2002 BMW 316ti

BMW’s attempt to offer a Golf-fighting hatchback didn’t end with the E36 generation; at least, not in the rest of the world. That’s because after the E36/5 bowed out, the company introduced the E46/5 Compact model in 2000. As with the RoW prior model, several engine options were available with 4,6, and diesel powerplants; unlike the one-engine-only US E36 model, though, it never came to North America. Style was substantially more radical than the E36; notably, the front end had a completely unique set of headlights not shared with any other BMW design. Love it or hate it, it helped the /5 stand apart. The same was true out back, where there were jewel-style tail lights that almost looked more as though they belonged on a Lexus. BMW wasn’t done out back though, because the chopped rear end held a multi-link suspension rather than the E30 setup used on the E36 model. You could get some slick options on the E46/5 too, like the SMG sequential gearbox. Today’s example has an upgraded motor, the M Sport body kit, some great looking sport seats, and it’s in North America:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 BMW 316ti on eBay

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1999 BMW Z3 2.3

The conundrum of the Z3 is for me wrapped up in the model’s signature appearance in Goldeneye. There was lots of promotion for the new model; after all, the change from Bond’s signature Aston Martin must have been for a car worthy of such a distinction. Granted, Audi beat BMW to the punch when James sported twin Type 44s in The Living Daylights but the fanfare surrounding the leap to BMW was unprecedented. And, as it turned out, largely unwarranted. Despite the hefty amount of advertising and anticipation of the debut, the 1.9 liter light blue convertible barely appeared in the movie at all – in fact, only long enough for James to toss the keys to someone else. This seems to largely sum up how enthusiasts feel about the successor to the Z1; cute, but a little too soft and not very BMW. Of course, as the model progressed it became more in keeping with the brand – especially true of when outfit by the M division. The resulting M Roadster and especially Coupe versions of the Z3 have become hot commodities in the marketplace, but if you’re willing to forgo the Roadstars, quad exhaust and especially the “S” motors in the front, you can still get a nice inline-six tied to a manual in a roadster.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1999 BMW Z3 2.3 on eBay

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2003 Volkswagen Beetle GLS Turbo

Did I say I wish that Beetle Pickup was a more fun color? Well here we go. In 2002 Volkswagen launched the Color Concept editions of the New Beetle, which allowed specification of the funky Golf-based retromobile in several unique shades. Options included Snap Orange, Double Yellow, Blue Lagoon, Red, and or today’s example of Cyber Green, and you got not only the exterior shade but color-matched wheel accents and interior upholstery as well. Under the frunk hood was the 1.8T, and here it’s linked to a four-speed automatic. But we get one of the more fun shades to consider, so let’s take a look:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Volkswagen Beetle GLS Turbo on eBay

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2006 Volkswagen Beetle Smyth Pickup

Okay, the last converted Pickup was a bit of a letdown in everything but concept:

2002 Volkswagen Jetta Smyth Pickup

Well, as luck would have it, another popped up. This one is based on the much curvier Beetle, and as you’d probably guess (or can see) the results are as retro-inspired as the New Beetle was. So let’s check out the execution of this kit and what it’ll set you back today:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2006 Volkswagen Beetle Smyth Pickup on eBay

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2017 Porsche 718 Cayman S

Okay, the bright blue M Coupe was a disappointment. But I thought an interesting counterpoint would be to look at what the alternative is in a pretty new Porsche. Absolutely top condition Z4 M Coupes are trading between $40,000 and $50,000 today, but its predecessor with the S54? Well, a Laguna Seca Blue example sold late last year for over $100,000. So to me, this 918 Cayman S is a good point of reference, striking a middle ground in asking price at $70,000. True, it doesn’t have a screaming flat-six under the cargo area; but the performance is still stout with 350 horsepower on tap. And it’s the right color – Miami Blue. Let’s take a look at what you get:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2017 Porsche 718 Cayman S on eBay

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2007 BMW Z4 M Coupe

My wife and I had a rather amusing conversation recently. “How much does a new 911 cost”, she asked. Now typically I know questions like this are leading somewhere and she’s not a huge Porsche fan, so after some inquiry she asked why examples from the 80s and 90s are trading for the price of a new car. After I likened the Porsche 911 market to the Tulip craze, she said two really funny things. First, she said “Let’s not base our economy on it!”, something that got me laughing. Then she said that if it was so popular, why were manufacturers like Porsche building new examples of their old cars? The answer, as we discussed, was that it just wouldn’t be profitable. Though limited run manufacturers such as Singer and Eagle have seen success building “new” old cars, the reality is that between making cars safe enough and economical enough to meet today’s standards, they’d be heavy and slow – necessitating even more power, which would raise the price. Take the GT86/FR-S/BRZ clones; while critics have loved their handling and prices have been kept reasonable, they’re generally referred to as “slow” cars with 200 horsepower and 2,700lbs of curb weight – nearly identical to what the 1988 Porsche Carrera was specified at.

However, there are options outside of the 911 market for a personal sports 2-door that throwback to simpler times, and I think the M Coupe was one of the best. With a gutsy inline-6 up front, rear drive and a 6-speed manual, the E86 was a classic blueprint for a sports car. But it was modern at the same time, with over 300 horsepower from the sonorous S54 M motor and a thoroughly modern design. It was also a relatively limited run vehicle, meaning they’re rare to see. Yet, despite this they’re still relatively affordable as a not-particularly-old future classic that can be driven and enjoyed – and will likely appreciate, though…there’s a caveat to this particular one:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2007 BMW Z4 M Coupe on eBay

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1988 Porsche 944 ‘Celebration’ Special Edition

I write up 924s a lot, and the obvious question comes to mind – why not just get a 944, with neater flared fenders and a much nicer interior? It’s a very valid question. Indeed, why would you choose a 924 – even a very nice, limited production one – over a 944? The answer is simple. Price.

When the 924S Special Edition was last on the market in 1988, you could stroll down to your dealer and pick one up for around $23,000. If you wanted to step up to the 944 – which offered no practical improvement in performance, mind you, as it was actually slower than the 924S – you’d have to shell out an additional $10,000. In many ways, that gulf of value perception remains today; it’s possible to find deals on 944s, but very nice 944s don’t come cheap, at least not in asking price.

I’ve spent considerable time talking about the 924S Special Edition and what a cool package it offered you on the cheap, the 944 equivalent isn’t covered much. Often referred to as the ‘Celebration Edition’, just like the 911 and 924S the 944 received a Special Edition package in 1988. Built to commemorate the 250,000th 911 produced but coinciding with 100,000 944s made, too, Porsche officially referred to the 944’s trim as the “Special Edition Package”. What did you get?

For $2,437, Porsche equipped your car with option code M757. This gave the car “a unique leatherette/gray-plaid cloth interior, silver velour carpeting, and a commemorative plaque which may be personalized with the owner’s name” according to Porsche. You also had to select metallic paint, a $645 charge, in one of two colors; Satin Black Metallic or Zermatt Silver Metallic. Otherwise these cars were pretty well loaded; the antithesis of the lightweight, stripped-down 924S SE. They came with split-folding rear seats, electric sunroof, rear window wiper, and 15″ ‘Phone Dial’ wheels, along with standard fog lights, central locking, electric mirrors, power windows, power steering, and automatic climate control. Like pretty much every special edition Porsche, these cars were seemingly earmarked for collectors:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Porsche 944 Celebration Edition on eBay

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2002 Volkswagen Jetta Smyth Pickup

Although I’ve espoused my love of wagons and their do-everything nature, the reality is that I live in the suburbs and there are certainly some times (read: pretty often, actually) that I could use a pickup truck. But, if I’m completely honest, I’ve previously owned a big Chevrolet 2500HD pickup and I’m still not convinced that I’m a pickup kind of guy. Worse still, have you priced a pickup out lately? HOLY MACKEREL. A base Silverado starts at almost $30,000 and if you want things like…seats, and/or wheels, you’ll quickly need more than $40,000. When I see $40,000 asks on a pickup which a) I know will be rusting in 5 years no matter what I do and b) because it’s a GM, will almost certainly break, I get pretty annoyed. Worse still, the “Heartbeat of America” isn’t built in America. I know. I live right by the port where they all come in on a boat. Beside the steady stream of Fiats, Volkswagens, Porsches and Alfa Romeos, there’s a long line of Chevrolet and GMC pickups being driven into the United States for the first time.

So how about a pickup that’s a bit more my speed? Built in America with tons of European flare by utilizing recycled Audi/Volkswagen products, there’s always the Smyth Pickup:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Volkswagen Jetta Smyth Pickup on eBay

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1984 Audi Quattro

We don’t often get to look at 1984 Quattros, and that’s for a good reason. While Quattros are rare stateside full-stop with only 664 brought here originally, just 10% – 65 – were ’84 model year cars. Like ’85, ’84 was a transition year as the newer dashboard, 8″ Ronals and a few other minor changes crept into production. Today’s car isn’t fully original – which used to be a death sentence for value on these cars, but no longer – as they’re being snatched up. Let’s check out this metallic black one:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1984 Audi Quattro on eBay

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1991 BMW M5

For years I’ve banged on about the E34 M5, a conundrum of the M lineup. It’s got all the right DNA to be a classic, yet like the similar 944 Turbo has generally languished in value compared to similar products. That may sound like a broken record on these pages, but it’s a tune which is both catchy and sweet-sounding for BMW fans because it means they’re getting more car for their money. They’ve got plenty of the right ingredients – the last of the individual throttle body S38 motors producing 315 horsepower, Motorsport details throughout, a great subtle look which still is commanding of respect, supreme road manners and limited numbers – only 1,678 were imported. It’s the right recipe for a future classic. This chassis is still generally overlooked compared to the E28 and E39 models, but those that have spent some time behind the wheel of these well engineered, hand-built Q-Ships proclaim they’re one of the best BMW products made. Recent market activity in since 2016 has started to remix the tune, though, and E34s have been on the rise. Hagerty currently places top value on 1991 M5s at over $74,000 – steep sounding given what many traded for over the last few years, but perhaps more in line with their legendary build quality and performance especially when considering their siblings. So let’s see what a top value M5 looks like today:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 BMW M5 on eBay

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