2004 Volkswagen R32

Update 12/23/2017 – This R32 is back with almost no changes a year and a half later – except the price. When I looked at it in June 2016 the seller was hoping for $16,700. It’s now up to $17,400. Will this bold strategy pay off?

For a few generations, Volkswagen fans were denied the cream of the crop for Volkswagen products. It took several years to finally get the original GTi to these shores, and then it wasn’t quite as hot as the European version. The second edition might have sported twin cams and 16 valves, but Euro customers got the addtional option of a supercharged, all-wheel drive version. There were plenty of cool options missing from the U.S. lineup in the 3rd generation, too – including the 2.9 liter VR6 Variant Syncro. So there was a bit of rejoicing finally when the all-wheel drive hot hatch was finally added to the U.S. lineup after the initial launch in 2003. Sporting the same 3.2 VR6 found in the TT, unlike the Mk.1 TT it was 6-speed manual only. It was also only available as a 2-door model, with special body kit unique to the R32 and dual exhaust to help announce its sporting intentions. With the best part of 240 horsepower on tap, it certainly seemed like the ultimate Golf and the sound generated from the narrow-angle 6 was mesmerizing. While heavy weight meant it wasn’t considerably quicker than the 1.8T models, it nonetheless has secured a spot in U.S. fans hearts as the top trump from the Mk.4 generation:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 Volkswagen R32 on eBay

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1999 Volkswagen Beetle GLS 1.8T with 23,000 Miles

Where to start….where to start….

So, in the realm of ‘Least Desirable Volkswagen Products’ enthusiasts bemoan, the New Beetle must surely rank very high on the list. But every once in a while one pops up that is worthy of consideration. Maybe they have low mileage or are a neat color. Sometimes they’re turbocharged, making them pretty quick, too – all attributes of this 1999 example. Presented in L9L9 Cyber Green Metallic, it’s traveled only 23,000 miles in its life and its the more macho 1.8T speedbug. Though it’s clearly not stock, we’ve recently looked at a well modified Beetle that pulled off big-dollar mods at a budget price.

Tuner Tuesday GCFSB Alumnus: 2002 Ruf Volkswagen Beetle Turbo S Concept

So when I first caught the gallery shot, it looked as though the owner of this car tried to replicate the super-sweet Beetle RSI – not a bad thing, if it was pulled off correctly.

This one is not pulled off correctly.

However, if you’d like a few chuckles, read on.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1999 Volkswagen Beetle GLS 1.8T on eBay

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2003 Volkswagen GTI 20th Anniversary Edition with 9,800 Miles

News broke this morning that the brand new RS4 Avant is unsurprisingly not coming to the United States. While this is no doubt disappointing to the twelve people who actually would have bought it and the 1.8 million who claim on the internet they would if given the option, it follows a long tradition in German motoring of leaving the best of the breed in the homeland. When it came to the GTI, not only did we have to wait several years before we got the hot Golf, but indeed it was a bit watered down and heavier when it did arrive. The same continued in the next two generations; more weight, less power. Both in the second and third generations we also lost out on supercharging, all-wheel drive and special body kits available in the European market.

Once again in 2001, a neat Golf was launched that – of course – wasn’t coming to the United States. But of all of the special editions that weren’t sold here, perhaps this one made the most sense to be excluded. It was called the 25th Anniversary Edition and you didn’t need to be good at math to realize that there was no GTI sold here 25 years before 2001. Since the “18 year Anniversary Edition” didn’t make much sense from a marketing perspective even in spite of Volkswagen’s continual spotty judgement in that regard, it was no surprise that it wasn’t offered. That was too bad, as it had a lowered suspension, better brakes, a bit more power, fantastic Recaro seats and the best looking BBS wheels fit to any Volkswagen, ever. Volkswagen enthusiasts in America drool inwardly and shouted openly, so in 2002 Volkswagen finally did bring the special edition here. Again, since “19th Anniversary” didn’t make any sense, we instead got the “337” Edition. This was, for all intents and purposes, an exact copy of the 25th Anniversary model, but instead the 337 referenced the internal project code for the original GTI. But they were quite limited, with only 1,250 sold in the U.S. and 250 sold in Canada. So, you probably missed out on your chance to own one, right? Well, wrong, because in 2003 Volkswagen re-released the 337 edition. Conveniently, there was now a round number that they could actually commemorate the GTI’s longevity with as it had been 20 years since the A1 GTI rolled out of Westmoreland. Again, it was a greatest hits edition; the 337 upgraded 12.3 inch vented brakes with go-faster red calipers carried over, as did the upgraded suspension. Though they sported different fabric, inside was the same Recaro interior with deep bolsters. The golf ball shift knob also returned, though it now was mated to a new 6-speed transmission (MQ350) which in turn were connected to R32 Aristo wheels in place of the BBS RCs. Deeper front and rear valances matched the previous two models, and the 20th AE got blacked headlights more similar to the 25th AE. A final homage to the original model were subtle rabbits adorning the rear and vintage inspired GTi badging. But the biggest change was that the 20th AE was available in three colors unlike the silver-only prior cars; Black Magic Pearl, Jazz Blue and Imola Yellow:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Volkswagen GTI 20th Anniversary Edition on eBay

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Tuner Tuesday: 2006 RUF RT12S

In a strange comparison to earlier’s 500SL 412, here’s another matte black car. It, too, is German. Outside of that, the two share little in common.

That’s because unlike the Mercedes-Benz which was primarily a piece of marketing, this is from the workshop of Alois Ruf. And Ruf’s cars are all about performance. So even though this 997-based turbocharged RUF RT12S is over a decade old, it still produces more power than the current 911 Turbo. Over 100 more. It’s faster, too – get the launch just right and mash the gas, and RUF claimed you’ll hit 60 m.p.h. in 2.8 seconds. When Road and Track tested it, the R12 did a standing mile in 28 seconds at 187.5 mph. In the time it’s probably taken you to read this first paragraph (35 seconds), the RT would be past 200 on its way to the 224 mph top speed. Yet it wasn’t just about raw speed; like all RUFs, it was beautifully built and full of exquisite detail work on par with leading manufacturers.

But while the speed is certainly impressive, it’s not the reason why I decided to feature this car…

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2006 RUF RT12S on eBay

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Tuner Tuesday – Roll the Dice? 1991 Mercedes-Benz 500SL AMG

A few weeks ago, I wrote a “Roll the Dice” article about a European specification 380SE with a host of period AMG bits. However, there was no supporting documentation that the car was actually an AMG car and, notably, several items were incorrect. The verdict was that without that documentation, it was probably overpriced for what it was. Today I’m back with another white “AMG” – this time, a pre-merger R129 500SL. Again, we get little documentation on what is reportedly a Japanese-specification 500SL with AMG bits. Is it worth a roll of the dice this time?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Mercedes-Benz 500SL on eBay

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Tuner Tuesday: 1991 Mercedes-Benz 300E AMG 3.4E

So much attention is levied upon the V8 and widebody models AMG produced in the late 1980s and early 1990s that it’s easy to overlook the “lesser” examples from Affalterbach. One such model is the 3.4E, based on the W124 chassis and available in sedan, coupe or wagon versions the M104 was beefed up in typical AMG fashion. Displacing 3.4 liters (clever naming scheme, that!) and producing nearly 270 horsepower it was certainly no slouch. However, its relative obscurity and lower power output means it plays second (or third) fiddle to the 6.0 V8 models and even Mercedes-Benz’s own 500E. While those cars put out substantially more power and raise more eyebrows than the inline-6 will at any German car meetup, the 3.4E is nevertheless a potent package that offers enthusiasts a taste of classic AMG performance on a more reasonable budget:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Mercedes-Benz 300E AMG 3.4E on eBay

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Tuner Tuesday: 1989 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL AMG 6.0

Few German cars generate more enthusiasm than the amount of collective goosebumps crowds feel when the words “pre-merger” and “AMG” come together with two numbers and a period – “6.0”. The tower of power V8 Affalterbach shoved into nearly every Mercedes-Benz it could get its hands on is legendary no matter what chassis it is seen in. Over the past few months I’ve looked at quite a few, from the big daddy 300CE Widebody and 560SEC Widebody models that everyone associates with the M117/9 to the more obscure, such as the later R129 500SL 6.0. Another seldom seen is the sedan version of the W126, with only 50 produced. I looked at one back in 2014 and it was a heck of a deal by AMG standards; an asking price of around $30,000 made it one ridiculous bargain in the 6.0 world. With even more black on this example in only 25,000 miles covered, what does the white hot AMG market look like today?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL AMG 6.0 on eBay

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Tuner Tuesday – Hammertime: 1992 Mercedes-Benz 300CE AMG 6.0 Widebody

There are the pretenders, and then there’s the Daddy. Or, in this case, there’s the Hammer. No other widened car in the 1980s was able to capture the imagination and hearts of so many enthusiasts as the W124 Coupes, and there were plenty to choose from. From DP’s shovel-nosed 911s to the straked Koenig creations, most of them were cool in an outrageous way but never pretty. AMG broke with that tradition, creating elegant lines that accentuated the design rather than underscoring the tacked-on nature of period modifications. The integration of the slick widened panels, perfectly matching wheels and upgraded interiors was met under the hood by another buck in 1980s tradition. As tuners like Dinan, Ruf, Alpina, Callaway, Abt and others all experimented with increasing power through turbocharging, AMG went old school with a monster motor. Rated at somewhere around 380 horsepower, the M117/9 four cam V8 provided the motivation to match the looks of the bespoiled W124. On top of all of this, you got Mercedes-Benz legendary bomb-proof build quality. The result was one of the best all around packages any modified car has ever come to market with:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 Mercedes-Benz 300CE AMG 6.0 Widebody on Autoleitner

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Motorsports Monday: 2012 Audi R8 LMS Ultra

If you were a gentleman racer over the best part of the past decade and a half, there was only one natural choice for your steed; the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car was, and still is, the most popular choice for factory supported full race cars to buy brand new. But we can thank the success of the Cup formula for an entirely new lineup of racers, from the Lamborghini Super Trofeo to the track-oriented Laguna Seca Mustangs. In the FIA mandated GT3 field, the advent of the Pro/Am designations have similarly diversified the field from the standard Porsches to new entrants, from the seemingly outrageous Bentley Continental GT3 to the Aston Martin Vantage GT3. But while those names may seem like newcomers on the international circuits, the reality is that both the heritage of Bentley and Aston Martin lay exactly with those gentleman racers. No, the real newcomer to the block is the Audi R8; a name steeped in Le Mans history but a chassis built for the street, the GT3 effort resulted in the popular and sonorous R8 LMS Ultra, as Audi shifted its focus from showcasing quattro all-wheel drive in racing to the lightweight technology incorporated into the new mid-engined racer:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2012 Audi R8 LMS Ultra on Race Cars Direct

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Tuner Tuesday: 1989 Mercedes-Benz 560SEC AMG Widebody

If you want a recession-proof 1980s investment automobile, you want an E30 M3 or any original 911, right? Well, while that might be a smart idea, there’s consistently been one car that’s been worth even more than those market stars; make that the 3-pointed star. When I was a young man in 1987, Road & Track ran a top speed competition between some poster pinups. At that time, I was a super fan of the Porsche 959 in particular, and I was pretty confident before opening the magazine that the technological wonder from Stuttgart would thoroughly outperform the competition, which included a Lamborghini Countach, a Ferrari Testarossa and twin-turbo GTO, a few modified 911s and…a Mercedes-Benz sedan? Yes, it was that test in that magazine that cemented two names into my brain; one was the stunning and surprise winner of the competition, the illustrious “Yellowbird” Ruf CTR which bested Porsche’s own supercar by an amazing 13 miles an hour, and the boxy E-class from Affalterbach – faster than the pinup Lamborghini Countach and million-dollar GTO and just bested by the Miami-Vice superstar Testarossa. Though I don’t know for sure, I’d wager that single test did more for the reputations of Ruf and AMG than any other single article or event. Since that time, the AMG products from Affalterbach have enjoyed a near-legendary status amongst German car fans, but even amongst them there are special models – the 6.0 “Hammers” and the W124 and W126 Widebody models:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Mercedes-Benz 560SEC AMG on eBay

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