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

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Tuner Tuesday: 1989 Alpina B10 3.5/1

Alpina is a name which holds as much weight in enthusiast’s minds as names like AMG and Ruf, and for good reason. Since the infancy of BMW’s mainstream involvement in both motorsports and road cars, Alpina has been intrinsically linked to the marque and has developed some of the more memorable fast alternatives to BMW’s own M series. They have a different character; you could say they were less aggressive, but the signature Alpina Blue with large turbine wheels, character stripes and spoilers paired often with the combination of specially upholstered interiors replete with rich woods results in a package that many view is more special than the standard production cars. Their complete reworking of models right down to special engines and suspensions has resulted in a bespoke BMW made in limited quantities and with its own unique character:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Alpina B10 3.5/1 on eBay

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Tuner Tuesday: 1968 Volkswagen Beetle

For all the Alpinas, AMGs and Andials we might feature, there is one German cars that has remained a favorite of automotive customizers for years: the original Volkswagen Beetle. There’s an infinite amount of ways you can go with Beetle modifications, from dune buggy to dragsters. One popular modification is the Cal Look, consisting of a lowered suspension, aftermarket wheels and sometimes removal of the bumpers. This freshly restored 1968 Beetle for sale in Arizona has shades of that style, but retains the original bumpers. Wearing a bold shade, it looks great sitting on Empi style wheels.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1968 Volkswagen Beetle on eBay

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Tuner Tuesday: 2002 Ruf R Turbo Cabriolet

If you want to understand why Ruf managed to achieve its own status as a manufacturer in Germany, it can at least partly be explained by considering the R Turbo. Not satisfied with Porsche’s own twin-turbocharged variant of the 996, Ruf made their own. They completely disassembled the 3.6 liter flat-6, reworked a fair amount of the internals including the Variocam system and turbochargers, then revised the electronics by remapping the Bosch ECU. Then they fit this upgraded engine, in keeping with their history, into the narrow-body of the normal 911 Carrera. In order to do this, it required utilizing both GT2 and GT3 parts to make the package come together. You could opt for different states of tune starting with 520 horsepower – some 100 more than the standard Turbo, making the R Turbo one of the fastest cars on the planet. Take a look at the speedometer, for example, which sweeps well past 200 m.p.h.. Yes, the R Turbo could get there, too – with a reported 217 m.p.h. terminal velocity. 0-60 was achieved in under 4 seconds and in between, very little could stay with the thin Ruf. To deal with all of this speed, of course Ruf fit their own suspension coupled with bespoke Speedline wheels and some pretty giant Brembo brakes. On top of all that, you could select new R Turbo as a Cabriolet – something Porsche themselves wouldn’t offer until 2004. And as they always have, the modifications Ruf made were as seamless as the factory bits with accompanying reliability. It made for one quite special package:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Ruf R Turbo Cabriolet on eBay

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Tuner Tuesday: 1994 Porsche 911 Speedster Strosek Turbo S Widebody

I’m going to segue for just a moment to a pop culture phenomena – Keeping Up With The Kardashians. You see, you can sit around all you’d like and say that it’s horrible television – or indeed, that television in and of itself is horrible. You can say it’s exploitation or reverse exploitation. You can say that Kris and Caitruce are atrocious parents. Yet, one thing is for certain; there is money associated with the name and the program, and people apparently really want to watch and partake in them. They want to smell and look like the Kardashians, they want to know about their love and sex lives, they want to see fat Rob going out in public. In short, people want to see the train wreck in progress, and the Kardashians are brilliantly cashing in all the way. Like it or not, Kim Kardashian has repeatedly been the highest paid reality star in the world and makes not just millions, but tens of millions of dollars for her exploits. Clearly, they’re doing something right – or so horribly wrong, people can’t help but bear witness.

Enter Strosek. Strosek has a reputation. That reputation is for creating…well, monstrosities out of seemingly innocent and well meaning Porsches. And yet, they’re not alone. There is Rinspeed, who similarly custom-destroy cars on a regular basis. Then there were other crazy tuners, such as Konig, who tried to turn everything into a Ferrari Testarossa…badly. But Strosek had a unique talent for really creating horribly ugly versions of desirable cars. Yet, they must be doing something right – first off, people actually went to Strosek and bought the cars. Yes, I know that’s amazing, but not only that – they paid Strosek a lot of money to build them. And here we are, talking about them over two decades on. They made an impact, and like a train derailing at high speed, we are helpless but to watch the carnage that ensues from the moment the paperwork is signed until something like this custom widebody Speedster emerges from their works:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 Porsche 911 Speedster Strosek Turbo S Widebody on eBay

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Tuner Tuesday: 2008 BMW 135i Hartge

In my ongoing quest to get into a newer BMW, one car that keeps popping up is the 1 series E82 Coupe. The reason why is pretty simple; value. I love cars with the M badge, but it’s sometimes hard to justify the premium, and looking through the E46 market is a bit like one of those Sarah McLachlin-soundtracked mistreated animal commercials. Too many have suffered heavy modifications, mistreatment, and the number of salvage titles must exceed any other specific model – it’s simply amazing. In contrast, many of the 135is are just leaving their first owners as they begin to head into the used car market, meaning there are plenty of examples in good shape, with good owner history and with lower miles. Still, the E82 doesn’t really get me warm and fuzzy; I once described it as a E46 M3 that was in the middle of a 3-car pileup and then repaired by a high-school autobody shop as a project. It just doesn’t look quite right to my eyes, with the bending rocker accentuating the short wheelbase, while the “I’m somewhat surprised” look of the too-large and too-upright headlights begs for some internet meme action. However, once in a while one catches my eye and strikes me as a compelling alternative to a M3. With the twin-turbocharged N54 under the hood coupled to a manual transmission, you got the same feel as the E46 M. Couple that with some attractive visual changes from BMW specialist Hartge along with a bump in power, and suddenly you have a much neater package:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 BMW 135i Hartge on eBay

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Tuner Tuesday: 1977 BMW 633CSi ABC Exclusive Widebody

It’s a day for storied 1970s modified BMWs apparently, and from one very expensive but tastefully modified BMW we travel on to one very expensive but…well, let’s just call it period piece and be done with it. Widebody cars were the rage of the 1980s, especially amongst top-flight German cars. Built to mimic their racing counterparts, everything from 560SELs to Porsche 928s got the treatment. There were several manufacturers who were notable for widebody conversions; Strosek and Konig are probably two of the most famous, but not to be outdone a small tuning firm from Bonn – ABC Exclusive – also got into the 1980s cliches. Did you want a glitzy, over the top 6-series? ABC could deliver, replete with color coordinated dashboards ripped straight from the Space Shuttle and champagne flutes hidden in the refrigerated seat section in the rear. Have you ever ridden the rear of an E24? I have, many times. Let me tell you, not many people capable of drinking champagne are capable of sitting back there comfortably. Perhaps that explains the champagne, then. But ABC wouldn’t just end there, because if you wanted a different sort of over the top 6-series, they had two more options; you could chop the top off and get a flexible-flier CSi for your trips to the Riviera, or you could opt for the outrageously flared widebody conversion:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1977 BMW 633CSi ABC on eBay

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Tuner Tuesday: 1986 Alpina C2 2.5

It’s somewhat amazing that a small tuner like Alpina managed to turn out nearly as many variants of the venerable E30 chassis as the factory did. Alpina developed a total of 11 variants of the 3 series that I can figure out, and with the Japanese specials there may have been even more. The C2 was the top-tier model of the small Alpinas until the introduction of the M3, which effectively negated the entire point of the C2. It was a bit quicker and cost less than the Alpina, and consequently the small tuner upped the ante by slotting in the larger M30 motors to really take performance to the next level. But the early cars are still quite potent; in 2.3, 2.5 or 2.7 form, the C1 and C2 had between 170 and 190 horsepower, and with only a reported 160 built between all the “C” models, they’re certainly much more exclusive than the M3. The same seller as earlier’s AMG has turned up with a late C2 2.5 from Japan; wearing gold Alpina decor over the Alpine White exterior, this is one shining gem of an E30:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Alpina C2 2.5 on eBay

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Tuner Tuesday: 1983 Volkswagen Golf Oettinger

Which came first; the Mk.1 or the modified Mk.1? Of course it’s a rhetorical question, but it points to the popularity of the first water-cooled Volkswagens. Affordable, practical and plentiful, the aftermarket community thrived on providing all sorts of options to modify your Golf/Rabbit to all sorts of levels. With everything from body kits to performance modifications and interiors, there was seemingly no end to the possible permutations of combinations of parts to make your mass-produced hot hatch a bit hotter and different from everyone else. But weed through the plethora of upstarts, and perhaps the most respected name in the Mk.1 community is Oettinger. Though somewhat out of vogue today, we should not forget that Oettinger pioneered the twin cam, 16 valve engine for Volkswagen – in production as early as 1980, a full 7 model years before Volkswagen’s own 16V would enter service. They competed in motorsport as well, developing rally engines and everything from turbocharged diesels to a full 2 liter 16V motor developing 170 horsepower in 1984; Oettinger-equipped Golfs were quick enough to accelerate on par with production Porsche 928s of the period. Today, their legendary status in the Mk.1 community means that fully built, period models demand a premium even if they’re rare to come by:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1983 Volkswagen Golf Oettinger on eBay

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Tuner Tuesday: Built To Euro-Spec 1978 Volkswagen Rabbit “GTi”

I was at my mechanic’s just the other day picking up my Passat when he asked me to give him a hand pushing a Mini Cooper S with a blown motor out of the way. He laughed as it rolled to a stop and remarked how heavy it was for such a small car. Of course, BMW made up for this by upping the power and the first of the new Minis is still a hoot to drive in S form, but he said to me “I’d rather have an original GTi”. I concurred; a legend even in its own time, the A1 GTi’s magic has never really been replicated by even Volkswagen themselves. Sure, there are faster, better built and better looking hatchbacks, but there’s something magical about the original – right down to the crazy stories both of us had about 11/10ths driving, flinging the small hatch at corners, overpasses, underpasses, small pets and occasionally pedestrians with abandon. Has all of that nostalgia turned into dollar signs in today’s market, though?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1978 Volkswagen Rabbit on eBay

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