Update 3/6/18 – What appears to be this same car from July 2016 has appeared on San Francisco’s Craigslist with a $15,000 asking price but little more information. Thanks to our reader Jeff for the spot!
The last time you probably heard the term ‘Tommykaira’, it was ripping around a digital racetrack on Gran Turismo in the late 90s. The name Tommy Kaira was legendary in the JDM car scene in the 2000s with heavy hitter Nissan Skylines and even their own car that got them a place in the Gran Turismo video game series. But before becoming all that, they started off by dabbling in the world of Mercedes-Benz. They took the regular W201 190E and W124 300E and added their own speical touches to the engine, suspension, body work and wheels before reselling them to the Japanese market as the Tommykaira M19 and M30E . Very rarely do I see them for sale because of their relatively low production numbers but recently this M19 has come up for sale a few times on eBay in Yokohama, Japan. So let’s take a closer look at this JDM Baby Benz.
The well worn cliche is that power is intoxicating. While typically that expression is used in reference to abuses by individuals it seems no less applicable to cars. Once you get a taste of a level of acceleration, you begin to want more. And more. And maybe even a little more. Thankfully there exist outlets for such desires; builders who are happy to provide you with completely unnecessary levels of power in our continual pursuit of more. Just bring your wallet.
For your Porsche the name nearly synonymous with the need for extra power is RUF. RUF has been in the game for a long time, producing modified Porsches for 40 years. While in many cases these are conversions where the owner buys a 911 and has RUF parts added by an appropriate installer (or by RUF themselves), RUF also has produced their own builds utilizing nothing more than a Porsche chassis. These cars were badged as a RUF rather than a Porsche and come with a RUF VIN. The one we see most commonly and the one that really got the whole thing started is the BTR. Fitted with a 3.4 liter turbocharged flat-6 mated to a 5-speed manual the BTR was a much more powerful version of the 930 capable of outclassing most any production car available at the time. Naturally that extra performance along with their relative rarity makes them a highly sought after commodity. Here we have one such beast: a 1987 RUF BTR, located in Virginia, with 37,472 miles on it.
One thing that I always admired about Mercedes-Benz tuner Brabus is that they weren’t afraid to touch anything. Old, new, big, and small, they aren’t afraid to put their touches on any product to roll out of Untertürkheim. Today’s car is one of those where I question was it even worth it to spend a ton of money into making something that atleast right now, isn’t all that desirable. This is a 2003 C320 that was converted by Brabus into what they call a C3.8S. As you might have guessed, they took the 3.2 liter M112 V6 and transformed it into a 3.8 liter making around 300 horsepower to the rear wheels. In typical Brabus fashion, the added front and rear bumpers, a new exhaust, some wheels and finished it all off with some interior touches that differed from the standard W203 offering. All of this time and money left you with a 0-60 time of 6.8 seconds. Yeah, not that impressive.
Here we are a week after looking at the 1990 Alpina B10 BiTurbo, and by chance, we get to look at a second BiTurbo. Last week’s was seriously suspect; there were alarm bells throughout, as major chassis issues and incongruous details were capped by a seller clearly looking to deceive the market. At first glance, there’s some cause for concern here, too, as we’ll see in a moment. Is this the case of another crestfallen hero, or does this super sedan hold true to its heritage?
Some people like to upgrade their cars with aftermarket parts or parts from other vehicles from the same manufacturer. Usually it’s a small part or maybe a set of wheels that satisfies their itch. Other people go a little bigger with maybe custom body work and paint. Then way on another level, we have what was done with this 1997 Mercedes-Benz S600 in Russia. It’s impressive enough to have a Mercedes tweaked by legendary tuner Brabus, that this car is, but it’s a whole other ball of wax once you see what is hiding inside this car and the special surprise hiding in the trunk. Here is a hint: It isn’t subwoofers.
I wish that I had better news for you. I’d love to say that I’d found some hidden gem no one else had discovered, and that it could be yours for a song. Today is not that day. Instead, what we unfortunately have is another case of mistaken identity. To add a bit of insult to injury, it would seem that it’s quite intentional.
Back in May of 2017, I looked at two E32 BMWs. Both were modified, non-original examples. One was a 5-speed 735i sporting some Racing Dynamics bits, and the other was a clean and low-mileage 750iL that had undergone a full cosmetic Alpina B12 5.0 makeover.
Outstanding E32 Face Off: 1988 BMW 735i and 750iL
Kudos to the then seller, it was accurately represented. It looked great but needed to be cleaned up a bit, but despite low mileage and all the original Alpina goodies, it sold for pretty budget price – just a bit over $5,000.
Well, it’s back. It’s cleaner, better photographed and there are also some clever changes and omissions in the current advertisement that have apparently sold bidders on a bill of goods that I’m pretty confident the car can’t write:
Yesterday I featured a regular 993. It was very pretty. Today we’re going to take that design and turn everything up. The performance, the look,…, the price. But I have to say this one isn’t any less pretty than the other one. It’s a heck a lot more aggressive looking though.
The 993 Turbo already does great things with the 993’s lines. With a couple of small tweaks by RUF it looks even better. We all know RUF GmbH. In the tuner world they may be the most well known name around. For Porsches they are certainly the most highly regarded. Unlike some Porsche tuners that followed more in the footsteps of Porsche’s racing designs, RUF stuck mostly with subtle modifications to its road cars. The uninitiated might not have even known the car had been modified. While few Porsches could ever qualify as sleepers, a RUF almost could, assuming that others mistook it for a “regular” Porsche.
For the 993 RUF gave us the Turbo R: 490 twin-turbocharged horses directed to all four wheels through a 6-speed manual transmission. That’s 82 more hp than a standard 993TT and still 66 hp more than the Turbo S. Heck it’s even well up on power compared to the GT2 all while retaining a healthy does of civility. And here’s one such beast for sale!
This 911 began life as an Arctic Silver 1997 Porsche 911 Turbo before undergoing a conversion to the RUF Turbo R. At 37,500 the mileage is quite low, the condition looks great, and it’s said to come with its paperwork.
We last got to look at a modified E30 through the disappointing realization that finally after years of trying to sell with different dealers, the car listed as an Alpina C2 2.5 was just a very convincing replica. But as noted, the car was clean and wore a lot of really expensive Alpina bits – so while the price tag of $22,800 seemed high for a replica, it was in some ways amazingly justified.
So what happens when the car in question is a real Alpina? We find out when we look at an actual Alpina C2. The asking price in that case was nearly double at $39,500. And when you factor in that the C2 is one of the less desirable E30 Alpinas out there, that’s drawn into sharper contrast.
So here we are again with another Alpina to consider, but it’s not alone. One of our readers spotted a Hartge H26 – an even more rare to see variant of modified 1980s E30. And to kick the rarity up a few notches, both are 4-doors instead of the usual 2-door sedans. So how do they compare in terms of pricing, and are these cars all that they seem?
Back in February, I took a look at very hot item in the marketplace – a clean, European-spec BMW E30 modified by Alpina.
Or, at least that was what was claimed.
Further research pointed out some problems. I found it to be a car I looked at two years ago in 2015, then listed as a 1986 C2 2.5. The VIN was transposed incorrectly, but the stranger item was that the year was wrong. Stranger still was that a tremendous amount of the car didn’t seem to work. Yet it was a lot of Alpina for the money even as an automatic, as it was relatively clean and priced well below other similar E30 Alpina asks.
Well, here we are some ten months later and it’s popped up in a new listing with a new seller. We’ve seen that before, so no big surprise there. As I started to look through the listing, though, I was struck by just how lazy it was. Okay, there were new photos, but none of them were detailed. The VIN is filled in with “1”s. Then I got to the text, which is a near-carbon copy of the last listing. I say near for two reasons – one, the current listing cut and paste the prior listing….twice. So, halfway through the details, you start all over again!
But perhaps that was done to distract you from the one detail which was added to this listing. Cleverly stuck in after the copying of the prior listing, just before all the fees you’ll need to pay, was a second change and the line which finally answers the questions about this car:
Note this is an Alpina clone with correct Alpina numbered engine.
That’s a pretty frustrating statement to bury in the end of the listing. The ad listing has, for the last several years, maintained how rare this car is and they’re just now getting around to admitting it’s not a real example?…
Edit 12/9/2017: With new photos, a new description and apparently a few things fixed, the current owner of this ‘346i’ that we looked almost exactly one year ago has it back up for sale in a reserve auction format. Last time it didn’t meet reserve at only $10,000. Will it clear the reserve this time around?
The E21. By far, it is the 3-series we feature least frequently (barring new models). In U.S. trim, it is also by far the least sporting 3-series. But don’t throw the baby BMW out with the bath water, because it’s still a classic BMW, it looks nice and it’s quite affordable relative to some other hyperbolic models.
For one, I really like the E21. I’ve even enjoyed driving a few. Of course, never once did I think when driving one “You know what this needs? A M60 V8.” And certainly, even in the very unlikely scenario that idea sprang into my head, there’s no way I would have said “Right, now, off to Dinan to bump it out to 4.6 liters!”
But, if nothing else, this Golf Yellow example of an extreme E21 dispels the myth that they’re all underpowered?