2001 Audi S4 Avant

Audi brought the S4 Avant to the United States for the first time in 2001. It joined the sedan lineup and offered a follow-up to the large chassis S6 Avant from 1995. This was actually the second S4 Avant, as Europeans had enjoyed the C4-based creation in the early 90s. Audi’s renaming convention therefore created a successor to the B4-based S2 Avant. Instead of the traditional inline-5 motivation, though, Audi had developed a new 2.7 liter version of its V6. With a K03 turbocharger strapped to each side, the APB produced 250 horsepower at 5800 rpms and 258 lb.ft of torque at only 1850 revs. Like all the B5s, Audi’s new generation of quattro used a T2 Torsen center differential and relied upon an electronic rear differential utilizing the ABS sensors. The B5 chassis used the same technology on the front differential as well and was capable of independently braking each front wheel to try to sort the car out through its dynamic stability program.

But the real fun was that it was available as an Avant and with a 6-speed manual. Just over 1,500 were claimed imported between 2001 and 2002 model years, with about 600 of those being Tiptronic equipped. This is one of a claimed 80 Imola Yellow 6-speed manual Avants imported for the model year, and for good measure it’s got quite a few upgrades:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Audi S4 Avanton eBay

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2015 BMW M235i Convertible

Recently I looked at both the M2 and it’s badder, madder brother the M2 CS. They’re both giant killers of cars, following the age-old recipe of ‘stick a big motor in a small chassis’. Well, there’s a third option BMW offered with that formula. It’s a bit less wild than the other two, but it also has a lot of stuff going for it.

The M235i effectively picked up the reigns from the outgoing 135i. BMW stretched the wheelbase an inch and overall length 3 inches, gave it 4-Series styling up front and a revised rear end, and a refreshed interior – but underneath, the important bits remained effectively the same. You got a 320 horsepower N55 turbocharged inline-six that could be mated with a six-speed manual, big brakes, and M Sport suspension. True, like the 135i it wasn’t a full M model, but it’s still a lot of the experience of one. And unlike the M2, you could get more color inside! And, you could get a convertible! On top of all that, you can grab one for relatively short money today:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2015 BMW M235i Convertible on eBay

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1980 Porsche 930 Rinspeed R69

Oh, the 1980s. Full of crazy creations, custom calamities and questionable creativity. If you wanted a crazy tuner car back then, there were plenty of options from mild to wild; some of them we’ve covered, such as the DP slantnose cars and the Koenig widebody 560SEC Mercedes-Benz. But if one company has consistently gone above and beyond, it would have to be Rinspeed. Afterall, they did made a 911 turbo truck that changed color and roofline and was encrusted in jewels. That takes a really special mind – one that most would argue should probably be in a straight jacket. Nevertheless, there’s always a market for the crazy Rinspeed creations, and one of their less extreme models has come up for sale. Based upon a 911 but borrowing water-cooled bits for a unique look, check out the Rinspeed R69:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1980 Porsche 930 Rinspeed R69 on Collecting Cars

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1988 BMW 324d

Back in 2020 I took a look at an oddball – the 1990 Bertone Freeclimber – which was on this page solely because of the power plant. In that case, it was BMW’s relatively unloved M21 turbodiesel inline-six. That engine also found its way into the weirdly cool Vixen motor home and a Lincoln Continental, and when unloved there, the BMW 524td there. But in Europe, you had the option to install it on your E30, as well! Only in this case, it didn’t have the turbocharger. Dubbed the 324d, it was available from 1984 to 1990 and…you guessed it….relatively unpopular. Perhaps that’s because it was the least powerful E30 option, and it was only offered as a sedan. 0-60 times made the underpowered 320i seem sprightly; it took the 324d over 16 seconds to hit 60. BMW finally added a turbocharged 324td model for the end of production, but they still weren’t sold in big numbers. One of the late naturally aspirated examples has turned up for sale in California, though:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW 324d on eBay

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1979 Mercedes-Benz 450SLC 5.0

When I think of homologation specials, there are all sorts of models that instantly pop into my head. Of course, being an Audi fan, the Sport Quattro is a great example of the insane Group B era. Of course, Group C spawned a whole series of special cars, from the RS200 and Lancia 037 to the Porsche 959. There’s the special 924 Carrera GTS, as well – a car few remember outside of Porsche circles, and one that’s often forgotten even by them. Then there’s the great period of DTM specials – the “Evolutions” of the M3, 190E and V8 quattro that proved Darwin was right, and we just looked at the later 80 Competition. Of course, you can go back even further and look at one of the most special cars ever created – the original Ferrari GTO – to see a very special homologation of a race car. But outside of the big headlines, there are plenty of small production run cars that were created to jump through loopholes, and returning to my original Group B example, we can see one neat car that was created in order to run in World Rally. It’s not a car you’d expect though – it’s the quite heavy and long Mercedes-Benz C107. Mercedes took steps to make it rally worthy, including lightweight aluminum panels in front and back, and of course upped the power with a new aluminum 5.0 V8:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1979 Mercedes-Benz 450SLC 5.0 on eBay

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1994 Audi 80 Competition quattro

