1994 BMW 850CSi

I have a romantic vision that there will be some day that I’m able to go for a cruise on the weekend with my family in the fast GT car. Part of that stems from a childhood dream; my grandfather was lucky enough to own a Ferrari 250GT/L Lusso back in the 1960s and 1970s; it was long gone before I was any age to appreciate it, but I’ve always had a thought that I could buy one some day. Well, recent market changes have moved the Lusso from a $100,000 Ferrari to a $1,000,000 Ferrari – the chances of me ever buying one have gone from slim to none. Even the replacement models like the 365GTC/4 are also firmly out of reach too. So my dream of the classic Ferrari has moved on to more recent, affordable models. The 456GT is a great example – classic looks, perfect layout, and most reasonable examples can be had between $50,000 and $60,000. Great! The problem? Well, it’s still a Ferrari; frequent belt services seem to run between $6,000 and $10,000, the windows apparently fall out of place and are $1,000 to fix (if you can find and independent who can be trusted), even the brakes are multi-thousand dollars. What’s a reasonable option then? Well, I think the 850CSi is probably one of the best reasonable Ferrari replacements:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 BMW 850CSi on eBay

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1988 Porsche 928S4 5-speed

There’s a romantic vision I always seem to have; grabbing my wife and child, jumping in the exotic sports car and heading for the backroads for some spirited driving. That vision always seems to include some exotic; a Maserati Ghibli or perhaps even a Ferrari 400i. While Ferrari 400i prices have remained at a level attainable for mere mortals, the Ghibli has rocket well out of reach. But the Ferrari has problems, too – well, it’s a Ferrari. Last time I checked, maintaining those lovely stallions isn’t exactly cheap. But there is a much more practical supercar also born in the 1970s with futuristic styling and it’s a perennial favorite of ours; I’m speaking, of course, of the Porsche 928. Sure, compare the 928 to a Volkswagen Scirocco and it’s a very complicated, expensive car to run. But compare it to some of the exotics it ran against, and the 928 almost seems like a bargain to maintain. Great build quality, styling which has weathered the test of time and legendary GT performance make for a quite desirable package which is still very affordable in today’s world:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Porsche 928S4 on eBay

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To Force or Not to Force? 1987 944 Turbo v. 1989 944 S2

For some time, there has been an ongoing conflict in my head. All of me agrees that the Porsche 944 is a pretty awesome car; great looks, handling and performance in a bargain package with classic Porsche reliability and build quality. But I fight with myself over just which of the Porsche 944s I prefer. Some days, the forced induction Turbo captures my imagination; there’s been a 1989 Turbo in my family now for two decades and it’s a wonderful car. But I have to admit that it’s not been without its problems, and while it’s a cool package it seems almost too predictable as the “go to” “cheap” Porsche. Should it be criticized for being a spectacular performance bargain? That may not be fair, but just like the BMW E30 represents a good balance of performance and practicality, it’s sometimes just too popular for me. What’s the alternative? Well, the 944 has its own answer: the 944S2. Visually, the two are nearly indistinguishable to most non-enthusiasts. But the driving experience is quite different; the M44/51 turbo motor is legendary as a tuning platform and offers typical ’80s lag-prone explosive launches, while the M44/41 big 3.0 16V motor has seemingly effortless torque at your disposal but loves to run up the tach as well. Stand on it in a drag race, and the Turbo will win – nearly a second faster to 60 miles per an hour and 5 m.p.h. faster on the top end. But if you’re a clever S2 driver and catch the Turbo slightly off-guard, you’ll be right with them – and the S2 isn’t about drag racing, it’s about making a better all-around driver. So the S2 is the better choice? Well, perhaps – but then there’s the mystique of the Turbo model. Who doesn’t want to say they own a Porsche Turbo, really? Today I have an example of each – which will be the winner?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Porsche 944 Turbo on eBay

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Double Take: 1989 Porsche 944 Turbo

While the other day I wrote up two great looking early examples of one of the best performance bargains in classic German motoring, 944 Turbo. Now we’re going to look at the end of the run – the 1989 944 Turbo. Often mistakenly referred to as “S” by even enthusiasts (I’ve been guilty more than once myself), the ’89 did in fact gain all of the upgrades that the 1988 Turbo S received. Today we have two seemingly equal examples – but as we know, not all things are created equal. Which white over black ’89 is the one you’d choose?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Porsche 944 Turbo on eBay

