For many years, my trips to Lime Rock Park in the Coupe GT for Patroon Chapter BMWCCA driver’s events were accompanied by a similar soul; there was a ’84 Volkswagen Jetta GLi that seemed to always be joining me. On paper, the two were probably quite similar in terms of all-out speed; the Jetta had less power, but was also quite a bit lighter than the Coupe. But in fast corners, the better balance of the GT and equal-length driveshafts meant it was a bit easier to carry speed and get power down. Over the years, we both modified our cars in turn. I went to a Ground Control coilover suspension and steadily upgraded the engine and he followed suit. Squint a bit, and in the first generation Jetta you can see the similarities to the Audi GT. Both were Giugiaro designs as was the original Golf/Rabbit; but the Jetta went slightly upscale compared to the Golf. Ironically, in recent years that role has reversed – top of the range Golfs are even more expensive than mid-range Passats. But in the early 1980s, Volkswagen made the U.S. market A1 Jetta have slightly better interiors and, aside from the obvious trunk, a different grill with 4 rectangular sealed-beam headlights led the way – very similar to the U.S. spec Audi GT. They were available in 2 or 4-door configuration with a range of motors which matched the Rabbit; trim levels were base “L”, upscale “GL” and performance oriented “GLi”. Today, Jettas are far less common to come across than the more popular Rabbit variants, especially when they’re in the condition of this Inari Silver example:
All posts tagged Supercharged
The supercar market has always been a bit perplexing to me; get past the glam and the glitz of these showstopping performance machines, and they generally are seldom used toys that depreciate quickly. You don’t hear about someone having saved money their entire life and walking down to a McLaren dealership to buy a P1, for example. That means once they’re no longer grabbing headlines, the well-heeled owners move on to the newest, biggest and best thing to impress their friends. Back up a decade and there was a massive showdown in 2003 between the Porsche Carrera GT and the Mercedes-Benz McLaren. With nearly equal power output, price and performance, one would have presumed that in today’s market they’d share equal value. Both were and are very special cars, and similar production numbers made it to the United States. But today a good Carrera GT will set you back half a million dollars, while you can grab the McLaren for less than $200,000 today:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2006 Mercedes-Benz McLaren SLR Renntech R1 on eBay
Tavarish’s recent Jalopnik post regarding the performance bargain available in the E39 540i solidified many of my car-brain’s transient thoughts. The 540i is a serious looker, with the E39’s grace and nearly all of the M5’s aggression. They are plentiful around the interwebs, but this example caught my eye with a host of Dinan upgrades, low mileage, and a 6-speed transmission. The Dinan supercharger pushes power slightly above the S62’s with plenty of drivetrain and chassis modifications to keep up. It may not quite trigger that special ///M response, but it will get you 99% of the way there while costing half of what a similar M5 would. At just over $10k, you’ll be hard pressed to find more performance per dollar, let alone in a car that looks this good.
Click for details: 1998 BMW 540i Dinan on Craigslist SF Bay Area
In my post from earlier today, I looked at the dilemma in my fictional enthusiast life; the Porsche 944 Turbo versus the 944S2. To throw a monkey wrench into that theoretical debate, there is of course the car that replaced the 944S2 – the 968. With updated styling, the addition of the Variocam variable valve timing and a 6th gear, the 968 is arguably one of the best front-engined water-cooled Porsches. Now with better fuel economy, modernized looks and 236 horsepower, it was really a match for the 944 Turbo. However, as I’ve covered before, most of the competition left it behind; in the marketplace, the 4 cylinder Porsche not only squared up against the V8 Corvette, but the refined trio of Japanese turbocharged cars in the RX-7, 300ZX Twin-turbo and Supra Turbo. If you just wanted performance, it was hard to argue that your money was best spent on the 968. However, a few decades on, the 968 is really starting to come into its own as a potential collector and is widely recognized as a great driver with classic Porsche attributes. Today, I have an interesting pair; a cheap 6-speed coupe and a supercharged cabriolet. Which would you choose?