Feature Listing: 2006 BMW 530xi Sports Wagon

The time has come to move on from our E61 as priorities have changed and its current driver would like something a bit more sporty! It’s been and continues to be a lovely car, supremely confident in all conditions and mind-boggling at consuming highway miles. An early 2006 launch model, it was specified with the Sport package in a rare color combination: Mystic Blue Metallic (A07) with Beige Dakota leather (LCBA). The Sport package on the E61 was limited to wheels and seats; dynamically there were no changes between it and the normal 530xi. But the Sport Package certainly transforms the look of the E61, with awesome-looking 18″ Style 123s and the perfect-fitting power sport seats. All Sports Wagons from this generation came stock with rear self-leveling air suspension and all-wheel drive. Both have performed flawlessly in our time of operation.

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1999 BMW 540i Touring 6-speed

Back to wagons!

Today’s example is another fan-favorite model, of which it seems surprisingly hard to find a great example. The E39 continued and expanded the 5-series wagon’s popularity by bringing bigger wheels, more power and updated looks to the mid-range Audi-challenger. Like the first generation, these were only available in rear-wheel drive in the U.S., so matching the all-wheel drive variants available from…well, everyone else, required a very good looking and potent package. BMW pulled that off, with the Sport versions of both the 528i and 540i Tourings thoroughly encapsulating the ethos of the great Euro wagons.

But there was a catch.

If you wanted a manual gearbox, you had to select the lower output 528i model. For all its shouty V8-ness, the 282 horsepower 4.4 liter M62-equipped 540i only came with BMW’s Steptronic if you needed to haul ass and a family. Of course, that hasn’t stopped a few enterprising individuals from combining the manual from the sedan with the more desirable wagon:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1999 BMW 540i Touring 6-speed on eBay

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2006 Audi A6 Avant S6 Conversion

Why not kick off the New Year with a few fantastic wagons? Sounds like a good idea to me!

A few years ago, I looked at a pretty tempting bit of forbidden fruit – a C6 Audi S6 Avant. Loaded up with enough tech to employ half of Palo Alto, the C6 moved the concept of the C5 S6 Avant a few notches ahead. The jump from C4 to C5 was 113 horsepower strong, and the next generation nearly matched that. With 95 more horses to net 435, the new C6 had one more gear, more space and even more luxury than the car it replaced. But thanks to very slow sales of the prior generation in the U.S. market, it never came here. Although they’re at least twelve years old now, that means we’re still a solid teenager away from seeing an easily legal import here.

Or are we?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2006 Audi A6 Avant S6 Conversion of Seattle Craigslist

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Right Hooker Week: 1994 Audi S2 Avant

With the news that in a short twenty-three years Britain plans on no longer having internal combustion engines for sale, I was struck with the idea of a theme week. We haven’t done one in a while, but what about looking at some of the cars that are available in England that won’t be welcome there soon, but would be right at home in my driveway? Sure, they’ll mostly be right hand drive, but I’ve done it before and for the price of some of these cars I’d be happy to offer them sanctuary when they’re no longer register-able in Great Britain.

With that in mind, I’ll start with what is likely top of my list – the Audi S2 Avant. I know, I know – most enthusiasts pine over the much more legendary, quicker and more rare RS2. But there are a few reasons for me to like the S2 even more. When I lived in England, there was a Cyclamen example that parked near my flat. I ran by it often, and even had a few daydreams as training miles passed under foot that I’d be rowing through the gears. So, it is with a bit of nostalgia that I view them every time. Next, I like the look more. The gaping guppy look of the RS2 became signature for the RS models moving forward, but the S2 is very handsome in a classic Audi way without being as shouty. But most of all, it’s the price. While RS2s are still treading in the $40-$100,000 range for decent examples, a very nice S2 Avant can be had for only a fraction of that amount:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 Audi S2 Avant on eBay.co.uk

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2002 Audi S6 Avant 6-speed

Seriously, what’s the deal? Almost immediately after completing expensive 6-speed manual swaps, both S6 and S8s come up for sale. Today’s example, having covered about 9,000 miles since its swap, might be one of the most traveled examples with a manual swap that I’ve seen. Are the results not what people were expecting? That the manual was combined with the S4’s similar V8 in a package that many enthusiasts love would tend to be an indication that the output of this equation should be quite good. Yet, it’s frankly not all that uncommon to run across a manual swapped C5 or D2 that, after several thousand dollars worth of work and programming, is now up for sale. There’s even one near me for under $4,000 – complete!

