When I think of homologation specials, there are all sorts of models that instantly pop into my head. Of course, being an Audi fan, the Sport Quattro is a great example of the insane Group B era. Of course, Group C spawned a whole series of special cars, from the RS200 and Lancia 037 to the Porsche 959. There’s the special 924 Carrera GTS, as well – a car few remember outside of Porsche circles, and one that’s often forgotten even by them. Then there’s the great period of DTM specials – the “Evolutions” of the M3, 190E and V8 quattro that proved Darwin was right, and we just looked at the later 80 Competition. Of course, you can go back even further and look at one of the most special cars ever created – the original Ferrari GTO – to see a very special homologation of a race car. But outside of the big headlines, there are plenty of small production run cars that were created to jump through loopholes, and returning to my original Group B example, we can see one neat car that was created in order to run in World Rally. It’s not a car you’d expect though – it’s the quite heavy and long Mercedes-Benz C107. Mercedes took steps to make it rally worthy, including lightweight aluminum panels in front and back, and of course upped the power with a new aluminum 5.0 V8:
The Audi racing program went through some really interesting changes between the late 1980s and the mid 1990s launch of what became one of the more dominant touring cars produced, the A4 STW. Continuously evolving regulations were part of that, coupled with a global recession and cost-cutting measures among many manufacturers. So it was just a few short years between the flame-breathing iconic 1989 Audi 90 IMSA and the death of the turbocharged Audi racing sedans entirely, though there were some interesting steps in between. For example, Audi tried their hand in the France with the 1992 Audi 80 quattro Supertourisme I looked at a few years ago:
Motorsports Monday: 1992 Audi 80 quattro Supertourisme
That car was powered by a crazy turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four. Simultaneously, Audi built a 2.5 liter V6 80 for the German DTM series, though they ended up withdrawing in protest over the series rules, and the car never ran. Quietly, in the background, a more reasonable – and very entertaining – solution emerged. In 1990, the British Touring Car Championship revised their rules to make racing more affordable in the wake of the massively fast and expensive Ford Sierra RS500s. The new regulations were based around production sedans of no more than 2.0 liters and with no turbochargers. This, in turn, led to a series of homologation specials to make cars legal for the new Super Touring regulations, and Audi was happy to take part. What emerged was the Audi 80 Competition quattro – limited to 2,500 units to comply with regulations, Audi stuffed a development of 2.0 16v inline four also found in the European-market B3 Coupe into the B4 chassis quattro, stuck an S2 front end on it and a raised rear spoiler, quattro-script interior and a few other goodies, and sold them to the public:
Back in 2020, just before the end of the year, I took a look at one of my all-time favorite cars – the Isdera Commendatore 112i:
Wish List: 1993 Isdera Commendatore 112i
That car was itself a development of what you see here – the 108i. Developed by Porsche engineer Eberhard Schulz and Mercedes-Benz engineer Rainer Buchmann as a successor to the C111 prototypes, the CW311 stuck a M100 6.3 liter V8 behind the driver and was pretty outrageous. When it came to market in 1984 in as the Imperator, the motor had changed to a 5.0 version of the M117 and later M119 motors. That was still good to push the Isdera to the best part of 180 mph in the same Road & Track test at Ehra-Lessien, Germany in 1987 that made the Ruf Yellowbird famous.
Somewhere around 13 of the later ‘Series II’ Imperators were made with the M119, and this one is coming up for sale soon – though, the location will probably give you a clue as to the expected price:
The Mercedes-Benz E36 AMG Coupe is not a car that comes up for sale often. Most of that has to do with there are reportedly only 68 of them in total, with 24 of them being right-hand drive cars for the UK market. So when you see them, take a closer look. What we have today is a 1995 up for sale in Germany with an impressive color combination and a price to match. At least, I think that’s the case.
Over 65 years later, this 300SL continues to amaze. There is a reason why it is the only car with a production number over 1,000 that commands seven-figure price tags. Each one of them is special in their own way and some will argue it is up there with the greatest cars ever produced. These cars are not for the faint of heart or those with the tight wallet. Despite having full factory support from Mercedes-Benz and a very active community, they don’t change hands all that often. Public sales are few and far between given the production numbers, and when they do sell, it’s usually in the headlines.
This 1955 up for sale in California is said to have been been in private hands for the past 40 years and taking a look at it, I could buy it – the story, at least. This is not a restored car or even an all that well maintained one judging by the description, but that doesn’t seem to deter this well-known dealer asking the moon for it.
The BMW E65, and its long-wheelbase sibling the E66, were a radical departure from the beloved E38 I just looked at. But the fourth generation 7 was necessary to move the car forward in the leaps and bounds necessary to keep pace in the large executive market. Was it all bad? No, the post Life Cycle Impulse (LCI) cars starting in 2008 offered updated iDrive computer systems, styling, and engines. Here, this E66 has the N62 V8 cranking out 360 horsepower and 360 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels. And it’s got some pretty cool options. And it’s a neat color combo! And, it’s cheap!
Say what you want about the Porsche Cayenne, but without its emergence in the early-2000s, there would be no special Porsche cars that we all enjoy. The easy-to-produce SUVs that platform share with the other VWAG SUVs was not only easy to scale, but saved a ton of labor costs as the majority of it was built at the Volkswagen Bratislava Plant in the Slovak Republic, rather than in Germany that is just used for final assembly. Because of this, Porsche now had the cash to dump into RS cars, Speedsters, and other fun things that Porsche really weren’t forced to build. Just to put it into perspective, Porsche sells as many Cayennes as they do 911s, 718s, Taycans, and Panameras combined. The Macan? Same numbers. So the next time you see a 2006 Cayenne Turbo chugging around with a blown out suspension and blue smoke pouring our the tailpipes, give it a little thanks for funding the 997 GT3 RS 4.0s that exist because of it.
Phoenix Yellow Metallic could go down as the most polarizing color offered on an M3, ever. In fact, the only thing perhaps more hated than the color on this car (by some, it’s worth noting) is the optional SMG transmission offered at a substantial premium (a $2,400 option) on the E46 M3. Spoiler alert, trigger warning, notice of action – what have you – today’s duo of ’04 M3 Coupes are BOTH Phoenix Yellow Metallic and BOTH have SMG sequential manual gearboxes. Hey, I like a bit of controversy! And, since I own one just like it, I feel like I’m probably better equipped to weigh in than…say….all of the internet armchair warriors.
As for the percentage of U.S. Coupes ordered in PYM: 514 were bought out of 26,202, meaning your chance of running across one when new was only about 2%. Most of those were early examples as well; the color was phased out of the color pallet before the end of production, and along with a bunch of LCI changes that means you’re pretty unlikely to roll across a post-‘03.5 in PYM. So let’s take a look at this duo and see if either is a smart purchase:
For many, the E38 represents the zenith of large German executive sedans. It took the best ingredients of the E32 and E34 designs, slimmed them down a touch visually, updated the power plants and equipment, and Voila! Instant classic. It didn’t hurt that the E38 also played a starring role in two pretty popular movies in the period, either – but let’s be honest, you’d have loved it anyway.
As with Audi’s D2, early examples of the E38 were already in production in 1994, but the best of the bunch came towards the end of production. LCI models hit showrooms in 1999, and the refreshed look is what you see here. The long, low package was best expressed with the optional M Parallel wheels, which had carried over from models like the E31 8-Series and E34 M5. It imbued the 7-Series with just enough sport to look purposeful, but not so much as to masquerade as a Porsche. Lightly flared arches cut high in the front fenders were finally filled out, and the refreshed looks worked really well in light colors. Today’s example is just that – an Alpine White long-wheelbase example. But the spectacular looks are not only its base attributes in this case, as this particular example has a scant 13,000 miles since new:
It hasn’t been all that long since I looked at a 7A-powered 90 or, for that matter, a very clean Coupe Quattro:
1990 Audi Coupe Quattro
However, today’s car – while broadly similar to that Coupe above, is definitely worth a closer look. That’s because it has a scant 27,000 miles on the clock. How is that even possible?