Feature Listing: 1957 Mercedes-Benz 190SL

I write a lot about Mercedes-Benz and their monetary values. The overwhelming majority of the time their values are depreciating or, at best, holding steady. Every once in a blue moon I come across a car which is actually appreciating in value. Today’s featured car is not only appreciating, but is one of the hottest models in the substantial Mercedes-Benz catalog you can buy at the moment. That car is the 190SL. Produced from 1955 to 1963, the 190SL was the baby bother of the now seven-figure 300SL. Although similarly styled, the 190SL was much different mechanically than the 300SL with a carbureted four-cylinder and built on a shorted saloon chassis as opposed to a tubular space-frame like the 300SL. Because of this, 190SL values stayed relatively flat and didn’t have great demand outside of a few particularly outstanding examples. However, now that the 300SL have reached a point where they are so valuable that even putting miles on them is frowned upon by collectors, the baby brother 190SL isn’t so “baby” anymore in terms of value and collectibility. Today’s 190SL for sale in Ohio is right in that sweet spot for a classic car that can be enjoyed.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1957 Mercedes-Benz 190SL on Hemmings

Feature Listing: 1997 BMW 328is

For the 1996 model year, BMW replaced the 325 with the lightly revised 328 model. Power was up with the new M52B28, good for 190 horsepower and 210 lb.ft of torque. Although the new motor represented only a 1 horsepower net gain, there was now 15% more torque and a broader, more usable power band with the M52. That change alone was enough to slash the best part of a second off the 0-60 time, which now came in 7.3 rather than 8 seconds. The motor was much more than just an increase in displacement; lighter internals, revised intake and exhaust and dual oxygen sensors meant it was more efficient and smoother, too. New wheels, body-color lower moldings and revised kidneys were met with, amazingly, a lower price point as the base price of the 328 coupe fell a little over $500 to approximately $33,000.

‘Meet the new Boss’ continued to be the theme for the 3-series then, which remained the benchmark by which all others were judged. Car and Driver pronounced the chassis as “the definitive sports sedan” and the 328 and M3 models continued their dominance of the magazine’s perennial 10 Best list. That this proclamation came from notorious Bavarian-leaning C&D is perhaps no surprise, but what may shock some is that the 3-series didn’t appear as a winner until the E36 chassis in 1992, while it would go on to place an astonishing and unmatched 22 times.

Yet despite their prowess, we tend to only focus on one model in the range – the M3. Perhaps that’s because of their prolific production, perhaps because of their relative affordability; likely we just take it for granted because the 3-series seems to be ageless in its competency. Certainly, it’s an injustice to the normal 325/328 models, in their own right an excellent choice for enthusiasts.…

Feature Listing: 1991 Audi 200 20V quattro Avant

1991 was a great year for Audi and Volkswagen enthusiasts in America, robust with performance options all around. Fans of normally aspirated motors had multiple double-cam choices; the 16V twins from Volkswagen with the GTI/GLIs, each with heavily bolstered Recaros and awesome BBS wheels. Going slightly less boy racer and more upscale yielded the equally impressive 20V inline-5 duo from Audi, with the Coupe Quattro and 90 20V quattro. They weren’t as quick off the line, but they were certainly well built, solid performing luxury vehicles. Of course, the big daddy of normal aspiration in the lineup was the V8 quattro. Still at 3.6 liters and 240 horsepower for 1991, it was also available with a manual transmission and was in the midst of a winning streak in the DTM series, usurping power from the E30 M3 and 190E 2.5-16 in monumental style.

If forced induction was more your choice for speed, there were plenty of options there, as well. 1991 featured a slightly revised Corrado, now also with BBS wheels and the 1.8 liter G-lader supercharged motor. Audi offered you a luxury cruiser still in the 200 Turbo, as well. But the big news was finally the release of the 20V Turbo motor into the lineup. Long featured in the Sport Quattro, then RR Quattro in Europe and later S2, in America Audi brought the 3B turbocharged inline-5 package in the 200. As an added bonus, it was available in both sedan form and the innovative Avant wagon. Producing 217 horsepower and a bit more torque, the Audi was capable of 0-60 runs in the mid-6 second range if you were quick with your shifts. But this wasn’t a bracket racer – the 200 was a luxury car through and through, with a well-appointed cabin full of the things you’d expect – Zebrano wood trim, electric powered and heated leather seats front and rear, and a high-quality Bose stereo.…

Feature Listing: 1977 Porsche 924 Martini World Championship Edition

In 1976, Porsche won the World Sportscar Championship for makes with successful runs in both the 935 and prototype 936 chassis. The 936 was triumphant at Le Mans in the already famous Martini livery, while a series of 935/76s carried the colors in Group 5 FIA sports car racing. It was there that Porsche introduced the ‘slant nose’ aerodynamic bodywork that became the hot mod on 911s in the 1980s; however, in the 1970s you could get a very nice slantnose Porsche – replete with Martini Racing colors – for a lot less than a 911 Turbo.

To commemorate the success of the 1976 season, in 1977 Porsche released a limited run of Martini-colored 924s. Option M426 was the Martini World Championship Edition, and it cost $450. Add in a removable roof like this one for about $350, and the sticker price of this car just passed $10,000. For that sum, Porsche gave you quite a lot of visual enhancement; bathed only in pure white, the 924’s 8-spoke alloy wheels were color-matched to the body. Martini stripes ran the length of the sides, their design mimicking the wedge shape of the 924. Inside, a special two-tone interior of scarlet corduroy and black leatherette was offset with Martini stripes stitched into the upper portion of the seats and blue piping ran throughtout. A commemorative plaque was added to the back of the center console, too, reminding you that the car you were driving was from the house of a champion. You held a real leather steering wheel, and helping execute your commands was achieved by Porsche adding sway bars to the suspension both front and rear. It was a series of small changes that resulted in a neat package, and one that is sought by collectors of the transaxle design today:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1977 Porsche 924 Martini Championship Edition on Hemmings

Feature Listing: 1996 Porsche 911 Turbo

Given the significant love shown to the 993 in general, and especially the 993 twin-turbo, it might seem strange that I would have to be brought around on them. Yet, that’s exactly the case. Don’t get me wrong, I need no convincing that these are phenomenal machines and their status as the last of the air-cooled 911s brings with them obvious additional layers of allure. But I was a kid in the ’80s so it is the ’80s 911s and the ’80s 930s that really tug at my heart. In the case of the 930, they aren’t sexy cars; they attract by a seeming brute force. In that regard, the 993 almost seemed too pretty. The all-wheel drive and twin-turbocharging features further served to tame the beast. The wildness seemed…not gone, but tamped down.

If I’m honest, when I see a standard 993 these feelings largely remain. They’re very pretty, but my mind still drifts back to the classic 911 or, with increasing regularity, to the 964. The Turbo is different. I’ve been brought around. The wide rear and massive tail pair well with the 993’s curves to produce something that is indeed pretty, but also clearly not to be trifled with. I kind of don’t know what took me so long to figure this out, but I’m glad to present this low-mileage example in the classic colors of black and tan: a Black Metallic 1996 Porsche 911 Turbo with Cashmere leather interior and just 28K miles on it.…

Feature Listing: 2004 Porsche Cayenne Turbo

Did the world need a 450 horsepower Porsche off-roader? Maybe not. Is it cool that one exists? Certainly. Porsche came to the SUV party a little later than Mercedes-Benz, BMW and even corporate partner Volkswagen, but when it did it came in with some serious motivation. Alongside the VR6 and V8 models – already fairly potent engines – came a twin-turbocharged 4.5 liter unit. With 450 horsepower and 460 lb. ft of torque mated to a six-speed Tiptronic transmission, acceleration was blistering. The 5,700lb heavyweight hit 60 in a sports car embarrassing 5.3 seconds and was capable of topping 170 mph. Massive six piston Brembo brakes provided 911-like braking capability, too, and while in default the car had a 60 percent power bias to the rear, Porsche Traction Management system could transfer up to 100 percent of the power to whichever axle needed it most – or, more properly, was using it best.

That hinted that this was more than just a tall on-roader like the X5. No, the Cayenne was a serious off-roader. With lockable center and rear differentials, a low-range box with planetary gearing and height adjustable air suspension, it was more than competent when the going got rough. And with short overhangs both front and rear, it could actually conquer big elements. Pushed, it could also head through nearly 2-foot deep water, as well.

For most Cayenne (and especially Cayenne Turbo models), these features were about as useful for most owners as the top speed of the entire 911 range in the U.S. is. Nevertheless, it pointed towards Porsche’s careful engineering of the Cayenne to be a true all-around performer. And that unique focus on performance has inspired some individuals to capitalize on the model’s prowess:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 Porsche Cayenne Turbo on eBay

Feature Listing: 1986 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16

Creating the W201 series was a monumental undertaking for Daimler-Benz. Design and prototyping ran through the early days of the 1980s as the company spent 2,000,000,000 DM in development costs for the small chassis to compete against the 3-series. This amount included construction of a new factory in Bremen to help produce the W201. Bruno Sacco, head of Mercedes-Benz styling in the late 1970s and early 1980s, created a compact rendering of the S-class formula which worked well. The chassis brought new refinement to the small executive market, with multi-link independent rear suspension and anti-dive front suspension, along with increased levels of sound deadening and lower wind noise from the aerodynamic design.