So what do you think the deal is?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Audi S6 Avant 6-speed on Denver Craigslist

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Signature Color Face-Off: 2004 v. 2007 Audi S4 Avants

The S4 Avant is no stranger to these pages, offering enthusiasts a “have-your-cake-and-throw-it-squarely-at-that-M3-owner’s-face-too” package which combined functionality and sport in a very discrete wrapper. Well, for the most part they were discrete; most were ordered in shades of gray because a fair amount of people ponying up new were conservative with everything but the money they were paying for this small executive wagon. Lightly optioned, an S4 Avant was north of $50,000 in 2004, a price today that would having you knocking on the A7 and S6’s base price. That sticker shock masks that the B6 and B7 represented a huge price increase over the B5 generation; out the door, the cost on average about 20% – 30% more only 3 years later – but then, they offered a full 90 horsepower advantage over the twin-turbocharged V6 with that awesome 4.2 V8, which of course could still be combined with a 6-speed manual gearbox. Subtle though the exterior colors may be, the performance on tap was anything but.

But some enterprising individuals chose the vivid colors which had become the signature of the model in B5 form. Nogaro Blue Pearl Effect was, of course, the go-to for all things fast Audi since it was originally called RS Blue on the original super Avant RS2. But a nearly equal amount were requested in Imola Yellow, a staggering, retina-burning banana-toned shade that seems initially out of character with a family wagon, yet raises the cool-bus level to 11. Though Nogaro was replaced in the B7 chassis refresh with Sprint Blue Pearl Effect, Imola carried over for the end of the V8s.

Today, I have one of each – so which is your style?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 Audi S4 Avant on eBay

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2001 Audi RS4 – REVISIT

After trying for a few months to shift this RS4 over $40,000 back in the Spring, this awesome original Avus Pearl Audi RS4 is back on the market at a discount. The seller’s highest auction bidding reached $26,000 but failed to hit the reserve. Now it’s back up for sale at $36,000. For our friends in the Great White North, this car offers a lot of future collectability but for U.S. fans, you’ll have to go through some Federalization work to get it here. The good news is that others have already done this, so it is possible to bring this Euro-only wunderwagon stateside. While $36,000 sounds like a lot, the hand-built, exclusive nature of the RS4 coupled with performance that is still not far from cutting edge the best part of two decades later seems like a deal. However, since no one has snapped this one up it would seem to indicate the lack of appreciation for the RS4 at this current time – surprising, since we’ve seen replica RS-inspired models in the U.S. come close to the asking price. Is it just that it hasn’t been brought to the U.S. yet?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Audi RS4 on eBay

The below post originally appeared on our site February 3, 2016:

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Horned Mythological Beast? 2008 BMW 535xi Touring 6-speed

There are a lot of often used and consequently misused terms in the automotive world. Recently, I saw a post asking what the most annoying or inappropriate car name was and the comments slowly devolved into just hating on certain types of cars rather than poorly named cars. A bad car is the PT Cruiser, and while the name “PT Cruiser” is odd, it’s not as off-putting to me as some other names – like, for example, the Japanese adding of “a” to the end of a normal word to make a car name. Yesterday I was behind a Suzuki Forenza – theoretically, named for Firenza (itself misspelled, since it should really be Firenze), the Italian name of Florence. Having been to Florence, I can find nothing in common with that city and the car. Nor can I find anything in common with the wonderful Italian Renaissance city and the Daewoo Lacetti which the Suzuki is based upon. Of course, there is a real city of Forenza, but since it’s a random obscure place in the center of relatively poor Southern Italy, I doubt that the geniuses at Suzuki felt it would be poignant to name a car after it. Of course, then again – it’s a cheap and obscure car – so perhaps they’re more clever than I give them credit for. But, I digress.

