Not Quite As Good As the Renault 5: 1998 BMW 318ti M52

Okay, so maybe the Renault 5 isn’t your thing. I get it, it’s not mine either. I like the ideal and audacity of the Turbo models with their mid-engined lunacy, but pricing on good examples is pretty outrageous and if the videos of them driving are to be believed, they’re not the best hatch dynamically. No, I’ve pretty much always been a Golf fan, having owned a few of them now. But I must admit I had a soft spot when the E35/5 hatch popped up for sale. To me, it combined some luxury looks with practical performance. And when I say performance, honestly there wasn’t much available. The M44 engine that was fit to the 318ti was a decent performer, but it had only 138 horsepower, and at the price point you were much better off getting a GTi VR6, which oddly was more luxury oriented than most of the 318tis and offered more performance. However, the base of the 318ti was a good idea; a smart looking, light and nimble hatchback with a manual transmission and rear drive. And, of course, being an E36 platform, it was ripe for engine transplants. Today’s example is one of the more rare M-Sport equipped models, but this one has yanked the M44 in favor of an odd choice – the M52B25:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 BMW 318ti M52 on eBay

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Tuner Tuesday: 1990 Alpina B11 3.5

While many celebrate the E38 as the highpoint of 7-series design, I prefer the look of the E32. Perhaps that, in part, is because I was lucky enough to live with one for some time – one of the rare ’88 5-speeds, it was a car that I always enjoyed driving and especially enjoyed looking at. Granted, you could rightly claim that the E32 was stylistically not much more than a stretched E34. Is that such a bad thing, though? To me, the design language transferred really well and the E32 was well proportioned, modern looking and yet immediately identifiable as a large BMW,and yet muscular flares and a slight tick up in the body line towards the trunk was a built-in spoiler. The E38 took this design and refined it even more, with sleeker lines and a more dramatic drop in front – probably one of the main reasons, along with some killer wheels, that people prefer the later design. But outfit an E32 with lower suspension, a deeper air dam and some killer wheels, and the design is pretty awesome. The stripes don’t hurt, either – nor does the top-tier name Alpina painted all over:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Alpina B11 3.5 on eBay

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Feature Listing – 1991 BMW 535i Dinan Turbo

In the 1980s and early 1990s, Dinan was still on the cutting edge of performance tuning. As with Reeves Callaway, Steve Dinan had started turbocharging BMWs to create supercar-slaying sedans and coupes. At that point, Dinan was a lesser-known tuner than the likes of Alpina and Hartge, but the results of their turbocharging the S38 in the BMW M6 notably gained the car the nickname “The Annihilator”. That should tell you something of the level to which Dinan Cars brings their creations to whilst retaining the original attributes of the base car. It’s a special combination that resulted in Dinan being incorporated into the BMW dealer network; today, cruise down to your dealership and you can buy Dinan products and software upgrades for just about any model and retain your warranty. Because of that connection, an appreciation for early Dinan cars continues to grow though in general they remain more affordable than their German tuner counterparts. They are, however, just as rare to come across – especially when they come in the condition of today’s 1991 535i, one of the last of Dinan’s inline-6 turbo creations:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 BMW 535i Dinan Turbo on GCFSB

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1972 BMW Bavaria

I have a soft spot for the Bavaria. It’s not because it’s the best looking BMW from the 1970s, or the fastest. It’s not the most collectable, either – but as a result, the Bavaria might just be the rarest of the 1970s BMWs. To me, I can appreciate this coming from a background of loving Audis – most of which are quite rare today. The look of the Bavaria is even very similar to the Audi 100, and like the 100 very few examples are left kicking around. But the Bavaria was nonetheless an important move for BMW, taking on the larger executive market with an upscale big-body 4-door:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1972 BMW Bavaria on eBay

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Fast Fives: 1991 BMW M5 v. 2002 BMW M5 v. 2006 BMW M5

As has happened with other series of cars, such as Audi S4s, there are currently several generations of BMW M5s that are converging on value, leaving you with some hard decisions as to which you’d prefer. Indeed, from their start through the E60 M5, the sports sedan got larger and heavier, but gained 2 cylinders per generation and corresponding power levels. The E34 BMW M5 was a refinement and softening of the E28 original design but kept the race-bred S38 inline-6. Purists eyebrows raised when the new E39 M5 launched with a 5 liter V8, but the 400 horsepower soundtrack has subsequently has become a serious legend and fan favorite. Purists once again held their breath as the E60 M5 launched, now with a 5 liter V10 – a high revving, howling banshee of a motor. All of them are serious forms of motivation, and the value of the first 4 generations are all coming into line. While I wasn’t able to find a good example of an E28 M5 for this writeup, I have the subsequent three generations to check out – which would you choose?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 BMW M5 on eBay

