1994 BMW 740i

1994 BMW 740i

The E32 7-series is a rare sight on today’s roads. And that’s a shame. These big-body behemoths from Bavaria exemplify a design language that’s now firmly in BMW’s past: menacing yet restrained, large but well proportioned, mixing brawny lines with classic cues like round headlights, angular kidneys and the Hoffmeister kink. On Friday, Carter wrote up a 735i. It was, he admitted, a bit sad, with oversized wheels and a tired look. While the 5-speed manual transmission made it tempting, I’m not sure it was enough to redeem the car, especially given the asking price. A neat alternative would be a clean, late model, bone stock V8 740i, if you can find one. The 4.0 liter M60 engine is relatively stout (apart from the Nikasil problem, which by now is unlikely to be an issue) and, putting out about 282 hp, sufficient to propel the car quite nicely to cruising speeds. While it may not give you the bragging rights associated with the V12 in the 750, it’s generally less of a headache to maintain.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 BMW 740i on eBay

Alt-Terrain: 1962 Steyr-Puch Haflinger

Alt-Terrain: 1962 Steyr-Puch Haflinger

When it comes to German utilitarian vehicles, the Unimog is the be-all, end-all; a half-tractor, half-urban assault vehicle. But Austria offered an interesting and less agricultural way to achieve the same goal. Built in Graz, Steyr-Daimler-Puch (usually shortened to Steyr-Puch) offered two platforms for military and industrial all-road capability. Starting in 1954, the first was the Haflinger, and it was anything but traditional. Named for the famed sure-footed breed of Austrian mountain horses, unlike a usual body-over-frame design, the Haflinger employed lightweight yet rigid casings around its drivetrain, highlighted by a central tube which connected the front and rear drive sections. This formed the basis for the structural rigidity of the Haflinger. A platform was then mounted above to carry passengers and cargo. Though they looked quite light-duty as a result and indeed tipped the scales at a scant 1,300 lbs, the off-road capability was anything but lightweight. Portal axles with gear reduction, independent coil springs and manual locking differentials gave supreme off-road capability. Power for such a small package was modest, with the flat-twin cranking out about 30 horsepower in .6 liter form as we see here. While you might not be going anywhere fast, you were certain to get there no matter where “there” was.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1962 Steyr-Puch Haflinger on eBay

1998 BMW 318ti M-Sport

1998 BMW 318ti M-Sport

Like the M535i from the other day, the 318ti continued BMW’s expansion of M branding to pedestrian models. That plan included inclusion of a new down-market economy model; the 318ti Compact. The new hatchback platform brought the pricing of the small executive into the teens (just), but the only engine available – the 138 horsepower M44 1.8 liter 4-cylinder – proved just adequate motivation. Though big brother power wouldn’t come to the chassis, the Sport, Club Sport and later M-Sport packages added BMW Motorsport DNA into the E36/5. Subtle styling revisions included M3 front bumper cover, revised rocker panels and a diffusor-inspired rear cover. The Club Sport and M-Sport received special mirror covers and integrated fog lights, as well, along with the M-Sport suspension. Inside, special sport seats with Millpoint fabric (red in the case of the Club Sport), along with an M branded wheel and shift knob, helped to remind the driver that they were in the sportiest of economy BMWs. And the basic package was fairly good to begin with, in spite of the power shortfall; Car and Driver rated the 318ti Sport second in its handling competition, though it should be noted that it lost to a front-wheel drive Honda.

These 318ti M-Sports have developed a bit of a cult following as a result, offering economy car sensibility and cheap repairs with M3 looks – and, for many, a great basis for motor swaps down the line:

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

1987 BMW M535i

1987 BMW M535i

While BMW Motorsport GmbH has a lengthy reputation for conceiving and building some of the most legendary icons of the 1980s, since their inception they’ve also had their hand in clever badge-engineered products intended to bring the magic of M to a larger audience. Starting with the E12 in the 1970s and continuing through today, first to hit the market was the “M535i”. Effectively, these were standard 5-series models with M-Technic bits added for a splash of style, but they lacked the higher-performance “S” (or M88/3, in the case of the M5) motors of their more potent siblings. But they certainly looked the part, with hunkered-down exteriors with deep chin spoilers, side skirts and rear valance and spoiler. Special M-Technic wheels were added to the E28 model which channeled aspects of the M1’s Campagnolo design coupled with hints of the original 1972 Turbo concept wheels. Inside a sport interior was met with more M-Tech details. Just as today, though mechanically these cars were appearance packages rather than performance-oriented, they’re nonetheless quite special indeed:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 BMW M535i on eBay