Mercedes-Benz wasted little time demonstrating that the new “Baby Benz” was, indeed, worthy of the three-pointed star. The culture within the engineering department was still very much funded with an open checkbook, so no stone was left unturned to created a sedan of unparalleled quality and without compromise. To prove this point, shortly after its introduction Daimler-Benz took three of the newly launched, high-performance 190E 2.3-16 variant to the Nardo test track in Italy. At a time when not many family sedans were able to exceed much more than 110 mph, the diminutive Benz topped 150. But it wasn’t just for a moment; over ten days, the W201s lapped Nardo at a fevered pace, conquering world records in distance over time. First fell the 25,000 km World Record time, then the 25,000 mile one. Ultimately, along with a slew of class records, the 190E 2.3-16s averaged 154 mph for 31,000 miles – yet still returned over 10 mpg.

That achievement signaled the launch of a new level of small sedan performance which soon would be met with improved models from BMW and other marques. And while those subsequent models would go on to be more famous on the race track, the 190E made its mark nonetheless.…

Feature Listing: 2006 Porsche Cayman S

I sometimes feel I am neglectful of the Porsche Cayman. I write almost exclusively about Porsches and it turns out equally exclusively about the 911. This is by choice, not necessarily by design. The Cayman is (in relative terms) the new kid on the block for Porsche so it doesn’t always possess the sort of historicity that remains rooted in my brain. In simpler terms: these were not the Porsches that captivated me as a kid; not the Porsches that I saw on posters and dreamed about. All of this may be to my loss.

The Cayman is a fantastic car possessing inherently better dynamic balance than its much more well known sibling, the 911. Porsche has been oft criticized for holding the Cayman back, portrayed as fearful that it would overtake their beloved 911, but that doesn’t make the Cayman a family sedan. Impeccable balance, impeccable feel, and still plenty of power for everyday use characterize the chassis. In S specification with a 6-speed manual transmission you’re getting nearly 300 horses propelling a car weighing just over 3,000 pounds. That’s good for 0-60 in around 5 seconds and should you so desire you’ll top out north of 170 mph – not too shabby. There really is a lot to love with these cars and here we have one that comes from the very beginning: an Indischrot 2006 Porsche Cayman S with Sand Beige leather interior and just 31,000 miles on it.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2006 Porsche Cayman S at Eurowerkz

Feature Listing: 2006 BMW 330xi

Although BMW finally equalized the all-wheel drive advantage of its rival Audi as early as the E30, it would take a few generations for the company to offer a truly potent variant of the small four season executive sedan. But when it finally got around to it with the E90, it was a great package. Although the E46 was a hard act to follow, the Bavarians stepped up with an all new 330 model. Now powered by the N52B30 rated at 255 horsepower, it packed even more punch than the outgoing E46. And like its predecessor, the top-of-the-range 330 could be selected with BMW’s constantly variable x-drive all-wheel drive system.

Utilizing a central multi-plate clutch and many computers to monitor vehicle and wheel speed, steering input and throttle/braking, the intelligent all-wheel drive system took the guess work out of poor weather situations. But it was far from the only trick item in the 330’s arsenal. The N52, one of the last developments of the naturally aspirated inline-6 that had been the anchor of the BMW lineup for decades, was a truly special unit. The block was cast from magnesium with an aluminum core. Variable valve timing for both cams meant a guttural screaming at up to 7,000 rpm, yet it was able to return over 30 mpg on the highway. It’s a mind-blowing type of motor that’s just good in every situation and sounds great, too. While the change to the new square dashboard was less driver-oriented, the E90 packed serious computing power beneath its Swiss chalet look; a minimalist design with high quality materials that has stood the test of time well.

Of course, the most desirable of these models were the sport package equipped examples. And, of those, the manual transmission option is the one to get. Welcome, everyone, to just that car:…

Feature Listing Double Take: Kachel Motor Company’s 2006 Porsche Cayman S and 2007 Cayman S 3.8

While the Porsche 986 Boxster might have been the car that saved Porsche with its massive popularity, the 987-derived Cayman was what made the mid-engine design popular with track enthusiasts. Especially in more potent “S” form, the Cayman is a giant killer with sublime vehicle dynamics and plenty of punch even without a turbo. The 987 refresh in 2005 fixed many of the perceived visual faults of the 986 Boxster design with a slant towards a more aggressive look. The Coupe added a smooth, flowing hatchback line to the 997-inspired exterior, creating a lightweight, 7/8ths scale mid-engine 911. That it was less expensive than the traditional flat-6 lineup didn’t hurt, either. It was, and remains, a hit.

It was no surprise then that immediately these Caymans became popular with track enthusiasts and racers alike, spawning their own race series in the PCA. But you don’t need to fork over $100,000 for one of the rare Napleton Interseries cars to have a lot of fun at the track, as Kachel Motor Company proves with this duo of Cayman S racers:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2006 Porsche Cayman S on Panjo