While Porsche might be the king of à la carte optioning, in the early 2000s they offered a series of packages lumping some desirable extras together. The two most commonly seen are the Technic and Comfort packages, which added things like Bose audio, power-adjustable seats, and xenon lights. But one that is rarely seen is the GT package. Basically, this gave you a turned down GT3; you got M030 suspension, Aerokit, and stainless-steel exhaust tips for a visual approximation of the higher-spec car. Today’s example takes that one step further with also GT3-specification 18″ Sport Design wheels and sport seats. It also has only 34,000 miles and yeah, the IMS was replaced. What’s left to complain about?
Month: January 2021
This Merkur sold for $4,350.
As enthusiasts, oddly we often lament new cars. Undoubtedly, newer models turn better, stop better and accelerate faster than most of the cars that they replace. They return better fuel economy, have more gears, and are generally more reliable. In a crash, they’ll save your life and some will even call the police for you. Impressive? Sure, without a doubt. But if I had a nickle for every time I heard how some enthusiast would rather have a brand new example of a car from their youth, I’d be a rich man. I’ve heard it from all sources; desire for a bullet-proof reliable new W126 S-Class, longing for a return of the real Quattro with locking differentials, dreams of finding a new E30 M3 or 3.2 Carrera. But if you’re a bit different, perhaps you’re one of the devoted Merkur fans.
Now, I know what you’re saying. Merkurs are Fords, and Fords are American. How about this – Ford Europe’s headquarters is in Cologne, Germany. And they produce a fair amount of cars in Germany even today. Since we consider the Volkswagens built in Chattanooga and Westmoreland, the BMWs built in Spartanburg, and the Mercedes-Benz models bolted together in Alabama, I think we can deviate for a moment into a hot Ford.
Audi and SAAB helped to mainstream turbocharging, and by the 1980s it was almost expected in performance circles. That culminated in a wave of ever increasing performance hot hatchbacks that completely changed our perception of speed. As newer, faster models emerged, the technology increasingly filtered its way into lower-spec models until the results of all of the turbocharging basically were acknowledged to be wrecking the world’s environment. I call it ‘Trickle-down Turbonomics’. The result? Ford launched a series of turbocharged hatchbacks and sedans in the 80s, including the Fiesta RS, the Mustang SVO, the turbocharged Thunderbird, and this car – the XR4Ti, the US version of the Ford Sierra.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Merkur XR4Ti on eBay
Even though for me the B5 chassis A4 was the beginning of the dilution of the Audi brand, I admit I have always had a soft spot for nice examples. And the first A4 had plenty of things to celebrate. First off, it effectively saved and resurrected the brand in the U.S. from near extinction; consider for a moment Audi sold a total of 18,124 cars in 1995, the same year that the A4 was introduced as a 1996. By 1997, Audi sold 16,333 of just the A4 quattro model alone. As a success, that subsequently meant that there were a plethora of options to be had in the new chassis as production opened up. Soon we had the 1.8T turbo model joining the V6, the V6 was soon revised to have 30 valves, there was a light refresh in ’98 as well and another in ’01, the Avant joined the lineup for ’98, and of course we got a new S4 in 2000.
Considering that for some time there had only been one way per a year to get the small chassis in quattro form, this relatively dizzying array of chassis configurations meant that there are still quite a few nice ones out there to be had. Today finding clean examples is getting hard, and they’re heading up in price:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 Audi A4 1.8T quattro Avant on eBay
I would have loved to have been in the meeting when the bosses at Mercedes and AMG came to the conclusion that the SLK would be the car to launch their Black Series line. Just to refresh, the Black Series was launched in 2006 as a “purist” and “ready for the track” model line that took a few of their AMG offerings and turned them up to 11. They started the with R171 SLK55 of all things, then moved on the CLK63, SL65, C63 Coupe, SLS, and soon to be released AMG GT. That is it. Six models over the past 15 years. Thankfully the American market was blessed with all those models, although a bit watered down, except for today’s car, the 2007 SLK55 AMG Black Series.
Only 100 examples were made and you have to wonder if it was just some sort of test run to see if the people would actually buy them. After all, Mercedes priced this car at €107,300, which is just over $130,000. You can probably understand why the US market didn’t get them now. AMG didn’t skimp on the extras for all that money as you got a bunch of more aggressive body work, some weight savings, cool cloth seats, and a bump to 400 horsepower. As you might have imagined, people like that stuff. That surely explains why this example up for sale in The Netherlands is much more than $130,000 dollars now.