1985 BMW 735i

1985 BMW 735i

The E23, produced between 1977 and 1987, was the first iteration of the 7-series. It set the standard that BMW has followed, more or less, with each subsequent version of its luxury flagship. Large, comfortable, conservatively styled and packed with the latest technology for the time (ABS brakes, an onboard computer, electric seats and climate control, for example), these autobahn cruisers were for those who had arrived but couldn’t quite afford a Mercedes, or preferred the driving dynamics of a BMW. Sadly, very few have survived the ravishes of time and they’re quite a rare sight on today’s roads. And that’s a shame, because these are truly very handsome and classy cars, sharing a lot of styling cues with the gorgeous E24 6-series, including a sharply raked, shark-nosed front end. So it’s refreshing to come across a low-mileage, nicely kept example like this one.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 BMW 735i

BMW 635CSi Face-off: High mileage US-Spec vs. Low mileage Euro

BMW 635CSi Face-off: High mileage US-Spec vs. Low mileage Euro

With its sharply raked front fascia, long hood and tapering rear end, the E24 6-series is arguably one of the most beautiful BMWs ever made. The grand tourer first arrived in the US in 1977 as the 630, powered by a 3.0 liter M30 engine that produced a not-terribly-impressive 176 hp. While a series of improvements and changes to the lineup would improve things little by little – the 630 was replaced by the 633 in 1978, then the 635 in 1985, and an M6 would arrive in 1987 – the American models would remain saddled with performance-sapping emissions equipment and engines with lower compression ratios than their European counterparts. It wasn’t the end of the world: the E24 was not really about out-and-out performance anyway. Instead, it was for loping across vast stretches of road in comfort and style while conspicuously showing off your wealth. The US-spec 635CSi appeared 1985, bringing with it the 3.4 liter version of the M30 engine and Motronic engine management. Still underpowered in comparison with its European cousin, it was at least significantly torquier than the 633 it replaced. And the performance gap would close almost entirely by 1987 when power output on US-models was bumped to 208 hp. For today’s post, I’ve selected two lovely looking examples of the 635. Both wear Bronzitbeige Metallic paint and come equipped with manual gearboxes. One is a high-milage US-spec example, the other is a low-mileage Euro-spec car with a significant price premium attached.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 BMW 635CSi on Hemmings.com

1974 BMW 2002 Turbo

1974 BMW 2002 Turbo

Porsche pioneered turbocharging for the mass market, right?

Well, wrong, as it turns out.

Certainly, when you think Germany, turbocharging, and 1970s, Porsche’s name is intrinsically linked with any associations therein. But it was BMW, not the Stuttgarters, who first brought turbocharging to the German public. Back in 1973, BMW’s fledgling Motorsport division breathed new life into the 2002 by force with the addition of a KKK turbocharger to the Kugelfish-injection M10. Little on the 2002tii motor went untouched, and the result was 170 horsepower and 181 lb.ft of torque. That’s a pittance in today’s numbers, but in 1973? It was pretty outrageous. Consider, for a moment, that the base Corvette at the same time had the L48 5.7 liter V8 cranking out 190 horsepower in a car that weighed the best part of two 2002s.

The Turbo came to market with a penchant for fuel and a high sticker price at a time when the world was on the verge of a oil crisis. Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t much of a market success, and only 1,672 were made for the 1974 and 1975 model years. There were only two colors (Chamonix White, and Polaris Silver Metallic like we see here) and they came fitted standard with 13″ steel wheels. This recipe would be the basis for some later, greater sleepers from BMW, including the M5:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1974 BMW 2002 Turbo on eBay

Tuner Tuesday: 1985 Alpina C1 2.3/1

Tuner Tuesday: 1985 Alpina C1 2.3/1

Alpina mania continues unabated on these pages. And why not? Rather than hastily assembled montages of aftermarket accessories or tasteless timepieces of a bygone era, Alpinas were artfully crafted bits of perfection. They were intended to be, and often were, as good as a BMW could get. The market has recognized this in their value, which when correctly presented far outstrips that of a normal – or even special – model from Munich. But that’s led to a variety of half-baked, poorly presented or just plain questionable examples that pop up on a regular basis. Is today’s ultra-rare C1 2.3/1 a case of the former, or the latter?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 Alpina C1 2.3/1 on eBay

1991 BMW M5

1991 BMW M5

On Saturday I wrote up a gorgeous example of a 500E, the 90s-era super sedan from Mercedes commonly referred to as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” As cool as the Benz may be, the first car that comes to mind when you utter the phrase is probably the competitor from BMW, the E34 M5. Produced between 1988 and 1995, these were hand built at the M GmbH facility in Garching. To the pliable, balanced but twitchy-at-the-limits chassis they added a glorious 3.6 liter inline six with six individual throttle bodies. The S38 motor, whose ancestry can be traced to the unit found in the famed M1 supercar, puts out about 310 hp in US-market guise and swiftly propels the car to 60 MPH in under 6 seconds. Like the 500E, the M5 differed little from its regular stablemates in outward appearance. In fact, it’s probably even stealthier than the W124. There are no flared wheel arches here and only the subtle M5 badges fore and aft give the game away. That’s no bad thing in my book. The E34 5-series, even in base specification, is a classically styled car whose unfussy design still looks good on the road today.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 BMW M5 on Portland, OR Craigslist

2008 BMW 135is

2008 BMW 135is

(Editor’s Correction: Though I originally listed this car as a M-Sport, it’s really a 135is with the Sport package. However, the equipment package on this car was renamed for the 2009 model year to M-Sport. This car does feature the upgrade 740 M-Sport suspension.)

