The Volkswagen Fox is a model which is almost entirely overlooked by us. It’s not because we don’t like the concept of the entry-level Volkswagen brought to the U.S. from Brazil, but the budget pricing coupled with legendary 1980s Volkswagen reliability and build quality (cough cough) hasn’t exactly left a plethora of examples of these small VWs left to contemplate. The Fox was offered in three configurations – two door coupe, four door sedan and two door wagon. Without a doubt, it was the wagon which gets the most enthusiast attention these days. In profile, it looks a bit like a B2 Audi if they had made a wagon, and indeed pop the hood and you’ll see the same longitudinal configuration. Some parts are even interchangeable with the B2 Audis, like the steering rack. But more of this car was shared with the Golf than any Audi product, and though the Fox resurrected the Audi B1 nameplate here the two shared only a passing resemblance. Infrequently seen, these little wagons are neat cars that march to the beat of slightly different Brazilian drummers:
While it was the E30 M3 that I lusted over as a young teen, I came of driving age with the introduction of the second generation E36. I still remember the first one I sat in; a 1995 Avus Blue with gray manual Vaders. At nearly $40,000, it was about as far away from me as the moon landing, but it was my dream car. I didn’t really care that the engine wasn’t the special individual throttle body motor Europe got, or that the headlights weren’t as nice. I cared that it was in the U.S., it was a great color, and because they were being sold that meant that I might be able to get one some day.
Fast forward to today, and if I’m completely honest Avus Blue isn’t my favorite color from the early M3 lineup anymore. Given the option, I’d take either a Dakar Yellow or Daytona Violet example. All three are fairly rare to see among the first 10,000-odd 3.0 M3s brought in before the light revision to the 3.2, when the color pallet changed. And of the three, I’m pretty sure Daytona is the one I’d seek out. Today’s car reminds me why
Emerging as if from some Philip K. Dick dystopian version of the future where the Germans ruled America, Opel’s lineup in the 1950s broadly mirrored that of its American counterparts – only, in 7/8ths scale or less. The Rekord was Opel’s higher-end family car, and it’s styling was in large part based upon that of the mid-50s Chevrolet lineup, only trailing behind by a few years. The Rekord went on to mimic a few other GM products in later versions, and the 1959 model year was the last of this body style.
It was available in two or four-door variants, and marketed in the US as the ‘Olympia Rekord’. But there was also a wagon version of the Rekord, and that was called the Caravan. There are several different naming conventions on these and technically they’re all Rekords, but this one was either called the Olympia Caravan or simply Opel Caravan. Regardless, under the hood was not a thumping V8 but a thrifty four cylinder, and these were sold through Buick dealerships in the US for a while. Today, a relatively top-spec Caravan has popped up for sale:
The A6 4.2 quattro falls into an unappreciated middle ground of typically unappreciated Audis. Unappreciated, that is, for everyone outside of the Vier Ringe, because the C5 has gone down as one of the most devoted fanbase Audi models I can remember, perhaps rivaled only by the B5. But while the cheap speed of the B5 attracted the Volkswagen and BMW crowd, the C5 fans seem to be more traditional Audi folk; offbeat, eclectic and fiercely loyal to their particular model.
Perhaps one of the reasons that the 4.2 gets so thoroughly overlooked by the market in general is due to the depth of the C5 lineup. On the performance end, you had the cool S6 Avant and the outrageous twin-turbocharged RS6. On the practicality end, the standard A6 2.8 and 3.0 models provided Mercedes-Benz like quality and adequate stateliness in both sedan and Avant bodylines. Outdoor adventures and tech-geeks loved the Allroad, which could be had with either a twin-turbocharged 6-speed or the subdued and upscale silky smooth 4.2 V8. And finally, for secret performance lovers, the twin-turbo’d V6 could be mated in narrow-body sedan with a 6-speed manual in the A6 2.7T quattro.
Frankly, it was hard for the 4.2 sedan to stand out in this crowd, yet it managed to appear quite special at the same time. This was the defacto S6 sedan, with aluminum front end and engine, along with wide flares and shark-fin door blades. It was longer, too, to accommodate the V8 tucked in the nose, giving a more menacing appearance overall. Special wider track was met with unique Speedline wheels (later replaced by the forged “Fat Fives”) and meaty 255-40 section tires as an option. And with 300 horsepower, out of the box the 4.2 was the top trump for the 2000 model year in the C5 lineup and would remain so until the 2002 introduction of the S6.
