Truth told the E91 isn’t a particularly rare car. There are plenty up for sale every day of the week, and of those that you can find for sale today, the all-wheel drive 328i xDrive isn’t particularly rare, either. But what is not seen very often is the combination of those two factors plus a stick in the center console which can be articulated in 7 different positions. That’s right, we have a unicorn manual! Such is the frequency with which these are referred to by the mythological term, you’d be forgiven for thinking that BMW dealers had a special option box that you could select for your unicorn badge.
Salesman: Now that you’ve selected all your other options, I’m going to tell you about one final “dealer special” option we can offer you – but it’s only for select, and discerning customers!
Rich Plebian: Uh, okay, what is it?
S: It’s the not offered to public “Unicorn” option
RP: “Unicorn”? Like, horned mythological beast?
S: Yes, exactly. The Unicorn Package is option code 785.
RP: Okay, what does it get me?
S: You get to tell everyone how unique your mass produced car is.
RP: Wait, it gives me special powers?
S: No, you just get to say that your car is more special than the other cars that are exactly like it.
RP: Well, people have always told me how special I am, so sign me up!
Thus, when it comes time to sell your unicorn package car, you too can tell everyone that this was the only one that’s like it! Except for the other ones that are like it. But don’t mind them. Let’s look at this one!
Speaking of new(er) cars we don’t cover much on these pages, how about the Panamera? By my reckoning, we’ve never covered one here. They seem quite new, but in reality they’re now over a decade old in the market place, and a funny (and quite predictable) thing happened – they’re now very, very inexpensive. Of course, this is a relative scale, but we’ll get there in a minute.
The Panamera S grabbed the 4.8 V8 from the Cayenne, which was good for 400 horsepower, and stuck it into Porsche’s first attempt at a four-door sedan. Yeah, I’m discounting their involvement in the W124 500E, the RS2, and the Volvo 850, because those were not sold in their dealerships. So we got a hatchback design that sorta looked like a 911 imagined as an ex-collegiate swimmer, and you could have it in typical Porsche style – a ton of configurations and with multiple engine choices. Bottom of the barrel was the V6, top-tier was the twin-turbo V8, with all-wheel drive optional between. Dynamically, these were regarded as good driving cars if not great to look at. And Porsche-quick they were – 0-60 for the S was 4.8 seconds, and the quarter mile was disposed of in 13.3 seconds. Of course you got tons of tech, and in also typical for Porsche-style optional equipment would push the S’s $91,000 base price up towards six-figure territory quickly. But today? Not so much:
Often we ignore really modern cars on these pages. It’s not necessarily that they’re not exciting – often it’s quite the opposite. For me, it’s just that they’re not exciting to see for sale because they’re still effectively cars that you can walk into a dealership and buy. And I’m sorry, while they can thoroughly out-perform older cars in virtually every way, you can’t just walk into an Audi dealer and buy a brand new Quattro, can you?
But impressive these cars are, and if you can look down the road so to speak at having one as a potential special car in the future, you can balance a hefty discount from new with near-new status and have quite a savings over stock, too. When the F8x BMW M3 and M4 launched, they were loud, proud, and…well, large. Park an M4 next to an original M3, and you can nearly hide the entire older model behind the silhouette of the new one. But when the G80 was launched recently, well…suddenly meet the new boss had me looking at the old boss in a new light. And the S55 is still good for 425 horsepower – and it’ll still rip your face off. 0-60 is gone in 4 seconds and it’ll demolish the older generations in a straight line. So let’s check out the signature tone with unique interiors in two very different configurations:
Ahhhhh, the 80s. Tuners in the 80s were pushing the limits of their crafts, redefining performance and styling with cutting-edge technology. Of course, when I say ‘cutting edge’, I literally mean cutting. Take Walter Treser, for example. He not only lopped the top off of a Quattro to create his ‘Roadster’, but he also had at the roofline of the Type 44 to create the hatchback ‘Liner’ model. While Audi was busy sawing Quattros in half and removing about a foot to create their Sport Quattro, Treser went in a different direction. As in, the complete opposite. Apparently not satisfied that the Roadster and Liner were crazy enough, Treser chopped a 200 clean in half, stitched 12.6 inches into the middle of it, and created the ‘Largo’. I presume that the pronunciation is akin to the current President’s (for today, anyway) residence of choice, but all I can see is “Large-Oh”. And large it is. Audi themselves would later create their own Lang version of the V8, but Treser’s version appeared over half a decade earlier. To say they are rare is an understatement of…well, long proportions. But one can by yours today in Florida, if you’re up for a project:
The legend of the 911 Turbo continues virtually unabated, with the most recent edition of the Turbo S bullying top-tier sport bikes in acceleration duels. Seriously, it does 0-30 in .9 seconds and hits 60 in a touch over 2 seconds. Two. I remember when breaking 5 seconds in the dash was a serious feat. The Turbo is is far from a one-trick pony, though, as it continues to demolish numbers – 100 in 5.3 seconds, the quarter mile in 10.1 at 137. It will hit 180 mph in 21.4 seconds, which is about the same time that it takes a VW T2 to hit highway speed. Of course, there’s also a price to pay…in this case, you’ll be out over $200,000 to leave the dealership in one. But it’s not like earlier generations of 911 Turbo are exactly pokey, right? Take the 2001 911 Turbo. That car disposed of 60 mph in 3.9 seconds with a manual, 12.3 seconds through the quarter mile, and it’ll ‘only’ do 150 mph in 21.6 seconds. Virtually stationary. On the plus side, they’re a whole lot cheaper than the newer 911 Turbos, to the point where people without trust funds could consider purchasing one. And this one certainly seems to fit that bill:
Following in the footsteps of the Z4 sDrive28i I just talked about, let’s check out the changes from the 1-Series to the 2-Series. As with the Z4, turbo inline-six power continued in the M235i, which was effectively a restyled 135i with a N55 with a touch more twist and more weight. Purists may decry that an M badge crept into the lineup but the reality is that if you drive one of these turbocharged small BMWs, and I own a 135i Sport, they’re worthy of the letter. Whether you agree or not doesn’t change the fact that one thing was notably absent from the revised 2-series – the normally aspirated N52 was dropped in favor of the N20 in the ’28’ model. So they were cheaper, right? Well, yes and no. This 2016 228i Coupe we’re looking at today stickered at just shy of $33,000; hardly cheap, but one of the cheaper BMWs you could buy in 2016. However, this particular 228i didn’t leave the dealership in the 30s, thanks to a healthy dose of optional equipment that has left it one of the more unique configurations I’ve seen. Let’s take a look:
Okay, so although the New Beetle definitely isn’t the most exciting car we’ve written up on these pages, there were some bright points. Since the architecture was essentially just a Golf underneath, you had some pretty fun performance options, like the Turbo S:
2002 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo S
Then, of course, to kick it up a few notches there was the Volkswagen Motorsport Beetle RSi – a 3.2-liter powered, all-wheel drive monster. It was basically an R32, but it was somehow way, way better – but only 250 were made, and we’re unfortunately not here to look at one. There were plenty of other special editions of the New Beetle produced, but this isn’t one of them, either. No, this is a fairly basic 2000 GLS – replete with a 2.0-liter inline-4 rated at 115 horsepower and a 4-speed auto. So why are we here? Well, it’s 2021, and things are about to get interesting!
The E23 has always been a design which to me has been quite polarizing. As with the E12 and E24, Paul Bracq was heavily involved in the final design and it shows – in many ways, the E23 looks like a cross between the two that was scaled up 10%. The results of that in my mind weren’t always good. Growing up, my father had both E24s and E28s, clean looking, well proportioned designs, and when I first saw an E23 I remember thinking it looked a bit ungainly. In U.S. specification, the bumpers were too big and the wheels were too small, resulting in a car which appeared heavy, sagging and sad. When he’s really upset, my son manages to invert his lip and stick it out, tears streaming down his cheeks. It’s a look which nearly mimics the U.S. spec front end of the E23 I now recognize. However, in European trim the E23 made more sense – it looked lighter, smaller and better proportioned. While not as stately as the W116, it certainly looked a fair bit sportier outside and more modern. Couple those European-market looks with some great period BBS RS wheels and the look is just about perfect; throw in the turbocharged M106 motor and you’ve peeked much interest. Of course, unfortunately the M106 was only pared with an automatic transmission – but then, what would happen if you swapped that for a 5-speed?
While the move from the B2 to B3 chassis brought many changes to the small Audi lineup, it was also very much a case of ‘meet the new boss, same as the old boss’. Some of the features of the 4000 were gone; you could no longer opt to lock the center differential, for example, since the manual locker had been replaced by a more sophisticated Torsen unit. You could still opt to engage a rear differential lock, but electronics overrode that at 15 m.p.h.. That change was indicative of movement in the marketplace and where the B3 was aimed – slightly more upscale from the B2. Interior quality was greater, safety took priority, and production was broken into two categories as it had been in Europe for the B2. Selecting the top-range 90 quattro got you nicer BBS wheels, color matched bumpers and mirrors, a sportier raised spoiler, a better leather interior and wood trim. The downscale 80 would channel more of the outgoing 4000, with a velour and plastic-heavy interior. They even opted to keep the same Ronal R8 wheels as the old model early on, and the subtle rear spoiler was a near copy of the B2.
The more basic 80 was closer in performance to the 4000, too – the luxury and safety items of the B3 meant more weight, and the 90 tipped the scales at nearly 3,000 lbs. Mechanically identical, the 80 quattro was about a hundred pounds lighter and anyone who has driven 80s normally aspirated Audis knows that 100 lbs. makes a difference in performance. Motivation for both was the same NG-code inline-5 that was seen in the last Coupe GT Special Build models, meaning 130 horsepower and 140 lb.ft of torque – smoothly adequate, but certainly never overwhelming. The 80 quattro enjoyed only a short run in the U.S., being available in the 1988-1990 model years and then re-introduced with some 90 quattro upgrades for the ’92 model year as a hold-over until the V6 B4 was ready for production. The de-contented 80 was a fair bit cheaper than its quite expensive brethren; while a Coupe Quattro would set you back over $30,000 with some options, select a basic 80 quattro and you could sneak out of the dealership for $23,000 – barely more than the ’87 Coupe GT retailed for. Later 80s got some upgrades; body-color bumpers and BBS wheels primarily, and a clean Alpine White example has turned up for sale.
A few weeks ago I took a look at a low-profile GTI; it looked pretty nice, mostly original, and wasn’t too unreasonably priced overall. It’s no surprise, then, that it didn’t last that long:
1983 Volkswagen GTI
Today’s car is also a 1983 GTI, but it’s there that the similarities end. This one was worked over by Mike and Ant of Wheeler Dealers. It’s less original, but also catches attention with its clean presentation. Is it the right price to make it a deal, though?