Just the other day, I wondered what kind of large wagon you could still buy. The Mercedes-Benz E-Class and recently introduced Volvo V90 seem to be the last two holdouts in what was once a robust market of longroof models. Back up a decade, and you could add the Audi A6 Avant and 5-series Touring/Sport Wagon to the mix, and both are still quite desirable in their last form.
With forced induction and plenty of technology as well as a sport ride, both the Audi and BMW entrants into the marketplace were expensive alternatives to the rest of the now traditional “Sport Utility” lineups. And both sold in very small numbers, giving enthusiasts precious few options to choose from when it comes to the used market. In the case of the BMW, the most desirable models are the M-Sport models offered late in the run, and they’re not frequently seen. So much so, that when this one popped up I was certain it was the same 2010 I looked at recently. The color combination of Tiefseeblau Metallic and Natural Brown Dakota combined with the M-Sport package seemed too unlikely to immediately come across again; yet, here we are, with a VIN only about 100 after the recent example. Is this one a winner?
RUF is a name which is among the most highly respected tuners in the world, creating legendary power, looks and speed among a series of cars that was already quite potent. But they’re very expensive cars, too – fully spec one out from Ruf, and you can easily double the price of your Porsche, sometimes more. These are not machines for mere mortals.
Yet value can still be found in, and today I’ve got 1,100 horsepower to prove it. This Double Take looks at two 2002 911 Turbos, both of which have been upgraded with the RUF 550 kit. Which is the winner?
I remember a time not that long ago when everyone basically swore off the B5 as being too complicated, too prone to failure, and without enough pizazz. The funny thing was that these judgements were all levied in comparison to the B5’s replacement, the B6. Sure, the BBK 4.2 V8 stuck under the hood was a sonorous revelation of sorts. Gone was the timing belt and the “you’re going to have to replace them at some point” not one, but two turbos stuck in back of the motor that basically necessitated dropping the engine for replacement. The BBK brought nearly 100 more lag-free horses to the party, too, and better-looking interior bits with the promise of more build quality.
Well, the reality is that Audi just punted the ball down field. The transition between B5 and B6 marked the real death toll in the long-term Audi for many, as complicated electronic systems really began to outweigh lifetime engineering designs. I love Audis. I really, really do. But it seems like every single system on every single Audi produced after 2002 is so unnecessarily complicated that I can’t imagine how anyone with even a minuscule amount of sense could look at the design and say “Yup, that’ll never go wrong”. They’re engineer’s wet dreams. In the case of the BBK, in addition to eating starters and prodigious amounts of expensive synthetic oil, there is the notorious timing chain guide issue. Since Audi opted to move the timing devices from the front to the back of the motor to fit into the snug B6 engine compartment, pulling the engine apart means taking it out. Finally get it out of the car and pop the covers off, and it looks like a Swiss clock underneath. And there’s one more secret about the B6 4.2 – sure, it’s fast and it feels shouty. But it’s not really that fast for having a 340 horsepower V8 because it weighs two tons unladen. And, turning them up a notch is pretty difficult – you’re basically limited to slapping a supercharger on the motor. As a result, quite a few have turned back a page on history and view the B5 in a much better light today:
What would you do with over 700 ft lb of torque? Well, if it were me, I’d make sure to unnerve the neighbors a bit as I started out my morning commute. Fortunately, for them, I work from home. Yes, that’s just how much power these CL65 AMG coupes pack under the hood, with a healthy 604 horsepower to go along with those torques. If the CL55 AMG with its 5.5 liter supercharged V8 was not enough, Mercedes decided to go one step further and strap two turbochargers on a 6.0 liter V12 and unleash what has to be one of the most serious luxury coupes to ever hit the market. Set apart by those gun metal gray alloy wheels, this 2006 CL65 AMG for sale in North Carolina has yet to cross the 40,000 mile mark and gives those power hungry enthusiasts among us a crack at a barely broken in über-coupe.
Fans, I have to apologize. I’ll happily admit that there are huge gaps in our daily lineup of cars. When I think of the numerous models that we skip over on a daily basis I genuinely feel a tinge of regret. First off, we really don’t feature much from before 1980 often, and even then it’s limited generally to the more expensive cars that survive such as Porsches or Mercedes-Benz models. Then there are plenty of obscure models we just overlook in our searches. I mean, when was the last time that we wrote up an Audi A3, for example? I’ll save you some time – nearly two years ago was the last time an A3 came across our pages. Or an Audi A2? I’m not sure one has ever popped up here, despite them being a very interesting and cutting-edge car. We rarely look at BMW Isettas or Mercedes-Benz SUVs – actually, come to think of it, pretty much any SUV despite their massive popularity and the reality that quite a few of them are nice trucks (and by trucks I mean cars). How about Porsche 914s, Karmann Ghias and pretty much any newer Volkswagen that isn’t a Passat wagon (sorry about that)? There simply isn’t enough time and space to cover all the models that are out there. As such, we often focus on the cars that interest us, and I’ll admit that since there are only a few writers here that means that we see a lot of the same things day in and day out. So, I’m sorry. But I promise, we do try to vary it up as much as we can!
In that vein, I want to look at a very nice Audi S4 today. The S4 itself is no stranger in any of its several generations on these pages, but often we either focus on the C4 generation or the B5, B6 and B7 Avants. The sedan gets scarcely any coverage here probably because the Avant is such a popular choice. But today’s sedan is pretty special, first because it’s one of the hot B5 colors of Imola Yellow, and second because it’s a low mileage, nearly perfect original model. Is it worth a high asking price?
With recent looks at both B7 and C4 S-cars, it was time to take a look at the middle child of the run – the much loved B5. For some time these were considered too heavy and complicated for long-term enjoyment, but a resurgence of interest in the model has been driven by a very active aftermarket that supports them. In the U.S., the most loved models are the 6-speed Avants and we have two to consider here today for a double dose of forced induction family fun. Which would be the 5-door you’d choose?
Do you ever have those moments where you look back 5-10 years and think of the cars you could have bought so much more cheaply than they appear on the market today? I think back to cars like a few I mentioned this morning – the M3 and Quattro – that could be had in great condition for under $10,000 only a decade ago. Then there are cars on the cusp of taking off – cars like the 190E 2.3-16 and 944 Turbo – that are currently still attainable, but one wonders for how long. Moving up a few leagues from the minors in the majors, though, and it wasn’t very long ago that Porsche 911s weren’t astronomically expensive. Think the E30 M3 is bad? Let’s talk about cars like the 930. In May, 2013 Hagerty valued an absolute top condition 1986 Turbo around $60,000. Today, the same estimate is $315,000 – amazingly, down slightly from last fall when $325,000 was the top number. If you pardon the poor pun, the 930 has simply outpaced the stock market many times over, proving it has supercar staying power.
The same can be said of the car that replaced it, the 964 Turbo. Even a standard 3.3 went from a top value of $50,000 in September, 2014 to a pretty steady $275,000 today. Are these numbers always being realized? Perhaps not, but it certainly gives us a value trend. And that leads us to the 996 turbo model. The 996 has been demonized left, right and center for being watercooled, ugly and even fragile, though at least the latter doesn’t necessarily apply to the turbo model. The result of that is it is, without a doubt, the most performance you can buy on a reasonable budget with a Porsche badge attached to it. There’s another school of thought, though – and that is that the 996 won’t remain a budget forever. It’s impossible to predict if there will be a similar bubble to these cars, but the rumor mill seems to be swirling that people in the know are picking up excellent examples in the anticipation that it just could take off: