It’s the time of year where’s it’s fun to take to Europe and consider what might be available for import in just a few days. I found a few fun ones to consider here but would love to hear what you’re looking for. First off, this clean ’99 Audi A3 1.8 manual with only 66k miles for under 3k Euro!
Month: December 2023
As Volkswagen in Germany switched to water-cooled designs, Volkswagen do Brasil attempted to extend the life of the basic Beetle platform in two ways; the Brasília created a new hatchback rival to the Golf, and the SP models were a leap forward for the Karmann Ghia coupes (of which Brazil already had their own special version – the TC).
‘SP’ referenced São Paulo where the SP and SP2 were produced. The early model had a 1.6 liter flat-4, while the SP2 moved up to a 75 horsepower 1.7 air-cooled flat-4 mounted in the rear. The proportions of the body styling seemed to suggest the opposite though, with the long, low hood and hatchback GT profile looking more like a traditional sports car than any VW had before. Other period designs were borrowed – the Volkswagen 411, the Porsche 924 and Audi’s 100 Coupe S all had similar angles.
Only about 11,300 of these ultra-rare, Brazil-only SP2s were produced. They’re about as legendary as air-cooled VWs get in the U.S., so when one pops up for sale it’s worth a look:
1975 Volkswagen SP2 on eBay
After its unceremonious and unexplained exit from the U.S. market with the introduction of the third generation Golf in 1993, the GTI came roaring back in a big way for the 1995 model year. Sure, it was bigger, bulkier and well…roundier, but it came with a bunch more gusto thanks to the addition of the VR6 motor as seen in the Corrado and Passat models. Though the single-overhead cam, twelve valve head lacked the race-bred feel of the Mk.II 16V, the new motor more than made up for it with the addition of two more cylinders. Good for 172 horsepower and 173 lb.ft of torque, it swept the hot hatch from 0-60 in 7.1 seconds and produced a 15.5 second quarter mile at over 90 mph. But much like the original, the GTI was more than the sum of its numbers, with drivers enjoying the great 6-cylinder soundtrack which accompanied the waves of usable torque.
On its way out of production, VW sweetened the VR6 even more with the “Driver’s Edition” model in 1997. Red stitching, red calipers and special Speedline wheels made an appearance, and while the package was ’97-only it was more-or-less completely carried over to the ’98s. That’s what we have here in this mildly modified Tornado Red example:
1998 Volkswagen GTI VR6 on eBay
Often overlooked when compared to it’s rivals, the BMW M3 and the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG, I find the RS5 to be an interesting alternative today. The reviewers of the time often drew the conclusion that the RS5 was more sport tourer in nature and rather limp-wristed by comparison to the other two. But as time has moved on and actual owner reports have documented since, the RS5 is a great daily driver with it’s own unique charms that make it noteworthy.
Here’s a deep cut! When the IRL and CART split rocked the open-wheel racing world in the mid 1990s, CART resurrected an event to rival the Indy 500. Called the “U.S. 500″, it was run at Michigan International Raceway and brought back events that had run there from the mid 1970s through the 1980s. As Penske was one of the strongest supporters of the series, engine provider Mercedes-Benz loaned some 40 R129s to the event for use as parade cars. They were offered in three colors; red, white, and blue, and all included the SL1 Sport Package, which added AMG bodywork and 18” wheels. Also special were embroidered fender logos, floor mats, debossed “US 500”-logo headrests, and new-for-96 ESP. With only 40 of these cars produced, they are almost certainly one of the most rare modern Mercedes models: