Tuner Tuesday: 1995 BMW 840Ci 6-speed Supercharged

For many, the top dog of the E31 lineup for BMW was the 850CSi. Others will contest that aftermarket tuner Alpina got it just right with their modification of the 850CSi, the B12 5.7 Coupe. Let’s be honest though – great condition examples of those cars are hardly affordable for most, and the exotic performance comes with some potentially costly maintenance on the big V12. But I think our reader John may have spotted the perfect alternative to those cars, and it’s a bit unusual. When BMW launched the 840Ci, I remember initially thinking it was a bit of a letdown. After all, the company was seemingly running away from the signature V12 and replacing it with a smaller and less powerful V8. That, in many ways, doesn’t seem like progress. But the M60 produced 9/10s of the power of the M70, yet was less expensive and got better fuel economy. Of course, unfortunately it was also only available in the U.S. with the 5-speed automatic – and it was a lot less powerful than the CSi model. At least most of them are…

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 BMW 840Ci 6-speed Supercharged on eBay

Tuner Tuesday: 1995 BMW 318ti Club Sport Supercharged

What’s the perfect commuter car? Well, that varies by your definition of commuter, how far you need to drive and how much traffic you encounter, and what your goal is – do you want high mileage, or perhaps you want extreme comfort and isolation. But I’d like to think that a fair amount of our readership would love to have a dual purpose car. It would be something that wouldn’t be a collector-status car, but yet one that was unique and not often seen. It would combine comfort and affordability. While some would opt for automatics, I’m sure a larger percentage would choose to row-their-own boat. Fuel mileage, while gas is cheap now, would probably still be a consideration, as would maintenance. And finally, when the traffic cleared and there was a empty bit of road, most of us like to squeeze the pedal down that bit further and be rewarded by and entertaining push in the back. That’s a difficult grouping of characteristics to achieve in one package, but I’d like to suggest that this 318ti might just be the car.

The Club Sport was the answer to the question that effectively no one was asking in 1995; depending on the source, BMW sold a reported 200-300 of them in 1995 only. What the option 9530 got you was a 318ti hatchback that had been breathed upon by BMW Individual. Added were 16″ sport wheels, M3 front bumper, rocker trim and mirrors and a special rear bumper. But it was more than an appearance package, because it also received a M-tuned suspension, special steering wheel and shift knob and uniquely trimmed Millpoint M-cloth sport seats. The seller of this car has brought the performance up to M levels, though, with the addition of a PSS9 coilover suspension, double spoke M3 wheels and supercharger to the M42 inline-4:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 BMW 318ti Club Sport on eBay

Tuner Tuesday: 2006 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Ruf Kompressor

Tuned cars from the 1980s were never particularly discrete, nor were they cheap or easy to come by. Tuners like Treser, in an effort to get more power out of the notoriously non-tunable CIS injection system that adorned nearly all German cars in the 1980s, got creative by taking a 928 fuel distributor for the V8 motor and sticking it on the inline-5 turbo unit. Others, like AMG, took the biggest motor they could build and stuck that into a bunch of different cars. Ruf turned up the boost on the 911 range by moving the turbocharged flat-6 into narrow-body cars. But none of this came cheaply, nor were these tuned cars always the most reliable. When it came to the period of electronic fuel injection, though, things started to change. The first chip-tuned cars also had some bad habits; my father’s chipping 944 Turbo, for example, runs quite rich and if you engage the cruise control, the computer believes you want to go 170 m.p.h. and plants the throttle wide open. But they’ve become increasingly reliable and almost a given; plus they’re cheap. On a car like my 1.8T Passat, you can get a reflash of the ECU with programmable modes for around $500; it can be done in just a few moments, and adds somewhere in the vicinity of 50 horsepower and 80 lb.ft of torque. As such, if you really want to go wild in a tuned car these days, simply changing the ECU to a hotter map isn’t enough. No, if you’re someone like Ruf, you’re still pushing the bounds – or, perhaps, compressing them:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2006 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Ruf Kompressor on eBay

2004 MINI Cooper S MC40

Almost five years on, every time I slip behind the wheel of my 2006 MINI Cooper S, it still puts a smile on my face. I remember the first time I drove one of these supercharged pocket rockets almost a decade ago. I thought to myself “someday, you’ll be mine.” After four years of running a 2007 Mercedes-Benz C230, I finally had enough of the 7-speed automatic AKA the gearbox with a personality disorder. I was lusting after something more fun, and with a manual gearbox. And seeing how much my father enjoyed his 2002 MINI Cooper, I went to work in search of a final year R53 Cooper S. It’s been a fairly trouble free ownership experience and I don’t see myself selling it anytime soon.

Two years before the R53 hardtop disappeared, MINI payed homage to their past with the Cooper S MC40. Dedicated to Mini’s historic win at the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964, this car was equipped with the Sport Package, driving lights, special interior trim, magnetic body decals and a numbered plaque with Paddy Hopkirk’s signature. One color was offered, Chili Red with a White roof. This MC40 for sale in Florida has just over 60,000 miles. Even with the limitless color and trim combinations MINI offers, this special edition is a good way to stand out from the crowd.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 MINI Cooper S MC40 on eBay

1995 BMW M3

$_57 (6)

When looking at E36 M3s, there are many different approaches. Do you want the lowest mileage example around in case they go the way of the E30-dodo? Perhaps you’re looking for a driver-quality, mid-mileage example. Is it four-doors or nothing? (For my money it would be!) Or maybe you’re a bit more adventurous and 240hp just won’t do so you’re after some performance mods, maybe even a supercharger?

These are all rational approaches to one of the best performance bargains available today and illustrate what a broad spectrum of driving enthusiasm the E36 M3 can fulfill. For today, however, just one item composed my rubric: WHICH ONE HAS THE BIGGEST WING? Well, folks, I’m confident I’ve found it, and as opposed to the rear-view problems monster wings typically present, this one avoids that problem altogether by just placing the spoiler higher than the roof!

Now, the reason this car has a GT3RS-rivaling spoiler is because it’s been fully outfitted for the track. A supercharger and upgraded exhaust/suspension/brakes combine with a rollcage in the bare interior to make this M3 all about the go, not show. Which rationalizes the wing a bit – sure, it looks silly, but with the S52B30 putting out over 400hp at the crank now, some high-speed stability is a prudent priority. Somehow registered for the street, this complete track build clearly demands a closed course so you can exercise this E36’s full potential instead of garnering Nelson Muntz-ish “Ha Ha!”s from the general public.

Click for details: 1995 BMW M3 on eBay

Double Take: Audi A6 3.0T quattro Avant

Last week I wrote up a 2007 A6 3.2 quattro Avant S-Line, the end of a dying breed of luxury wagons from German manufacturers. But before they fully dismissed the large wagon from U.S. shores, Audi went out with a bang when it refreshed the A6 in 2009. Minor updates to styling once again brought the A6 in line with the new design language from Audi, but the real change was under the skin. As they had with the previous models, in an attempt to save some weight from the large Audis the company utilized aluminum throughout; the 3.0Ts featured aluminum hood and fenders like the previous generation S6 had. Additionally, just like the 3.2 had been, the new 3.0T was an aluminum block; the decrease in displacement was more than made up for with a literal boost from the supercharger. With a full 20% power increase to 300 horsepower and 310 lb.ft of torque at a low 2,500 rpm, the new 3.0T was a much better performer than the 3.2 FSi V6 had been and was, briefly, a defacto S-Avant that was missing from the lineup. On top of that, the new supercharged layout meant power increases are much easier to attain; as Chris Harris demonstrated with his stunning S4 v. RS4 comparison. Audi also moved away from its “S-Line” designations towards the new strata of Premium, Premium Plus ($1,400), and Prestige ($3,200) levels which added levels of electronic wizardry and small detail difference. That was on top of the raised base price, now $60,200 in 2010. If you though the 3.2 was rare, the 3.0T is downright hard to find even though they’re nearly new.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2011 Audi A6 3.0T quattro Avant on Cargurus

Tuner Tuesday: 2006 BMW M3 Dinan S3-R

My ongoing search for a clean E46 M3 continues, and despite the relatively high number produced it does indeed seem more difficult to track one down than it probably should. Early cars are typically more suspect, with many owners, dubious modifications and higher miles. Additionally, my criteria for getting into an M3 is admittedly limiting. The car must be a manual gearbox, and given that I have a preference for some of the more expressive colors like Laguna Seca Blue and Phoenix Yellow, that seems to be more difficult. But in my search I happened upon an unexpected gem that threatened to turn my head from the Crayola-toned early examples; for the most part, I’ve ruled out the later M3s because they demand higher asking prices and there seem to be less in wild colors. This car stood out for not only being the last model year of the E46 M3, but also because it was a ZCP car. Though I’ve sworn I’d never voluntarily buy into another black car, the ultra dark midnight blue hue of Carbon Black Metallic is compelling enough to consider. Add low miles, careful ownership and some discrete modifications from the best in the business to the recipe and this appears to be one of the nicer E46 M3s on the market.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2006 BMW M3 Dinan S3-R on eBay

2006 Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG Estate

I’ve written up a couple Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG wagons in my time with GCFSB; even got fooled by a E500 doing a damn good AMG impression on one post. I don’t know what it is about this car that keeps bringing me back to it. I’m not really much of a Mercedes guy. I prefer my fast wagons wearing four interlocked rings. However those three letters found on the trunk (and unfortunately the license plate frame) always catch my eye and earn the car a second glance.

Maybe that’s what I like about these souped up mid-aughts family haulers. If you don’t know what to look for, you don’t know what you’re looking at. That could be said of many wagons with a ferocious power plant but in the case of the E-Class I think it is particularly true. With its country club profile, dopey four headlamp front end and lengthy rear you could be forgiven for thinking these cars were nothing special. I suppose that until they’ve heard the supercharged V8 at wide open throttle most folks wouldn’t think it is, even after you point out the thick AMG steering wheel, quad tip exhuast and AMG wheels. That’s fine as far as I’m concerned, more E55 AMG wagons for those of us in the know. After all, these are rare cars that were only sold through a direct to your driveway order process. It appears that this example which was delivered to Woodland Hills, CA has remained in excellent condition over the 72k miles it has covered so far. The question is, has it been so well cared for that it necessitates the $31,500 asking price?

Year: 2006
Model: E55 AMG wagon
Engine: 5.4 liter V8
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Mileage: 72,000 mi
Price: $31,500

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2006 Mercedes Benz E55 AMG Wagon on AutoTrader.com

RARE!

Feature Listing: 2003 Mercedes Benz S55 AMG Designo Edition

Depreciation: it’s a wonderful thing if you’re a German automobile fan with an affinity for a good bargain. What was once an astronomically priced vehicle could be firmly within reach thanks to the passage of time and a reputation for wallet draining repair bills. Of course the latter is the reason many people still steer clear of used German vehicles, even in today’s world where any question you need the answer to is just a Google search away. Nobody should be afraid to work a car these days, unless it’s so new that you can’t do anything without a computer or you’re completely helpless when it comes to wrenching. If you have the space, tools and the time, there’s nothing you can’t do. I say all of this because I know that right off the bat people will point out that the W220 chassis S-Class is a big scary car with little mechanical demons lurking in its bones just waiting to wreak havoc on your bank account. While it did have its issues, it was actually rather reliable and parts for these things are very easy to come by, even the AMG examples like this one. Sure there is a learning curve when it comes to working on over engineered vehicles but it’s really not as daunting as armchair experts would have you think. Between brand-specific fora and YouTube there’s plenty of information out there to keep you from loosing sleep over things like a vanity mirror door break or armrest failure.

The tradeoff for taking the plunge seems well worth it, especially with pristine examples like this one. The seller’s pictures of the gorgeous Designo Espresso don’t do the color justice which is too bad because the right setting would show off just how much this paint pops. Early morning light along the Hudson, now that would have been the way to go.…

1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Cabriolet A

From my perspective, watching auctions like Barrett-Jackson has always been a bit of detachment from reality. The numbers thrown at cars over the past decade are simply unfathomable to most and somewhat laughable at the same time. The frenzied auctions for economy cars with truck motors in them have been staggering; simply being witness to the Hemi ‘Cuda insanity was astonishing. In many ways, it strikes me as a historian much like the famed “Tulip Mania” in 1600s Netherlands. Speculation on the value of tulips reached the point where a single tulip bulb was worth around 10-15 times the average worker’s salary. For a flower. The resulting semi-insanity ended up partially ruining the Dutch economy, though it was not solely to blame and leaves out many other events that transpired. To me, watching shows like “Antiques Roadshow” often raises similar issues. In particular, recently the show has revisited older shows to display updated appraisals. In general, nearly all of the speculated values a decade on are lower, sometimes significantly. There’s one area that isn’t though – the Asian market, which if anything is much stronger than it was a decade ago thanks to the surging Chinese economy. For some time, the focus on muscle cars eclipsed the old money; very special coach-built pre-War cars used to be where the go-to value was. And while the E30 may be a flash in the pan with people lamenting when they could have bought an example for $10,000 that’s now worth 4 times that, consider this: in 1956, someone bought a Mercedes-Benz 540K special roadster for $2,167 (about $18,600 today). The last one that sold cleared $7.85 million dollars. How’s that for a good investment?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Cabriolet A on eBay