Feature Listing: 1967 NSU TT

As Konrad Adenauer slowly rebuilt West German in the post-War era, the resulting Wirtschaftswunder finally realized the economic prosperity necessary for personal automobile ownership; something that Germany had lagged far behind its rivals in until well after the War. Though they had developed the first motorized carriages and had a reputation as a nation of drivers thanks to some clever Nazi propaganda and the development of the revolutionary highway system, the reality was that in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s Germany was a nation of riders – motorcycles, that is.

It comes as no surprise, then, that the fledgling car companies which were the most successful at first were able to incorporate motorcycle technology into their automobiles. This kept development and production costs down, and in turn meant that the company could bring a small, economical car to market much more inexpensively than a traditional manufacturer. This worked perfectly for BMW, whose Isetta and later 700 models paved the way for the modern car company you know today. But BMW was not the only motorcycle-engine toting company, and though the name isn’t as well-known today, it was NSU Motorenwerke that was the world’s premier motorcycle producer in the 1950s. So, in the late 1950s, NSU put those great engines to work in the back of their new economy car – the Prinz.

The Prinz would go on over the next decade to develop several times. The Prinz I-III models featured continuous upgrades, better driveability, and more power from the twin. But in 1961 the Prinz 4 model took NSU to a much larger market. It featured modern 3-box sedan styling, though it retained the twin drivetrain from the earlier models. The Prinz 1000 model rectified the motivation issues, introducing a new air-cooled 1000cc inline-4. This package was then further developed into a sporting model; the TT.…

Feature Listing: 1995.5 Audi S6 Avant

It’s often difficult for a second act to follow a legend, and that’s just what the C4 S4 had to do when it launched for U.S. customers in 1992. The Type 44 was already a fan favorite before the 20V version appeared here briefly for the 1991 model year, with wider flared track, bigger brakes, and more power. To answer fans, Audi introduced an even more potent version with the S4; even bigger wheels, lower suspension, and a few more horses were encased in a thoroughly modern shape, yet one that was easily recognizable to fans of the brand. With a reputation for smooth power delivery and still the market cornered on all-wheel drive performance luxury vehicles, Audi’s new S4 sold out almost immediately in a period when the European makes had difficulty moving their expensive wares.

But the Type 44 still held one advantage over its replacement; an optional fifth door. While the Avant version of the new 100 was available immediately, there was no range-topping S4 wagon brought here. That was finally remedied with the relaunch of the now renamed S6 Avant for 1995. With smoothed out bumpers, revised passenger mirror, rolling changes such as new Speedline Avus 6-spoke wheels replaced the Fuchs that the S4 wore, and headrests became closed. There were more changes with the ‘95.5’ model; the infrared remote locking became radio frequency and the B-pillar receiver disappeared; so, too, did the option to lock the rear differential yourself, as Audi opted to work in an electronic differential lock utilizing the ABS speed sensors rather than a physically locking rear end.

These were really only minor changes to the recipe, which at its roots remained a fan fantasy. The traditional inline-5 that had hung out of the nose of the high-end Audis was still there, with its dual-cam head augmented by electronic fuel injection and electronic boost control.…

Feature Listing: 1990 BMW M3 Sport Evolution

While the name “Evolution” become synonymous with Mitsubishi’s WRX-fighting Lancer for the X-Box generation, the term had much greater meaning for racing fans in the 1980s and 1990s. That was the period where homologation really took off; in order to be eligible to race, the FIA stipulated a certain amount of vehicles generally matching the race version of a car would have to be produced. This resulted in some great race-inspired production cars, and in order to best each other on the race track manufacturers would be forced to modify those cars. In order to have the modifications legal to race, the maker would have to introduce those significant changes to the road-going model, too. Those changed models would be termed “Evolution” to differentiate their model changes. As a result, enthusiasts ended up with ‘Evo’ versions of the Ford RS200, the V8 quattro, the Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 and, of course, the M3.

The M3 Evolution I was first introduced in 1987 with only a slightly revised motor. The Evolution II followed in 1988, and signaled the first real changes in the lineup. Major alterations to the aerodynamics, bodywork, chassis, and engine netted more power, more downforce and less weight for the FIA-regulated 500 units sold to market. Iconic even within the impressive normal M3 production, these fan-favorites generate feverish bids when they come to market.

But there is an even more desirable variant: The Sport Evolution. BMW Motorsport GmbH maxed out its E30 development in an all-out attempt to dominate the world’s racetracks. A new 2.5 liter S14 cranked out nearly 240 horsepower, while the same ‘add lightness’ recipe was prescribed; lightweight glass and body panels were met with adjustable front and rear spoilers. Signature 7.5″ wide BBS wheels were now darker Nogaro Silver and 10mm closer to the body thanks to lower suspension, while special Recaro seats kept you firmly planted inside from the g-force they were capable of generating.…

Feature Listing: 1996 Porsche 911 Turbo

I do so love a black 993. I know I take particular interest in Porsche’s wide variety of available colors, especially the many pastels they have made available over the years, but my heart will always belong with black. Were I a collector wanting to showcase my cars and Porsche’s iconic selections, then pastels are great, but for an everyday driver I prefer the seeming anonymity of a black car. I also happen to think they can be extremely beautiful when looking their best. There is always that caveat – a black car must be looking its best – but they can be stunning.