Tempting.

It’s hard to judge the performance value of the BMW 135i M-Sport 6-speed as anything other than very tempting in today’s market. Get beyond the styling for a second and look at what this car comes with; stock, the twin-turbocharged N54 inline-6 pumps out an impressive 302 horsepower and matching torque, giving you E46 M3-strata performance. Equipped with the M-Sport package, you got shadow line trim, a black headliner, sport seats, M steering wheel and shifter, M door sills, and the M-sport M264 5-spoke wheels unique to this model. While performance wasn’t turned up, the 1M was no slouch, capable of sub 5-second 0-60 times. Admittedly, it is not the most beautiful product that BMW produced in period, but in gussied-up M-Sport form it is certainly more purposeful than the standard 128i your boss’s secretary ran out to get the moment it was off-lease.

But the real beauty of the 135i M-Sport is the price. Some dip into the mid-teens or occasionally below, but even a pristine one like today’s example hits the market below $25,000. A generation newer than the E46 M3, it offers plenty of sport, reasonable practicality, more affordable repairs and one could argue that it’s a bit of a sleeper compared to the S-motored cars:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 BMW 135is at Coventry Motorcar

Tuner Tuesday: 1987 Alpina C2 2.5

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

2001 BMW 740i Sport 6-speed manual

2001 BMW 740i Sport 6-speed manual

What’s better than an E38 740i? A 740i with the Sport package, which adds 18″ M-Parallel wheels, shadowline trim, sport suspension and seats. And what’s better than a 740i Sport? A 740i Sport with a manual 6-speed gearbox. Wait, what? Yes, you read that right. While these cars were only available from the factory with an automatic, a brave soul with a healthy supply of time, money and genius has converted this 740 to a stick shift by swapping in a transmission from an E39 540i. That should turn this luxo-barge into a bit of a canyon carver.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 BMW 740i Sport on eBay

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.…

//Motivated: 1987 BMW 525i M5 Clone

//Motivated: 1987 BMW 525i M5 Clone

Market speculation about M values is nothing new. Indeed, head back to the launch of the U.S. M5 and you’ll find evidence immediately. In Europe, the M5 launched for the 1985 market year and was so successful, BMW announced in 1986 they’d bring 500 of the M5s over. They immediately were all spoken for, and consequently when the production actually started in 1987, BMW made more – not a lot more, mind you, but the 1,340 produced for North America was nearly triple what was originally forecast.

Consequently, owners who felt the collector value of their M5 had been dashed by this glut of examples sued the company in 1991. Further, the model was relatively abandoned by all but the most devoted enthusiasts in the 1990s for bigger, badder and faster modern sedans. But today it’s back with a vengeance, with clean examples fetching more than what they were priced at new. It therefore makes a little bit of sense that someone would have gone through all of the trouble to mimeograph the transformative super-sedan’s blueprint onto a lesser example:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 BMW 525i on eBay

2011 BMW 1M Coupe

2011 BMW 1M Coupe

Much like the E28 M5, the E82 was a legend before it even hit the market. Press releases and journalists gushed over its superlatives; while most felt it was a return to the classic BMW form, some went so far as to suggest it was the best M product ever. Debate still rages over that and generally fans of each chassis manage to come up with plenty of justification as to why theirs is the most special M produced. However, one thing is undeniable; the 1M might be the only M car to ever immediately appreciate on the market. Perhaps it was the combination of those aforementioned press articles or the limited nature of the model; a scant 983 were produced for the U.S. market over a 10 month production cycle in 2011. As with the E28, color choices were quite limited (though, thankfully more than just black!) – 326 Alpine White III (300), 222 Black Sapphire Metallic (475), and 435 Valencia Orange Metallic (B44) – the model’s signature color. All were mated with the same interior: LWNZ Black Boston leather with contrasting orange stitching. They all featured the same drivetrain specification, too – the boosted twin-turbocharged N54 turned up to 340 horsepower and mated only to a 6-speed manual with a limited slip differential. Wheels were the Competition Package BBS-made Style 359M 19″ options from the E9x. The result was magical:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2011 BMW 1M Coupe on eBay