Tuner Tuesday: 1998 BMW M Roadster Dinan ISR3

Edit 10/3/2017 – I looked at this Dinan modified M Roadster last August, but there was little information and it hung around for quite a while at $25,000. It has now moved on to a new seller who has taken some more photos and raised the price $4,000. Key here though is that the seller confirmed my suspicion that this was the expensive and exclusive ISR3 roadster. Only 50 of these Vortech supercharged 400 horsepower monsters were produced. It has about 1,000 more miles since last year but still looks relatively reasonably priced if you like the color combination and gutsy Dinan modifications – Ed

The other day I was talking with my friend about Turner Motorsports. I first met Will Turner when he was a BMWCCA instructor, just trying to establish his business of selling parts on the side. He and his compatriots all sported E30 M3s; this was, after all, the days before the launch of the U.S. E36 M3. Turner managed to parlay early success in a local modification scene outside of Boston into a countrywide business, and after some time in the club race scene he moved into the major leagues. Success against better funded teams was sometimes difficult, but today Turner is still alive and very much kicking, having become one of the two defacto factory-backed teams running the M6 GT3. To get to that point of factory involvement is an arduous journey to say the least, and few who start out make it.

One other who did was Steve Dinan, who took a niche tuning business from the 1980s into a factory option today. You can walk down to your dealer and order up a fully backed, Dinan modified car. That took a tremendous amount of work and is a testament to the quality of the products on offer from Dinan.…

Forbidden Fruit: 1992 Volkswagen Passat G60 Syncro

There was nothing particularly revolutionary about the B3 Passat G60 Syncro. The prior Quantum (née Passat) had borrowed Audi’s full quattro setup in the Syncro model. The G60 supercharged engine had debuted in the Golf in Europe as early as 1988, but it wouldn’t be until late 1989 and the new Corrado model’s introduction that the G-Lader would become better known on these shores. But the G60 Syncro Passat was the first time that all three were combined, and it took the more exotic drivetrain setup from the Rallye and brought it to a mainstream market.

The PG G-Lader devoted to the Rallye, G60 and Passat Syncro wasn’t the most powerful unit VW of the time period at 158 horsepower and 166 lb.ft of torque (the 3G 16V version in the Golf Limited had 50 horsepower more), but the combination of these items seemed awesome at the time to U.S. fans because, of course, in the midst of VAG’s early 90s sales slump they opted not to bring the package here. Like the Corrado, based on Mk.2 underpinnings the Passat’s engine configuration had moved from longitudinal in the B2 to transverse in the third gen, meaning that Audi’s quattro system remained unique to that brand. The Golf’s transverse engine placement precluded use of the Audi longitudinal design, which used output shafts and mechanical differentials. Instead, Volkswagen turned to Austrian company Steyr-Daimler-Puch for development.

Noted for development of four-wheel-drive systems and probably most recognizable for the Pinzgauer military vehicle, Steyr’s solution to the transverse problem was to utilize a viscous coupling similar to the AMC Eagle. However, while the Eagle’s system was all-wheel drive, all the time, Volkswagen’s system would only engage when the front wheels slipped.

Like the Audi 90 quattro it competed against, the Syncro Passat wasn’t particularly quick but was pretty expensive in period, and neither sold very well in the grand scheme.…

1980 Volkswagen Rabbit Pickup G60

Often we complain about the numerous times German manufacturers have failed to send models enthusiasts want to U.S. shores. But in the case of the Volkswagen Pickup – affectionately nicknamed the “Caddy” after the model that was released later in Europe – was first debuted out of the American Westmoreland, PA plant. The chassis was lengthened and unique bodywork and rear axle were fit, and the Rabbit Pickup was marketed as a comfortable, car-like utility vehicle. Between 1980 and 1982, Volkswagen even offered the Rabbit “Sportruck”. While most would presume this was primarily an appearance package, the Sportruck actually was quite a bit more sporty than the diesel options in the rest of the lineup. You got a 5-speed manual (opposed to 4) hooked to a 1.7 liter 8V, a front spoiler and special “Rally” wheel trim, along with a 3-gauge console and bucket seats with a Scirocco steering wheel. It wasn’t a GTI, but it was a half step in between.

This Caddy, though it isn’t one of the Sportrucks, is a huge leap for Caddykind:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1980 Volkswagen Rabbit Pickup G60 on eBay

Feature Listing: 2003 Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG

The W124 500E/E500 was a tough act to follow, but Mercedes-Benz stepped up to the plate well with the new AMG collaboration W210 E55 AMG. The M113 power plant generated an impressive 350 horsepower and 391 lb.ft of torque – more than had graced that legendary W124. In its own way, the E55 AMG became a legend, too – subtle looks offering a velvet wrapper on one hefty hammer. So when it came to replacing it again in the new W211, AMG was forced to turn the dial up a few more notches. It was forced because the market had moved on, and the W210’s power output was no longer competitive in the early 2000s. So forced it was, as in forced induction. The M113 now featured an IHI supercharger, and power increased dramatically. This was no small step for man, this was a giant leap for Mercedes kind. The W211 E55’s power output leaped to 469 hp and it now 520 lb.ft of torque. Of course, it needed those numbers because the competition from Audi in the 450 horsepower twin-turbocharged RS6 and the outgoing benchmark BMW M5’s 400 horsepower S62 V8. Going nuclear on the power level meant AMG needed to upgrade the rest of the hardware, as well. Airmatic adjustable suspension with sport tuning gave the hefty E55 poise in the bends, while 14.2″, 8 piston calipers hidden behind huge split 5-spoke AMG wheels with 245 and 265 section tires kept grip and speed in check. The results were palpable: in a 2003 Car and Driver comparison against its nearest rivals, the new E55 AMG simply outpaced everything in a straight line. 0-60 was dispatched in just 4.3 seconds. 100 came only 5 and a half seconds later. The quarter mile was done in 12.5 seconds. Forget sedans, those were numbers that challenged the Corvette Z06 at the same time, and close to a decade and a half later are still very impressive:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG on eBay

Fast Five-Door Face Off: 2005 Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG Estate vs. 2007 E63 AMG Estate

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Fast wagons are perhaps one of the most cultish of vehicle genres to date. There are those like me who have disdain for most SUVs and realize there are alternatives to moving your stuff around. As a single person without children, minivans are overkill for my demographic. It was Jeremy Clarkson who was quoted as saying a minivan signals to the world that “I’ve done my breeding. I’ve served my biological purpose, and now I’m waiting to die.” So ruling out a small van, where is one to turn for their hauling needs? How about Mercedes-Benz? Unlike Audi, Mercedes-Benz has not given up on a segment in the US market which it began to popularize decades ago. There are still loyal fans of the five-door variant of the E-class, now on its sixth generation if you count the W123 T-modell which started it all. Luckily, Mercedes-Benz has been kind enough to bring AMG tuned variants to a market with otherwise vanilla tastes when it comes to family cars. Today we’ll look at two very similar looking but different beasts, the E55 AMG and E63 AMG estates, both wearing the same shade of Graphite Gray Metallic for sale for sale from the same dealer outside of Philadelphia.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2005 Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG Estate on eBay

Coupe d’Etat: Superb Volkswagen Corrado Roundup

Following up on the 10,000 mile 1993 Corrado SLC from two weeks ago, today I have a lovely trio of Corrados to take a look at. Covering the model years and changes from 1990 to 1994, these three are low mile, impeccable condition and it’s a stroke of luck to see them all at the same time. As the expensive Corrado sold rather slowly on these shores, numbers have always been a bit short and now that the first models can be registered as antiques in most states they’re firmly into collector territory. As the Corrado is pretty well known on these pages, I won’t go into extreme model history today as we’re looking at three examples. For an excellent look at the history of the Corrado, take some time to read the Hemming’s take on it back in 2013. The previously mentioned 10,000 mile Corrado failed to meet its reserve despite shocking bidding which ended at $27,400. Clearly, there’s a market for these clean examples, so is any the match for the 1993?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 Volkswagen Corrado SLC on eBay

