Here’s an interesting comparison for you! While the 1989 944 Turbo was the last year for the model in the US as the normally aspirated S2 and later 968 took the reigns, in other parts of the world the forced-induction models carried on – and lost their top. That’s right, in Europe you could get a 944 Turbo Cabriolet! They’re quite rare to see – just 625 were produced only in the 1991 model year, and this number represents about 1/10th the amount of 944 S2 cabriolets. Today’s car is pretty slick and already has been imported – but it’s also not very cheap. So, for comparison’s sake, I thought it would be interesting to see the 968 Coupe that the same seller is also offering – also a rare car in its own right, since just 649 were imported for the year. Let’s start with the Turbo:
Category: Double Take
The S4 is no stranger to these pages, offering enthusiasts a â€œhave-your-cake-and-throw-it-squarely-at-that-M3-ownerâ€™s-face-tooâ€ package that combined functionality and sport in a very discrete wrapper. Well, for the most part they were discrete; most were ordered in shades of gray because a fair amount of people ponying up new were conservative with everything but the money they were paying for this small executive wagon. Lightly optioned, an S4 was about $50,000 in 2004; for comparison’s sake, that’s the equivalent of $25k more than a current S4. That sticker shock masks that the B6 and B7 represented a huge price increase over the B5 generation; out the door, the cost on average about 20% â€“ 30% more only 3 years later â€“ but then, they offered a full 90 horsepower advantage over the twin-turbocharged V6 with that awesome 4.2 V8, which of course could still be combined with a 6-speed manual gearbox. Subtle though the exterior colors may be, the performance on tap was anything but.
While they sold pretty well out of the box, the reality was that they had a reputation for not being the most reliable car – mostly, this was deserved. Coupled with strong depreciation and poor upkeep, this means that finding an early B6 S4 in good shape is pretty hard today. But one dealer has no less than two in pristine condition – likely the result of their combined 40k miles from new. Let’s take a look at the lower-mileage example first:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 Audi S4 on eBay
The black A1 GTI sold for $11,500 on October 30, 2021.
While not the fastest or the prettiest car Volkswagen ever made, the GTI represents the ethos of VWâ€™s 1980s philosophy of cheap, fun-to-drive, and eminently practical cars for consumers. As they did when new, the first generation GTI also represented a car which gave much faster cars a run for their money. True, the 90 horsepower under the hood wonâ€™t scare a supercar. But what this car lacks in straight-line performance it more than makes up for in value.
You see, over the past few years weâ€™ve watched the fan-favorites and driverâ€™s cars from the 1980s increasingly price themselves out of the range of most enthusiasts. The esoterics are also forged in unobtanium today, and while there was a period where you could snap up cheap 80s products in Europe and import them, theyâ€™re going away, too. Sure, the M3 and 911 led the charge, but today a clean 190E 2.3-16 or Quattro will set you back some serious bucks. And then when you do get one, you need to worry about collector insurance, expensive and hard-to-source parts and whether you bought in a bubble.
The solution is still the giant-killer GTI. Find a clean one, and youâ€™ll have a car that can be driven at 10/10ths still today and generate plenty of smiles, yet is relatively cheap to buy and very cheap to run. Youâ€™ll get thumbs up just like the 911 driver will. Maybe even more, honestly, because when was the last time you saw an A1 cruising around? Today I have two possibilities, from wild to mild. Which would you choose?