The Audi TT is dead. Following the 2019 model year, Audi is pulling the plug sporty coupe because well, no one is buying it. After launching the third generation in 2016, sales were down almost 45% in 2018, and word is that 2019 isn’t looking much better. The world wants SUVs and automakers are listening. I don’t think it has anything to do with the actual car, because the MK3 TT is downright brilliant. The interior with the Audi virtual cockpit is changing the game for every auto marker by putting all the infotainment directly in the gauge cluster to free up the valuable dashboard space. This was even more important in the TT because of it’s size and small cockpit, so even going a step further by putting the climate control dials directly in the middle of the vents was genius. Add in the fact that you can buy a TT RS to run with super cars, and there isn’t much to complain about. As long as you don’t have much stuff, of course.
Today’s car, a 2016 TT S up for sale in Houston, Texas, was reportedly ordered by an Audi executive in Michigan. Naturally, when you have access to special treatment and know money isn’t really an obstacle, you do things like order it in Viper Green and add a bunch of options that suddenly pushes the sticker price north of $60,000. Thankfully for all of us, niche German cars depreciate faster than you can imagine, and you can buy it for a 35% discount.
Do you want to own a 1973 Carrera RS but can’t swing the purchase price of $600,000? Well, I might have a solution to you. This 1982 Porsche 911SC has the same cool blue wheels, Carrera script, and duck tail deck lid. Thats about it really. In fact, that ’73 RS and this ’82 SC aren’t even the same body. Those cars were longhoods, and this SC naturally is an impact bumper. But still, blue wheels, Carrera script, and duck tail! This car even has blue seatbelts! Now before you get ready to call me crazy down in the comment section, what if I told you this car was $570,000 cheaper than the RS?
Volkswagen of America’s new ‘Fahrvergnügen’ sales campaign in the early 1990s was, while a marketing ploy and a totally made up neologism, underscoring sporty changes at Volkswagen. The more serious 2.0 16V GTI I’ve already covered recently, but the same motor was available in the more fun-to-drive Passat here, too. Then there was the Corrado, which while it only had 8 valves sported a supercharger. You could that that G60 in the Passat in Europe, too.
Volkswagen’s popular smaller sedan had a healthy dose of upgrades though, too. In ’89, the Jetta GLI 16V had a special Wolfsburg Edition which had added the deeply bolstered Recaro Trophy seats and BBS RA alloys. These were color-matched to the Helios Blue Metallic paint outside. The seats and BBS wheels would carry over for the 1990 model year, but like the GTI the Jetta received the new 9A 2.0 16V and revised bumper/trim of all the A2s. Brakes were updated to 10.1? and dual tailpipes emerged from the new ‘big bumper’ A2 refresh. Central locking and a cassette player were standard, while you could opt for many power options including windows, mirror, anti-lock brakes, trip computer, cruise control and of course a sunroof.
Although the package was essentially quite similar to the GTI, I’ve never quite taken to the 2.0 GLI 16V in the same way. But it’s still very nice to see a clean example hit the market:
Last week I took a look at the new 992 Porsche 911 and while it surely is amazing, it is going to be quite pricey. Naturally I start wondering if I’d rather has a mildly optioned 992 C4S or a 991.2 GT3 or GT3 Touring. I think both cars I going to fall somewhere in that $175,000 range and while the new tech in the 992 sure is amazing, you’d hardly find anyone complaining about what is inside a 991.2. Naturally, I started taking a look around what what 991.2 GT3s were out on the market and ran across today’s car. This 2018 GT3 up for sale in Boise, Idaho of all places has just 2,000 miles and is optioned with the rare 6-speed manual. Not to mention it is painted in the always popular Chalk. Who needs new cars, right?
