Update 12/18/18: After apparently selling last year off of eBay, the second of this duo has returned for sale with a new seller, new photos and a higher $17,500 asking price.
I’ve been ignoring the 944. It’s not that I have changed my opinion, or no longer love the thorn-in-Porsche-purists collective sides. But after spending plenty of time telling everyone what an incredible value the 924/44/68 series are for a while, I just capitulated that the market was unwilling to lift these well-built sports cars to a level which they deserve to be. Or, at the very least, I really felt like they should be on level footing with models that were their contemporaries; the Turbo, for example, which still regularly trades well below Quattro and M3 prices despite superior performance.
Yet while my attention swayed, some light has been shed on the model. As insane prices continue to reign in Munich and the Quattro has begun to rise precipitously over the past year, what was once a sure-bet value has commenced rapid appreciation – at least, in some cases. The high-water mark recent was just set with a 66,000 mile Grand Prix White 968 Coupe which sold for $36,250. That’s big money for the big four-cylinder. While not every single example is going to similarly take off, the writing may be on the wall.
So today I’ve got two 944S2 models to consider. Down on power (211 v. 237 with VarioCam) and a gear from the later model, they’ve always played second-fiddle to the Turbo S/89 Turbo models and the updated 968. Both are presented in the neat color of Baltic Blue Metallic. One is pristine, and one’s more of a project. Which is the one to grab?
I’ve periodically had my eye out for the latest Porsche Boxster Spyder to feature. They don’t come up for sale all that often and most times when searching I have come up empty. The few times I have come across one it either sold very quickly or I came across an auction just prior to its end. My luck has finally come good.
The Spyder is the Boxster version of the Cayman GT4 and each serves as the swan song for these naturally aspirated Porsches. Like the GT4 it borrows its 3.8-liter engine from the 911 and in this form produces a nice 375 hp all routed to the rear wheels through a 6-speed manual transmission. For me it’s also the best looking Boxster Porsche has produced thus far.
Here not only have I finally found a Spyder I like, but I found two of them! Obviously, they had to be featured together. Both are paint-to-sample non-metallic blues and are very bright. I ran a similar feature a while back with two PTS GT3 RS in blue and now we turn to another of Porsche’s limited-production models. The overall spec of these Spyders is pretty similar so really it all comes down to the exterior: Voodoo Blue or Mexico Blue. Which to have?
We’re pretty used to the formula here: take a limited edition or special production 911, slap a neat color on it, and watch the price rise. Even brand new cars – ones that you can roll down to the dealership and order up yourself – are demanding a strong premium in the used marketplace. Insanity? A ‘bubble’? Bad economics? It doesn’t matter what the cause is, it’s the way life is for the foreseeable future.
But it’s not a trend which follows across the board. Take today’s twin Audi R8 V10 Pluses. The ‘Plus’ adds a serious amount of sport to the standard V10 R8, itself no slouch. Kicked up 70 horsepower to 610 and driven through a 7-speed S-Tronic it’s capable of sub-3 second sprints to 60, can obliterate a standing quarter mile in less than 11 seconds from a 5.2 liter normally aspirated V10 capable of spinning north of 8,500 RPMs. Both can hit 205 mph flat out. Both are presented in the searing shade of Vegas Yellow that will generate enough stares to make a GT3 jealous no matter how red its wheels are. . Both feature the upgraded 20″ wheel option and a host of other special carbon fiber touches that come along with the ‘Plus’ package. Despite being able to rip your face off and producing supercar performance from just a few years ago, both are also able to be used in a daily commute – even in winter. They’ll even return above 20 mpg on the highway. They’re astonishing automobiles.
And yet, both are ‘affordable’.
Look, they’re not really cheap. In fact, they’re massively expensive for any car, but many would argue especially so for an Audi. The sticker price on the V10 Plus is $192,000 before options, taxes and destination, after all. Yet with less than 3,000 miles on each of their odometers, this duo hasn’t appreciated like the 911 market – it’s fallen quite substantially. And don’t think I took the cut-rate approach here; I selected the two most expensive used R8s I could find from two of the most expensive dealers on eBay. And yet, combined their asking price is still $80,000 less than the 911 Turbo S Rob looked at over the weekend.
Update 1/30/19: The 700LS remains available on eBay here and via the seller’s site, now for only $12,900.
Update 6/1/18 – the BMW 700LS has dropped a further $2,000 in ask to $19,500.
Update 2/6/18 – Unsurprisingly, the 700LS remains available on reserve auction (it is $21,900 on their site)
Normally, our dual posts have two comparable cars to consider. But while typically that manifests itself in one model, one price point or one performance group, today it’s something very different.
Although both of today’s cars come from one marque – BMW – there is literally and figuratively a huge chasm of development between them. There’s also a vast gulf between performance, desirability and price. Yet each reflected the time point in which it was made; the austere 1960s, emerging from the fog of war into a bustling economy when average Germans could for the first time contemplate automobile ownership, and the exotic 1980s, with its new computer designs and technology rapidly forcing car designs forward. For the company, each car represented the future in many ways even if the results and their impact was so vastly different.
I was thinking about how to relate my feelings about the first few generations of water-cooled small VWs, and I came up with the analogy of the BBC Doctor Who! reboot in the 2000s. The first generation was Christopher Eccleston; edgy, completely different from the prior generations with a fresh face, impossible not to view with a smile but also something you didn’t completely trust. The second generation? David Tennant took ‘The Doctor’ to new levels of popularity; more refined, more fun and with an infectious smile, he was quirky but somehow much easier to live with than Eccleston had been. He also developed a rabid fan base that consider him the best (this author included) even if he had some faults.
Then came Matt Smith. There’s certainly a fanbase who appreciates Smith’s rounder, softer and…well, weird portrayal of the Doctor. I’m not a fan personally, and often find myself pleading with other Who watchers to go back farther because the earlier variations were much, much better. Yet floppy and oddly proportioned, Smith was nonetheless very popular and took the show to a wider audience. See the Mk.3 VW.
Not really the best at anything aside from being pretty expensive relative to its contemporaries, the 2.0 inline-4 ABA-equipped VW’s nonetheless outsold the prior versions. The were poorly built and even more poorly owned; this was clearly a move towards disposable automobiles for the company, and it worked. I never really got the appeal of the third generation until I somewhat reluctantly owned one. And you know what? It wasn’t as good-looking as my ’86 Golf was to me, but in every aspect it was better. It was more reliable (amazingly), got better mileage, had a nicer interior, was faster and had both heated seats AND air con. And both worked! Plus it had fog lights and more stuff fit inside. In short, it was just better at being a car.
While I still don’t lust after Mk.3 VWs, I can appreciate them much more when I see them today. They’re affordable and fun transport that’s quite efficient. In 1993 they felt huge compared to their predecessors. But today? They’re downright tiny. And though this duo has high mileage, they don’t often come to market looking anything like these two anymore:
My recent M5 v. Alpina B10 post took a look at two exotic versions of the E34. Of course, BMW offered their own alternative to the M5 late in the production cycle, as the introduction of the M60 V8-powered 540i produced nearly as much usable power as the more expensive M variant. Such was the success of the 540i that BMW initially judged the M5 dead in this market; it was removed from the U.S. in 1993 after slow sales and wouldn’t return until the new millennium.
As a result, the 540i flew the 5-series performance flag for two generations and still is very popular today. Especially in Sport versions, the E34 and E39 540is offered power, refinement and outstanding chassis dynamics in a package that was attainable for more people. So which is the better buy today – the first or second generation?
I’m forcing the issue a little bit here as I will freely admit there aren’t great reasons for lumping these two 911s together. So why? Basically because I think each is worth consideration for those in the market for a 3.2 Carrera, but neither is really distinguished enough that I think one is obviously superior to the other, nor are they distinguished enough to write up separately. So why not look at them both?
These two 911s each present as similar examples of a late classic 911 and since neither is a Coupe they also present the choices for those who prefer a bit of open-top enjoyment. Each comes from the final three model years after Porsche fitted the G50 5-speed manual transmission and I think their condition is pretty comparable. While the mileage of each is a bit different neither is crazy high nor crazy low. Lastly, I think their selling prices should be pretty close. So if you’re in the market for a G50 Carrera and want a little wind in your hair these both should be worth further investigation.
I’ll go chronologically and begin with this Grand Prix White 1987 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet, located in New Jersey, with Dark Blue leather interior and 68,050 miles on it.
For a few reasons, I found yesterday’s S4 Avant a bit lacking. The B7 S4 Avant isn’t my favorite of the S Avants to begin with, and truth told I think I’d take a S-Line 2.0T Titanium before I jumped into a S4. The high price these have retained also is a bit of a turnoff; you can get the same car, for nearly all intents and purposes, in the B6 for a lot less. But the killer, at least for me, was the color. I just find newer silver and gray Audis predictable, cliche, and boring in general. They lack imagination. And when Audi had such brilliant colors available in the color pallet, I don’t look upon the more conservative and prevalent with envy.
But what about something wild, like LZ5F Sprint Blue Pearl Effect? Yeah, that gets the blood boiling and draws the eyes in pretty much every situation. But today I didn’t have a SBPE Avant; instead, to make up for that, I’ve got two examples of the color on S sedans from the same dealer. Strange? Even more strange is that this is the same dealer that I previously looked at a special order Sprint Blue A4. Does this dealer have some special source of smurf blue Audis?
Yesterday’s Scirocco is a reminder of the original Volkswagen project for a sporty car based upon pedestrian internals. That project was EA425, and as Volkswagen shifted away from rear-drive platforms towards the new, efficient and cheap to manufacture front-drive arrangement, Porsche continued to develop the prototype. Released nearly in conjunction with the new Golf and Scirocco, the 924 was the first to introduce the world to a water-cooled, transaxle Porsche in late 1975. Yet as they’ve done with so many other models and though the affordable and efficient 924 was a relative hit out of the marks, immediately Porsche began offering special limited models to tick the price up and spur sales.
The result was that effectively every model year early on got its own special model. Today I’ve got two of the early examples; the 1977 Martini World Championship edition and the 1978 Limited Edition model. While neither have much in terms of performance gain, either is an affordable entry-level classic:
While usually our ‘Double Take’ features look at one model, today I’m going to look at two cars that share a brand, and idea, and a price point. Both of these Audis represent a huge leap forward from their predecessors; versus the front-drive Type 81, the Type 85 B2 was much more modern-feeling, refined and introduced all-wheel drive to the mass market (excusing its bigger brother, and twice as expensive and exotically flared Quattro brethren, of which only 664 sold here) and the C4 S4 introduced the U.S. market to S-cars and merged the 200 20V’s setup with a modern body and more sporty interior along with even a bit more power. Both are legendary in the 4-ringed circles for their longevity. Both have cadres of fans who seek each model out. And both are hard to find in good condition.
So here we go, Alice – red or green pill? For your $6,000 investment, which of these inline-5 all-wheel drive legends would be your choice?