Tuner Tuesday: A Tale of Twin Tornados – 1990 Volkswagen Corrado Magnum Wagons

We live in a world of soundbites and short attention spans. Some days it seems like a bit of a coup to remember just what you had for breakfast or where you left the keys last night – never mind to go back a week, a month, a year, or a decade. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a history teacher when I’m not doing this, and I’ve found it increasingly difficult to keep the attention of my students through the 1.5 hour lectures and if it’s a night class, forget it. The proliferation of the internet – the promise of limitless and immediate information – instead seems to be a flood which has washed away the interest, the researching, the enthusiasm for finding something new. But I came across something very interesting when looking for more information about an interesting duo of Corrados that our reader Jesse sent in. It was an internet thread on a forum – nothing special there. What was special was the timeline that thread covered and the subject matter. It started with the announcement of the purchase of the two prototype Corrado Magnum wagons in February, 2007. What followed was 15 pages of comments that spanned an amazing 9 years in what must be one of the longest threads out there documenting the owner trying to get these two unique G60 Corrados to the U.S.. If you want a snapshot of the development of the internet fora in one spot, look at the comments here. In typical VW Vortex style, there are insults tossed, claims the cars don’t exist, that the seller is a liar, threats to steal the cars and that they’re ugly. But there’s also adoration for the buyer who endured an arduous 7 years of storage in the Netherlands before finally getting the clearance to bring the forlorn Volkswagen prototypes to the U.S..…

1990 Volkswagen Corrado G60

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You might not like this Corrado when it’s angry. In fact, you may not like it ever. With a face only its builder could love, this G60 has had enough modifications under the hood that the new front-mounted intercooler got pushed outside, like a child reluctantly spitting out chewed metal. I think the seller probably envisions the FMIC as an ersatz lower grille, but it mostly looks like a fragile and expensive snow plow. God help the buyer if they ever see a speed bump – say bye-bye to all that expensive plumbing.

This little Hulkorrado actually has received some good attention to make this a strong runner. Yet while the seller has updated and redone a lot of parts, I’d be wary of all the relocating causing headaches down the line. That’s if you don’t have a headache already from the proboscis, super-Green pearl, O’Reilly tail lights (both fake AND real!) or hood louvers. However, if you are blind or really good at dissociating form and function, it’s actually a decent G60 deal.

Click for details: 1990 Volkswagen Corrado G60 on eBay

1991 BMW 325i S52 Supercharged

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As the supply dwindles, I’ve been spending time looking at various clean, mostly original E30s. Today, however, we have a 1991 325i that has received the business under the hood, namely an S52 swap from an E36 M3 plus an Active Autowerk supercharger. That heady combination puts out 357 horsepower at the wheels and 411bhp at the crank, plenty to make this 2800-pound coupe punch well above its weight class. The mechanical build is too plentiful and thorough to fully recount here, but it has Raceland coilovers, Stoptech brakes, and just about all the bushings, mounts, and miscellaneous performance parts you can stuff under an E30 to help handle 250% of its original power. The interior looks ready to rumble too with black suede Recaros and NRG wheel and some other subtle racy bits, but this car is about go, not show. The exterior has a little clear coat peel and dents but the deeper front lip and M3-esque Zender spoiler should distract any passerby. It all adds up to a package that looks pretty standard-modded-E30 good but will smoke just about any non-exotic on the road.

Click for details: 1991 BMW 325i on eBay

Tuner Tuesday: Porsche 968 Cabriolet Supercharged

I’ve always been somewhat intrigued by the Porsche 968 Cabriolet. Before SUVs and sedans graced Porsche’s lineup, this was a bit of an outlier, a car more suited for cruising than its hardtop sibling, yet packing the same potent large displacement inline-4 under the hood. Someone decided to turn this formula up to 11 with this example we see here for sale in California. This 968 Cabriolet packs a supercharger, with an output of over 300 horsepower. Mated to the preferred 6-speed manual gearbox, this can make for some seriously fun al fresco motoring.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 Porsche 968 Cabriolet on eBay