Swede Week: 1970 Volvo 1800E

The famous Volvo 1800 actually came about thanks to another unusual partnership in the earlier, and lesser known, P1900. In 1953, Volvo commissioned California-based fiberglass body producer Glasspar to help make a sports car based on the 544. A few were made, but changes in leadership ultimately killed the project.

The idea was reborn in the 1800 and design moved from California to Italy, where prototypes for the new sport concept were produced by Frua. Frua couldn’t handle large-scale production, though, so Volvo took the prototypes to Karmann in Germany. Though it initially agreed to produce the car, Volkswagen’s contract with Karmann to produce the competitor Ghia ruled it out. Stymied, Volvo turned to Jensen in England after exploring some other dead-end options. Jensen’s production possibilities looked promising to Volvo, but ultimately Jensen didn’t have the capacity to produce the bodies. An agreement was struck with Scottish Pressed Steel, which then produced the P1800 bodies so poorly that a very frustrated Volvo ended up moving production back to Sweden in 1962. The renamed 1800S (no longer with a “P”) signified the changeover.

But regardless of how many masications they went through or who was producing it on any given day, one thing remained certain – the 1800 is one of the best looking cars to come out of Sweden and was an unusually round peg from a notoriously square manufacturer:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1970 Volvo 1800E on eBay

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Swede Week: 2008 SAAB 9-7X Aero

So the GM-takeover of SAAB is to be completely lamented? Not so fast. A few really cool vehicles came about as a result of SAAB’s combined efforts with other automakers; the 9000 is probably the best example, but the Viggen, the ‘SAABaru’ 9-2X, and 9-5 Aero are also popular alternatives to the normal German performance rides out there. Today, though, I want to take a look at what many consider the low point of SAAB’s GM connection and try to unearth a diamond in the rough – because there was one.

The ‘Trollblazer’ was just that; a SAABafied version of GM’s GMT360 Trailblazer. It was really just a light reskin of the vehicle and was even assembled in Ohio. That doesn’t sound too exciting, as indeed the Trailblazer was not the shining star of GM’s catalog nor its best example of vehicle dynamics. But late in the run, GM upped the game with the ‘SS’ version of the ‘Blazer, which added a 400 horsepower Corvette-sourced LS2, giant wheels, and suspension and body tweeks that somehow made the mundane grocery-getter instantly cool. And for good measure, just over 600 were changed into SAAB 9-7X ‘Aero’ models:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 SAAB 9-7X Aero on eBay

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Swede Week: 1971 SAAB Sonnet III

Continuing on the Swede Week theme, here’s an instantly recognizable treat that is unfortunately seldom seen today. Like Volvo’s P1800, SAAB’s Sonnet lineup attempted to add some sport to the company’s brochures with exotic Italian looks and an odd combination of DNA. Although the above Sonnet’s lines are familiar to most Euro-centric automotive enthusiasts, this was actually the third version of the car, which had emerged from a ultra-low-production roadster into a similar and striking Coupe design in the late 1960s. 1970s saw a full exterior redesign but it remained very much a unique look, with a long, low hood punctuated by a Kammback tail. Power had developed in the second series cars from the original two-stroke inline-three to a Ford-developed V4 borrowed from the European-market Taunus. The result was 65 horsepower, which doesn’t sound like a lot – and wasn’t. 0-60 was an uninspired 13-second affair, but hey – just look at it! Who cares how fast you were going, most would mistake this for some oddball Maserati or Alfa Romeo were it not for the badges.

These cars are quite rare – far less were produced than the E30 M3, for example – and as a result hold reasonably strong value today. This ’71 sure looks nice!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1971 SAAB Sonnet III on eBay

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Swede Week: 1992 SAAB 900S Hatchback

If the Volvo V70 from yesterday moved the company into a new performance level and group of buyers with a modern performance platform, this SAAB 900 represents the last throes of Swedish independence. The 900 was introduced in 1978 and production ran all the way until 1994 and it was replaced by the Vetra-based 900NG, but the reality is that it was a development of the earlier 99 that was introduced in 1968. Yet somehow the 900 still looked as futuristic and different in 1992 as it did in 1982, or even 1972 for that matter. And though the chassis was rather dated by the Grunge-era, you wouldn’t know it stepping into one. These were solidly-built, well-engineered cars that dared to think differently, yet worked well. SAAB did an excellent job incorporating (and going above and beyond) safety regulations of the day, and the 900s integrated these features arguably much better than most despite their rather small production numbers. And, they were steadily upgraded over their production to breathe new life into the aging DNA.

Such is the case here, with this later 900S Hatchback. The ‘S’ introduced the 16V head on the backwards-mounted B201 2.0-liter inline-four to create the B202. Power jumped from a modest 116 horsepower to a slightly-less modest 128 horsepower. But in 1991, SAAB upped the ante again with a new 2.1-liter version called the B212. With another 10 horsepower, performance was at least on par with most of its contemporaries, and the 900’s low center of gravity belied its looks; these were good handling cars and offered great all-weather performance despite their front-drive only platform.

Of course, it was inside where the 900 really shined, offering copious interior space with a massive amount of storage available in the rear. I had a friend with one of these at the same time that I owned a Mk.II Golf, and the fit, finish, ride quality, and cabin space was so far above that of the Volkswagen, it felt as though I was in a luxury car. Today, clean examples of the 900 are harder to find, but this one looks nice:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 SAAB 900S Hatchback on eBay

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Swede Week: 2004 Volvo V70R

There’s a running joke here at GCFSB regarding Volvos and SAABs. Without exception, every time we post one someone comments either here or on our Facebook page that those two manufacturers aren’t German. It doesn’t really matter that we explain nearly every time that though we know this, we still enjoy to look at a super Swede from time to time since – let’s face it – a majority of people on Facebook don’t actually read the articles that are posted, but rather just react to the headlines. Now, we could actually get into a discussion about how the Swedes are actually a Germanic based tribe if you go back far enough, or how many of their engineering principles fall in line with those of their Southern neighbors. We could mention that many of the newer Volvos and SAABs actually utilized German derived chassis from either Ford Europe or GM’s Opel division.

In the case of today’s ride, I’m not sure that matters much. We love colorful cars, we love wagons, we love performance wagons, and we love colorful Volvo performance wagons. So what do we have, but a Flash Green Volvo V70R to consider:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 Volvo V70R on eBay

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Right Hooker Week: 1992 Porsche 911 Carrera RS

Truth be told I wasn’t sure if a right-hand drive 964 Carrera RS actually existed. I was pretty sure I’d seen one previously, but couldn’t be sure I hadn’t just imagined it. But here one is: a Rubystone Red 1992 Porsche 911 Carrera RS with triple-tone Recaro seats and 58,900 miles on it. That’s a decent number of miles for a RS, yet its condition still looks quite good. Of course, the Carrera RS was never made available in the States, but they can now be imported. Sure, there are plenty of LHD examples available, but if you really want to take things to their extreme, why not just get a RHD one and really wow people?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 Porsche 911 Carrera RS on Classic Driver

Year: 1992
Model: 911 Carrera RS
Engine: 3.6 liter flat-6
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 58,900 mi
Price: £199,995 ($257,461)

The Porsche 911 964 Carrera RS was launched in 1992 and was considered a lightweight version of the Carrera 2 that could be used both on the road and the race track. Arguably, this was the most dynamic and agile 911 since the original version was launched in 1973. The engineers behind the project utilised the philosophy of removing weight and adding power when designing and engineering the car. Remarkably, nearly 175kg of weight was removed from the standard version as a result of using aluminium for the bonnet and doors as well as thinner glass for the windows.
All of the weight-saving measures added up and resulted in a vastly reduced overall mass. Luxuries such as back seats, power windows and armrests could all be disposed of and the increase in power came from a brand new lightweight flywheel and some other minor modifications. The flat-six engine produced 260 bhp and also fitted to the car was a limited-slip differential, modified suspension (with a 40mm lower ride height) and stiffer springs. In another weight-saving move, Porsche chose to remove all the sound deadening and manufactured the wheels from magnesium.
This RHD example was delivered to its first owner Mr Clifford of Worthing, West Sussex in June 1993 via dealer Rivervale Porsche. Finished in the rare 964 RS signature original combination of Rubystone Red over optional Triple-Tone Rubystone Recaro Bucket Seats, the following options were also applied from new, UK LUX Spec and Tinted Windows.
With no less than 14 stamps in the original service book, many from the main dealer who supplied the car, it has been maintained with a no expense spared approach from new, resulting in a superb condition to be expected throughout.
This 964 RS is presented in excellent and original condition having covered just 58,900 Miles, with just 4 prior owners. Accompanied by its original book pack as well as tools, spare wheel, supporting history file and Porsche Certificate of Authenticity confirming the car’s matching engine and gearbox numbers. This RS is ready to be enjoyed by its new owner immediately with viewings available at our showroom, which is based just outside London.

Rubystone is not everyone’s favorite color. You’re probably going to love it or hate it, with little in between. But like it or not it’s become almost an iconic color on the 964 RS. It might even be the color I see most often. The interior is equally as divisive. I’m a fan. I’m not going to say Rubystone is my favorite Porsche color by any means, but I do love the look on the RS. Here it actually looks somewhat subdued. I’m guessing that’s down to the foggy/cloudy lighting conditions. But it’s a fun color on what should be an amazingly fun car.

Everything here looks about as we’d expect of a RS, even with the higher miles. Though I am curious about the exhaust. The ad makes no mention of it being added on, but I’m pretty sure the standard RS has a single exhaust outlet. The 3.8 RS had dual exhaust, but not the 3.6. That’s probably worth inquiring about. The price of just under £200K (about $257K) seems fairly typical given the mileage. We certainly see lower mileage examples priced significantly higher.

Given pricing like this for a Carrera RS that’s already been imported, this one may be downright reasonable. It definitely has a few more miles and that dual exhaust may not be original, but the asking price here is a long way from $400K and if that is what it’s going to take to get one that’s already Stateside then perhaps going through the hassle yourself is the way to go. And heck you’d even have a RHD version!

-Rob

Right Hooker Week: 1991 Volkswagen Scirocco GTII

Okay, enough Audi dreaming. Are there any interesting VWs over in England? You bet! While production of the U.S. bound Scirocco was long over, Volkswagen continued to produce the second generation Scirocco right through the 1992 model year. This particular model, the GTII, was the model which finally wrapped up production a decade after it began in mid-1992.

The GTII was the mid-range model in the Scirocco lineup. Top of the range was the Scala [née GTX(née GTi)] with its 112 horsepower 1.8 liter motor borrowed from – you guessed it – the GTi. Below that model lay the GTII [née GT(née CL)], which shared the bodykit and 1.8 liter displacement, but only had 90 horsepower and steel, rather than alloy, wheels fitted. While not as sought as some of the range-topping models like the GTX or special “Storm” models, this GTII offers classic looks on a modest budget:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Volkswagen Scirocco GTII on eBay.co.uk

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Right Hooker Week: Paul Stephens Autoart 911 Retro Speedster

Back for more RHD British action. This time I’m not going with an actual production model, but rather a retro build to produce a 911 that never actually existed: a long-hood 911 Speedster built by Paul Stephens Autoart. I will not pretend to be intimately familiar with the PS Autoart designs; I’ve seen some previously and generally liked what I saw. When I was looking for cars for this theme week I knew that I should take a look at what Paul Stephens had to offer. The plan wasn’t actually to feature one of the PS Autoart builds. I was looking for a neat RHD 911 and knew they’d have some available. Then I saw this Speedster and my decision was made. It’s a beautiful car that marries vintage and modern 911 design to provide the look of a classic 911, but with modern performance and useability.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: Paul Stephens Autoart 911 Retro Speedster at Paul Stephen

Year: 1973
Model: 911 Retro Speedster
Engine: 3.6 liter flat-6
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 10,000 mi
Price: £195,000 ($250,870)

The Paul Stephens Retro Speedster is a unique interpretation of the Speedster theme, that was created to a client’s personal specification in 2014.
An owner of many Porsche models from 356 to current models, our client wanted to create a unique car that took inspiration from the various eras of air cooled Porsche.
He particularly wanted to combine the Speedster style with the delicate appearance of the 1970s 911s, something Porsche never manufactured in period and unlike original air-cooled Speedsters, provide a comfortable and sure-footed driving experience for cross continental tours in all weather conditions.
The 964 Carrera 4 Targa was chosen for the platform, as our client wanted secure handling together with a compliant suspension set up to ensure the car is extremely comfortable on all types of roads.
The car was stripped to a bare shell before being converted to Retro Speedster configuration which like our Retro Touring Coupes, incorporates styling details from the early 70s cars.
Genuine Porsche items were used for the Speedster conversion which incorporates the unique doors, windows and roof assembly from the 964 Speedster and the colour chosen was Porsche GT silver. The rear spoiler still extends and retracts for high speed stability but now features a 70s-style engine grill and the twin outlet exhausts are a nod to original Speedsters gone by. The wheels are PS Classic Fuchs style with original anodised and black finish.
However, with the clients request for an all-weather car, the roof fabric and rubbers were redeveloped to provide probably something unique, which when erected is a watertight Speedster!
The interior is unique too, as it takes inspiration from the 356 Speedsters with its sculptured metal dashboard incorporating the radio and lockable glovebox finished in body colour, whilst the controls are machined from solid brass with a high -quality chrome finish. The dashboard top, doors and seats are trimmed in the finest classic red leather with grey carpets bound in leather and a matching classic red mohair hood. The instruments are finished in a classic style as per our Retro Touring models, whilst the electric sports seats are slightly wider for increased comfort.
LED headlamps, electric windows, power steering, central locking, ABS, air conditioning, cruise control and a retro styled sound system are all modern features, that when combined with a surprising amount of storage space, make this Speedster a friendly companion on long continental journeys.
Rebuilt standard 964 mechanical components were retained underneath allowing it to be serviced by any Porsche centre in the world, but like original Speedsters, the Retro Speedster offers a reduction in weight and lower centre of gravity that completely transforms the way the car performs. The typical understeer that can plague the 4wd 964 has gone, whilst the nimble handling, strong performance and production car quality surprise all that have driven it.
Having covered just under 10,000 miles in 3 years, our client now has another project in mind, so this unique Retro Speedster is now available for its next lucky custodian.

I’ve listed the date of this car as 1973 because that is how the ad has listed it, but this is in no way a 1973 911. The build utilized a 964 Carrera 4 Targa as its foundation and borrowed bodywork from the 964 911 Speedster to produce some of its shape. So properly speaking it’s perhaps a 1994 model year 911, though the actual year of the C4 Targa isn’t stated.

With that out of the way, just look at how pretty it is! The exterior is basically what we’d expect if we were to think about what an early 911 Speedster would have looked like. It looks pretty great and kind of makes me wish Porsche itself had extended its Speedster/Roadster production from the 356 into the 911 line. But it is the interior that I really love the most here. There are so many little details from the metal dash that nicely matches the exterior, to the liberal use of burgundy leather to provide both luxury and beauty, to the metal switchgear. It all comes together quite nicely. This isn’t a spartan, no frills, Speedster like the original 356 Speedster. It’s a modern design that while not luxurious still provides plenty of what you need to remain comfortable on a longer drive. In that regard it stays true to the 911 Speedster itself.

From a mechanical standpoint it sounds like everything remains in a mostly stock 964 configuration. It has retained its all-wheel drive and the engine and gearbox are standard 964 units. Still, there are weight savings to be found so performance should be pretty good should you really want to take it out and put some harder miles on it.

I don’t suspect that will be the goal of most owners, but it’s there if you need it. With an asking price of £195,000 (~$250K) this is by no mean inexpensive. It’s pricier than just about any 964 Speedster I’ve come across. I’m also not sure if it can be easily imported. Perhaps that will depend on the original model year of the 964, or perhaps importing something like this just isn’t feasible if you want it to be street legal. But if you really desire something unique, and you’ve got the funds, it should be worth pursuing.

-Rob

Right Hooker Week: 2000 Audi RS4 Avant

While the C6 RS6 Avant and B7 RS4 Avant have been nice to dream about, the reality is that both are pretty unlikely in the near future to be making the trip ‘across the pond’ anytime soon. So let’s consider something which both could, and might.

The B5 RS4 was a legend right when it launched, but for some reason it seems overlooked in the marketplace today. Not as exotic as the RS2, nor as fast as the newer crew of turbocharged Audis, the B5 generation somehow feels lost. It doesn’t help that it was insanely popular to mimic the model’s gaping grills and signature widened flares here, nor that the RS4 engine upgrades are fairly common among enthusiasts. But when you see a real RS4, it’s easy to see why this car was so highly regarded at the time.

First, it’s a very sharp looking car. Nogaro Blue was the defining color for fast Audis in this period, but boy does Imola Yellow stand out. The stance, wheels, flares and bumper covers along with more pronounced exhaust all pull together to make the RS4 feel much more special than a normal S4 Avant. And with 375 horsepower on tap from the Cosworth-developed version of the 2.7 liter twin-turbo V6, it’s not exactly like the B5 RS4 was pokey. In fact, the power-to-weight and performance is nearly identical to the later B7 RS4.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 Audi RS4 Avant on eBay.co.uk

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Right Hooker Week: 2009 Audi RS6 Avant

You want power? When Cosworth slapped a few turbos onto Audi’s venerable 4.2 liter V8 for the C5 RS6, that’s what you got. 450 stampeding horsepower and 428 lb ft. of torque meant that in the early 2000s it was the model to beat. But AMG and BMW M quickly caught up and surged past the C5’s power output – even when Audi upped it with the “Plus” model to 469 hp.

The launch of a new RS6 based upon the C6 platform allowed Audi some room to expand the model’s engine output by literally expanding the engine: now 10 cylinders displaced 5.0 liters. Straddled by two turbochargers again, the second generation RS6’s power output leapt into a new league, with an almost unfathomable 571 horsepower and 479 ft. of torque. The C6 is a heavy car, but it was capable of 911-scaring 0-60 runs and could top 170 mph with ease.

What’s amazing is that Audi’s replacement for this car, the C7, moved to the new twin-turbo V8 4.0T motor. More power right? Well, not so fast; it actually produces about 11 horsepower less than the peak performance of the V10, though I’ll grant that the additional gears and greater torque mean it’s a functionally quicker car (as if it needed to be). Well, quicker than a stock one, at least, because this particular RS6 Avant has been ‘slightly’ upgraded to north of 700 horsepower.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2009 Audi RS6 Avant on eBay.co.uk

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