“Dinan’s latest work of art, he has not only fixed a car that wasn’t broken but also sought to perfect a car that everyone considers to be as close to perfection as is humanly possible: the BMW M5”, Car and Driver wrote in 2002. Dinan had, at that point, already made a reputation for themselves as the premier BMW tuner in the United States to the point where they became offered straight from the dealer. Considering that’s just occurred for Alpina here, the endorsement of the level of engineering from the California firm was resounding. Yet that is in part because Dinan’s modifications are far from just slapping a badge and some wheels on a car and calling it done. Take, for example the M5 S2.
Dinan took what many considered to be a very highly developed 4.9 liter V8 in the S62 and went old-school to up the power; and up it a lot, he did. There was no supercharger or turbocharging here; revised intake and enlarged velocity stacks were met on the other end with tubular headers and a bespoke exhaust. Each throttle body’s bore was increased, too. These changes required a reflash of the computer, but were both lighter and more powerful. As in 76 horsepower more. That’s the best part of a 20% gain on a motor that many considered to be close to peak performance! Dinan further upgraded the suspension, brakes, wheels, and final drive, along with adding a lighter flywheel. As a result, the new S2 was, well, about 20% better than the already awesome M5. But that perfection cost, and it was more than a 20% increase. A lot more.
On top of the M5’s $73,400, if you wanted a fully spec’d out S2 you’d tack on $36,000 to the price. For that amount, you could have grabbed a nice 330Ci in addition to your standard M5! But a select few did pony up the extra cash for their extra-special E39s, and today we have a rare occasion of seeing two for sale at the same time:
In 1986, to commemorate the 100th year of the automobile, Audi released a series of designs to celebrate the occasion. The consisted of a series of interior and exterior color combinations which were unique to the Coupe GT, 4000CS, 4000CS quattro and 5000CS sedan. Each car had a different interior (with the exception of the GT/4000CS quattro, which both received ‘Mouton’ red leather) and were available in limited quantities and limited exterior color choices.
Their name, appropriately, was Commemorative Design.
Despite that, the Audi enthusiast world at large insists on calling these cars the ‘CE’ – Commemorative Edition – models, rather than ‘CD’ for the appropriate Commemorative Design. Perhaps this stems from some confusion with the Canadian market, where the 5000CS model was marketed as the 5000CD. Does it matter? Not at all.
The two most desirable of this run were the Coupe GT and 4000CS quattro examples with red leather interiors, especially in Alpine White. Though mechanically no different than the standard models, they always make the collective pants of the B2 community a bit tighter when they pop up for sale. However, this particular one might be close to ‘Not Safe For Work’ level, as in addition to the color scheme it’s got a turned up 2.2 liter 20V turbo under the hood. Is this B2 perfection?
If you pop on to the Audi USA configuration site, it’s easy to shake your head at how expensive it seems the range has gotten. The A3 is the cheapest product you can buy, but at $31,200 without options it’s hard to see how this gussied up Golf is affordable.
Yet, relative to where Audis used to sticker, that price is downright cheap.
Take this 1987.5 Audi Coupe GT Special Build. At the end of the run, Audi sold approximately 850 of these B2/B3 hybrid Coupes to the U.S. market. While things like the suspension and basic body were unchanged, the Special Build got the NG-code 2.3 inline-5 that was seen in the later Type 44/C3 and B3 chassis cars with 130 horsepower. The gearbox was also unique to the Special Build, having beefed up drive shafts (for some unknown reason, as the existing ones were already overbuilt). The Special Build was also the only front drive B2 to carry 4-wheel disc brakes – again, shared with the B3 instead. Inside, the Special Build got a special digital dashboard in a slightly different hue than the ’86 Coupe GTs with digital boards had. The interior fabric was updated to the Savoy Velour (also from the B3) instead of the B2’s Kensington Velour – this was signified by a triple stripe instead of a dual stripe. To help distinguish the limited cars, the exteriors featured a “dipped” look; window surrounds were body color as were mirrors and spoiler, and if you opted for Alpine White (L90E) the Ronal R8s were also painted body color. As with most later GTs, the Special Build came relatively loaded with few options, though most don’t seem to have the rear wiper selected for some reason. Sunroof, leather steering wheel, power windows, power defogging mirrors, cassette stereo and power antenna, cruise control and a trip computer were all standard. Only heated seats, a rear wiper, leather interior and an automatic transmission could be optioned.
The price for this “heavily optioned” exclusivity was $20,600, and you’d be hard pressed to leave a dealer for much under $21,000 after delivery charges. Inflation corrected from 1987 dollars to 2016 dollars, that’s about $44,500. The brand new, 2017 Audi A5 Sport with the 2.0 TSFI motor, quattro all-wheel drive and a 6-speed manual starts at $41,200 and has many more amenities standard. Is it any surprise that we see so many more luxury vehicles today than what we saw in the 1980s?
Park a 1984 Audi 4000S quattro next to a 1985 Audi 4000S quattro and you’d be forgiven for thinking they were completely different cars. While few changes were manefested under the skin, the major overhaul in 1985 of the 4000 gave the car a completely different character. Few stones were left unturned; new aerodynamic headlights and smooth, textured body-color bumpers with revised indicators led the charge and did well to integrate the mandatory 5 mph impact bumpers. Wider black moldings surrounded the car. The same Ronal R8 14″ x 6″ 14 spoke wheels were present, but as the revised B2s stretched their legs, new aerodynamic lug covers appeared. The taillight design and rear quarter panels were revised as well – now the lights wrapped completely across the back of the car. But the full-width lights masked a big change to the body, as the trunk now had a much lower threshold, with the center section of the lights integrated into the lid. Inside, the seats didn’t change but the dashboard was entirely new. More up-to-date and modern feeling, power windows now were both front and rear and a few more options for colors were offered.
But underneath, what made the Type 85 quattro great remained unchanged. The 2.2 liter inline-5 JT-code motor was still pumping out 115 horsepower; modest for the weight, but with a great howl and good, usable torque. All-wheels were still driven with twin vacuum-actuated locking differentials, and the robust drivetrain and suspension was largely rally-ready out of the box. The great recipe coupled with the heavily revised and modernized aesthetics meant that the 1985 4000S quattro was a sales success, at least in relative terms. Nearly 5,000 sold that year (4,897 according to Audi), making it the most popular year for the model:
With a few winter storms heading in to New England today, I’m warming my memories up with this 1987 Audi 4000CS quattro. It’s not so much because of the winter prowess of the model in this case, though; it’s because this particular last model year of the B2 chassis is located in Kula, Hawaii. Road (and boat) trip, anyone?
Just a few weeks ago, I spent a fair amount of time documenting the substantial changes to Audi’s small chassis lineup which accompanied the launch of new nomenclature in the B3 80/90 twins. But while early models like the 1988 90 quattro I wrote up for that article were mechanically identical to the “entry level” 80, changes were on the horizon. In 1990, the 7A-motored, dual-overhead cam 90 quattro 20V and Coupe Quattro replaced the 10V NG powered 90s, which were no longer available in the U.S. market. To accompany their upgraded 165 horsepower mill, the 90s featured an optional sport package which included 15″ Speedline wheels and upgraded brakes (standard, albeit in slightly different offset, on the Coupe).
Soldiering on with the 130 horsepower NG and slightly less flair was the 80. In fact, the 80 outlived the 20V motor in the U.S. into 1992, and was ultimately the last small chassis offering the 5-cylinder until the recent reintroduction in transverse layout in the MQB platform. While power and running gear was unchanged, the 80 received some of the 90’s signature bits from earlier on, including the BBS alloys and painted bumper covers. Like all B3 quattros, they’re exceedingly rare to come across; in the case of the 1992 80 quattro like the one here, a scant 640 made their way to our market.
9A. It’s a term most enthusiasts don’t know. Unlike most pedantic BMW owners that have memorized every signal chassis, engine and option, Volkswagen’s various iterations of the EA827 motor can get a quite esoteric even to lovers of the brand. But the 9A was something a little special, because that was the high-revving 2.0 liter 16V that was stuck into the GTI, GLI and Passat models in the early 1990s. Down on power to the more famous and ubiquitous VR6, the 9A was the VW’s equivalent of the S14. Like the E30 M3, the GTI and GLI wore special items to denote the racey motor under the hood; BBS wheels, wider flares, foglights, Recaro seats and special trim to help set them apart from the more pedestrian lineup. This was the period where a blacked-out VW badge really meant something. While the 9A might not be a name most remember, the “GTI 2 liter 16 valve” still is a magical formula to lovers of the hot hatch in the late 1980s and early 1990s:
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.
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?
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: