Ending Soon: What We’re Watching

Ending Soon: What We’re Watching

I’ve assembled another group of auctions that are all no reserve and should give us a good glimpse into several classic (or soon to be) models. This group is oriented more towards driver-quality cars, as many of the no reserve auctions often are. Still, there are some strong deals to be had if you look…

Click for Details: 1999 Porsche Boxster

I know, the Boxster isn’t for everyone. But the 986 brought Porsche into a new age of success and offered a lightweight, driver-oriented and simple, no-frills convertible to the masses. They were reasonably affordable new, but are quickly becoming the cheapest way into Porsche ownership full stop. While they’re not without their issues, this particular car is a nice color combination and has the dreaded IMS bearing resolved. The accident history and lack of a “S” on the back will keep bidding modest, but right now this car could you yours for $6,000.

Click for Details: 1976 Volkswagen Van Westfalia

The mid-1970s Volkswagen Vans weren’t the most popular in the run. Today, they take a firm third-fiddle to the more popular later Vanagons and classic earlier Sambas. Yet look past the model year, and you’ll have vansportation for a much more modest budget. This one has undergone a light restoration and looks like a nice driver and weekend van. Bidding is still under $10,000 – for reference, less than the Samba heap we linked last time.

Click for Details: 1966 Volkswagen Squareback

If a bit more classic Volkswagen is your style, how about this clean survivor Squareback? It’s not going to be perfect (*few are!) but with Beetle and Karmann Ghia prices on a sharp rise, the Type III lineup is suddenly the budget option. Bidding here is still below $6,000 with a few hours to go.

Click for Details: 2001 BMW 740iL

Last week it was a sub-$6,000 E32 740iL, but today we’ve got the more popular replacement.…

Double Dose of Insanity: 1988 BMW M3 v. 1994 BMW 325i

Double Dose of Insanity: 1988 BMW M3 v. 1994 BMW 325i

In my usual searches I had an interesting dichotomous reaction to one number: $16,500.

The first I came across was a 1988 BMW M3 with a no reserve auction bid up to $16,500. “Wow! That’s actually pretty reasonable! I thought. Next, I saw a 1994 BMW 325i with a ‘Buy It Now’ of the exact same $16,500. “What the hell is the seller thinking?!? How absolutely ridiculous!” I scoffed.

Yet, neither car was as it originally seemed once the descriptions were opened, and suddenly a comparison was in order…

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW M3 on eBay

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.…

1992 BMW 316i Touring

1992 BMW 316i Touring

The US-market never received the touring (wagon) version of the E30 3-series. But these cars are now old enough to import under the 25 year rule, which means you can find a steady trickle of these popping up on eBay for sale over here, and various accounts of enthusiasts’ attempts to bring them over. And no wonder: the E30 estate is a handsome and utilitarian looking car, practical and quite stylish.

The E30 was offered in Europe with a wider range of engines than we received here, so there a variety of different longroof options to choose from.  There were two four cylinder models (a 1.6 liter and a 1.8 liter), two six cylinder models (a 2.0 liter and 2.5 liter, with the latter also being available in “iX,” all wheel drive spec), and a 2.4 liter naturally aspirated diesel inline six. This particular car is a 316i, the entry level model. While the car is currently located in Germany, it’s being advertised on US eBay to tempt American E30 fans with a taste for forbidden fruit.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 BMW 316i Touring on eBay

Ending Soon: What We’re Watching

Ending Soon: What We’re Watching

Occasionally we don’t have the time to get to all the auctions that catch our eye. With that in mind, we’re going to be putting together some auctions that are interesting and may offer you a good value – or we’re just curious where they’ll end up!

Click for Details: 2000 Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG

This 2000 Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG looks great with only 93,000 miles on the clock. Condition throughout seems to be very good and records are present, as well as a clean bill of health on the CarFax. But the real draw is the no reserve auction format – at time of writing, the car sits under $6,000!

Click for Details: 1987 Porsche 944 Turbo

The 1987 Porsche 944 Turbo isn’t the most desirable model year, but this one looks nice in Guards Red over Linen leather. While it’s a TMU car, there’s a healthy bit of recent service history and the overall presentation looks like a nice driver. The TMU and 1987 build status should keep bids down, but the auction is no reserve. It will be interesting to see where a 944 Turbo driver ends up!

Click for Details: 1992 Porsche 911 Turbo

It’s a strange world we live in when you can ask close to MSRP for a 25 year old car and it suddenly seems reasonable. But that’s the case with this 1992 911 Turbo. Technically, it’s a no reserve auction with a $95,000 Buy It Now, but a single $85,000 bid would win it unless the seller ends the auction early.