Where was I going? Oh, that’s right. Unicorns. The term “Unicorn” is one that I run across nearly every day in my daily car searches. Now, by itself that would negate the whole idea of the unicorn, right? I mean they’re supposed to be rare, but if everyone has them then they’re not very rare, are they? Okay, so the frequency with which I seem to find self-described unicorns is off. Perhaps they’re Narwhals? That might be more appropriate, since I also never see hooves, they’re infrequently white, and their blood doesn’t keep others alive – nor is it silver. Did I mention they’re also not immortal? Then there is the issue of who is able to capture them. Now, while wizards are theoretically able to use their magic wands to put unicorns under a trance, folklore would tell us that really it’s only virgins who can subdue a unicorn. Beyond that, though, there’s a much larger issue with the descriptor:

“So, what’s the issue with Unicorns?”
“Imagine a cat,” Rose said. “Not just a cat, but a cat that is such a cat, other cats come to it for cat lessons. Take a thousand cats, refine them down to a single drop of pure essence of cat, and make a whole cat out of the stuff.”
I shivered. “Ewww. And that’s a Unicorn?”
“No,” she said. “That’s an Elf. A Unicorn is a thousand times worse. An Elf you can reason with.”
Bryan Fields, Life With a Fire-Breathing Girlfriend

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 BMW 535xi Touring on eBay

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2003 Audi S6 Avant 6-speed

It’s with some confusion that I write this post. There are several reasons for that, but it boils down to really two things; I keep seeing this car, and I don’t understand why it’s for sale. In general, S6 Avants aren’t really often seen. I don’t think that anyone who knows C5 Audis would consider Aqua Blue Pearl Effect to be a particularly common color. Find one with the Alcantara Recaro seats and it’s likely down to single digits. And to narrow that down even further, 6-speed converted S6 Avants pop up from time to time, yet generally aren’t often seen. But combine all of those things and there only has to be one, right? Well, wrong – as there appear to have been no less than two identical 6-speed converted Aqua Blue Pearl Effect 2003 S6 Avants for sale on the West Coast over the past two years. And what is even more confusing is that they keep coming up for sale. The first one appeared in January 2014 and was stock with 95,000 miles and on offer for just below $16,000. It was back in March 2015, now with 105,000 miles and on offer for $500 less. So in September when a nearly identical one popped up for $16,500, you’d presume it was the same, right? Well, wrong – this one has more miles and is highly modified. But at its base is the same Aqua Blue Pearl Effect with Alcantara and a 6-speed swap. As strange as that is, what perplexes me even more every time one of these or their S8 cousins come up for sale, though, is why anyone would go through all the trouble of the manual conversion only to sell the car shortly after:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Audi S6 Avant 6-speed on eBay

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Tuner Tuesday: 2008 Audi A4 2.0T quattro Avant S-Line STaSIS Touring Package

I’ve got to admit that I have a pretty big soft spot in my heart for the B7 Avant, and without a doubt my favorite is the one with one of the longest names Audi ever blessed a car with – the A4 2.0T quattro Avant S-Line Titanium Package. It’s not quite as bad as some of the recent BMW number/letter/word designations (I’m looking at you, X5 xDrive35d M Sport) but it’s pretty ridiculously long. Luckily, to make up for that, it is ridiculously good looking too, as well as capable and tunable. In fact, I’d wager that the 2.0T is long-term a much better ownership proposition and practically as fast when compared to the S4. Of course, I do have one complaint – the interior. S-Line cars came only with black interiors – which is another reason that today’s car is all the more interesting. At first glance, it appears to be just another grey colored A4 Avant. But get closer, and the details make the package pretty special. Underneath, this A4 has been thoroughly revised by noted race specialist tuner STaSIS, who through their “Touring Package” upped the power of the 2.0T by 25% to 245 horsepower with even more torque. Rolling on bigger unique wheels, the Touring kit also upgraded the suspension to STaSIS coilovers and hid S4-spec larger brakes. Along with some badging, the kit was a staggering $9,000 addition to your already expensive A4. But a neat package it makes, and this one is certainly interesting:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 Audi A4 2.0T quattro Avant S-Line STaSIS Touring Package on Providence Craigslist

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