As recently as early this year, signs that special production car residuals were falling became evident. It was bound to happen as the market was for a time fairly crazy. The recipe was simple; pony up for a limited production car, turn around and list it for sale for 50% more money or more, and profit! We saw this in BMW’s limited M4 GTS back in 2016; I looked at a M4 GTS that was listed at $200,000:
2016 BMW M4 GTS
As a quick reminder, the M4 GTS was the stripped-down, hardened up version of the M4. BMW utilized a water injection system to raise horsepower to 493, while heavy (pun intended) use of carbon fiber helped keep the curb weight down to 3,550. All M4 GTSs made use of the 7-speed DCT dual-clutch transmission. They were limited to four colors; Sapphire Black metallic, Mineral Gray Metallic, Alpine White and Frozen Dark Gray Metallic. Only 300 were sent to the U.S., ensuring this was not only a track weapon, but a future collectable as well – and prices skyrocketed as soon as you couldn’t buy a new one.
So how has the M4 GTS market held up?
To go up against the established Alpha executive from Germany – the S-Class Mercedes-Benz – BMW’s engineers had to think outside of the box. It wasn’t simply good enough to mimic the go-to large luxury sedan. They’d have to outperform it, to be better than Stuttgart’s best. That was a tall order for the Munich firm, since its last truly large sedans were the 501/2 series cars; the Baroque Angels of the early 1950s. Though they launched at roughly the same time as BMW’s microcar craze, they were really holdovers from another era. The same wouldn’t work in the late 1970s, but primed with the success of their 5- and 6-series models, BMW was ready to face the challenge.
Though the E3 had offered a sizeable sedan, the new E23 really stretched BMW’s platforms. The new 7-seres was 6 inches longer overall, most of which fell in a longer wheelbase versus the E3. It was also wider by a few inches and lower, too. Paul Bracq again provided the styling and it was nothing surprising; it carried the torch of many of the design elements of the 3-, 5- and 6-series cars, and that certainly wasn’t a bad thing. But what BMW hoped would help to set it apart from the competition was technology and performance, along with a high-level of material quality in the cabin. Options included Buffalo leather, an on-board computer system, anti-lock brakes, heated and reclining power seats front and rear, and even an airbag late in the run; standard fare today, but way ahead of the curve in the late 1970s and early 1980s. BMW matched this technology with a thoroughly modern driver-oriented cockpit which made the W116 Mercedes-Benz competition feel immediately antiquated.
Where the E23 really established itself, though, was in keeping with the “driving machine” motto of the company. This was a performance sedan, and consequently BMW brought its turbocharger technology over to the E23. Launched in 1980, the new “745i” derived its name from the 1.4 multiplier for turbocharged displacement, and the M102B32 3.2 liter inline-6 cranked out an impressive 252 horsepower with 280 lb.ft of torque channeled through a 3-speed automatic ZF-built 3HP22 gearbox. It provided effortless highway cruising with a broad torque curve. With a full assortment of luxurious options, a driver-oriented design and pioneering turbocharger technology, these really were cutting edge sedans in the early 1980s. The M102 was replaced for the later ’82-86 745is with the M106, which produced the same peak horsepower but at a lower rev range. Displacement was up to match the M30 at 3.4 liters and it now used Motronic engine management:
If I’m honest, neither the outrageous Passat W8 nor the overpriced A4 Avant from Sunday really thrilled in the same way as the 2.7T-swapped B6 Ultrasport build did. Granted, you could just about buy both the Audi and the Passat for the same price as that build, but if you’re going to take on a complicated older fast wagon, there must be some sort of reward for all the risk, right?
Well, not to be outdone, here’s a stellar BMW option. The standard 325xi Touring, while available with a 5-speed manual, isn’t nearly as exotic sounding or performing as the duo from the other day. The M54 2.5 liter inline-6 was about 100 horsepower down on the Passat W8 and they weighed pretty close to the same. BMW also chose to not equip any of the xi models with the M-Sport suspension, either. While the 3-series was substantially cheaper than either the A4 2.0T S-Line Titanium package or the Passat W8 4Motion, out of the box it also didn’t feel as special.
