Still Dice Rolling: 2004 BMW M3

Over the past year, the E46 M3 market has really started to take off. Back in 2015 it was unusual to break $25,000, but over the past year several have broken double that amount and one bonkers bidding war ended up at $90,000. Have all ships been lifted? That’s hard to say, but certainly more are coming to market in very good to excellent condition and fetching big dollars. As always, collectors are looking for something a bit unusual and BMW Individual-toned cars are hot items. Prior auctions have also shown that big bids won’t be reserved only for pristine original examples, as the top auction draw was a modified car.

So today we’re back with an obviously modified car in an unusual color for the chassis – Dakar Yellow. It’s got the “right” transmission and the subframe has been reinforced too, and the asking price doesn’t seem all that outrageous. So what’s the rub?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 BMW M3 on eBay

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1980 Porsche 924

Early Porsche 924 models are one of the most interesting paradoxes in the Stuttgart world. They were the entry model into the fabled badge and, as a result, generally disregarded by those who love the classic 911. For front-engine cars, the mighty V8 grand tourer 928 thoroughly outshines what was admittedly originally intended to be the car for Volkswagen that became the Scirocco. The engine in the early models is an Audi 2.0 8V inline-4 found in the 100 and rated at 110 horsepower – hardly a headline grabber.

But then there’s the other side of the 924; many were owned by enthusiasts who likely didn’t have deep enough pockets for the more illustrious models. Though they were short on money they lacked nothing in passion, and today it’s still possible to find very clean examples of the early 924 for sale. And because Porsche tried hard to offer many special incentives to jump into Porsche ownership, there are a plethora of early special editions to choose from. But those were almost entirely appearance packages; smart money looks for the later upgraded examples as Porsche threw the parts catalog at the 924 on its way out:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1980 Porsche 924 on eBay

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1994 Alpina B3 3.0

When BMW upped its game in the E36 chassis with the introduction of the M3, specialty tuner Alpina answered with the B3 3.0 and later 3.2 in step with BMW. The successor of the slightly less powerful B6 model, the B3 kept many of the same improvements to the E36 chassis – unique stabilizers, springs and shocks, and larger brakes. Inside the B3 received the normal Alpina-style shift knob, steering wheel and seats, and in their typical style Alpina provided unique front and rear spoilers along with their own badging. Of course, the package was rounded out by some of the best looking wheels ever fit to a BMW. While the B3 was down on power to the European M3 3.2, it wasn’t really much slower – again in typical Alpina fashion, the car was tuned to make the most of the power that was available rather than just provide a shockingly high output number. A reported 1,000 of these ultra-exclusive B3s were produced, with about 2/3rds of those being the earlier 3.0 model, and in four different configurations – Coupe, Cabriolet, Touring and Sedan. This is one of the 741 3.0s made of which 339 were sedans, and it poses the interesting question – would you rather have this or the European-spec M3 I just looked at?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 Alpina B3 3.0 on eBay

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1972 BMW Bavaria

I have a soft spot for the Bavaria. It’s not because it’s the best looking BMW from the 1970s, nor the fastest. It’s not the most collectable, either – but as a result, the Bavaria might just be the rarest of the 1970s BMWs. To me, I can appreciate this coming from a background of loving Audis – most of which are quite rare today. The look of the Bavaria is even very similar to the Audi 100, and like the 100 very few examples are left kicking around. Also like the Audi 100, people will always be glad to see it, and I’m sure many have stories involving Bavarias. As with the old Audis, it’ll be a mix of people who smile and immediately start to tell you their wonderful BMW story and the balance of the masses who simply ask “What is that?” But the Bavaria was nonetheless an important move for BMW, taking on the larger executive market with an upscale big-body 4-door and that famous M30 power:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1972 BMW Bavaria on eBay

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1984 Volkswagen Quantum GL5 Wagon

The lineup of offbeat VAG survivors continues today with this second generation Volkswagen Passat, of course badged the “Quantum” for the U.S. market. Volkswagen was happy to tout the Quantum as the sole “German engineered Grand Touring car sold in America that was available as both a sedan and station wagon and came equipped with a 5-cylinder, fuel injected engine, front-wheel drive, power assisted rack and pinion steering, four-wheel independent suspension AND cruise control”. You don’t say, VW? Seriously, I think they could have left a few modifiers off that description and it still would have been true. This model replaced the lovely and popular Dasher model which had been available in several configurations. Briefly, the new B2 continued that and if you’ve ever seen a 1982 Quantum 2-door hatchback in person in the U.S., you might be alone. The model was dropped quickly, though continuing on was the Variant (VW-speak for wagon) model. And because the underpinnings were shared with the B2 Audi, things started to get pretty interesting for the upscale VW. And, confusing.

The weird part is that this model actually tread on the toes of its even more upscale competition – the Audi 4000. Though early 4000s had the 5-cylinder available as an option, when it came to the mid-80s Audi saved the inline-5 only for the quattro models and Coupe GT/5000 front drivers. The 4000 grabbed the engine from the GTI, instead. But you could still get a 5-cylinder Quantum, and you could get a wagon version – something Audi didn’t offer at all in the B2:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1984 Volkswagen Quantum GL5 Wagon on eBay

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1988 Volkswagen Polo C Hatchback

As I mentioned in my Audi A4 TDI post, the VAG community loves things that are different; and any Volkswagen Polo that makes it to the U.S. is certainly different since the model was never sold here. The Polo launched in 1975 as a rebadged Audi 50, but managed to outlive the car that it was based upon by some good measure. In 1981, the second generation debuted on the A02 platform – a standalone for the model and its be-trunked twin, the Derby (also not sold here). These super-minis were intended to be cheap and efficient; very basic equipment was met with very basic engines, though there was a GT version and an even cooler supercharged G40 model which we’ve looked at previously.

Today’s example is none of those. This is the basic 2-door wagon model that looks a bit like a delivery van. I had a friend I went to visit in Germany, and he and his girlfriend shuttled me around in a Polo not too dissimilar to this. A Volkswagen fan, I loved being in a model that wasn’t available in the States, but I did get the distinct impression that for many Germans ownership of a Polo was akin to a venereal disease. It was something you had to live with and couldn’t easily get rid of, and you really didn’t want anyone else to know you had it. But because these are different than the run-of-the-mill A2s, are they desirable today?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Volkswagen Polo C Hatchback on eBay

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2000 BMW 540i Sport Touring Dinan Supercharged

Update 10/18/19: This super supercharged 540iT sold for $11,100. Deal!

BMW’s continual refusal to bring the most powerful form of its its Touring/Sports Wagon historical lineup has been, as a 5-door enthusiast, pretty frustrating. That’s left Audi in the 2000s and Mercedes-Benz more recently to thoroughly dominate fast 5-doors, with the brief Cadillac interloper. But just because you couldn’t get an M5 Touring over here didn’t mean you couldn’t at least get M performance.

For that, though, you had to turn to fabled California tuner Dinan. No stranger on these pages, Dinan’s well-thought mods and clean execution earned his company a place in the revered showrooms of new BMWs. Cheap? Certainly not. Just the supercharger alone on this particular 540i was $16,000. But you get what you pay for, and the result when Dinan blew on the M62 was a claimed 400 horsepower. So this 540iT has the chops to back up its M5 looks:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 BMW 540i Sport Touring Dinan Supercharged on eBay

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2001 Audi A4 2.0 TDI quattro

Update 10/18/19: This neat A4 sold for an impressive $16,100.

If you read the title and look at the photo above, something doesn’t seem quite right. Obviously, I’ve made a mistake and this is a S4, right? It looks like an S4. There was no diesel B5 brought to the U.S.. And, the coup de grâce of my mistake was surely that even in Europe there was no 2.0 TDI Audi B5. Well, just like most other small chassis Audi platforms, the B5 has proven remarkably adept at accepting other engines – and this one’s a doozy.

The builder took a BHW 2.0 Pumpe Duse TDI borrowed from a Passat B5.5. In stock form, the BHW wasn’t the most impressive TDI from VAG. Producing 134 horsepower and only linked to an automatic transmission in the U.S., the Passat TDI was rated at only 38 mpg on the highway. I achieved that on a 100 mile trip the other day in my 1.8T, for reference. But, of course, the big news with the TDIs was torque and the BHW had 247 stock at 1,900 rpm. The builder of this car took the BHW bottom end, mated it to a BRM head from a Mk.4, and then slapped on a giant turbo. The result? 250 horsepower – the same as the S4 – with 400 lb.ft of torque claimed in a car that will return 45 mpg. And then they slapped it into a very discrete package; an original (and rare) Brilliant Yellow A4 replete with S4 body kit and interior. The result? Pretty impressive, if you ask me:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Audi A4 2.0 TDI quattro on eBay

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1992 Porsche 911 Carrera Cup

It would be easy to assume that the ’92 Carrera Cup USA was a turned up version of the RS America, but actually it shared more DNA with the European market Carrera RS. Porsche intended to continue the trend of its successful 944 Cup and 944 Turbo Cup support series races with a 911 Carrera Cup in the U.S., but after luring 45 buyers and converting 25 to full race spec by Andial funding for the series fell through. Many of the Andial-converted cars were then returned to full road-legal spec and the legend of these lightweight 911s has been circulating ever since.

he RSA was actually the least expensive 911 version in showrooms in the early 90s too, while the Cup was a substantial 20% premium. Why? Well, it was a lot more than just removing a few extra items. While the RS America lopped 70-odd pounds off a standard C2, the Carrera Cup was 200 lbs lighter. The Cup wore bigger 24mm 5-way adjustable front/ 18mm 3-way rear sway bars, stiffer progressive-rate springs that were 50mm front/45mm rear lower than a standard car, aluminum hubs, ball joint upper spring mounts, and Bistein rear shocks. The engine was the M64/03 rather than the RS America’s M64/01, and featured a lightweight flywheel, only one accessory belt, a remapped DME and solid rubber mounts to channel more of the extra power to the ground. The Cups had a lightweight battery and master electrical shutoff, along with a more simple carpet and rear shelf layout. The gearbox was also different, as the Cup for the G50/10 with longer first and second gears, hardened synchros and mounts, and a standard variable locking differential. Brakes? Yep, different too – the Cup wore Turbo calipers with 322mm front vented and cross-drilled rotors. They kept the standard retracting rear spoiler rather than the RS America’s fixed unit, but had no undercoating and thin glass as well. These were racers through-and-through. And today, they’re not cheap:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 Porsche 911 Carrera Cup on eBay

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2000 BMW 740iL Protection Package

While Mercedes-Benz is the go-to for protected dignitaries, executives and everyone else who has a potential mark of their back, they’re not alone in offering upgraded armor to their lineup. BMW also entered the game with their “Protection Package”. This turned the 7 into the ‘ultimate surviving machine’ by adding bulletproof glass front, sides and rear along with armor behind the body panels and no sunroof. A claimed 44 were sold here, making this one of the most rare variants of any BMW imported:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 BMW 740iL Protection Package on eBay

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