Following up on the recent Callaway Stage IIs, the other best-known American turbocharger of German products in the 1980s was Steve Dinan. Equally highly regarded, Dinan’s products have made their way from a small independent to being offered in BMW dealerships across the country, and the quality of his work is on par with the best independent tuners from Germany – Hartge and Alpina. Dinan has taken on tough projects – turbocharging the S38, BMW’s first V12, and punching out their V10 to 5.8 liters – and come away smiling.
Today, one of his less-exotic historical products is on the market. In this case it’s a 1989 535i that was turbocharged, lowered and stiffened, and given a big set of wheels. It’s the classic recipe, and sure enough, the outcome looks nice. But what makes this car notable is that it was reportedly Steve Dinan’s personal car, and is presented as the poster pinup probably more than a few of us reading about in Car & Driver when new:
Its hard to imagine a car that was more sought after and requested by the truly elite of the world than the Mercedes-Benz 600. I don’t need to regurgitate over and over again all the well-known individuals who owned these cars as I’ve done that in the past, but if you want to read about some of them, go nuts. Naturally, with great power and wealth comes with certain expectations and certain requests made to their favorite luxury car maker. I’ve seen some pretty crazy stuff that the Mercedes factory honored the request of, but today’s modification was so nuts that the Mercedes factory flat out said no to.
Nubar Gulbenkian, an Armenian oil tycoon, had a taste for eccentric luxury cars to say the least. He commissioned Rolls-Royce to build him some truly wild stuff and naturally asked Mercedes to do the same with their 600. The thing is, Mercedes said no. Why? Well, Gulbenkian had a thing for cars with fully transparent roofs. He had a 1956 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith with a transparent Perspex roof, among other body modifications, that is truly a one-off. The story goes, Mercedes wouldn’t do it on the 600 because the structure of the roof isn’t entirely flat. So bending a giant sheet of glass on a car that is constantly flexing and experiences temperature swings isn’t something they wanted to dive into nor stand behind when it breaks. Tycoons usually don’t take no for an answer, so Gulbenkian ordered a standard 600 through a fake name and asked coach builder Henri Chapron in Paris to do the work. In additional to adding the roof, they covered the entire interior in leather and added other little touches like tobacco pipe holders on the front seat backs. I told you this guy was eccentric.
Update 7/08/19 – After raising and lowering the price several times, this very unique “645i Turbo” is back on the market in 2019 for $19,900 today.
I really love how these cars sometimes send you down the rabbit hole. What attracted me initially to this E24 was that it was a European-spec car and it had a pretty high asking price at nearly $23,000. Alone that wouldn’t be enough to warrant a post, especially given that from the first photo I glanced at, it doesn’t look spectacular.
But there’s a lot more than meets the eye when considering this car, and it has a lot more to do with the personality behind it than the current condition.
The name Albert Mardikian probably doesn’t mean much to you. Mr. Mardikian is a partner and the Chief Technology Officer behind ReGreen Organics, a company which deals with a lot of shit, for lack of a better term. I’m not being flippant. They’re an organic solid waste management company.
And it is in this capacity that Mr. Mardikian’s philosophy is particularly interesting when considering this car. He proclaims that he has a “passion for bettering our world”, yet his past would seem to have little to do with environmental improvement. That’s because in a past life Mr. Mardikian was also the proprietor of Trend Imports. Ring a bell? If not, perhaps a perusing of the Tom Cruise movie Rain Man would help you out. Mr. Cruise’s character’s subplot – an importer of exotic cars held up by the EPA – is based upon Mr. Mardikian. Because if you were in L.A. in the early 1980s and you wanted a gray market car, Trend Imports was where you went. And just like the main character in the movie, Mardikian got in quite a bit of trouble for the Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Rolls Royce and other models he imported by skirting EPA emissions laws.
Though his troubles with emissions laws dated back to 1981, Mardikian continued to be the turn-to source for ultra-exotics in the early days of importation. He also built custom convertible versions of some of the most famous 80s icons – Mercedes-Benz 500SECs, Lamborghini Countachs, Ferrari 512BBis, Porsche 930s. How about those replica Daytonas for Miami Vice? Mardikian. And he made more more neat creation – he married the turbocharged M102/6 from the European version of the BMW E23 745i with the slinky shape of the E24, creating his own “745CSi Turbo”:
Let’s say for a moment that you came into an extraordinary amount of money and wanted to go vintage automobile racing. Of course, to prove your worth as an enthusiast, you’ll want to buy a historically significant car that will impress all the long bottom jaws, and few raise more eyebrows in the German realm right now than the 911. Truth told, the 911 is really the ‘new money’ of the vintage world – go try racing antique Bugattis or Ferraris, for example, and you’ll soon laugh at the budgets of Porsche racers…but I digress.
Ironically, there was a point in history where your scenario from today wouldn’t have been all that different from the past. Take the case of Diego Febles. Diego was born in Cuba under the notorious dictator Batista, but left in 1957 for “political reasons” you may have heard of at one point. Finally landing in Puerto Rico, Diego took to racing, and specifically racing Porsches. In the 1970s, this led him to be linked up with Peter Gregg’s Brumos Porsche group, and Diego proceeded to buy and build cars which mimicked Gregg’s famous liveries.
In his own right, Febels was fairly accomplished as a racer. He raced some of the most famous races in the world; of course the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring were naturals that Gregg and Brumos had excelled at, but he also raced at Road America, Mosport, Mid Ohio and finally even at Le Mans. This particular car is claimed to be his last ‘RSR’, but looks can be deceiving:
Legendary fashion designer Ralph Lauren is no small time car collector. In fact, his collection ranks up there with the very best in terms of quality and his stunning way to showcase some of them. He doesn’t show them off all that frequently, but when he goes, he usually goes big. His Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic is nearly priceless, but some have estimated it to be worth north of $40mil. Even with his extreme wealth, he isn’t taking it out for a drive on a Tuesday afternoon. He has other cars for that. Some of those cars are Porsches, and more specifically, Porsche GT cars. He has been spotted in a 997 GT3 RS and GT3 RS 4.0, so it shouldn’t surprise you at what we are looking at today.
This 2014 991 GT3 was reportedly purchased new by Lauren and enjoyed before being traded in on a 991 GT3 RS Weissach Package. An understandable upgrade to say the least. The normally silver or black wheels were painted white to give the car an exceedingly clean look when finished off with the clear taillights. Now the car is for sale Porsche Atlanta Perimeter and kudos to them for not trying to cash in on the celebrity ownership. Heck, they don’t even mention that it was his car.
Update 2/25/19: It appears this car’s exact connection to Paul Newman is quite a bit more loose than indicated by the seller. Thanks, Jason!
Lately I’ve had my eye on Audi B6 Avants as a potential replacement for my Passat down the road. The B6 carried on with Audi’s tradition of building a high-quality, all-weather capable and highly versatile package. While arguably not the prettiest products to come from Ingolstadt, the subdued styling of the B6 has grown on me over time – especially as they’ve become less prevalent with age and used B7s and B8s have flooded the market.
While I’ve been looking primarily at the 1.8T that’s both economical and familiar to me, there’s no denying the appeal of the S4. For short money you can grab a car which was effectively without peer; an all-wheel drive wagon with a 340 horsepower V8 coupled to a 6-speed manual wagon. They’re certainly not without their faults, but the cost of doing business in nearly 15 year old high-tech fast German cars is infrequently small.
Appreciation for these potent and unique packages has once again been growing. Recently, a custom supercharged Jet Blue Metallic ’08 sold on Bring a Trailer for $28,250 – indicating there’s a strong market for special examples. And today’s ’05 is quite special for two reasons – first, the special order Aquamarine Blue Metallic exterior, and second involves who ordered it – none other than Hollywood legend and motorsport enthusiast Paul Newman:
Our run of crazy modified cars continues with one of the many outrageous Porsche Turbo creations. This one comes straight from some of the biggest names in the hallowed halls of Porsche racing; Kremer, DP and Andretti. The Andrettis might as well be the Kennedys of motor racing, such is the success and tragedy they’ve seen. At the head of the family is Mario, who managed to not only be 1978 Formula One World Champion, but a class winner (and 2nd overall) at Le Mans and raced in NASCAR, PPG IndyCars, sprint cars and IROC. Quite simply, he’s one of the most diversely accomplished drivers in history. And in the mid 1980s, Andretti partnered with Porsche to race first 956s and then 962s later (with his son Michael co-driver both times) at Le Mans. Neither campaign was successful; they finished 3rd in 1983 and 6th in 1988. But in the meantime, Andretti apparently commissioned a very special road-going Porsche to go along with his racing exploits.
That car was built by none other than Kremer, who carried the torch in development of the 935 as Porsche moved first to the 936 and then to the 956 models. It was Kremer’s K3 development of the 935 that outright won Le Mans in 1979, and its extreme bodywork was developed in conjunction with DP Motorsports. The legend was born, and the DP-bodied, Kremer-modified ‘DP935’s took to the 1980s as one of the fastest street-legal cars you could get into. Kremer’s street “K2” spec featured a K27 turbo attached to an upgraded 3.3 flat-6, reportedly good for 460 plus horsepower with adjustable boost. A claimed twelve of these K2-modded DP935s made there way to the the United States, and what is reported to be Mario’s personal example is for sale now:
Over a year later, Air Jordan’s 722 is still for sale in Texas. Same photos and same mileage previously. Find it here on eBay.
Michael Jordan is one of the most popular athletes and brands in the world. He’s worth over a billion dollars and with that usually comes some expensive cars. Normally, wealthy celebrities go out grab the latest and greatest vehicle, drive it for a few years, then rinse and repeat. But even before Jordan was worth 10 figures, he always had some really enthusiast-minded cars. He had a Ferrari 512 TR, W140 S600, Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano, C4 Corvettes, SL55 AMG, 930 Slantnose and my personal favorite, a 993 Turbo S. Today’s car for sale in Texas might be one of the rarest cars he’s ever owned. This 2007 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren 722 Edition owned by M.J. is just one of 150 ever built. And judging by its original price tag of just under $500,000, it was probably one of the most expensive cars he has even bought.
No, your eyes aren’t mistaken and my finger didn’t slip up one digit on the number pad. I meant to type 6.6. Let me explain.
What we are looking at today is a 1969 Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 6.3, a legendary car on its own, that had the M100 engine block opened up to increase the displacement 6.6 liters. Who is responsible for such a thing? Karl Middelhauve, of course. If you aren’t familiar with Karl, he is a man world-renowned for his expertise on M100-powered Mercedes and especially his work on the W100 600. If something can be done with a M100 Mercedes, Karl can do it and probably has already done it. This is just one of his examples. This 1969 up for sale in San Francisco is one of the few ”6.6” W109s in existence and now you can own it for a price. A very high price.
Checking back in with my favorite cars ever. This 600 Pullman is still for sale with a new price of $495,000. That is $100,000 more than the original price. An interesting sales tactic to say the least.
Last week I checked out at a 1972 Mercedes-Benz 600 that looked to be cared for by a wealthy stable owner in north Alabama. Today, we have another W100 to examine, but this one has quite a bit more history to sort through. This 1970 600 for sale in Portland, Oregon isn’t the normal standard wheelbase sedan you are used to seeing but rather it’s the rare Pullman version, which is one of 423 ever produced. Of course, those who ordered these cars usually weren’t your normal private citizens. So who was the original owner of this rolling symbol of power?