VW’s radical redesign on the B3 resulted in a unique, angular look at still stands apart from the crowd today. And because the internals were based on VW’s A2 chassis like the Corrado, when the 2.8 VR6 debuted in the sporty coupe for ’92 it was only a matter of time until its four-door friend got it too. That happened in ’93 with the release of the GLX VR6. Slow sales resulted in Volkswagen’s refresh of the B4 Passat into the more traditional looking B4 for 1995; which saw new BBS wheels and body styling but the same dynamic performance. Today a clean Emerald Green Pearl Metallic ’96 manual has popped up for sale, and it’s worth a look:
RS. While the GT3 took the reigns as the hot naturally aspirated 911 with the introduction of the 996 generation, before that those two magical letters ruled the roost. And while for some it was hard to surpass the original, for me the absolute best one made was the last; the 993-generation Carrera RS. It continued the recipe of less is more, with lightweight construction, few options, stiffened-up suspension, and big wheels and tires. At its heart was a 3.8-liter M64/20 flat-6 rated at 300 horsepower, and it was connected only to a six-speed manual. If that wasn’t enough for you, there was an even more hardcore Clubsport model. Porsche made a total of just over 1,100 of these cars, so they’re far more rare than the later models – but they’re also twice as rare as the prior 964-generation RS, and even more dear than the original RS. They were of course never imported to the US, but one’s up for sale here – if you’re feeling quite spendy:
While the M5 may have the notoriety of being the first serious super performance sedan, it’s easy to forget that Mercedes-Benz really started the trend. As early as the 1930s, Mercedes-Benz was building some of the fastest large cars in the marketplace. They were expensive, complicated, and beautiful works of engineering. It took a while post-war for both the marketplace and the company to come back to full strength, but two cars created in the midst of an international oil crisis I really think point towards the character of their respective companies. First was BMW’s hard-edged, barely disguised racer for the road, the 3.0CSL – which we sort of just looked at. It was expensive, relatively lightweight, stunning to look at and pretty quick to boot – a sporting nature that would carry through to the current generation of BMWs, still considered the benchmark in sporting sedans. On the other side of the fence was the 450SEL 6.9; who else but Mercedes-Benz would put the largest production V8 into a sedan when there was a gas crisis? If the 3.0 shouted about it’s racing prowess, the Mercedes was subtle and understated. Indeed, option number 261 even removed the displacement badge on the rear, and outside of that you’d only see hints of the car’s performance by the bulging tires and slightly more showy exhaust. But stomp on the loud pedal and the best part of 290 horsepower was on tap for you – and this was 1975. Remember 1975? It was when the base Corvette had 165 horsepower and if you wanted to just break 200, the L-82 was your only option at 205 horsepower. A full 40% more powerful, the Benz was the match for sports cars of the day in a straight line but offered extreme luxury at the same time:
BMW’s revolution and rebranding through racing started on March 25, 1973. At the Monza 4 hours race in the European Touring Car Championship, the CSL legend was born. Massive box flares, huge BBS magnesium race wheels and deep front spoilers adorned the delicate E9 coupe now, and the iconic German Racing White with blue and red stripes following the lines of the hood and sides of the car. And with drivers like Hans-Joachim Stuck, Chris Amon, and Dieter Quester, Jochen Neerpasch’s BMW Motorsport would go on to win many races and establish the brand that would later launch the infamous ‘Batmobile’ CSL, the 2002 Turbo, and of course the M brand. Prior to 1973, the top flight races were run by BMW through their partners Alpina and Schnitzer, and indeed the BMW Motorsport entrants at Monza failed to finish, with Niki Lauda at the hands of an Alpina E9. A few races later, the rear wing was introduced by BMW Motorsport, and in the hands of Dieter Quester the first BMW Motorsport win was recognized at the 24 Hours of Spa on July 22, 1973.
The 3.0 and later 3.5 CSLs would continue to race and win for a few years, establishing the brand as a serious contender to the established Porsche in the sporting market. And of course, the homologation road-going version has been a hot commodity since new, inspiring plenty of replicas. That is exactly what we have today – originally, a 2800CS that has been converted to look like a later CSL:
Now, I know what you’re going to say….Carter hasn’t had enough coffee. Fair enough, and probably true. But this is a post-war EMW 327, not a pre-war BMW 327. Let me explain.