Of course, if you rip it apart and rebuild it with a S54 borrowed from a M3 and a 6-speed from a X3, the story changes a bit…
Continuing on the theme of lightweight, Europe-only specials of a fan-favorite chassis, here’s one I’m willing to bet a fair amount of you aren’t aware of. BMW launched several special variants of the E9x chassis, and we saw some of them – the Lime Rock Park Edition being the most notable – but in total BMW produced a hard-to-fathom 28 special variations of the E9x Ms. As a result, you’re forgiven if you didn’t remember all of them!
CRT stands for “Carbon Racing Technology”, but perhaps ironically it was BMW’s carbon-intensive road cars that led to the model. Spare cuttings from the carbon passenger cells of the i3 and i8 models were recycled and molded into body pieces for this special M3 sedan, while motivation came from the M3 GTS’s upgraded S65B44 V8. Stroked to 4.4 liters and with a lightweight titanium exhaust, the enlarged V8 was rated at over 440 horsepower (20+ over a standard S65B40), while torque was up 30 to 325 lb.ft at a lower 3,750 rpms. BMW produced a total of 68 cars, of which 67 were sold to the public, all in identical Frozen Silver Metallic with Sahkir Orange accented interiors:
Continuing with some 1960s vintage BMW history, we have to of course look at BMW’s major acquisition follow its successful staving off of Mercedes-Benz takeover. That company was Hans Glas GmbH. In the 1960s, this company briefly moved away from its bonds as constructor of sewing machines and licensed Goggomobils to produce some seriously pretty coupes; the 1300 GT and 1700 GT were the first and better known, but the 2600 and 3000V8 were no less striking. Glas employed same tactic as most major manufacturers for the designs, hiring an Italian to pen the lines. It was Pietro Frua who was responsible for the GT’s design, and while neither his name nor that of Glas resonate with the same authority as Pininfarina, Bertone, Ghia, Italdesign and Giugiaro, Gandini or even Michelotti (who produced a very similar design in the Triumph GT6), the combination was nonetheless a beautiful outcome for the German firm.
BMW purchased Hans Glas GmbH outright in 1966, gaining access to their Dingolfing plant and engineering team (incidentally, one of the first to use timing belts!). In the process, BMW’s technology and Glas’s designs merged, giving us the BMW 1600GT. The upgraded Glas 1700 GT offered 100 horsepower, and about 5,400 Glas-branded GTs were produced before the nameplate was eliminated in 1967. BMW produced a further 1,200 1600GTs before retooling the Dingolfing plant for E24 production in the mid-1970s.
Some fifty years on, that makes any of these cars quite rare, so even though this particular Glas isn’t the most pristine out there, it’s worth a look:
Stepping even a bit further back in BMW’s timeline, today we have a Neue Klasse Coupe. The E120 was as evolution of the Bertone 3200CS design from the early 1960s, but BMW’s design head – one very famous Mr. Wilhelm Hofmeister – certainly added his own distinctive flair. However, he wasn’t alone – some of the most famous car designers from the period had influence – from the aforementioned Bertone, Giugiaro, and of course Michelotti (designer of the 700 series as well) all had a hand.
While the lines looked exotic, underneath the chassis and drivetrain were borrowed straight from the more pedestrian Neue Klasse sedans. Power came from the venerable 2.0 inline-4 M10 fed by twin Solex carbs. The CS had the higher compression (9.3:1) 120 horsepower version, while the C and CA made due with 100. This was still a huge step for BMW, who lacked the capability to produce the complex body structure on its normal assembly lines. As a result, like its successors the E9 and early E24 models, the 2000C, CA and CS Coupes would be produced by Karmann in OsnabrÃ¼ck. A total of approximately 13,691 were produced between its 1965 launch and the takeover of the 2800CS introduction in 1968.
So, they’re old, a bit quirky-looking by BMW standards, and rare. That certainly makes for the potential for a collector car! And this one is claimed to be a mostly original survivor, to boot:
Long before â€œClownshoeâ€ mania, BMW had another slightly off-beat hatchback in its lineup. The company recently spent a fairly sizable sum advertising the lineage between the new 2 series and the original 2002, but as generally impressive as the new 2 is, the one thing lacking is a model similar to the E6 Touring model. Okay, the F45 and F46 tall hatchback models channel a bit of that, but letâ€™s be honest â€“ theyâ€™re not exactly what enthusiasts love. And similarly polarizing is the Touring model in the E10 lineup. The Michelotti design channeled some of the GT feel from the Glas acquisition, but while the fluid lines of the 1600GT worked well in a low slung sports car, moving to the taller and more upright E10 platform gave the Touring slightly odd dimensions.
Shortened by about 6 inches and with additional glass, the Touring had modern conveniences like split-folding rear seats and was available in five different engine configurations over its short three year model life. From 1600 to 2002, the model designations referred to the engine capacity â€“ imagine that! Here we have a Typ118 E6 – the 1802 Touring.
We sometimes get accused of bias in our coverage towards one marque or one model on these pages. Fair enough, I’d fully admit that I’d rather look at another Audi Coupe GT than a BMW 325e. But in the interest of being introspective, I occasionally check up on our coverage to see if we’re doing a balanced job and I’d like to share the results with you. To date this year, we’ve written up 10 Audi related posts, 10 BMW related posts, 9 Volkswagen related posts, and 12 Porsche posts. If we’ve been out-of-balance, it’s been our coverage of Mercedes-Benz models, which account for 26 posts this year so far.
Since our inception, we’ve written 907 Audi posts, 1,963 BMW posts, 1,598 Mercedes-Benz posts, 2,322 Porsche posts and 982 dedicated to Volkswagens. We’re sometimes at the mercy of what’s available at any given time. All things considered, it’s not a bad balance overall.
But one thing did strike me as I put this information together – February has, so far, passed without a BMW gracing our coverage. That simply won’t do, and so I thought I’d check out this M6. The classic E24 lines coupled with the stellar S38 engine and BBS wheels have always been a favorite of mine. Now, this particular M6 is probably not the best one out there I’ll admit up front. But the combination of colors, stance, presentation and asking price all grabbed my attention and made it worth sitting up and taking a further look:
Recently on our Facebook page I posted a poll to see what our fans would like us to write-up. The choice in that poll was between two different generations of Grand Tourer; cars with the same purpose but very different execution. The Porsche 928GTS was at the end of its illustrious production run, the ultimate evolution of the V8 transaxle design. On the other hand, the fairly recently introduced 850CSi wasn’t quite the ‘M8’ BMW had teased, but in a post-Recession economy it was still pretty special. The 928GTS clocked in to work with a slightly revised exterior, 17″ Cup wheels, giant Brembo brakes and a stonking 5.4 liter 4-cam V8 capable of 345 horsepower. The 850CSi was, of course, also naturally aspirated, but a 5.6 liter V12 lay under its computer-designed angular bodywork. The E31 was heavily breathed upon by BMW’s Motorsport division, the S70 laughed at Porsche’s V8 by channeling 372 horsepower to the rear wheels solely through a 6-speed manual gearbox. Like the 928, bodywork revisions, M-System II forged wheels and mega brakes along with suspension updates helped justify the lofty price.
In their days, both of these cars could eclipse $100,000 easily with options. The thing is, they’ve never really come down in price. Both were quite limited production; a total of 1,510 850CSis were made with only 225 sent to the U.S., while 2,877 928GTSs were made, with I believe 451 landing in North America.
The Facebook poll came down to a dead heat between the two, each with 44 votes. So, I did my best to come up with two worthy examples priced closely to consider today:
It boggles my mind that the Z8 design is now 24 years old. First penned in 1995 and shown at the Japanese Motorshow in 1997, the Z8 looked outrageous and the recipe sounded perfect with internals were borrowed from the E39 M5. That meant the S62 quad-cam double-VANOS 4.9 liter V8 cranking out 394 horsepower and routed exclusively through a Getrag 6-speed manual transmission driving only the back wheels. Coupled with Henrik Fisker’s sumptuous lines, the Z8 managed to both channel the history of BMW’s landmark 507 and be a cutting-edge design at the same time. It was the halo car that helped to lead BMW into a new Millennium. Sold for sometimes upwards of $160,000 they were instantly collector fodder, but these cars also caught headlines almost immediately due to problems with their aluminum space frames deforming in the shock tower area.
Between collectability, the up-front expense and fear of destroying the chassis, a fair amount of these cars appear today with very low mileage. So why look at this one? Well, it is well below average mileage, but mainly – the color. Only 5,703 Z8s were produced, putting it roughly on level footing with the E24 M6 in terms of scarcity. Worldwide only 325 were selected in Topaz Blue Metallic, and of those this is one of the 131 produced for the 2000 model year and only 30 sent to the U.S., 21 of which had the Crema interior of today’s example: