1990 Audi V8 quattro

From the dated underpinnings of the Type 44 chassis, Audi emerged in 1988 with an all-new 4-cam aluminum engine that could be mated to an automatic transmission. Now, to most enthusiasts that probably sounds like a bad idea. But when it came to selling car – especially expensive luxury cars – the overwhelming majority of buyers wanted the car to do most of the heavy lifting. Audi’s response was the next generation of quattro drivetrains with a series of clutches in the center differential that helped to transfer power and allowed the car to be mated to an automatic transmission. That transmission – the ZF 4HP24A – was a derivative of the 4HP24, the same automatic found in the V12-equipped BMW 750 and 850s. Like the Mercedes-Benz, Audi employed Bosch ABS and a locking rear differential. But unlike other Audis with their manual- or electronic-locking rear differential, the V8 quattro used a Torsen rear differential with helical gears which would automatically split torque in up to a 3:1 ratio to the wheel with grip. Coupled with a more rearward weight bias with the shorter V8 and the gutsy torque on offer throughout the rev range, though much of the car was borrowed from the rest of the lineup it took on an entirely different character. That was matched with new, updated bodywork outside and a wider stance with flared arches. The effect? Magical. And, complicated.

But the V8 quattro wasn’t only about its unique new form of all-wheel drive. The moniker obviously indicated there had been a change in motivation, too, and indeed the V8 launched a new all-aluminum 4 cam, 32 valve V8 displacing 3.6 liters dubbed the PT. Rated at 240 horsepower and 254 lb.ft of torque, it was the most powerful Audi for sale in the late 1980s and brought the brand to a luxury level it had previously not competed at. In the U.S., these mega-Audis were met with mixed success. The 1990 launch of the V8 resulted in reasonably good sales; Audi sold 2,823 between late 1989 and the end of 1990 which represented over 10% of their yearly sales. Values in the used market plummeted after timing belt fiascos on early cars and the general recession of the early 90s, along with the ’92 launch of the turbocharged, manual and later Avant-equipped S4/S6 twins. Today, it’s a bit of a treat to see a clean V8 quattro, and this looks to be one of the better examples out there for sale:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Audi V8 quattro on eBay

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2012 Volkswagen Golf R

I suppose I’m not a very fair consumer, if I’m honest. For years, I decried Volkswagen for depriving Americans of the very best offerings it had. Golf Rallye and Country? Nope, and not the Limited either. Passat G60 Syncro? Nope, we didn’t get that either. There’s a string of great TDis that didn’t come here (and still don’t), along with one of the ones that really bugged me – the 4-door GTi. It just never made sense to me how you could argue the GTi was a super practical car when they made a more practical version that just wasn’t brought here. Of course, that ended with the Mk.V, so then my annoyance turned back to the Golf Limited. Sure, we had the R32 – by all rights, a great car, that was not available in 4-door version in the first generation and then not available in either a 4-door or manual in the second generation. To me, in an effort to be gimmicky Volkswagen had really lost the bit. Apparently I wasn’t alone in that thought, because Volkswagen finally made my GTi wishes come true in 2012 with the U.S. introduction of the spiritual successor to the Golf Limited – the Mk. 6 Golf R. Gone was the VR6, replaced by the more potent and tunable 2.0T which could now be specified with a manual and all-wheel drive, and importantly in 4-door guise. Did I buy one? Nope, because this German wonder priced in at a shocking $36,000 with options. For a Golf, mind you.

Today, though, the first generation of Golf Rs has become in some cases cheaper than the car it replaced, the Mk.5 R32 , which as I just explained only came in two-door DSG. This Golf R, though, has four doors and 1.5 manual gears per a door:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2012 Volkswagen Golf R on eBay

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2001 BMW 540i Sport Wagon

The E39 continued and expanded the 5-series wagon’s popularity by bringing bigger wheels, more power and updated looks to the mid-range Audi-challenger. Like the first generation, these were only available in rear-wheel drive in the U.S., so matching the all-wheel drive variants available from…well, everyone else, required a very good looking and potent package. BMW pulled that off, with the Sport versions of both the 528i and 540i wagons thoroughly encapsulating the ethos of the great Euro five doors.

But there was a catch.

If you wanted a manual gearbox, you had to select the lower output 528i model. For all its shouty V8-ness, the 282 horsepower 4.4 liter M62-equipped 540i only came with BMW’s Steptronic if you needed to haul ass and a family. Still, they’re highly sought packages and this has to be one of the nicer examples left out in the wild, or so it would seem at first glance:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 BMW 540i Sport Wagon on eBay

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1995 Audi S6 Avant Euro-Spec

It used to be a bit unusual to see 90s-era European-specification cars come this way. But with the advent of the internet and 25-year-old cars being relatively cheap in other areas of the world, coupled with a current soaring market in the US and nostalgia for easier (they weren’t, but it’s okay to think they were) times, it’s less unusual to see Euro-only models for sale stateside. That’s not the case today; this S6 Avant was available here in nearly identical spec. However, there are a few things interesting on this one and it’s worth taking a look:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 Audi S6 Avant Euro-Spec on eBay

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2002 Mercedes-Benz SL500 Silver Arrow

The swan song for the R129 Mercedes-Benz SL was nothing more than a quick inventory of stuff Mercedes had laying around the warehouse in terms of parts and slapping it on a few hundred examples to call it the “Silver Arrow” special edition. We confirmed this a few weeks ago when looking at the 2000 SL320 “Edition” up for sale in the UK that was all the same parts with the exception of the white leather inserts on the seats and steering wheel. Although I’m willing to bet that leather was also sitting around on the shelf too and they need to get rid it of it before it got too dried out and dusty. However, the American market bought it up and still continues to do so as the very best examples in the world are selling for over $100,000 now and I think people are realizing these are the “it” R129s to have. Time to buy-in while you can?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Mercedes-Benz SL500 Silver Arrow on eBay

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2006 Porsche 911 Carrera S Club Coupe

One of the more interesting special editions to come out of Porsche in the last 20 years was the 2006 911 Carrera S Club Coupe. As a thank you to PCA members, or maybe a way to milk some more money (probably both), Porsche produced 50 Club Coupes only available to PCA members though a random drawing of everyone who put their name in the hat. If they were chosen, of course they still had to pay $105,000 for a Carrera S painted in exclusive Azzurro California and with a bunch of options. For comparison, a 2007 911 Turbo was around a $120,000 at the time, so this was not a cheap C2S. Seems like a bad deal, right? Well, not if you held on to it for all these years.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2006 Porsche 911 Carrera S Club Coupe on eBay

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2006 BMW 550i

While there wasn’t much of a contest between the E28 M5 and E34 535i, by the end of the E34 run the 540i M Sport was – for all intents and purposes – a M5 without the S38. BMW upped the ante to 400 horsepower in the new E39 M5, once again widening the gap to the 540i model. But the successor E60 545i offered 330 horsepower with matching torque in 2003 alongside the outgoing E39 and once again the gap in performance became much smaller. That gap was made almost impercievable in 2005, when BMW revised the E60 with the increased displacement in the N62 motor. Now sporting 4.8 liters from the N62B48, the new “550i” now had 360 horsepower and 361 lb.ft of torque – a much better match for the S62. What was perhaps more amazing was that the new N62 also nearly matched the torque of the new E60 M5’s S85 V10. But while that screaming V10 produced far more horsepower, the peak torque was reached only at 6,100 revolutions – hardly practical in your daily commute. In comparison, peak twist on the N62 came at a much more realistic 3,400 r.p.m.s, and on the fly these 550is were – and still are – seriously quick sedans. They also introduced the next generation of design language and computer technology into the 5-series. Some love the look while others lambaste the design. While it’s certainly not my favorite 5, at least it’s distinctive and different in a world full of cookie-cutter designs and dare I say I think it may look better today than it did new – perhaps a testament to its avant garde lines. While the lust-worthy V10 captures the imagination of enthusiasts, day to day the 550i is likely as fast 95% of the time and much cheaper to get into and run. The thing is, is this the one to get?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2006 BMW 550i on eBay

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2010 BMW M3 Coupe Individual

While there’s no doubt that the E9x M3 was instantly recognizable as the replacement for the outgoing E46 model, there was an inconvenient truth that had snuck into the lineup: weight. Part of what had made the E30 such a curb-hopping maniac was that lack of heft even with all the accoutrements. By the time the E92 launched, the M3 had put on nearly 800 lbs of weight.

To motivate it the extra mass, BMW did effectively what it had done to create the S14 from the M88; it took its top-tier motor in the S85 V10 and removed two cylinders. The result was the S65 V8 and 414 horsepower was on tap for your right foot’s pleasure. That was a monumental leap from the E46; when the E46 launched with 93 horsepower more than the prior generation, I thought there was no way BMW could do it again. But they did, tacking on 81 horsepower to the prior generation’s total without forced induction. BMW topped the E46’s specific output per liter, too, besting 103 in the E9x – in a package which was 40 lbs lighter despite two more cylinders. Impressive, indeed.

Granted, if you were plunking down $60,000-odd worth of your hard earned credit, you’d want amenities like power seats, a nice radio, air conditioning – the normals that made it a better road car to live with day-to-day. The original purchaser went fairly light on options; it’s got cloth seats, no sunroof, no navigation…in fact, really pretty few options were ticked. But one significant one was; of the 15,799 came to the U.S.. 8,299 of those were post LCI cars like today’s example. 6,235 came as manuals (both pre- and post-LCI). 865 were sent through BMW’s Individual program and painted a variety of colors, and this is one of 43 that were finished in Dakar Yellow.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2010 BMW M3 Coupe Individual on eBay

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2008 Volkswagen R32

The 5th edition of the Golf brought a new level of refinement and better build quality over the Mk.4, but performance was relatively unchanged due relatively unchanged power and weight. One thing that did change was that the U.S. bound R32s only came with the DSG automatic gearbox. In a straight drag race and around a track, the DSG was quicker, but is more expensive to run and lost some of the feel of the manual “chuck-ability” of the Mk.4. The real shame with the Mk 5. is that there was a 5-door version and manual option in Europe but VAG opted to not import them. It’s too bad because they might have been a clear challenger to not only hatches but the WRX/Evo crowd. However, one thing is for sure – they’re now cheaper than equivalent 4th generation cars. Today’s 2008 model is represented in Deep Blue Pearl, the signature color for the R32:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 Volkswagen R32 on eBay

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2008 Porsche Cayman S

Recently I looked at an interesting special-order color Cayman that had a few too many mods in an off-beat color combination to really be desirable:

2007 Porsche Cayman S

Well, I’m back with another odd color combination on a Cayman S, but I think this one is a whole lot more desirable. So let’s check out this Forest Green Metallic over Sand Beige leather 987 S:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 Porsche Cayman S on eBay

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