Quattros have been a hot commodity in the marketplace over the past year, and speculation coupled with their low numbers continues to drive prices up. This is especially true of cars that arrive to market in good to excellent condition with few needs since the pool of those candidates is remarkably small.
How much speculation? Cars that traded in the teens less than five years ago are suddenly – and regularly – hitting close to $50,000. A really pristine example hit $81,400 in January. And, the last time we saw a Quattro is was a desirable ’85 with some good modifications. Bids had rocketed past $35,000 before the auction was pulled because of a private sale.
Pretty much every time a Quattro comes up for sale, it’s worth a look. This one, at least on the surface, looks pretty great – so where does it fall in the market? Welcome to the ‘new norm’:
While not the fastest or the prettiest car Volkswagen ever made, the GTI represents the ethos of VW’s 1980s philosophy of cheap, fun-to-drive, and eminently practical cars for consumers. As they did when new, the first generation GTI also represented a car which gave much faster cars a run for their money. True, the 90 horsepower under the hood won’t scare a supercar. But what this car lacks in straight-line performance it more than makes up for in value.
You see, over the past few years we’ve watched the fan-favorites and driver’s cars from the 1980s increasingly price themselves out of the range of most enthusiasts. The esoterics are also forged in unobtanium today, and while there was a period where you could snap up cheap 80s products in Europe and import them, they’re going away, too. Sure, the M3 and 911 led the charge, but today a clean 190E 2.3-16 or Quattro will set you back some serious bucks. And then when you do get one, you need to worry about collector insurance, expensive and hard-to-source parts and whether you bought in a bubble.
The solution is still the giant-killer GTI. Find a clean one, and you’ll have a car that can be driven at 10/10ths still today and generate plenty of smiles, yet is relatively cheap to buy and very cheap to run. You’ll get thumbs up just like the 911 driver will. Maybe even more, honestly, because when was the last time you saw an A1 cruising around?
We’ve had plenty of Volkswagen A1 chassis to look at recently, from the neat Jetta Turbo Diesel we’ll be seeing again soon through the string of very awesome Sciroccos from both the first and second generation. I’ve also looked at quite a few GTIs, from the second, third and fourth generation. But for all that love, I’ve somehow managed to avoid combining the two and covering what is arguably the most famous modern Volkswagen – the original GTI.
Today I hope to rectify that with today’s last-year example of what many consider to be the original ‘hot hatch’. While the U.S. example was somewhat watered-down and had chunkier styling than the truly Spartan 1976 design, it was still a revelation in performance and universally heralded as the benchmark by which all other sporty economy cars would be based moving forward. At a time when there were few do-it-all type cars, the GTI managed to be nearly all things to all people; it got good fuel economy thanks to a relatively miserly 1.8 liter inline-4 with efficient fuel injection. It looked neat, thanks to 14″ alloy wheels, wide fender flared and blacked-out detail work with red accent stripes. It was functional and flexible, with fold-down seats and a (for its size) spacious hatch area to transport goods. It was usable year-round, with front-wheel drive allowing for decent snow traction. And the sport suspension, heavily bolstered seats and close-ratio transmission made the whole package an athletic alternative to the norm, allowing practical-minded men and women to fling their family car through corners with aplomb. Near universal was its appeal, and infectious were the ad campaigns, which in the Volkswagen tradition used short phrases to capture attention like “They’re going fast” and “Serious Fun” – even the oft-used “It’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing”.
“So what do Germans do for fun? They love to drive. Preferably in a Volkswagen GTI. Because the GTI is designed to be fun. Not fun in the sense of a dashboard cluttered with all sorts of doodads. But fun in the sense of a precision machine that respects and answers its driver’s every wish.
Hyperbole? Certain, this is advertising after all. But it pointed towards the beautiful simplicity of the design, the functionality of the package, the elegance of the execution. The GTI didn’t pretend to be a Corvette like the Opel GT, or a luxury car like the Passat. It wasn’t competing with Mercedes-Benz, or even really Porsche, on any level. And that allowed the characteristically unfun Germans to let their hair down and have a bit of a ball:
From the “Cars that need no introduction” file, witness the M5. So ingrained into the halls of automotive Valhalla is the M5 that it seems as though there was never a time without one. Yet while there were fast sedans that predated the Motorsport 5-series, the reality is that this was the blueprint which all subsequent fast sedans (tried to) emulate.
If you look up “benchmark” in the dictionary, the M5 should appear as an alternate definition.
But enough of the hyperbole, hoopla and heady praise. You know the details of what makes this car great. So what makes this particular one special?
Neither the E24 M6 nor the E28 M5 need an introduction on these pages. Legendary even when new, they both captured the imagination of generations of German car enthusiasts and established the benchmarks for sedan and GT performance in period. Both went through a relatively long downturn in value, as well. And today, as each has moved firmly into classic status and the market ///Madness continues, each has increased in value considerably over where they stood a few years ago.
But with so many shared components, which is the one to get? While a lot of that boils down to personal preference, more so than ever it’s also dependent on your budget. We’ve seen asking prices for nice examples of each chassis hovering between $50,000 and $80,000 depending on mileage and condition, and with a hot market there’s no letup of good ones to choose from.
But what I have today is not the best examples of each. Both are higher mileage and neither is pristine. However, the real draw here in both cases is a no reserve auction format, giving us the opportunity to really see what’s what in the M market today.
Yesterday we presented a very nice 993 twin-turbo and in that post I spoke of my conflicting desires between those beautiful 993s and the original Turbo, the 930. So let’s turn our attention to the 930 as this presents us a nice opportunity for comparison. This triple Black 1987 Porsche 911 Turbo Coupe is offered by the same seller as the 993, which means the condition of the car is good and the price sits on the more reasonable side when factoring in condition and mileage. As we’ve discussed quite a bit on these pages the 930 market definitely has moved downward for all but the best cars, but the desirability of the model itself remains strong. There are a lot of them out there with sub-$100K price tags so it takes very low miles or rare colors/options to really attract notice. I do think that makes this the tougher sell of the two cars, but for someone like me, whose heart remains strongly tied to these iconic ’80s Turbos, that allure might be too strong to overcome, tempting us toward the dark side.
When originally I saw the link to this listing, I was unsurprised. Coming across a 28,000 mile pristine Corrado should be a cause for celebration among Volkswagen fans, but it has almost become expected from the seller Luxsport Motor Group, who currently has no less than three pristine and original Corrados in their inventory. That number includes currently one of the two Corrado Magnum prototypes I wrote up in May, but they’ve also had a string of amazing G60s and SLCs. Still, this early 28K SLC looked pretty familiar to me….
Typically the legendary S38B35 is an engine that gets swapped into other BMWs, now out of them, but today we’re playing opposite day with this No-Effs-Given E28 M5. A little while back it received a turbocharged M30 transplant which is a pretty common setup for E28s – just usually done on more pedestrian models than the extremely rare M. A unique aspect to this auction is that the S38 comes with it, so you have the opportunity to ride the turbo monster as long as you please while retaining the prospect of putting the numbers-matching engine back in eventually. Even so, any hopes of originality are long gone after they spray coated the floor rooting out some rust, replaced the wheel and shift knob with anachronistic wooden parts, and spray painted the homebrew center console to accommodate auxiliary gauges. The one thing that I actually do think is original, contrary to the seller’s claim, is the black interior. With all seats, door cards, and interior trim in black, and miles instead of km, I think this may well be one of the 31 US M5s with black interiors (more than 2 the seller thinks they made, but still an extreme rarity).
This M5 has been hacked and sprayed to the point that it will forever be valued more like an E28 rather than the second-rarest M car. It looks pretty darn good from the outside, albeit modified with later wheels and yellow lenses, and the S38 alone could recoup a serious chunk of the purchase price. It’s already into 5-digits with a long time left on the auction and looks like this basket case M5 with its heart in a box will still pull decent money.
Thanks to a Road & Track tuner feature, AC Schnitzer (along with Ruf, TechArt and HPA) was one of the first tuners to really catch my imagination. Big chunky 5-spokes and wings fore, aft, and midship were plenty to turn middle-school me into a daydreaming Autobahn master. In this day and age and much like the cars they tune or the pop stars we are force-fed, aftermarket design has become a caricature of hyper-stylized aggression. There was a time, however, when bodykits and wheels were subtly aggressive extensions of classic designs. This 325i sedan is exactly that, having received a bodykit, exhaust, wheels, and suspension that make it look more like an appetizing foreign model rather than a crazy tuner cartoon. Originally a Euro model that was imported to Japan and then Florida, it’s covered 43k miles on the road and nearly half that amount in shipping. The automatic is a bummer, but with so few miles and such beautifully restrained modifications it can be forgiven. The exhaust and suspension will help make the drive more exciting (as long as it doesn’t have the sad sound of good exhaust droning across an auto trans’ overly-smooth revs), and the bodykit and wheels will put a smile on any BMW fan’s face. Eventually a manual swap and some engine mods would help it keep up with its appearance, but for now it’s a very cool E30 that won’t break the bank.
In these dark days, E30 M3s even well above 100k miles can crest $50k, a baffling amount of money. The craziest thing is that the E30 M3 isn’t even that rare. Nearly 17k were produced, some three times more than were required for homologation and three times more than the E28 M5. There are certainly rarities within the M3 family, from the Evolution I and II models to Cecotto, Ravaglia, and Europa Meister editions. And then there were these convertibles, of which about 800 were released over three editions from 1988 to 1991. This car comes from the final and most-produced batch, whose S14 now produced 215hp instead of 195hp. You’re going to need that extra power to move the incredible 400 extra pounds the convertible is saddled with. We talk about severe driving penalties associated with convertibles, but I have to imagine this is one of the most egregious examples. With just 21k miles covered and rare to spare, the seller is hoping for $130k to pass this M3 to the next climate-controlled secure location.