Double Take: 1995 Mercedes-Benz E320 Cabriolet

In my long affinity for the Mercedes-Benz W124 Cabriolet, I have featured all kinds of examples. Rare color ones, expensive ones and even ones with V8s swapped into them. So naturally when I come across one in my cruise around the internet, I usually take a quick peek at it. Today’s W124 Cabriolets, a Signal Red example for sale in California and a black one listed in Connecticut, are both prime examples of these amazing drop top cruisers. You’d probably have a tough time finding any faults at all on either of these cars, but what if I told you that one was literally twice the price as the other? Yes, I’m serious.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 Mercedes-Benz E320 Cabriolet on Hemmings

Double Take: Grand Prix White Carrera Targas – Which 5-speed Will You Have?

If you find yourself desiring a classic 911 from the ’80s you’re immediately presented with a few decisions. The first of which, while seemingly the most straightforward, can actually present the biggest quandary: which model do you get, the 911SC or the 3.2 Carrera? Both are great and their similarities in design and performance are such that either model should fulfill your desires. But let’s say you’re set on the 3.2 Carrera. You want the improved performance and slightly more refined feel. You still have one more decision to make: would you rather find one of the earlier models (1984-1986) utilizing the long-standing 915 5-speed transmission or a later model (1987-1989) with the newer G50 5-speed transmission? It seems a minor detail, but the transmissions do make a difference. Most drivers find the G50 to be the nicer shifting of the two and it is a more stout transmission to begin with, a point that certainly could make a difference 30 years from new. However, the G50 also is heavier and typically the prices for the later Carreras, in part because of that transmission, tend to be higher. If you’re thinking strictly about adding one to a collection the G50 probably is the one to get. For a driver? It’s not so straightforward.

Generally speaking, unless you’re very patient most of these decisions will be made for you since you’re typically best off by buying the best available option from these years. A well sorted 911SC is likely to bring you more joy and fewer headaches than a 3.2 Carrera with some issues. Sometimes, however, the options are such that you really can have your choice and, in fact, in our case here your choice really is distilled down almost completely to the different transmissions.

Here we have two Grand Prix White 3.2 Carrera Targas with pretty similar mileage, pretty similar asking prices, and seemingly very similar condition.…

Double Take – 25,000 Miles Total: 1988 Porsche 944 Turbo S Silver Rose

We’ve managed to stick to a red interior theme so far today, and I’m going to further that just a bit more. But while red interiors in the 70s and 80s were super chic, few for me match the sheer audacity or execution of today’s twin 944 Turbo S Silver Rose models. And as I’ve spent the last few transaxle posts dancing around special models, it would seem fitting to cover what many consider to be the most special of all. Coincidentally, outside of some exceptional limited production models like the Turbo Cup, 968 CS or Turbo S, and 924 Carrera GTS, few are worth as much as this model either.

1988 saw numerous changes in the 944 Turbo lineup. The new option M758 “Turbo S” included a new turbocharger with redesigned vanes and a remapped DME which increased boost to a max of 1.82 bar. The resulting M44/52 had 30 more horsepower and 15 lb.ft torque to a max of 247 and 258, respectively. But the “S” package was far more than just more boost, as the cooling system was revised, the clutch and transmission were beefed up with hardened first and second gears.

Brakes were borrowed from the 928 S4 and now measured 12″ in front with four piston aluminum calipers. Wheels were Club Sport 16″ forged, polished and anodized units measuring 7 inches in front and 9 in the rear. Suspension was also beefed up with the M030 package; this included adjustable rebound Koni shocks and adjustable-perch coilovers in front. Limited slip differentials (Code 220) were not standard, but a must-select option.

Within the already limited edition S (of which about 1,900 were shipped to the US), there was another special edition. The “Silver Rose” launch cars took all of the special aspects of the M758 S package and added a unique color (Silver Rose Metallic, LM3Z) and a very unique Burgundy Studio Check interior.…

VRffordable Double Take: 1997 Volkswagen GTI VR6

Update 2/6/2018: After selling in November for $2,250, the new owner of the Candy White GTI is selling it with an uninstalled turbo kit asking $2,900 now.

Tired of seeing high prices for Corrado SLC VR6s? Today is your day, because nearly all of the fun offered in the 6-cylinder Corrado was also slotted into the GTI. For a hair under $20,000, you got the same thrilling 2.8 liter VR6 mated solely to a 5-speed manual. Did you want an automatic? Well, then buy the Jetta. Sure, that motor and the bigger body of the Mk.3 meant it was quite a bit heavier than the previous GTIs had been – by 1995, the ‘hot hatch’ had bulked up with 700 additional lbs of super-weight gain Mk.3000 versus the A1. But faster? Without a doubt. With nearly double the horsepower of the original U.S. market model, 0-60 was sub 7-seconds and you could hit 130 flat out. Coupled too with VW’s ‘we don’t care if you think it’s broke we’re not going to fix it’ styling attitude, the Mk.3 might have not looked as slinky as the Corrado, but underneath it was still a Golf and as such, practical.

So while the Corrado pretended to be a Porsche, the GTI remained the answer to the ‘what if’; you wanted a Porsche, but you a) didn’t want to (or couldn’t) pay for a Porsche, and 2) you occasionally needed a car that you could actually use to transport things other than your smile. This was the recipe that made the first two generations successful.

It was no surprise then that the third generation GTI remained a niche hit for Volkswagen even in relatively dire times for European imports. While finding a nice GTI VR6 can be quite difficult, it was a bit of a Thanksgiving treat to see two pop up in my feed.…

Double Take: 2011 Porsche 911 GT3 RS – Black or White?

This will be a study of complete contrasts. Light and dark. Two examples of the 997 GT3 RS that look equally stunning, but achieve that through entirely different means. One is paint to sample, the other a standard color. Both are somewhat rarely seen in this form, though in the case of the white RS it is more the lack of adornment that produces that rarity.

I had seen this paint-to-sample Black GT3 RS previously and knew I would want to take a closer look. Then I forgot about it. When I came back around to it a Carrara White GT3 RS had also come up for sale. White and Black: neither color is much outside the norm for most cars, but the GT3 RS is not like most cars. Black even was a paint-to-sample option, which almost beggars belief. Let’s take a look at that peculiarly rare black example first:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: PTS Black 2011 Porsche 911 GT3 RS on eBay

Face Off: 1980 Porsche 924 Turbo v. 1988 Porsche 924S Special Edition

Increasingly as some of our childhood (or, adulthood) heroes get priced out of sensibility for weekend warrior on a budget status, there are still some bastions of hope for the shoestring enthusiast. One of the best must undoubtedly be the underrated Porsche 924. As Sciroccos, GTIs, 944 Turbos, Quattros and the like take off in value, here lies a plethora of well-cared for, well-built and fun-to-drive cars that have good parts accessibility, reasonable repair costs and surprising amounts of practicality. Sure, it’s ‘just’ a 924, and Porschephiles will probably poo-poo your choice. So, too, will most of the rest of the automotive world. Their loss is your gain. Try as they might, outside of some very special 924 Carreras, these models that helped to keep Porsche afloat in the 1970s and 1980s still haven’t caught on with collectors.

So today I have two special 924s to consider once again. The first is a lofty Turbo model; finicky even in period, they’ve developed a reputation for lack of reliability and expensive repairs, but then have you ever seen the bill on a proper flat-6 rebuild? I’m going to compare it to the end-of-the-run 924S, and this one is the lightweight Special Edition model, too. Both are quite affordable and both appear to be in great condition, so which one is the winner?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1980 Porsche 924 Turbo on eBay

Tuner Tuesday E30 Showdown: 1986 Alpina C2 2.5 v. 1987 Hartge H26

We last got to look at a modified E30 through the disappointing realization that finally after years of trying to sell with different dealers, the car listed as an Alpina C2 2.5 was just a very convincing replica. But as noted, the car was clean and wore a lot of really expensive Alpina bits – so while the price tag of $22,800 seemed high for a replica, it was in some ways amazingly justified.

So what happens when the car in question is a real Alpina? We find out when we look at an actual Alpina C2. The asking price in that case was nearly double at $39,500. And when you factor in that the C2 is one of the less desirable E30 Alpinas out there, that’s drawn into sharper contrast.

So here we are again with another Alpina to consider, but it’s not alone. One of our readers spotted a Hartge H26 – an even more rare to see variant of modified 1980s E30. And to kick the rarity up a few notches, both are 4-doors instead of the usual 2-door sedans. So how do they compare in terms of pricing, and are these cars all that they seem?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Alpina C2 2.5 on eBay

White Christmas Double Take: 1995 BMW M3

Update 1/25/2018 – the first of this duo has dropped in price from $19,997 to $17,997.

Recently I found myself looking through some old car literature I had amassed over the years. In particular, I was completely enamored with the brand-new E36 M3 when it launched on U.S. shores. I’m not sure why, but of all the E36 variants that were produced, that first-year M has always stuck out to me as the most desirable in the lineup. And now as these cars are on the verge of being considered “antique” and with the E30 market still silly (and the E46 market rising), these early Coupes seem like a great balance of driving, collector-potential and somewhat reasonable pricing.

I say ‘somewhat’ because sellers have steadily been raising the bar to the point where it almost feels like price fixing. When I looked for ’95s on eBay the other day, I started laughing – there were five listed, and their prices were all within $1,000 of each other – and none were cheap. So with that in mind today I’m looking at twin Alpine White ’95s. They’re almost identically equipped. They’re priced within $2 of each other. That’s not a misprint – only a small coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts divides the asks on these two. But there’s a huge difference in mileage; some 60,000 between these two. So clearly the one with lower mileage is automatically the better bet, right?

Not so fast…

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 BMW M3 on eBay

Double Take – Both Baltic: 1989 Porsche 944S2

I’ve been ignoring the 944. It’s not that I have changed my opinion, or no longer love the thorn-in-Porsche-purists collective sides. But after spending plenty of time telling everyone what an incredible value the 924/44/68 series are for a while, I just capitulated that the market was unwilling to lift these well-built sports cars to a level which they deserve to be. Or, at the very least, I really felt like they should be on level footing with models that were their contemporaries; the Turbo, for example, which still regularly trades well below Quattro and M3 prices despite superior performance.

Yet while my attention swayed, some light has been shed on the model. As insane prices continue to reign in Munich and the Quattro has begun to rise precipitously over the past year, what was once a sure-bet value has commenced rapid appreciation – at least, in some cases. The high-water mark recent was just set with a 66,000 mile Grand Prix White 968 Coupe which sold for $36,250. That’s big money for the big four-cylinder. While not every single example is going to similarly take off, the writing may be on the wall.

So today I’ve got two 944S2 models to consider. Down on power (211 v. 237 with VarioCam) and a gear from the later model, they’ve always played second-fiddle to the Turbo S/89 Turbo models and the updated 968. Both are presented in the neat color of Baltic Blue Metallic. One is pristine, and one’s more of a project. Which is the one to grab?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Porsche 944S2 on eBay

Double Take: Choose Your Blue – 2016 Porsche Boxster Spyder

I’ve periodically had my eye out for the latest Porsche Boxster Spyder to feature. They don’t come up for sale all that often and most times when searching I have come up empty. The few times I have come across one it either sold very quickly or I came across an auction just prior to its end. My luck has finally come good.

The Spyder is the Boxster version of the Cayman GT4 and each serves as the swan song for these naturally aspirated Porsches. Like the GT4 it borrows its 3.8-liter engine from the 911 and in this form produces a nice 375 hp all routed to the rear wheels through a 6-speed manual transmission. For me it’s also the best looking Boxster Porsche has produced thus far.

Here not only have I finally found a Spyder I like, but I found two of them! Obviously, they had to be featured together. Both are paint-to-sample non-metallic blues and are very bright. I ran a similar feature a while back with two PTS GT3 RS in blue and now we turn to another of Porsche’s limited-production models. The overall spec of these Spyders is pretty similar so really it all comes down to the exterior: Voodoo Blue or Mexico Blue. Which to have?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: Voodoo Blue 2016 Porsche Boxster Spyder on Rennlist