The 993, and especially the 993 Turbo with its wider rear, showcases the color very well as it reflects off the car’s well drawn curves. These are the prettiest 911s – a point that doesn’t always sit right with me when thinking about the Turbo. The 930, such an icon of 911 excellence, hardly is a pretty car. It’s almost aggressive appearing to a fault and the 993 softens much of that. In the flesh they are stunning though and it’s easy to appreciate those curves.

As you can probably guess, I like the look of this 911 quite a bit: a Black on Black 1996 Porsche 911 Turbo with 65,508 miles on it on offer from Lusso Fine Motorcars in Scottsdale.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1996 Porsche 911 Turbo at Lusso Fine Motorcars

Feature Listing: 1994 Mercedes-Benz E320 Cabriolet

I can’t say it enough times how special the Mercedes-Benz W124 Cabriolet is. On the outside, yes, it just looks like a W124 coupe with the top removed. But like I said here, it is far from Clarkson breaking a sawzall out and saying ‘How hard could it be?’. Over 1,000 parts needed to be changed to take this handsome coupe and turn it into a handsome cabriolet. No easy task, but then again, this is Mercedes-Benz we’re are talking about and I have faith in them. So should you.

What brings me to talk about the W124 Cabriolet once again is this beautiful 1994 E320 for sale in sunny Georgia. It checks all the boxes if you are looking for a prime example of the model. This is the facelift version painted in beautiful Polar White with blue leather interior and a blue top. The news only gets better from there.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 Mercedes-Benz E320 Cabriolet on eBay

Feature Listing: 1981 Mercedes-Benz 280E

I give a lot of love to the Mecedes-Benz W123 and rightfully so, some think it is the best car ever produced. A few even claim that in these Benz models will be the only survivors of in a post-apocalyptic world. I’m not one to argue as I own a 1983 240D and drive it on a regular basis. It is far from perfect and has it flaws, but when I’m driving down the road in it I can’t help but think how satisfied I am in it. When I really think about it, my most my complaints are from the powerplant in the 240D. Sure, it is as dead simple and reliable as the day is long. But on the other hand it is loud, not that smooth, is dangerously under powered at times and leaves a film of diesel residue from the exhaust on the interior when I drive with the windows down. (I’m sure that isn’t great for my lungs either.) The 5-cylinder OM617 solves some of the problems, but it is still unrefined at times. So what are the other options then? How about a silky smooth inline-6? Luckily, Mercedes-Benz offered that option in the W123 and while not nearly as common as the diesel cars, they are still out there.

This 1981 280E for sale in Maryland offers up that inline-6 option. It has everything great about the W123 but also a 2.8 liter that makes a very respectable 185 horsepower! This is a far cry from the 84 horsepower in the 240D and the 125 horsepower in the 300D. The M110 engine uses a Bosch K-Jetronic injection system that is reliable, not overly complicated and though it won’t return diesel-level gas mileage, it won’t break your wallet either.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1981 Mercedes-Benz 280E on Hemmings

Feature Listing: 1983 Volkswagen Rabbit Convertible Wolfsburg Limited Edition

In the early 1980s, there were precious few options for open-air German motoring. Sure, there was the tried and true Mercedes-Benz SL; a luxury car aimed more at boulevard cruising and polo club grand-standing than the Sport Licht moniker would indicate. Porsche’s 911 Cabriolet was certainly more sporty, but also too expensive for most to contemplate as a fun second car. BMW and Audi? The latter was over a decade away from having a factory convertible, and the former took until the mid-80s to introduce its drop-top 3-series. For the plebeians, then, the only real option was Volkswagen’s Rabbit convertible.

Rabbit Convertibles were produced by Karmann in Osnabrück, Germany – about a two and a half hour drive west from Volkswagen’s Wolfsburg plant. As they did with the Scirocco, Karmann’s distinctive badge adorned the model, here on the front fenders. The intensive construction process laden with chassis strengthening and bespoke items like the added roll-over bar meant that VW’s normal production line couldn’t handle the task. Although these were the heaviest of the A1 models, compared to today’s metal they were downright lithe; a manual early Convertible like today’s, even with air conditioning optioned in, weighed less than 2,300 lbs. While never the most powerful in the lineup, the light weight and manual transmission made the original Rabbit convertibles one of the more entertaining ways to experience compact German engineering and open-air motoring in the notoriously malaise early 80s.

While the persona surrounding the model, and more generally the people who bought the model new, tends to steer away from the typical ‘enthusiast’, the Rabbit Convertible has nonetheless moved solidly into collector territory. It’s a smart-looking, practically packaged and fun to drive convertible that can be run on a budget, fit four people in relative comfort and generate smiles throughout. In a world of increasingly serious automobiles, the Rabbit Convertible and Cabriolet models were just simple fun.…

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.…