The Audi racing program went through some really interesting changes between the late 1980s and the mid 1990s launch of what became one of the more dominant touring cars produced, the A4 STW. Continuously evolving regulations were part of that, coupled with a global recession and cost-cutting measures among many manufacturers. So it was just a few short years between the flame-breathing iconic 1989 Audi 90 IMSA and the death of the turbocharged Audi racing sedans entirely, though there were some interesting steps in between. For example, Audi tried their hand in the France with the 1992 Audi 80 quattro Supertourisme I looked at a few years ago:

Motorsports Monday: 1992 Audi 80 quattro Supertourisme

That car was powered by a crazy turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four. Simultaneously, Audi built a 2.5 liter V6 80 for the German DTM series, though they ended up withdrawing in protest over the series rules, and the car never ran. Quietly, in the background, a more reasonable – and very entertaining – solution emerged. In 1990, the British Touring Car Championship revised their rules to make racing more affordable in the wake of the massively fast and expensive Ford Sierra RS500s. The new regulations were based around production sedans of no more than 2.0 liters and with no turbochargers. This, in turn, led to a series of homologation specials to make cars legal for the new Super Touring regulations, and Audi was happy to take part. What emerged was the Audi 80 Competition quattro – limited to 2,500 units to comply with regulations, Audi stuffed a development of 2.0 16v inline four also found in the European-market B3 Coupe into the B4 chassis quattro, stuck an S2 front end on it and a raised rear spoiler, quattro-script interior and a few other goodies, and sold them to the public:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 Audi 80 Competition quattro on Mobile.de

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1991 Isdera Imperator 108i

Back in 2020, just before the end of the year, I took a look at one of my all-time favorite cars – the Isdera Commendatore 112i:

Wish List: 1993 Isdera Commendatore 112i

That car was itself a development of what you see here – the 108i. Developed by Porsche engineer Eberhard Schulz and Mercedes-Benz engineer Rainer Buchmann as a successor to the C111 prototypes, the CW311 stuck a M100 6.3 liter V8 behind the driver and was pretty outrageous. When it came to market in 1984 in as the Imperator, the motor had changed to a 5.0 version of the M117 and later M119 motors. That was still good to push the Isdera to the best part of 180 mph in the same Road & Track test at Ehra-Lessien, Germany in 1987 that made the Ruf Yellowbird famous.

Somewhere around 13 of the later ‘Series II’ Imperators were made with the M119, and this one is coming up for sale soon – though, the location will probably give you a clue as to the expected price:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Isdera Imperator 108i at Bonhams Monaco

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2007 BMW 750Li

The BMW E65, and its long-wheelbase sibling the E66, were a radical departure from the beloved E38 I just looked at. But the fourth generation 7 was necessary to move the car forward in the leaps and bounds necessary to keep pace in the large executive market. Was it all bad? No, the post Life Cycle Impulse (LCI) cars starting in 2008 offered updated iDrive computer systems, styling, and engines. Here, this E66 has the N62 V8 cranking out 360 horsepower and 360 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels. And it’s got some pretty cool options. And it’s a neat color combo! And, it’s cheap!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2007 BMW 750Li on eBay

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Double Take: 2004 BMW M3 Coupes

Phoenix Yellow Metallic could go down as the most polarizing color offered on an M3, ever. In fact, the only thing perhaps more hated than the color on this car (by some, it’s worth noting) is the optional SMG transmission offered at a substantial premium (a $2,400 option) on the E46 M3. Spoiler alert, trigger warning, notice of action – what have you – today’s duo of ’04 M3 Coupes are BOTH Phoenix Yellow Metallic and BOTH have SMG sequential manual gearboxes. Hey, I like a bit of controversy! And, since I own one just like it, I feel like I’m probably better equipped to weigh in than…say….all of the internet armchair warriors.

As for the percentage of U.S. Coupes ordered in PYM: 514 were bought out of 26,202, meaning your chance of running across one when new was only about 2%. Most of those were early examples as well; the color was phased out of the color pallet before the end of production, and along with a bunch of LCI changes that means you’re pretty unlikely to roll across a post-‘03.5 in PYM. So let’s take a look at this duo and see if either is a smart purchase:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 BMW M3 Coupe on eBay

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2000 BMW 740iL

For many, the E38 represents the zenith of large German executive sedans. It took the best ingredients of the E32 and E34 designs, slimmed them down a touch visually, updated the power plants and equipment, and Voila! Instant classic. It didn’t hurt that the E38 also played a starring role in two pretty popular movies in the period, either – but let’s be honest, you’d have loved it anyway.

As with Audi’s D2, early examples of the E38 were already in production in 1994, but the best of the bunch came towards the end of production. LCI models hit showrooms in 1999, and the refreshed look is what you see here. The long, low package was best expressed with the optional M Parallel wheels, which had carried over from models like the E31 8-Series and E34 M5. It imbued the 7-Series with just enough sport to look purposeful, but not so much as to masquerade as a Porsche. Lightly flared arches cut high in the front fenders were finally filled out, and the refreshed looks worked really well in light colors. Today’s example is just that – an Alpine White long-wheelbase example. But the spectacular looks are not only its base attributes in this case, as this particular example has a scant 13,000 miles since new:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 BMW 740iL on eBay

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