1988 BMW 535is “M535i” Clone

As I mentioned in the M635CSi post recently, some of the confusion about these “M” branded models came from the nomenclature between the E24 and E28. While the M6 and M5 co-existed in the United States market, they did not in Europe. This left the M635CSi to be the equivalent of the M6. But the same was not true of the M535i. This model was sold as a more affordable alternative to the M5; most of the look of the Motorsports model but without the bigger bills associated with the more exotic double overhead cam 24 valve M88/3. Instead, you got a 3.4 liter M30 under the hood just like the rest of the .35 models. The recipe was a success, selling around 10,000 examples in several different markets – but never in the U.S..

Instead, the U.S. market received the 535iS model. The iS model was specific to the North American market and gave you the look of the U.S.-bound M5, with deeper front and rear spoilers, M-crafted sport suspension and sport seats. It, too, was quite popular – between 1987 and 1988, just over 6,000 examples sold in the United States alone, and of those, a little more than half were the preferred manual variant. One of the nice aspects of the 535iS was that if you enjoyed colors other than black you were able to order the lesser model in any shade you wanted, unlike the M5.

Today’s 535iS is a bit special, as it’s combined the two models into one in an exhaustive recreation of a European market M535i starting with a Zinnoberrot 535iS:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW M535i on eBay

Double Take 540i/6: E34 or E39? 1995 BMW 540i Sport v. 2003 BMW 540i M-Sport

My recent M5 v. Alpina B10 post took a look at two exotic versions of the E34. Of course, BMW offered their own alternative to the M5 late in the production cycle, as the introduction of the M60 V8-powered 540i produced nearly as much usable power as the more expensive M variant. Such was the success of the 540i that BMW initially judged the M5 dead in this market; it was removed from the U.S. in 1993 after slow sales and wouldn’t return until the new millennium.

As a result, the 540i flew the 5-series performance flag for two generations and still is very popular today. Especially in Sport versions, the E34 and E39 540is offered power, refinement and outstanding chassis dynamics in a package that was attainable for more people. So which is the better buy today – the first or second generation?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 BMW 540i M-Sport on eBay

1986 Porsche 944 Turbo

The market rage surrounding BMW’s M products and their lesser stablemates and all things Porsche air-cooled continues to mask one of the best all-around performers of the period – the Porsche 944 Turbo. This was the car which brought supercar performance to the masses in a package that was both reliable and practical. Perfect balance meant you could approach the limits of the chassis, and it rewarded you for doing so. Over 200 horsepower gave you super-human acceleration normally reserved for small-batch thoroughbreds. And there was even a race series to give the 944 Turbo the credentials to back up the Stuttgart crest on the hood. They were exceptionally well built using high quality materials, and quite a few people who owned them treasured their foray into the exclusive world of pioneering Porsche forced-induction. The original purchaser and steward of this 951 appears to have done just that:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Porsche 944 Turbo on eBay

Tuner Tuesday: 1995 Audi Sport 90 quattro 1.8T

In a very small subset of enthusiasts, early Audi chassis are nearly as legendary as the BMW E30. Robust, well built and refined, Audi over-engineered most of its small chassis starting with the B2 because it was the platform that launched the legendary turbocharged Quattro. While the normally aspirated versions lacked the punch of their bigger brothers and the acceleration curves could be somewhat laughable, they still offered plenty of entertainment when driven hard. I have a video of my Coupe GT at Watkins Glen – heading up the long uphill straight, we’re shouting out numbers as they barely increase from 95-100 before flinging the car with nary a touch of the brakes into the bus stop, maniacal laughs abounding as we leap the turtles.

Clearly, though rare the small Audis are always prime for more power, and converting those earlier cars to turbocharged Quattro specs – or later RS2 replicas – has been popular since they were sold new. Today’s example, though, has different and more modern motivation than the familiar inline-5 under the hood – but they don’t get much better than this presentation and build:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 Audi Sport 90 quattro 1.8T on Motorgeek

2001 BMW 740i Sport 6-speed manual

What’s better than an E38 740i? A 740i with the Sport package, which adds 18″ M-Parallel wheels, shadowline trim, sport suspension and seats. And what’s better than a 740i Sport? A 740i Sport with a manual 6-speed gearbox. Wait, what? Yes, you read that right. While these cars were only available from the factory with an automatic, a brave soul with a healthy supply of time, money and genius has converted this 740 to a stick shift by swapping in a transmission from an E39 540i. That should turn this luxo-barge into a bit of a canyon carver.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 BMW 740i Sport on eBay

“Gentleman’s Express” – 1993 Audi V8 quattro 5-speed

Though we’ve had a nice string of older Audis, it’s been a while since we’ve looked at a V8 quattro – but today’s is pretty special. First off, it’s one of the later 4.2 models. These cars were upgraded with a transmission cooler to help solve the early model automatic transmission failures. That, of course, meant all U.S. bound 4.2s were automatics from the factory. While that may sound like a downer, the 4-speed auto wasn’t a bad transmission and linked to the 276 horsepower, all-aluminum 4 cam V8 in front, motivation was never really an issue. Dynamically, these V8 quattros were also much better on the fly than the nose-heavy inline-5s, too. Not only was the engine a bit farther back, but the Torsen differential in the rear helped to give these cars a better power distribution. Of course, the cream of the crop were the 3.6 5-speed manuals – the only Torsen center, Torsen rear differential car Audi ever produced. Mate one with a 4.2 in a perfect color combination, sprinkle in some sport seats, and you have one pretty desirable package:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1993 Audi V8 quattro on Boulder Craiglist

1995 BMW M3 with 13,000 Miles

What is the price for perfection? We saw Andrew look at a perfect and near brand-new W220 S500 yesterday, but his cutting critique of that car was, as several people noted, spot on. It’s not a desirable model, nor is it one that is likely to be collectable anytime soon. For some time, the same was said of the E36 M3. However, quickly things are changing. Several high-priced examples have come to market recently that have investors questioning if the E30 is the go-to it was for the past two years. Most notably, we saw the one-off Giallo Canadian Edition ’94 M3 hit near $65,000. That car looked near showroom fresh, having only accrued 30,000 miles since new. Today’s example has only about one third of that:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 BMW M3 on eBay

No Reserve Boost: 1986 and 1987 Porsche 944 Turbos

It’s easy to get lost in a sea of low mileage, crazy asking price 1980s cars – they’re out there, and in reality not particularly hard to find. But then there seems to be a gulf between the cars that are above average with sellers hoping to capitalize on market trends, and forlorn project cars in need of more help than their value. While it would be wonderful to contemplate the salvation of every single example, it’s simply not economically viable. Nor, too, is the idea of just buying the best example in existence and paying a ridiculous premium.

Look in the right place and there is still a happy medium for enthusiasts. Today I’ve located two quite affordable options of 944 Turbos. The miles aren’t crazy, the condition of both is quite good, they each have unique options that make them appealing in their own way. And, each is a no reserve auction. So which is the one you’d want to take home?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Porsche 944 Turbo on eBay

1999 BMW 328i Convertible

5I think that one day we’ll look back upon the E36 generation 3-series and regard it as a classic. The “dolphin” body shape continues to age well, and sits atop a finely balanced chassis that makes for a spritely and engaging drive. The six cylinder motors found in these are smooth, stout units that offer satisfying (if not blistering) performance and return decent fuel economy. When they do go wrong, they are quite simple to work on and spare parts are relatively cheap and plentiful. The M3 of this generation is already quite desirable and is a bit of a performance bargain, especially since it remains cheaper to pick up than the E30 and E46 versions that sit either side of it. But clean, low-mileage non-M cars often get overlooked, and I think this is a little unfair. Take this 328i for example. It’s a convertible and an automatic, both potential turn-offs for some. But a 3-series in this configuration is not supposed to be a track car or a street racer. It’s supposed to be a classy little boulevard cruiser. And on that score it’s a winner.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1999 BMW 328i Convertible on eBay

Feature Listing: 1995 Audi Sport 90 quattro

Back in February I took a look at a very rare and somewhat obscure end to the B4 Audi lineup, the Sport 90 quattro. The A4 that replaced it would become wildly successful, but really it was the underpinnings of the updated 90 that carried the dynamics of the A4. With a stout V6 under the hood and old-school mechanical all-wheel drive, these well built 90s have remained very attractive alternatives in the marketplace. I originally took a look at this car back in February, but the owner contacted us to feature the car and I was more than happy to as I really have a soft spot for these 90s.

Due respect to the E30 ix crowd, if you were to consider the 325ixs that we’ve posted and not consider this 90 quattro, you’ve got a few screws loose. The 90 quattro was long derided as underpowered compared to the competition, but in ’93 that was at least partially rectified with the addition of the 2.8 V6 motor. Though the power output wasn’t outrageous at 172, it was a robust and torquey motor that was easier to run around town than the peaky 7A 20V. Change from the B3 to B4 chassis also included substantial revisions outside, giving the 90 a new lease on life. They were well built, well engineered cars and have stood the test of time very well. Unlike their E30 ix competition, the B4 quattros were manual only. On their way out (to be replaced by the mechanically similar A4), the 90 got a special package in the “Sport 90”. Renamed from the previous 90CS models, externally there was only a subtle change to body-color side molding on the Sport models. Available in either front drive or quattro configuration, the latter included Jacquard quattro-script cloth that helped to set it apart from the regular 90s:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 Audi Sport 90 quattro on Los Angeles Craigslist