When it comes to sporty wagons in the mid 2000s, your only options were really Audis and BMWs, right? Well, wrong – because Volkswagen dropped one pretty hot sleeper on our shores before elimination of the Passat wagon from the lineup. Granted, Volkswagen’s hottest entrant into the sport wagon market – the R36 – wouldn’t come here, but the normal 3.6 4Motion was darn close. With 280 horsepower on tap from the enlarged narrow-angle VR6 channeled through all four wheels, the unassuming Passat was the second most powerful wagon offered on these shores from VAG. Unless you spent another 50% to opt for the Audi S4 V8, this was as quick as US-bound German wagons got. Unlike the B5/5.5, the B6 chassis returned to the Golf-based platform as with the B3/4, which was both a blessing and a curse. From a performance standpoint the change was a good one, as many of the items intended for the R32 model worked on the Passat now. However, the change to transverse engine placement from the inline Audi setup in the B5/5.5 meant that the “true” quattro drivetrain in the earlier 4Motions was replaced by the Haldex setup found in the R32 and Audi TT. Is this the end of the world? No, not really, and in fact because of this change you can opt to alter the power distribution with aftermarket control units. These 3.6 models were expensive and fully loaded, so they’re somewhat infrequently seen and generally unknown and unappreciated even in the German-specific realm:
The E39 540i will probably go down as one of the great from the company; combining good looks, potent performance, a luxurious cabin, and acceptable – but not too advanced – technology into a clean package. Dynamically, they’re great to drive, they make really good noises, and yet they still manage to fly under the radar more than an M5 does. They’re certainly one of the few have-your-cake-type cars out there. And despite being all of these things, they generally manage to be a lot cheaper than you might expect for a decent example; that is, outside of the 2003 M-Sport models. However, if you’re willing to step back just a year and get ever so slightly less M DNA in your E39, you can still find good examples of the breed for reasonable rates. Today I ran across a very nice 2002 to consider:
I’ve previously expressed that the RS2 wasn’t really my dream car. The fact that a certain YouTube star grabbed one didn’t really boost its image in my mind. The model certainly hold a lot of appeal, it’s true, and when presented in signature RS Blue as we see here, it’s pretty awesome. But is it the car I’d want for $66,000? Well, before you answer, read a bit more….
Treser is a name that occupies an interesting place in the tuner world. Both pioneering and polarizing, he pushed the boundaries of his technology at the time, creating stretched, chopped, and off-road versions of road cars. They had special wheels, unique body kits, and additional performance – not to mention optional interior refits. The highest-profile were, of course, his modifications of the Quattro, and today’s example is claimed to be the first modified by him. So let’s check it out!
I’ve previously talked about the chaos in post-War Germany, and the many attempts to ‘right the ship’ with efficient, economical, and affordable microcars, some of which were also imported to other countries. The car that springs to mind when you say this is, of course, the Isetta though ironically it was the one on the list that didn’t originate in Germany. There was also several DKWs, NSUs, and the Fuldamobil:
1955 Fuldamobil NFW 200
Airplane manufacturers got in on the action, too, with Messerschmitt trying their hand at automobiles:
1963 Messerschmitt KR201 Roadster
Trojan, though, doesn’t sound very German, does it? Well, that’s because it’s not. But like the Isetta, this was a car that was actually produced under license in another country – England in this case. The base car here is actually a Heinkel Kabine that was lightly revised after its initial production run in the late 1950s.
In its second full year for production, Porsche’s entry-level 924 model sped out of the gate – at least, in terms of sales. Some 11,638 traded in 1978, the model’s single most successful year by quite a margin. In fact, if you find an early non-Turbo 924, odds are it’ll be a ’78 since about 30% were when new. Obviously, the appeal of a (relatively) inexpensive Porsche worked; consider that even in the heyday 80s, Porsche never sold more than 2,700 928s a year here – often quite less – and the 924 comprised about 70% of the firms sales in the 1970s. This is the model that kept the lights on, Mr. Turbo Carrera.
Of course, by itself that doesn’t make an early 924 exciting, nor is it solely a compelling reason to buy one. But there were some neat options for the early 924, not least of which was the Turbo. There were also a plethora of limited edition models, from the most famous Martini World Championship model to the Sebring ’79 edition, the ’78 Limited Edition, the M471 S models and the Weissach Commemorative Edition to consider. We also seen some cool later models with neat options and neat colors – plus they got a 5-speed manual, and that’s if you choose to ignore the much better later 924S model, too!
Today’s car is none of those special models, but it’s still worth a look – as it is claimed to have traveled just 8,000 miles from new. That’s roughly 185 a year, if you’re counting…and you better be able to count if you want to pay for it.