World War II changed the map of Europe, and the post-War period was a strange rebuilding and re-allocation period which saw serious changes to some of the names you know today. Volkswagen, a brand that effectively hadn’t really existed before 1939 and the outbreak of war, found itself the benefactor of British intervention afterwards and became the company we know today. Mercedes-Benz, similarly, picked up the pieces and continued on. Auto Union and the companies of the four rings fell inside the Soviet area of control, and as a result many of the plans, factories and engineers were removed from Germany and sent deeper into Russian control. Then there was the strange plight of BMW. Prior to World War II, though BMW had been a very successful aircraft engine producer and motorcycle champion of Germany, they were a minor player in the automobile industry. Still, they had produced some beautiful and notable designs, including the successful sports car racer 328. Although technically Munich lay in the American area of Allied occupation, there would be an interesting future for BMW. Connections with the British Army allowed a pre-War BMW dealer from Britain to jump into the Munich factory, grab a bunch of plans and some engineers, and return back to the island nation. That would yield the Bristol 400 – a car so heavily influenced by BMW’s 326, 327 and 328 designs that they even retained the signature kidney grills. More strange, perhaps, was the BMW plant at Eisenach. Unfortunately for the city, though centrally located in Germany and not particularly far from Munich, it lay about 6 miles inside the Soviet control border. But their factory had all the plans for BMW’s road cars, so after the war, they turned on the lights and started pumping out BMWs not made by BMW. This, of course, resulted in a lawsuit, and in 1952 they were forced to change their name to Eisenacher Motorenwerke, or EMW. Like Bristol, they retained all of the signature BMW bits, including the Roundel. But since they were in Soviet controlled areas, the Roundel’s color changed from blue to red:
The Porsche 928 introduced radical new styling in the late 1970s, but the power wasn’t really all that outrageous in typical 70s style. The US-spec car produced 219 horsepower from its 4.5-liter V8, which was respectable but also far short of the 930 output. US cars didn’t receive a bump in power until well into the 1980s and the S model’s introduction. However, in Europe cars got a healthy 10% more power early on for performance more in line with the looks, and for good measure Euro cars were about 100 lbs. lighter than US versions. Today’s example is a manual variant that has some nice upgrades:
In early 1986, three models of the Golf were available in the US; the basic, no-frills Westmoreland model, the upgraded ‘Wolfsburg’ model with aero headlights, an upgraded stereo, wider body moldings, nicer cloth, and wheel trim rings, or you had to make the not unsubstantial jump in price to the GTI model. Replacing the basic 85 horsepower 1.8 was a high-compression HT 100 horsepower unit. It didn’t sound like a lot, but that did represent a roughly 20% gain in power. Signature red-striped trim announced that this was the performance variant of the hatchback, and you also got 4-wheel discs as a first in the U.S. range. Those brakes hid behind carry-over “Avus” (Snowflake) wheels, though instead of the machine/dark gray finish the A1 had, they were now all silver and with “Volkswagen” imprinted on flush covers. Sometimes GTIs were equipped with “Montreal” (Bottlecap) alloys which were also shared with the Jetta GLI. Application seems somewhat indiscriminate. The GTI also had an upgraded suspension with front and rear sway bars and a close-ratio 5-speed manual as the only transmission. Of course, the interior was also upgraded with a leather-wrapped steering wheel borrowed from earlier GTIs, a multi-function display and specially-trimmed cloth sport seats.
In all, it was a substantial upgrade over the standard Golf, and you could of course further opt to include a sunroof, air conditioning, power steering, and a nice radio. Early U.S. Mk.2 GTIs were only available in Mars Red, Diamond Silver Metallic, black, or Alpine White as seen here. Today’s example has a few mods but stays true to the simple formula:
I’ve covered quite a few of the special Audi R8s brought to our market, but most have been color-based and focused on the second generation. But before it bowed out, Audi offered a hotted-up performance version of the 5.2 model:
2010 Audi R8 5.2 V10 quattro Coupe
It was called the GT, and Audi only built 333 of them – a scant 90 of which were directed to the US market. Performance was increased thanks to 35 more horsepower for a total of 560, and weight was down over 200 lbs thanks to lightweight glass, panels, and seats. Audi ditched the magnetic ride damping system as well, opting instead for adjustable coilovers. Add in some aero and carbon-fiber bits, and this limited ride was pretty impressive – and expensive, with a sticker price of over $200,000. One is up for sale, and worth a look – and yeah, it’s a pretty cool color, too!
Back in 2020 I looked at a late ’80 924 from the end of Series 1 production.
1980 Porsche 924 Turbo
A nice example, it had a rolled odometer but was in nice shape overall and had an asking price of just under $12k. That probably seems like a lot for a 924, and indeed – it is; you can get later and arguably better (in some ways) 944 models for the same price. But put it up against some of its contemporaries in the same price category; the Scirocco, the GTI, the BMW 320i, and the late Mercedes-Benz C107 models, and to me the 931 compares pretty favorably. If you’re looking for a fun package for not a ton of money, they seem like a worthy option. Today I found a late Series 2 car in a rare shade, so let’s take a look:
Update: This car sold for an impressive $48,500 on May 30, 2021.
Okay, I know it hasn’t been very long since I took a look at a few M3 coupes in Phoenix Yellow Metallic:
Double Take: 2004 BMW M3 Coupes
But today I had to come back with another. Late PYM coupes are a rare thing, and this one is spec’d in a pretty interesting configuration. Unlike a majority of the PYM cars that were more or less fully loaded, this one has no sunroof, gray leather upholstery, no Park Distance Control, and manual seats. Unlike the last pair it’s a manual, and it has under 60,000 miles. You can guess what all of these factors add up to in today’s market…