Most German car enthusiasts are no longer familiar with the name “DKW”. It’s a shame considering the long history of DKW, whose name originates from the German Dampf-Kraft-Wagen or “steam powered vehicle” – just to give you a sense of the time period they started out. DKW reached its zenith in the 1930s, a time when Germany was experiencing massive growth in its economy and Hitler wanted to turn the Fatherland into a nation of drivers. Ironically, despite his notable efforts supporting Grand Prix racers and the development of the Beetle, pre-War automobile ownership in Germany was amongst the lowest in all of Europe. They were, rather, a nation of riders – motorcycles, to be precise, buying more of the two-wheeled transport than anyone else in Europe. It was what gave companies like BMW a start, for example, but the most successful of all of the pre-War motorcycle companies was DKW. Upon joining the Auto Union in 1932, they began experimenting more with small cars. But the aftermath of World War II meant that the area that DKW, Audi and Horch – 3/4 of the Auto Union company – were stuck in Soviet controlled areas, most of the factories being disassembled and sent back further behind the Iron Curtain as war reparations.
The result was that in the late 1940s and early 1950s, new efforts to resurrect these names were attempted. It’s not very surprising that the attempts were made; after all, imagine if Chevrolet went out of business due to a War; you can bet once things were cleaned up, someone would try to make a Corvette. And sure enough, based upon some pre-War designs the F89 was born. As with most post-War cars in Germany, it was small, affordable and versatile. DKW utilized the platform to create what was, in essence, the first Audi Avant. The F94 chassis you see here was an updated version of the F89, replete with the 2-stroke 3-cylinder engine that the company claimed gave the power of an inline-6 – hence the paradoxical naming strategy of 3=6 for the Sonderklasse. With a space-saving transverse motor driving the front wheels, there was ample room for flexible seating in the rear. Outside was a reasonably aerodynamic, compact design and the small motor ensured reasonable fuel economy – though no promise of speed. Today, nearly 70 years after the design was first sketched out, finding these Universal Kombis is extraordinarily hard – and when they surface in the U.S., they’re typically not in particularly good shape:
Having not really checked in on E30 M3 pricing lately, I decided to take a gander this week. The situation has not improved. Pristine examples are still asking north of $80,000. If you want one on a budget that’s no reserve, there’s a rusty example with little documentation and 200,000 miles with a wrecked interior for…$20,000 so far. That’s pretty insane for a car that needs a full mechanical and cosmetic restoration, because that money gets you into a pristine E36 or E46 and you’re knocking on the door of the E92s, too.
So I’m taking a different path today. Let’s say you want a collector-grade car but don’t want something old. Well, as I’ve mentioned previously there are a lot of special edition M3s out there. One that quietly slipped through in 2017 was the 30 Jahre Edition of the M3 Sedan. Built on a Competition Package base, the 30 Jahre added Macao Blue Metallic over full Merino leather in Black/Fjord Blue from BMW Individual. The exterior trim was treated to BMW’s high gloss Shadowline treatment and there were plenty of special badges to go around both inside and out. For the 150 out of 500 produced sent to the U.S. market, these cars came equipped with the Driver Assistance Plus Package and LED lights. With the boost turned up on the S55 and hooked to the dual clutch, the 444 horsepower was good for 3.8 second sprints to 60. Check that box for the DCT, and you were $86,150 lighter in the wallet – about the same ask as that E30 I posted earlier. So what does one of these limited models set you back today?
The new 992 Porsche 911 is starting to trickle into dealers and this past weekend I went to check it out. The local dealer had exactly one, a 2020 911 C4S, that was a demo car until the actual dealer stock arrived in a few weeks and I have to say, I was impressed. It’s no mistake that it is a 911 and looking at it, you’d maybe confuse it with a 991.2. Well, maybe until you got around back. The single lightbar will take some getting used to and the odd little third brake light was clever, but I think a bit repetitive. When the rear wing moves up, it also carries a brake light. However, that doesn’t “count” for regulations standards as the 3rd brake light has to be on a stationary body part. (You’ll see what I mean in the photo after the jump.) The interior was wonderful outside of the little shift knob that people have been griping about since it was introduced and I can see why. It is downright dainty compared to the hunk of the knob in the 991 cars and I don’t even believe you can shift the PDK with it. The old school center analog tach is a cool feature and I’m glad they didn’t go all digital with the dash like most of the cars in the price range. So everything was going swimmingly until he told me the price.
A few weeks ago I took a look at probably the best R230 Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG I’ve ever come across. Turns out I wasn’t the only one who felt that way before it sold shortly after we featured it. That of course had me digging in the R230 rabbit hole and it looks like I hit gold today. This 2003 up for sale Oregon is a pretty standard example. First model year, has a couple dings and scars, 133,000 miles, but overall what’d you expect. It isn’t a flood car or two SLs welded together. Just a used 2003 SL500. Then I saw the price and wondered how insane an idea it would be drive a 16 year-old Mercedes convertible across the country. It’s that cheap.
Update 7/08/19 – After raising and lowering the price several times, this very unique “645i Turbo” is back on the market in 2019 for $19,900 today.
I really love how these cars sometimes send you down the rabbit hole. What attracted me initially to this E24 was that it was a European-spec car and it had a pretty high asking price at nearly $23,000. Alone that wouldn’t be enough to warrant a post, especially given that from the first photo I glanced at, it doesn’t look spectacular.
But there’s a lot more than meets the eye when considering this car, and it has a lot more to do with the personality behind it than the current condition.
The name Albert Mardikian probably doesn’t mean much to you. Mr. Mardikian is a partner and the Chief Technology Officer behind ReGreen Organics, a company which deals with a lot of shit, for lack of a better term. I’m not being flippant. They’re an organic solid waste management company.
And it is in this capacity that Mr. Mardikian’s philosophy is particularly interesting when considering this car. He proclaims that he has a “passion for bettering our world”, yet his past would seem to have little to do with environmental improvement. That’s because in a past life Mr. Mardikian was also the proprietor of Trend Imports. Ring a bell? If not, perhaps a perusing of the Tom Cruise movie Rain Man would help you out. Mr. Cruise’s character’s subplot – an importer of exotic cars held up by the EPA – is based upon Mr. Mardikian. Because if you were in L.A. in the early 1980s and you wanted a gray market car, Trend Imports was where you went. And just like the main character in the movie, Mardikian got in quite a bit of trouble for the Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Rolls Royce and other models he imported by skirting EPA emissions laws.
Though his troubles with emissions laws dated back to 1981, Mardikian continued to be the turn-to source for ultra-exotics in the early days of importation. He also built custom convertible versions of some of the most famous 80s icons – Mercedes-Benz 500SECs, Lamborghini Countachs, Ferrari 512BBis, Porsche 930s. How about those replica Daytonas for Miami Vice? Mardikian. And he made more more neat creation – he married the turbocharged M102/6 from the European version of the BMW E23 745i with the slinky shape of the E24, creating his own “745CSi Turbo”:
In one of the more bizarre models in Porsche history, we have the Cayenne S Transsyberia. What the heck is it? The Transsyberia Rally was known as a “raid rally” that ran from 2007-2009 that started in Moscow and ended in Mongolia. No big deal, right? Well considering you had to drive through Ural and Altai mountains, the Mongolian plains, the Gobi Desert, and whatever else Siberia could offer up it wasn’t so easy. The route was roughly 4,500 miles long and needless to say not every vehicle that started ended up finishing. Some stages we so dangerous they would just end up getting cancelled all together. Porsche offered assistance with a handful of Cayennes – 25 of 34 registered teams drove them to be exact – all being slightly modified production vehicles. After realizing that this marketing event really didn’t appeal to anyone, Porsche pulled the plug on factory support.
However, someone sitting in a cubical in Stuttgart came up with the brilliant idea to slap a few stickers and extra paint on some Cayennes and call it the “Transsyberia Edition”. Thankfully it wasn’t just some cosmetics, it did feature the 410 horsepower engine from the GTS and some extra skid plates for all the gravel parking lots at the soccer fields. Porsche made 600 of these in total, with 102 coming to North America. Four colors were offered, black with orange accents, silver with orange accents, black with grey highlights, and grey with silver highlights. Today’s example up for sale in Alabama of all places, is the least offensive of the colors offered: grey with silver highlights.