A fair chunk of the collector world shrugs their shoulders when an Audi rolls by. There are some exceptions, obviously; the Quattro and Sport Quattro have gained notoriety, and of course because it was touched by Stuttgart, the RS2 still has some serious street cred.
Pull up in this RS4, though, and most would have a tough time telling it apart from the 1.8T with vape clouds billowing from the windows. Their dismissal would be unfortunate, because the B5 RS4 is a serious machine. Quattro GmbH turned to corporate partner Cosworth Engineering to modify the 2.7 liter V6 twin-turbo, and the result was pretty astonishing for 2000: 375 horsepower in a manual wagon! Audi’s skunkwork quattro GmbH then gave the car a fitting set of modifications, from a unique interior with Recaro seats to wider track and flares – and, of course, the gaping guppy lower grills. Produced in low numbers, it’s even more rare to see in the United States since none were imported here originally.
Yet a few individuals have gone through the effort of Federalizing their RS4, and when they come up for sale it’s cause for a celebration!
Over the past month I checked out a few W124 Mercedes-Benz Estates and from the looks of it, they are still in pretty high demand judging by their price tags. I can see why as those wagons were and still are some of the best all-encompassing packages you could buy. Some might argue that the W123 Estate was better and I see their points, but the newest one of those is now 33 years-old and lack things like airbags as well as other modern safety features. What is interesting is that the car that replaced the W124 Estate, the W210, kind of flew under the radar when it came to fans of wagons. Whether it be its elongated looks or lack of old school Mercedes feel, people aren’t exactly eager to snatch these things up. It doesn’t mean that they are bad cars or anything, but the passion is just a little lacking compared to the W123 and W124. Today’s car, a 2001 E320 Estate up for bid in Oregon, is painted in the rare Aragonite Blue Metallic and is actually quite nice. Does that mean anyone will be clamoring for it?
Fairly often I feature special cars that have low miles on them. That’s to be expected because sometimes when people buy a car that isn’t run-of-the-mill, they don’t use it as a daily driver and try to keep the miles low. In turn, that theoretically should keep the value high when it comes to sell or maybe just to have the satisfaction of having a low mileage car. What I don’t see too often are cars that are ordinary in every way and meant to be used and thrown away that have really low miles on them. You can see where I’m going with this.
What I have today is a 2002 Mercedes-Benz E320 up for sale in Virginia with just 18,200 miles on it. This W210 is as bland and disposable as modern Mercedes come and this car doesn’t even have any special options or unique features. In fact, this E320 doesn’t even have heated seats. It’s painted in a bland color with a bland interior that blends in with the crowd with the best of them. You’d think the 18,200 miles would mean this car is pristine, but thanks to some typical W210 problems, time waits for no one. Not even cars that sit in garages for 15 years.
So on to the C4 chassis. Though it was instantly recognizable as an Audi, the all-new C4 bore little resemblance to the boxy C3 it replaced. Fluid lines and curves dominated the design, while new running gear and motors made a splash in performance. The C4 continued to stress Audi’s pioneering aerodynamic tradition, but the result this time was a car which seemed far less top-heavy than the chassis it replaced. It looked more trim even if it was a big bigger than the outgoing model.
On the fly, the 100’s new motivation was a revelation. The 2.8 liter V6 replaced the 2.3 liter inline-5, and though horsepower was only 172 and torque 184, both figures represented a nearly 30% gain over the 5-pot. New, too, was a 4-speed automatic transmission. And while the inside looked little different from the last of the C3, only switch gear was shared and the C4 brought a host of new safety and convienence features to the large-chassis Audi.
Strange, though, was the re-appearance of Audi’s earlier naming convention in the U.S.. Back in the early days of the 5000, Audi had used the “S” and “CS” monikers to denote turbo and quattro models at times (but, again being Audi, inconsistently). Well, the S and CS were back after a four-year hiatus. Base model 100 came with steel wheels, while the “S” model stepped you up in options and gave you alloys. But outside of the 20V turbo S4 model, the 100 to get was still the 100CS, which was the most loaded and gave you the option for Audi’s quattro drivetrain. Fully loaded, they were around $35,000 – not cheap, but also not the most expensive in class, and were still unique in offering all-wheel drive.
However, like the C3, the front-drive 100/100S/100CS outsold the quattro model by a fair margin. Audi claims they traded 2,230 of the new 100CS quattro in 1992, and here’s the nicest one out there:
Outside of the E55 or E63 AMG, I don’t really check out many Mercedes-Benz W211s. There is nothing wrong with these cars, but rather the fact there isn’t much to say about them. It’s a mass-produced, run-of-the-mill mid-size sedan that does everything just fine. Nothing special or unique about them. Most were bought or leased for three to five years, dumped off to the second owner who rack up the miles doing the bare minimum in maintenance to the car until the cycle repeats enough times to where you can pick one up for $5,000 at the corner lot or everyone’s favorite, Craigslist. Today’s car, a 2008 E350, seems to be an exception to the W211 typical life cycle. This car painted in the amazing Flint Gray, shows only 53,000 miles and is actually for sale by an official Mercedes-Benz dealer. What gives?
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.
Everyone once in a while one of my favorite mystery cars pops up for sale again. That mystery being why in the world Mercedes-Benz brought these for sale in North America. The car I am talking about is the 2006 S350. I’ve covered this odd ball over year ago but incase you are new or just don’t know the story with this car, let me explain.
In 2006, the last year for the W220 in North America, Mercedes-Benz sold the S350 alongside the S430, S500, S55 AMG, S600 and S65 AMG. This would be totally normal except the S350 was a short wheelbase car that was over five inches shorter than the rest of the model lineup. It was also the only one with the V6. These cars weren’t highly optioned at all and as a result, were nearly $10,000 cheaper than the 430 and $20,000 cheaper than the 500. But why did Mercedes bother to bring over the S350 for only one year? My only guess is they had an abundance of them scheduled for production and needed to rid themselves of these cars while planning the W221 production to start later that year. But that can’t be it, right? Mercedes probably has an entire building full of production planners who make sure things like this don’t happen. They are German, after all.
Perhaps one reason that the S6 Avant didn’t really take of on U.S. shores was because of the shoes it had to fill. Enthusiasts had enjoyed the B5 S4 in Avant form for a few years, and consequently as a popular model when the B6 launched it was almost sure to make a return, almost certain to have more power, and almost certain to be available in a manual. Those premonitions came true, and so if you were willing to wait two years between the B5 and B6 S4 Avant production you were rewarded with the 4.2 liter V8 mated to a manual and even more sporty feel. For lovers of fast Audi wagons, the S4 was the answer to the things that the S6 wasn’t.
But as time has gone on, the “OMG it’s got a V8 and a manual!!!” shine of the B6 has waned slightly as long-term problems have reared their heads with the powertrain. Like the Allroad and S6, those problems are probably overstated by the “‘Exaggernet’, but they nonetheless exist. So while the B5 to B6 represented a huge jump in power, there are quite a few fans of the older generation still. That grunt deficit is easily overcome with the twin-turbocharged V6, as well, thanks to clever tuning potential. Like the B6, you could of course have the B5 with a manual. And, in some wild colors:
Remember when you could take people at their word? Yeah, me either. But you get my point. The reason I bring this up is because when someone tells you something about a car you hope you can take their word at it, but ultimately it is your responsibility to do your due diligence. Enter this 2003 Mercedes-Benz C320 SportCoupé.
As you might have noticed, this W203 is far from a stock car with quite a bit of modifications done to it. It has a wing, some 19 inch BBS wheels, a DTM-inspired splitter, a carbon fiber hood and of course some special paint. Inside, the seats have been redone with Mercedes logos stitched in them and if my eyes are correct, an original Xbox gaming system in the passenger foot well. At first glance, I thought it was just a modified car from a private owner. Then I read the eBay description and saw a story with the words ”McLaren” in it. Needless to say, my eyes lit up and I became very excited. Could this car really be associated with the F1 great? Then a few moments later I had to ask myself ”Why did McLaren want an Xbox in a C320 SportCoupé?”
Update 1/29/2018: The asking price on this S4 has dropped from $13,995 to $12,995.
The B5 S4. On paper, it’s a car that I should like a lot. Coming from the modest 4000 quattro, Audi produced what should have been a monster on paper; a 2.7 liter twin-turbocharged V6 rated at over twice the power of the old inline-5s mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. 6-spoke “Avus” wheels carried on the late 90s design in 17″ form, with deeper but still subdued body additions and more grills hinting at the better performance of this A4-based creation. Twin polished exhaust tips, Xenon headlights, deeply bolstered sport seats and plenty of technology also came along from the ride, too.
But for me the B5 S4 sedan was never super exciting. Perhaps that was because it was instantly popular. What I remember annoying me more, though, was that it really seemed like Audi could have produced stronger performance. After all, it generated only a few more horsepower than the last favorite – at launch, the already out-of-production E36 M3 was the match for the performance of the S4 due to its lighter weight. And that was in turned-down U.S. spec! More sharply notable was the launch at the same time of the S8, and the S4 was some 90 horsepower down on that model. Yet get behind the wheel of one, and suddenly it wasn’t a lack of grunt you were noticing. It was how well the package pulled together. It rode well, it had a glut of usable torque thanks to the small twin turbos’ ability to spin up so quickly, and the fit and finish inside was leagues better than the E36 was. And while you could stick snow snows on an E36 and make it through winter just fine, as a year-round commuter car the S4 made a lot more sense while simultaneously being a much better sleeper. It was a ‘Q-Ship’; admittedly, not the biggest or fastest one out there, but certainly an undercover speed agent.
Those in the know noticed, and although today’s example has sprouted wings and is decidedly not as understated as it left the factory, when you see the name of the original owner you’ll understand why…