2002 Audi TT Coupe 225 quattro ALMS Edition

If the minor nomenclature differences between what constitutes a BMW with sport items, a Sport model, and a M-Sport model can be confusing, the ordering of model designation in Audi’s TT lineup is downright infuriating. Technically, I think the correct order for the model is as shown above – Audi TT Coupe 225 quattro ALMS Edition.

Maybe.

And here’s the trick. First you needed to differentiate if you ordered a Coupe or Roadster. In 2002, you could get a front-drive coupe with the 180 horsepower engine, and you could also get the 180 horsepower motor with optional Haldex quattro all-wheel drive. But if you selected a Roadster, you couldn’t get a 180 quattro. Now, if you went for the upgraded 225 horsepower motor, you automatically got quattro – there was no front-drive option. That makes the “quattro” moniker after any 225 model redundant. Even more redundant in this case is the “Coupe” moniker, because if you opted for the ALMS appearance package in the 2002 model year, the hardtop was your only choice. So if you referred to this as a TT ALMS – as many do – the rest would follow – you’ve got by default a 6-speed manual 225 horsepower quattro Coupe. For many, this makes the ALMS one of the most desirable 8N TTs, and the limited run of 1,000 examples in either Misano Red Pearl with Silver Gray Nappa leather or, as show here Avus Silver Pearl with contrasting Brilliant Red Leather tends to command a premium over other examples of the first-gen Golf-based model:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Audi TT 225 quattro ALMS Edition on eBay

Feature Listing: 1995 BMW M3

The U.S. version of the E36 chassis Motorsport offering has steadily begun to emerge from its “also ran” position in the category of favored M products. It has languished in value since the introduction of its replacement, the wildly popular and more aggressive E46 M3. Long derided for being a bit too cost-conscience of BMW, the reality is that the car that came to the U.S. might have been a bit better.

Yes, I just said that.

It is true that the North American M3 made due with a less powerful and certainly much less exotic motor. The U.S. S50, based upon the 325i’s M50, displaced the same 3 liters as the European S50B30, but the two differed in nearly all other aspects. Only items like the oil filter are shared between the models; in Euro guise, the engine sang with individual throttle bodies. The engine also sported the trick continuously variable VANOS system to optimize performance. After finally being convinced to bring the second generation M3 to North America, the news came down that the western-bound motor would be less exotic; static VANOS, lower compression, and no individual throttle bodies.

Frustrated though enthusiasts may have been to not be getting the “true” model, many were just happy it was coming here at all. But the amazing thing was what the USA motor offered. At 240 horsepower, it was indeed 46 down on the European cousin. Yet other numbers told a different story; torque was nearly the same between the two, as was weight, and the real advantage of the Euro motor was only quite high in the rev range. That meant acceleration in the real world was effectively identical between Euro and USA models. Sure, you lost a bit of top speed – but where in the U.S. were you hitting 155, anyway?…

1991 BMW M5

I’ve talked about opportunity costs before, and when considering a car such as yesterday’s 320is it bears reminding. There are plenty of people, myself included, that spend a fair chunk of the day dreaming about what super rare car they’d import from Europe if given the chance. And we’ve be Mr. Feelgood for you, supplying a steady stream of somewhat attainable European market goodies over the past few weeks. But does all this dreaming overlook something that’s right at your fingertips? In the case of the E34 M5, I think that might be true. This chassis is still generally overlooked compared to the E28 and E39 models, but those that have spent some time behind the wheel of these well engineered, hand built Q-Ships proclaim they’re one of the best BMW products made. They’ve got plenty of the right ingredients – the last of the S38 motors producing 315 horsepower, Motorsport details throughout, a great subtle look which still is commanding of respect, and limited numbers – only 1,678 were imported. It’s the right recipe for a future classic:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 BMW M5 on eBay

1991 BMW M5

One could argue, pretty convincingly, that the E36 M3 is the best value if you want an M car right now. Good examples can still be found under $10,000, parts are plentiful, and there’s a huge selection of examples to choose from. But for me, the best value has to be the E34 M5. First off, if you’ve never seen a used advertisement for a second-generation M5, you might have missed that these supreme sedans were the last of the handbuilt M models. If you hate movies, you might have missed that a M5 was also an unsung hero in the cult classic Ronin, even if it couldn’t get away from a Citroen and the S8 was more memorable. If you’ve been living under a rock, you might not know that it’s father – the original M5 – is currently on a fairly steep appreciation curve. Yet the second generation M5, while considered a bit softer than the E28, was a potent sleeper nonetheless. And for me, it’s the ultimate M car; not because it’s the fastest, prettiest or most valuable; but because it expresses the ethos of what made BMW great. A Spartan warrior wolf in taxi-cab clothes, the M5 combined literal race-bred technology into an easily digestible package; it was a pleasure to drive fast or slow, it was reasonably reliable (and especially so considering the performance envelope), and yet unlike Porsche Turbos, Lotus Esprits, Chevrolet Corvettes or any other “sports” car that offered similar performance, it was a stealthy package – it was the adult choice. In 1991 if the M5 was graduating high school, it would have been Valedictorian and voted “most likely to succeed”, but it would have gotten my vote for “most athletic” and “prom king” as well – it’s that good. Despite these superlative qualities, a reputation second to none in terms of quality and driving experience, the E34 M5 still hasn’t caught on as a market darling:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 BMW M5 on eBay

Boxflare Showdown: M3 v. Quattro

This one has been brewing in my head for some time, and required only two things; the right two cars. I think, in this case thanks to the help of our reader Martin, I might just have the right two candidates. While BMW enthusiasts love to tout the virtue of the boxflared M3, they often overlook the importance of the Quattro. The chunky, Giugiaro-designed Audi made it to the market with its bulging quarters a full 5 years ahead of the M3, yet the DTM star is arguably much better known than the all-wheel drive Rally champion. Both were certainly important to the development of their respective corporate brands; both have illustrious careers as race cars and both are considered by connoisseurs to be the best design of those that followed. Quietly, while the market-star M3 has soaked up the headlines, good condition Quattros have also been appreciating, and with far fewer of them produced than M3s they’re a more rare sight today. They’re also, generally, much older and fewer were taken care of in the way that the M3s were pampered. Add little factory support and an even worse balance of the number imported to North America – only around 10% of the total of North American bound M3s – and it’s a hard match up. Yet, today we have two overall great condition cars to consider. Who wins the boxing match? Let’s start with the odds-on favorite M3:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 BMW M3 on eBay

1991 BMW 850i Euro-Spec

Euro cars always hold a special appreciation for me, especially from the 1970s and 1980s. First off, they were much better looking, generally with slimmer bumpers and larger, more clear class lights. There were colors and interiors that we didn’t get in the U.S. as well, helping to set yourself apart. Sometimes there were low-spec engines not imported, but usually the output of the motors that were similar to U.S. cars was higher, giving more performance to enthusiasts. Sometimes that gulf was huge; while usually around 10% higher, a great example is the Quattro which was a full 25% more powerful in Europe than the U.S. restricted version. But as we got towards the late ’80s, the gap inbetween both the looks and performance of the Euro models versus the U.S. models closed steadily. True, in some cases we still didn’t get the full-fat versions of cars like the M3 until the E46 chassis. But for most models, there was a negligible difference. When it came to the BMW E31, in fact, there were almost no differences between the U.S. models and European models; styling was exactly the same, as were the wheels, most of the colors and interiors, and the basic suspension and engine. So, it’s just not nearly as exciting to see a European-spec newer model like this ’91 850i pop up for sale, though it is a bit odd:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 BMW 850i Euro on eBay

1991 BMW M5

While generally I find myself looking at C4 Audi S4/S6s and thinking they’re an amazing deal right now, it’s hard to not feel the same way about the E34 M5. If the E28 was the unloved M from the 1980s for some time, more recently we’ve seen a surge in E28 prices that are starting to pick the “original” super sedan up in price. In some cases, clean versions of the E28 M5 are now trading for more than their sister in a prettier dress that has traditionally carried more value, the M6. In even more rare cases, some have surpassed the values of the market-darling E30 M3. Where’s the M deal to be had now, then? Even if the driving experience was dulled slightly by some added weight and luxury with the E28’s successor, the E34, the retention of the great drivetrain coupled with some refined looks wasn’t all bad. In my opinion, the E34 is a very worthy replacement for the E28 – and a strong alternative to the S4/S6 market which is also beginning to tick up slightly. Check out this first year Brilliant Red example:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 BMW M5 on eBay