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1995 Mercedes-Benz C36 AMG with 48,000 Miles – REVISIT

The 1995 Mercedes-Benz C36 AMG we featured last month is back up for sale, it’s price having been lowered by $1,000. Some may prefer the M badged cars from Munich, but these early post-merger AMGs are an interesting and rare alternative to the M3s of the era.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 Mercedes-Benz C36 AMG on eBay

The below post originally appeared on our site July 23, 2014:

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1991 BMW M5

While generally I find myself looking at C4 Audi S4/S6s and thinking they’re an amazing deal right now, it’s hard to not feel the same way about the E34 M5. If the E28 was the unloved M from the 1980s for some time, more recently we’ve seen a surge in E28 prices that are starting to pick the “original” super sedan up in price. In some cases, clean versions of the E28 M5 are now trading for more than their sister in a prettier dress that has traditionally carried more value, the M6. In even more rare cases, some have surpassed the values of the market-darling E30 M3. Where’s the M deal to be had now, then? Even if the driving experience was dulled slightly by some added weight and luxury with the E28’s successor, the E34, the retention of the great drivetrain coupled with some refined looks wasn’t all bad. In my opinion, the E34 is a very worthy replacement for the E28 – and a strong alternative to the S4/S6 market which is also beginning to tick up slightly. Check out this first year Brilliant Red example:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 BMW M5 on eBay

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10K Friday Performance Edition: M3 v. 944 Turbo v. CLK500 v. S4 v. GTi

Well, I hope this will stir some interest, as I think this is a bit of an interesting comparison. What level of performance can you buy for $10,000 (give or take) these days? Surprisingly, there are a lot of options – and those options vary pretty seriously in their execution and packages; there’s a wagon and a sports car, two sedan-based coupes and a hatchback. Engines range from a 2 liter turbo to a V8, with a bit of everything in between. Yet, what appears to be a very strange comparison linked only by price is revealed to be much closer when you look at performance figures:

E36 M3: 240 hp, 0-60 6.0 seconds, 3,200 lbs
944 Turbo: 220 hp, 0-60 5.9 seconds, 2,900 lbs
CLK500: 302 hp, 0-60 5.7 seconds, 3,800 lbs
S4 Avant: 250 hp, 0-60 5.6 seconds, 3,700 lbs
GTi: 200 hp, 0-60 6.6 seconds, 3,200 lbs

The range is much closer than you’d expect – especially when you consider that these figures could easily be equaled in margin of error, driver skill and reaction time. In the twisties, the lower powered cars like the GTi catch up to the higher power CLK and S4. All are, in one way or another, practical choices. Some are destined (or already) classics, while others will likely fade away. So what would be your choice? Let’s start with an M3 we’ve already seen:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1999 BMW M3 on eBay

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Motorsport Mondays: 1993 BMW 318i Dinan-built Racecar

Obviously we write up a lot of cars at this site, and we see our fair share of cars from dealers with a real gap in information provided that we’d like to see. Often times, there seems to be no rhyme or reason to which cars get no description or why; they can be a 300SL Gullwing for multiple millions of dollars right to a first generation GTi. Despite the range of value, one thing unites these cars; there are enthusiasts who love to see them, and buyers who would really like to know more about the car. Today’s car is no exception; a 1993 BMW 318i, this would generally be a forgotten charm right now. The E36, while a great car in its own right, isn’t in favor the way the E30 is and consequently larger engined variants are plentiful, and more importantly cheap. So what is interesting about this economy car turned racer? Well, it’s a claimed Dinan built car, and for a time in the 1990s BMW handed Dinan the keys to build some pretty wild semi-factory backed racers – so they’re well versed. But the mystery isn’t solved there:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1993 BMW 318i Dinan Race Car on eBay

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1982 Mercedes-Benz Unimog 416 Doka

My wife and I have recently had discussions about what is the perfect Providence commuter vehicle once again, with mixed results. You see, we’d like to own something nice and high performance such as a E46 BMW M3. But there are several things counting against that; first, driving a low slung, high performance car around the “streets” of Providence is akin to entering a Group C prototype into the Dakar Rally. Second, you gain attention of the wrong characters in the city. Third, you can never realize the performance of the car in a city setting. Sure, it looks great parked, but why go through the bother? My wife’s solution is something like the 250GD Nate wrote up yesterday. Indeed, it’s the first car she’s commented on in a long time in a positive manner. She likes the rugged simplicity of the G-Wagen, the understated aggression, and the upright, go anywhere, in your face attitude. “Just wait until tomorrow”, I said, “I have something even better”:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1982 Mercedes-Benz Unimog 416 DOKA on eBay

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