Click for Details: 1992 Mercedes-Benz 300E

We looked at this Glacier Green 1992 Mercedes-Benz 300E before, but it’s back on a no reserve auction with a starting bid below $2,000. Though it’s got a lot of miles and isn’t 100% original, it still seems like a nice driver with a lot of work done.…

1988 BMW M6 with 32,000 Miles

1988 BMW M6 with 32,000 Miles

What is the price for perfection? That’s a difficult question to answer, but increasingly when it comes to 1980s cars, the level of preservation, originality and lower miles in low-production, desirable models has translated into quite an exacting price. Yet while lofty asking prices have become the norm on many of the hottest performance models from the 1980s, are their figures always justified?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW M6 on eBay

1984 BMW 745i

1984 BMW 745i

The 745i was the high performance version of the E23 7-series. Produced between 1979-1986, these autobahn stormers were never officially offered in the US. But committed, well-resourced buyers were able to bring them over via the gray market, which is presumably how this one ended up here. Powered by a turbocharged version of the 3.2 or (later) the 3.4 liter M30 inline six – at a time when BMW’s competitors were using V8s and V12s – these cars came from the factory with a 3-speed automatic gearbox. But this particular example has received a 5-speed manual swap, along with a whole host of other goodies. I don’t normally post heavily modified cars, but this one seemed too interesting to ignore.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1984 BMW 745i on eBay

2001 BMW 740iL

2001 BMW 740iL


The E38 7-series is a firm favorite around these parts, a throwback to the pre-Bangle era in BMW styling’s department, before things got all fussy and bloated. With its angular lines and restrained, good looks, the E38 is a bit like a bouncer in a bespoke suit: brawny but sophisticated looking. Given that many of them were pressed into service as executive transportation, it’s not surprising they mostly appear in subdued colors like black, silver or gray. But every now and again a more adventurously colored car pops up, like this low-mileage example for sale in California.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 BMW 740iL on eBay

1999 BMW M3 Convertible

1999 BMW M3 Convertible

The E36 M3 is frequently regarded as the awkward middle child between the classic E30 and the accomplished, grown-up E46. As a result, it doesn’t usually command the kind of values attached to its older and younger siblings. But I think that one day, mint examples of these cars – which are increasingly thin on the ground – will be sought after as classics. The E36’s “dolphin” bodyshape marks an important transition point in BMW’s design history, as the angular lines of the 80s would begin to give way to the rounder, softer shapes of the late 90s and early 00s. The trademark four round headlights are still there, but now set back behind glass panels, and the dual kidneys are now more gently integrated into the front nose, all for the sake of aerodynamic efficiency. The M3, available during this period as a coupe, sedan and convertible, was externally distinguishable from the standard model range only by more aggressive front and rear valances, revised side skirts, and rounder side mirrors. But under the hood was a spritely and free-revving 3.2 liter inline six powerplant. Infamously down on power in comparison with the Euro market S50, the S52 motor in the US-spec car was nonetheless good for about 240 hp and, when combined with the lithe chassis and sharp manual transmission, made for a lively and fun car to drive. The E36 M3 may not have been an out-and-out track monster like its predecessor, but it was fast (for its time), practical and easy to live with on a day-to-day basis.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1999 BMW M3 on San Francisco Craigslist

Double Take: 2001 and 2002 BMW M5 Dinan S2s

Double Take: 2001 and 2002 BMW M5 Dinan S2s

“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!…

Déjà vu? 2010 BMW 535xi Touring M-Sport

Déjà vu? 2010 BMW 535xi Touring M-Sport

Just the other day, I wondered what kind of large wagon you could still buy. The Mercedes-Benz E-Class and recently introduced Volvo V90 seem to be the last two holdouts in what was once a robust market of longroof models. Back up a decade, and you could add the Audi A6 Avant and 5-series Touring/Sport Wagon to the mix, and both are still quite desirable in their last form.

With forced induction and plenty of technology as well as a sport ride, both the Audi and BMW entrants into the marketplace were expensive alternatives to the rest of the now traditional “Sport Utility” lineups. And both sold in very small numbers, giving enthusiasts precious few options to choose from when it comes to the used market. In the case of the BMW, the most desirable models are the M-Sport models offered late in the run, and they’re not frequently seen. So much so, that when this one popped up I was certain it was the same 2010 I looked at recently. The color combination of Tiefseeblau Metallic and Natural Brown Dakota combined with the M-Sport package seemed too unlikely to immediately come across again; yet, here we are, with a VIN only about 100 after the recent example. Is this one a winner?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2010 BMW 535xi Touring on Seattle Craigstlist

Tuner Tuesday: 1987 Alpina B7 Turbo/3

Tuner Tuesday: 1987 Alpina B7 Turbo/3

For me, the perfect counterpoint to the questionably presented C2 from a few days ago is today’s B7 Turbo. Just about everything in the B7 was taken up a few notches over a standard E28 (or even an M5), and this example exemplifies that perfectly in comparison to that E30.

The B7 Turbo models were, quite simply, some of the fastest BMWs made to that point. More to the point, they were some of the fastest cars in the world in the 1980s; Alpina claimed the E12 B7 Turbo was the fastest sedan in the world, for example. The B7S had bumped up to the 3.5 liter M30. Strapping their special injection system along with a KKK turbocharger and a host of internal modifications, the B7S produced 911 Turbo levels of power which made it (unsurprisingly) 911 Turbo fast. The model continued after the changeover to E28 model, but with some differences. Instead of the bespoke injection on the early model, Alpina instead reprogrammed the Motronic in the E28 to work with the turbocharged M30. The B7 was available in both catalyst (/3) and non-catalyst (/1), both producing 300 or more horsepower. Alpina claims they ultimately made 236 of these beasts by the end of production, but the catalyst version – a large chuck of which ended up in Japan – was the more rare of the two. Today, one of these mega sedans is available, and while a high percentage of the Japanese-destined B7s ended up with automatics, this one has a manual:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Alpina B7 Turbo/3 on eBay

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