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1995 BMW M3 Lightweight

There are plenty of people that think that the E36 M3 came to the U.S. in neutered form, but if you drive one you’ll realize that they’re pretty capable cars right out of the box. But BMW knew that the M3 would be hitting the track, and right out of the box they offered a more track-focused version. Stripped down and with extra aerodynamic equipment, the Lightweight was an instant hit with club racers and track addicts, but many enthusiasts still felt that they deserved the full-fat M3. However, if the recent trends with the E30 have taught us anything, it’s that even the less-special versions of the special cars will still command stronger money, and the Lightweight is certainly one of the more special E36 cars. Details like the moveable splitter and stackable rear wing, along with those great Motorsport-colored flags and forged wheels; I’ve loved this car since the first time I saw one pop up at the track in late 95:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 BMW M3 Lightweight on eBay

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Party Like It’s 1989 Week – Double Take: 1989 Volkswagen Scirocco GT

Much like the 1989 Polo GT and 1989 GTi 5-door, Europeans generally have been more interested in stylish examples of economy cars rather than the largest motor available. With gas prices pushing $8.00 a gallon and high taxes on larger engine displacements, it’s easy to understand why though Americans still haven’t gotten the message here. While the U.S. got the revered 16 valve version of the Scirocco 2, most European examples made due with less-thirsty 8 valve versions. That didn’t stop them from dressing the cars up, such as today’s twin Scirocco GTs, a model we didn’t get on these shores:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Volkswagen Scirocco GT on Mobile.de

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1993 BMW “M550CSi” – M5 with S70 V12 6-speed swap

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In my post about last week’s 2JZ swapped M5 many questioned why you would go through the expense and difficulty of swapping in the Toyota unit, or at least that it was downright sacrilegious to do so. Perhaps I have a looser sense of how to do things the proper way, but I certainly can recognize that the 2JZ unit is capable of higher levels of power than the original S62 V8 was for less money, and that at least makes some sense to me even if I wouldn’t do it. When I first came across today’s E34 M5, I was initially struck with awe, but as I’ve sat wondering what to write up about this car, that awe has slowly turned to a bit more confusion. The reason why is fairly straightforward – some enterprising individual has taken a quite nice Euro-market E34 M5 (great start) and swapped in the equally great S70B56 V12 from a 850CSi along with a 6 speed manual transmission. Take a look for yourself at this monster:

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Year: 1993
Model: M5
Engine: 5.6 liter V12
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 76,000 mi
Price: $20,000

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1993 BMW M5 S70 swap on Willz.Ca

Model: 1993 European M5 chassis
Chassis: WBSHC91090GD63011
Build Date: June 1992
Mileage: 76,000 miles
Colour: Black
Motor: 5.6L 850 CSi engine (S70B56) conversion
Interior: black leather mechanical sports seats, leather stitched center console and door skins
Transmission: new 6 speed manual
Traction Control:
Brakes Front: 2-piece, 355 (14″) rotors UUC 4 piston aluminum calipers
Brakes Rear: vented 328mm (12.9″) rotors
Wheels: 17 x 8 forged system II
Tires: 235-45 and 275-40 Dunlop Sport 5000
Features: front strut bar, HR springs, uprated sway bars, UUC short shifter, Eisenman stainless exhaust, in dash CD
Options: single air bag, ABS, rear deck wing, rear window shades, E code headlights, clear blinkers, Motorsport door handles
Comments: Hand built custom driveline by Brett Anderson from Koala Motorsport, Cleveland OH. Sold and registered as 1993. Self-leveling not removed – still functional. New EDC shocks all ’round. Quaife LSD.

As I said, initially I thought “Holy beep that is awesome!”; seeing that monster V12 in a real M car is sort of like 1995 got all sorts of better. But then I sat on it and thought about it some more, and came away confused. The S38 is a pretty strong motor and this car didn’t have many miles when it was yanked from what I can tell, so there’s that question. Then, the replacement motor is that awesome 5.6 V12. Well, at least it was awesome in 1995, but my main question comes from the result. That V12 is effectively two inline 6s, meaning you have double of nearly everything in the engine bay. On a 20 year old car, that’s not always a good thing – especially those early computers, which seem to have hiccups.

Then there is the second main question when you look at the performance. Sure, the S70 has a healthy bump of torque over the S38, but only 70 horsepower more than even the lowly 3.5 – bump up to the optional 3.8, and those numbers are closer. Then there’s the question of availability; it’s not like the S70 is a cheap motor to come by, so this was intentionally done at great expense. Further, unlike the all-aluminum M73, the M70-based S70 has a big old iron block, so you’re throwing off the balance some. While I have no doubt this car is a blast to drive and looks fantastic, I am left scratching my head a bit. Still, like the Supra-powered E39, I’m happy that someone went through the effort and created what would have been the ultimate handbuilt M-car. And it can all be yours for less than the price of most E39 Ms…

-Carter