relatively soft M10 engine allocation and one of the worst applications of federally mandated crash bumpers. Move on up to the M20 and the associated European trim and the story changes quite a bit. Suddenly, you have a 7/8ths scale M635CSi on a very affordable budget:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1982 BMW 323i on eBay

1981 Volkswagen Scirocco

Just three days ago we looked at an impressive 1980 Volkswagen Scirocco. Condition was great and it was full of period details, but I mentioned I’d prefer a stock example. My wish came true, as an absolutely stunning original 1981 came to market immediately after. Looking splendid in Alpine White over Gazelle cloth, it is presented in near stock configuration and really lets the near perfect lines Giugiaro penned show through. The 1980 failed to meet its reserve at $10,100, but this auction is a no reserve deal with very active bidding. How high will this perfect ’81 go?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1981 Volkswagen Scirocco on eBay

1992 Volkswagen Jetta GLi 16V

Edit 6/17/2017: This car has reappeared with new photos, a new listing and a $10,000 Buy It Now HERE!

The late 1980s saw an explosion of popularity in homologated race specials. There was the Quattro, fresh off the World Rally Championship. Though technically not a homologation, Porsche gave us a pretty popular option in the 944 Turbo which derived much of its technology from the successful 924 Carrera GTR/LM program. Of course, the real heavy hitters were the 190E 2.3/2.5-16 Cosworths from Mercedes-Benz and the superstar BMW M3. But all of those cars were pretty expensive; the Quattro and 944 Turbo were the best part of $40,000, the Benz hit the market at $37,000 while the slightly more affordable M3 stickered for $34,000. Still, inflation corrected, even the least expensive 1988 M3’s sticker price would equate to roughly $69,000 in buying power today – hardly affordable to most.

However, for a little less than half of what the M3 cost, you could get a fair chunk of the high-revving European feel in the Jetta GLi. It hit the markets around $15,000, which felt like quite a lot considering a base Jetta cost only half that amount a few years early. But a lot of Jetta you got for that money. Like the M3, it had a deep front spoiler with integral brake ducting and a rear wing. It had a roof mounted antenna, too, and most Jetta GLis were full of power options like windows, mirrors, anti-lock brakes and sunroofs. Also like the M3 you got form-fitting Recaro seats, and light alloy BBS wheels. And at its heart was a high-revving double-overhead cam 16 valve motor hooked to a close ratio 5-speed manual gearbox. Of course, for $20,000 less than the M3, you weren’t going to get a BMW – power, material and build quality, and the performance were all less than the Munich cars or the rest of that group previously mentioned.…

1984 Audi 4000S quattro

The 1984 Audi 4000S quattro is a bit of a unique beast. Though it appeared for all intents and purposes identical to the 4000S Limited Edition from the same year, underneath the two shared little in common. Indeed, when you lifted the covers much more of the quattro model was shared with its bigger brother, the exotic Quattro – the so called “Ur-Quattro” by fans. Herein lies part of where things get confusing in Audi history, since the actual development mules for the boxflared rally wonder utilized the 4000 (née 80). You could make a pretty convincing argument that the small sedan was the original, but that’s neither here or there at this point and is generally semantics (though, it’s occasionally nice to splash the waters of reality on enthusiast’s ill-informed fires of unshakable belief). Whoever was technically first, there’s no denying that the 4000/80 model brought the idea of permanent all-wheel drive to a much more affordable market of rally-bred enthusiasts who eagerly snapped up the roughly 4,500 examples of the first year model. Radical looking changes came for the 1985 model year with a thorough refresh, and there are those who love both generations with equal aplomb. Admittedly, I’m a fan of the post 85 models, sometimes referred to the as the “sloped grill” cars. But you don’t have to go far to find fans of the more square ’84 model. One reader of ours tasked me with the goal a few years back of keeping an eye out for a clean ’84. Easy, right? Not so fast…

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1984 Audi 4000S quattro on eBay

2004 BMW 330ci ZHP Performance Package

The success of the Motorsport derived versions of each generation of the venerable 3-series mean that it’s both easy and a natural choice to concentrate on them in the used market. But BMW has also offered some pretty special non-M models in the 3-series lineup, and the 2003-2006 330i. Much like the M3, the 330i was available in 2-door coupe and convertible no surprise there – but the 330i was also quite popular as a sedan and the E46 M3 never came in that configuration. If you ticked the ZHP Performance Package box, you paid an additional $3,900 on top of the premium for your top-of-the-line 330i. While that was no small amount of change, what that amount resulted in was actually quite a bargain. Developed by BMW Individual, you got a plethora of performance details throughout the package. Outside, M-Tech body pieces adorned the car front, sides and rear and blacked out trim replaced the chrome. So too were M-branded special Style 135 18″ wheels, with tires to match the width of bigger brother M3. Lower and stiffer suspension was met with more negative camber, special reinforcement and control arms. The engine was upgraded too, with unique cams and a revised engine map resulting in 10 more horsepower, but the ZHP was more than 10 hp quicker off the line thanks to a shorter final drive and a 6-speed manual borrowed from M. Performance wise, the ZHP split the difference between the 330i and M3 in acceleration and cornering, so it really was a performance package to live up to its name. Inside, too, many special details adorned the ZHP – from small items like lightly revised gauges with special needles to unique shifter, steering wheel, seat fabric and eggcrate dash trim. Just like the S-Line Titanium Package Audis, these more potent 330is have a cultish following who proudly claim they’re not only special, but one of the most special BMWs made:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 BMW 330ci ZHP on eBay