We’ve often lamented on these pages about when enthusiast cars used to be more affordable. Pick your poison; there were days you could buy a pretty sorted E30 M3 for under $10,000, a clean 911 in the teens, a pristine W113 Pagoda for under $20,000. At least for the foreseeable future, those days have left us, and enthusiasts on a modest budget need to pick and choose between the few remnants of a once vibrant sub-$10,000 market. I’ve spent a fair amount of time predicting and watching the ascension of the 944 turbo – the understated, underrated giant killer from Porsche. It’s been no surprise to see soaring values on clean 944 turbos, so you’d be forgiven for thinking that once again another classic has been priced out of sight. But if you’re willing to prioritize driving over shows, there are still some great deals to be had out there:
Month: June 2016
I’m not sure what it is, but lately I’ve fallen out of love a bit with most BMWs from the last 15 years or so. I think a lot of it is the continual business travel abroad that I do, always seeing and riding in interesting Italian, French and miscellaneous machines that we can’t buy new here in the US market. In my drive to be different, I usually buy my clothes outside of the US, but sadly, I can not do this with cars. What to do then? Create something yourself, such as this 1976 BMW 2002 with the 2.7 liter inline-6 eta engine swapped in for sale in California. It’s rather interesting that someone decided to swap in the longer stroke economy engine, as it’s not the usual go-to engine for a 2002 swap. But the overall package is quite pleasing.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1976 BMW 2002 eta swap on eBay
I’ve featured just about every 911 model at one point or another and I’m fairly certain this particular model I’ve featured only one other time. We simply do not come across the 2.7-liter Carrera Targa very often, certainly much less frequently than the Carrera Coupe of the same vintage, so when we come across one it’s almost always worth stopping in to take a look. This one possesses added interest in that it comes in a rare Salmon Metallic exterior and retains much of its originality. The Carrera was the top-of-the-line model for ’74, distinguished from the base 911 most significantly by a higher horsepower engine (175 hp v. 150 hp) and from the 911S by its Carrera graphics – deleted on this Targa – ducktail rear spoiler and wider rear fenders. While all of the mid-year 911s have suffered reduced values relative to most of their long-hood predecessors, the Carreras have reached values that can exceed those of the 911T and in some cases even the 911E. They’re a far cry from their European brothers, which were basically an impact-bumpered Carrera RS Touring, but still attract plenty of notice. The one we have here was first owned by former Portland Trailblazer Sidney Wicks: a Salmon Metallic 1974 Porsche 911 Carrera Targa, located in Oregon, with Cinnamon interior and 92,500 miles on it.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1974 Porsche 911 Carrera Targa on eBay
It’s no secret that several of us here at GCFSB are fans of the W201. The last time I wrote one up, I mentioned my habit of scouring the internet for nice examples, a form of self-torment since losing my own car to an accident earlier this year. While the 2.3-16v Cosworths have some serious 80s DTM street-cred, most of the ones for sale are tired and in need of a lot of work. The Sportline models, a limited run of mostly stock W201s upgraded with stiffer suspension, tighter steering, lower ride height and some interior trim tweaks, are a tempting alternative. But sellers often demand large premiums for these cars on the basis of their relative scarcity. To tell you the truth, I don’t think they are worth the extra money. I test-drove one prior to buying my own 190, and I thought the harsher ride was ill-suited to the car. Since the engine and gearbox are unchanged from the ordinary models, the sporting pretensions of the Sportline just don’t make a lot of sense to me. No, to my mind the best W201s are the stock, low mileage and unmolested examples that show up from time to time in seemingly mint condition. They represent the W201 at its best: a classy but affordable form of basic transportation.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1993 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.6 on eBay
For U.S. customers, 1992 rather quietly signaled the end of an era for fans of the small chassis. Starting in the early 1980s, Audi had offered their offbeat 5-cylinder motor in models like the 4000 5+5 and Coupe models, but it was really the rally success of the Quattro that put the 5-pot on the map. But the turbocharged variant was quiet expensive, so fans of Audi’s WRC campaign rejoiced in 1984 when the all-wheel drive platform became much more affordable in 4000 quattro form. In Europe, there were several variants and power plants available in 80 and 90 form, but U.S. customers only got the relatively high-spec 4000S/CS quattro. Audi revised the model lineup with the B3 model run, introducing the lower-spec 80 and the more luxurious (and later, more powerful) 90. When the 90 went to the DOHC 7A 20V inline-5, the 80 remained with the 10V 2.3 liter NG which had first appeared in the Special Build Coupe GT model. Though not hugely powerful and feeling slightly overwhelmed by the 80 quattro’s mass, it was a very smooth and fun to drive package capable of huge odometer readings. The package remained available until 1992, when life of the 80 ended in the U.S. as it was not upgraded to B4 specification. As with all Audis from the period, it sold in small numbers: Audi reported only 640 sold in 1992, with not many more sold in the years before it. As the book closed on the inline-5 with a whimper rather than a bang, it’s relatively infrequent to spot one of these late 80s: