The new second-generation W463 (Not called the W464. Don’t get me started on this.) Mercedes-Benz G-Wagens have been have been on dealer lots for a few months now and as expected, they are selling so fast that the lot attendants don’t even have a chance to swirl the paint up by trying to “wash” them. They’ve been selling at a rapid pace because in addition to looking nice and fresh, they ride more like a new Range Rover than a military vehicle from the 1970s. This however has the last of the first-generation W463 not selling so hot because even with offering a little discount on them, a person who can spend $140,000 on something can probably spend $150,000 to get something that is much better. Mercedes knew this, so they tarted up the last of the first generation cars in fancy paint and today’s vehicle is exactly that. This 2018 G63 AMG is painted in Agate Green that is a color I can say I’ve never seen before. Normally I love green, but I’m not sure about this color on this hulking SUV. This color on a 911? Absolutely. On a G63? Well, what do you think?
Update 4/23/19: After a few months, this beautiful Bamboo Metallic 1991 Audi 200 20V quattro Avant has popped up with new photos on eBay in a reserve auction. The seller was looking for $10,000 last time around. Will it sell this time?
I don’t think there are any young children sitting around pining for the loss of the wagon. It’s hard to imagine a young teen hanging a picture of a Audi Allroad on his wall next to the idealistic Ferraris and Porsches, after all. Say to a average car-obsessed 10-year old “someday you’ll really want a wagon”, and they’ll probably laugh. Then try to tell them it will be beige…
All of this raises an interesting point: at what point does this particular car become appealing? Is it because it’s rare? Certainly there aren’t many 200 20V quattro Avants out there, with most fans accepting that approximately 149 were imported. Is it because it’s old? Now on the verge of being 30, the scant number originally imported has dwindled to the point where I’m sure someone knows them all by name. After all, there were more people in my high school graduating class than 200 20V Avants imported. Is it because it’s powerful? Well, to be honest, the 217 horsepower the 3B turbocharged double-overhead cam 20V inline-5 chucked out originally seems pretty tame today. But at the time, you needed to spend a lot of money to go faster than this 5-door. Is it because it’s beige? Now it gets interesting, as I was frustrated by the drapes-match-the-carpet tones in a recent S8, which otherwise shares most of the characteristics I just mentioned:
2001 Audi S8
Yet here, this rare Bamboo Metallic over rare Travertine in the (you guessed it) rare 200 20V quattro Avant pulls the right strings and becomes quite desirable:
Legendary fashion designer Ralph Lauren is no small time car collector. In fact, his collection ranks up there with the very best in terms of quality and his stunning way to showcase some of them. He doesn’t show them off all that frequently, but when he goes, he usually goes big. His Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic is nearly priceless, but some have estimated it to be worth north of $40mil. Even with his extreme wealth, he isn’t taking it out for a drive on a Tuesday afternoon. He has other cars for that. Some of those cars are Porsches, and more specifically, Porsche GT cars. He has been spotted in a 997 GT3 RS and GT3 RS 4.0, so it shouldn’t surprise you at what we are looking at today.
This 2014 991 GT3 was reportedly purchased new by Lauren and enjoyed before being traded in on a 991 GT3 RS Weissach Package. An understandable upgrade to say the least. The normally silver or black wheels were painted white to give the car an exceedingly clean look when finished off with the clear taillights. Now the car is for sale Porsche Atlanta Perimeter and kudos to them for not trying to cash in on the celebrity ownership. Heck, they don’t even mention that it was his car.
Not convinced that the 8N will be a collectible in the future? Fair enough, they’re a lot of them out there and the performance (while good for what it was) didn’t really hold a candle to ‘true’ sports cars like the M Coupe. Well, its replacement – the 8J – sure offered up more performance in the TT RS. It was a whole lot more limited, too – with a scant 1,300 produced worldwide, collector status was almost ensured for this giant killer.
The 8J platform offered as standard a much improved chassis over the 8N that launched the TT, but it was the addition of the CEPA turbocharged inline-5 that really changed my opinion on the TT. In RS form, the soundtrack and driving experience was transformed into what had made Audi great. It was an outrageous street fighter with the chops to back up the “RS” insignia, with 360 horsepower and matching torque mated through a 6-speed manual. 0-60 was gone in 4 seconds and tenacious grip from giant tires coupled with the all-wheel drive and Audi’s dynamic magnetic ride suspension meant this TT was a corner killer, too. So what does it take to get into a nice one today?
Last week I went on and on about a beautiful 1970 Mercedes-Benz 280SE and how it was quintessential classic Mercedes styling and durability. Timeless is a word that maybe comes to mind, but no car person will ever look at that the W108 and not be able to tell it was the late 1960s or early 1970s. Maybe that is a part of the aura around it. It’s a car old enough to have grand children but still water skied on weekends when the knees were feeling good. The W108 and W109 didn’t wither away, they felt every bit as good as they did forty years ago if you kept up on them. Today, I wanted to look at another car that came just before that 1970 280SE and still has that classic Mercedes feel, the W111 220SEb Coupe.
The 220SEb was the top of the range W111 Coupe that featured Bosch fuel injection as opposed to twin Solex carburetors found on the 220Sb. As you might have guessed, everything improved when fuel injection was added to the 2.2 liter M127. More horsepower, better acceleration, and the ability to gobble up miles. This 1962 220SEb up for sale in Chicago looks like it did exactly that. This W111 Coupe isn’t a pickled show car or museum piece. It was enjoyed thoroughly.
Although the letter “M” attached to a BMW has generally represented the pinnacle of performance for the brand, the reality is the term “M-Sport” has not always denoted the same characteristics. Take the E82 135i, for example. The M-Sport package for that car consisted of slightly different 18″ wheels than the standard 18″ wheels and a black headliner. That’s it.
But zoom back in time to the beginnings of the title “M-Sport” and it meant a bit more. If you wanted a fast, executive super saloon in 1995, your options were dwindling. 1995 was the last year of the Audi S6, and one year after both the V8 Quattro and 500E were taken away. 1995 would also be the last year of the iconic M5, and hints were that it might be a long time before we’d see another. Why? Well, the reality was that with the 6 speed 540i the performance gap between the “super” M5 and the “normal” V8 engined 540 was so close it just didn’t make a lot of sense to have the premium model anymore. The S38 was by now a quite old motor and was getting harder to pass increasingly strict emissions standards; indeed, shrinking sales and high price had resulted in the M5 being pulled from the U.S. in 1993.
As a result, BMW offered a hint at what it could do with the V8 in the form of the M540i in Canada and the 540i M-Sport in the U.S. market. The Canadian model was quite close in spec to the European M5, except that in place of the venerable S38 it ran the M60 V8 out of the normal 540i. If that sounds like a letdown, it wasn’t – mated to the Getrag 6-speed transmission it was a great driver, and with the M5 adjustable suspension, brakes and cosmetic details it was 95% plus of the M5 for most drivers. The 540i M-Sport that the U.S. received differed a bit in not having the trick floating rotors of the M540i, but with nearly everything else out of the M bag of tricks these are cool cars, great drivers, and even more rare than the M5:
It doesn’t get more quintessential classic Mercedes-Benz sedan than the W108 and W109 chassis. The vertical grille matched with the vertical headlights, that is all grafted onto a body of simple and square contours. None of the proportions are too big or too small, and all the angles are consistent. There is nothing offensive on this car to be found. Thankfully, the quality is as good as the looks. Stay on top of things, and they are built to last generations. Today’s car, a 1970 280SE up for sale in Switzerland, is a perfect example of that. It has never been restored and hasn’t been locked away in a bubble, just used as needed and meticulously looked after. Even better, it has a nice little ownership story of the diplomatic variety.
The 1991-1992 GTI followed the same basic recipe as the 1987 model we saw this past week, but everything was turned up a few notches. Starting in the mid 1990 model year, all US bound A2s received the “big bumper” treatment; new smooth aerodynamic covers front and rear. To help to differentiate it a bit, the GTI’s blackened arches were widened. Filling those arches were new 15? wheels from BBS. The multi-piece RMs were lightweight and the perfect fit for the design, echoing other contemporary class-leading sports cars such as the M3. Volkswagen color-coded the mirrors and rear spoiler to match the car, as well. VW also gave the GTI a fresh face with more illumination; quad round lights filled the grill, and foglights illuminated the lower bumper. Prominent GTI 16V badges still encircled the car.
Power was up to match the heightened looks. Now with 2.0 liters of twin-cam fun, the GTI produced 134 horsepower at 5,800 RPMs and 133 lb. ft of torque at 4,400 RPMs. Coupled to the close-ratio 5-speed manual, that was good enough to drop 0-60 times below 8 seconds. That may not sound like much today, but at the time it was another league of performance compared to the typical economy car. Holding you in place were the same heavily-bolstered Recaros that special editions like the ‘Helios’ 1989 Jetta GLI Wolfsburg had enjoyed.
It was a recipe for success, but these cars were also relatively expensive in period, and fell into the global recession time frame which affected sales of nearly all European marques drastically. The general consensus is that around 5,000 of the last of these GTIs were imported, putting their rarity on the level of the M3. But because they weren’t M3s, there are far less around today to enjoy and few turn up in stock configuration for a myriad of reasons. It’s always a bit of a joy to see one arrive in the feed, though, and for me none moreso than the signature LB6Z Montana Green Metallic:
Porsche GT cars are hotter than ever it seems. If you aren’t ordering a new GT3 RS with paint-to-sample, 18-way adaptive sport seats, carbon ceramic brakes and $72,000 in other options, are you even living? Lots of people literally obsess over these things and I guess it makes sense as these are big decisions, like whether or not to spring for the $1,300 carbon fiber door sill plates. However, back when we were still in the infancy stage of Porsche GT car madness, things were much simpler thanks to one of the cars that started it all: the 996 GT3 RS.
Just 682 were ever built and exactly zero were configured for the North American market. You had no choice of color. Carrera white and you’ll like it. However, you did have a choice of wheel and sticker color of either dark red or light blue. From the cars that are publicly seen, it seems like most of them were optioned in red. These RS cars were exactly what you’d expect. A more hardcore version of the 996 GT3 that admittedly was already a pretty raw car. The RS received a bunch of lighter body panels, a Mezger 3.8 liter that could rev to 8,200 rpm, and some other small changes that is detailed below if you really want get nerdy about it. Now that everyone is into respecting their elders, it only was a matter of a time until one of these made its way to America. This 2005 up for sale in California is a left-hand drive Japanese car that is fully EPA and DOT compliant for road legal use in America thanks to the 996 GT3 RS being on the NHTSAs list of cars that can be imported through a registered importer. The price? A brand new 2019 GT3 RS, plus a Cayenne for your significant other, is less expensive than what you’ll have to pay to take this one home.
It seems that with every progressive generation of BMW 5-series, the gap between the outgoing M5 and the top of the line non-M 5 series narrows considerably. 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 imperceptible 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 near 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. Couple that with a host of Dinan upgrades and you’ll easily surprise M owners for half the price of the V10: