1996 Volkswagen GTI VR6

Jumping in to a third generation Volkswagen Golf won’t get you much respect outside of dedicated brand enthusiasts. But what it will do is reward your decision. Like the E36 M3, adding two cylinders to the model may not have sounded as sexy on paper as the high-revving double cam inline-4, but the result was better performance, better reliability, and cheaper prices for that speed. With 172 horsepower and 173 lb.ft of torque on tap, the VR6 took the Mk.3 into a new performance territory. It brought with it a more grown up feel, too – leather, a quiet(er) cabin, power windows and sunroof – these were unthinkable a decade earlier in the budget hatch. In fact there was only one option – a trunk mounted CD changer. Everything else? Standard. The increase in performance dictated upgrades throughout; sport suspension with sway bars, larger brakes with 5×100 mm hubs and accompanying 15″ wheels. 0-60 was firmly sub-7 second range, and the boxy hatch could brush 130 mph flat out. In a flat-out drag race, this economy car was on par with the Audi S6.

At nearly $20,000, the price tag didn’t seem cheap at first. Indeed, in a little over a decade the base price of the GTI had increased 100%. But the Golf was still about cheap speed, and so you need to view this package in relative performance. It wasn’t much slower than the U.S. specification M3, for example, but was about half the price. More appropriate, though, was that it was some $6,000 cheaper than the Corrado with nearly the same setup. Today, that cost savings carries over – Corrados are easily twice to many times the current bid of this example:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1996 Volkswagen GTI VR6 on eBay

Continue reading

1997 Volkswagen Jetta Trek

If an effort to bolster slow sales in the 1990s and rebrand itself as a fun-loving alternative to the rest of the modest budget alternatives, Volkswagen rolled out a new marketing campaign and several special editions of the popular third-generation Golf and Jetta. Probably the most famous is the Harlequin, but there was also the Jetta GT and the Wolfsburg Edition. But the ones that really struck a cord with college students were the K2 and Trek editions, as they came not only with your Fahrvergnügen driving experience, but something to do when you got there as well.

In the case of the Trek Edition, you could get alloy wheels, front fog lights, special interior trim, a sunroof, and a rear spoiler. But the most important part of the package was of course the Trek mountain bike that came mounted to the roof rack. It was a silly marketing gig for what was neither the best car nor the best mountain bike available, but it was fun and cool. And today, it’s pretty rare to find them still attached to one another:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1997 Volkswagen Jetta Trek Edition on eBay

Continue reading

1985 Volkswagen GTI

Replacing a car universally heralded as the second coming of the automobile certainly wasn’t easy for VW, but the Mk.2 chassis proved up to the task immediately. It was very much the same formula as the original with a touch more refinement, space and power. The lines of the Mk.2 were less angular and upright than Giugiaro’s original design, but several aspects of the Herbert Schäfer replacement mimicked another Giugiaro design – the Lancia Delta. This was most notable in the C-pillar, which tapers with nearly the exact same angle, while early 4-door Golfs also shared the split-glass look on the doors.

For U.S. customers, the GTI continued to be a 2-door only affair and was initially only available in three colors – Mars Red, Black, and Diamond Silver Metallic for an extra charge. Customers opting for the GTI package paid approximately $10,000, which included red-accent trim outside, ‘Bottlecap’ 14″ alloys and blacked-out fender trim, a rear spoiler above the window and aerodynamic headlights. Dynamically, the GTI received the new 100-horsepower ‘HT’ high compression 1.8 liter fuel-injected inline-4, which was solely mated to the front wheels via a close-ratio 5-speed manual. GTIs also sported 4-wheel disc brakes for the first time and front and rear anti-sway bars to go along with the sport-tuned suspension. The driver got special striped fabric in either gray or red over their sport seats, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and digital computer display were all standard. Buyers could, of course, opt for a sunroof, air conditioning, power steering, cruise control and an upgraded stereo if they chose.

Despite the upgraded spec and new model, Golf sales continued to slide in the mid-80s from their height (as the Rabbit) in the late 1970s. Coupled with their spunky nature, affordability and less-than-stellar build quality, very few Westmoreland-built A2 GTIs remain around. This one looks to be saved from obscurity, and a few tasteful mods have it looking ready to impress:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 Volkswagen GTI on eBay

Continue reading

2015 Porsche 911 GT3

Fresh off last week’s red car, I bumped into another car that just happened to be a much different shade of red. This 2015 Porsche 911 GT3 is finished in paint-to-sample Arena Red, which technically is a custom color on the 991 GT3, but this isn’t this first time we’ve seen it on a 911. Arena Red was the launch color of the 993 Turbo and featured on the ironic Kills Bugs Fast poster that we all probably had a chuckle over when remembering it. It isn’t a historic color like some of the other paint-to-sample options we’ve seen, but actually more modern as it launched in 1995 on the already mentioned 993, as well as the Boxster and very early 996 cars. Does it fit well on the 991 GT3?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2015 Porsche 911 GT3 on eBay

Continue reading

2010 Mercedes-Benz C300 Race Car

Well, I certainly didn’t expect to see this. When you say “W204 Mercedes-Benz C-Class” to me, I think of an incredibly milquetoast car that was made to a price point for the masses and it certainly reflects that. Yes, the range-topping C63 AMG was a bonkers car that is a ton of fun, but at the same time almost equally as terrifying if you haven’t fixed the headbolts on them. Back to the standard models, you were offered up various V6s with an automatic and a very rare manual that is nearly impossible to find. Well, it looks like someone found one and decided to turn it into a full blown race car to compete in the Trans Am series, along with various other series that it qualified for. You know what they say about racing: To end up with a small pile of money, start with a really big pile of money.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2010 Mercedes-Benz C300 Race Car on eBay

Continue reading

1980 BMW 320/6

As with the first 5-Series, the E21’s reputation has suffered in the wake of the models that replaced it and the legend which preceded it. The US-market models were long on bumpers and short on engine choices and while a lot of them sold here when new, they just never really grabbed the enthusiast following of either the ’02 models or the E30.

Yet there are good examples that pop up from time to time, especially when they’re presented in European guise and with the gutsier inline-6 under the hood. The model that often pops to mind is the 323i, one of which I looked at back in 2018. But there was also a carbureted version called the ‘320/6’, which used the M20 hooked to a single Solex. That’s what we’re looking at today, but this one not only has the more desirable look at motor, but also a host of period-style mods to go with it:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1980 BMW 320/6 on Rhode Island Craigslist

Continue reading

2003 Mercedes-Benz S500

Red is a funny color when it comes to cars. Coupe or sports sedan? Sure, looks great. Full-size luxury sedan or SUV? Are you out of your mind? Even when it is offered on a SUV, it is usually in a much softer red that borders on burgundy. Same with the full-size sedans, a soft red. However, sometimes you do find the rare luxury sedan finished in the brightest red you can think of and it catches you off guard. Wouldn’t you have it, this is exactly what we have today in the 2003 Mercedes-Benz S500 I found up for sale in Poland. It is literally called “Magma Red” and isn’t shy about it. The thing is, I’m not sure if I like it just because it’s different or because it actually looks good.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Mercedes-Benz S500 on Klasyka Gatunku Poland

Continue reading

1977 BMW 530i

Being an Audi fan, I’m aware of what a bad reputation can do to cars. In the 1970s, Audi gained a reputation for unreliability and poor electronics; perhaps justified, considering the many stories that people have about early Audi 100 ownership. However, it’s a haunting reputation that nearly 40 years on they’re still trying to shake. It looked as if by the early 2000s they had done so, but now a generation on, the cars from the Y2K generation have their own problems and have bred more discontent generally from enthusiasts on the outside looking in. The result is that it’s damn near impossible to find a nice condition Audi from the 1970s, and in just a few years we’ll see the same thing with 1990s Audis, too.

Where am I going with this, considering this is a listing for a BMW? Well, the early E12s had their own problems, but notably that was an issue in the U.S.. That’s because to meet U.S. market regulations, the E12 was made slower and more ugly. Large 5 m.p.h. bumpers were fitted, and compression on the M30 was dropped to meet lower fuel standards. Additionally, to burn off hydrocarbons to meet emissions regulations, the 530i was fitted with thermal reactor manifolds. They did as their name suggested, though the reaction unfortunately many times was with the internals of the engine – warping heads and frying valves. It was a debacle which spelled the death of the 530i, reborn as the 528i in 1979. Coupled with rust issues that this generation BMW had, it’s now quite hard to find an original U.S. spec 530i. Yet here’s a lovely one with some nice mods:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1977 BMW 530i on eBay

Continue reading

2020 Porsche 718 Spyder

With the launch of the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4, we were also offered a topless version with the 718 Spyder. We’ve seen the Boxster Spyder before, but never like this. This Spyder was developed under the guidance of Porsche GT boss Andy Preuninger from the GT department, thus making it a real “GT car,” just not badged as such. It literally is just a Spyder version of the 718 GT4 with the same suspension, engine, and tuning, just with the little folding top similar to that of the GT3-based 991.2 Speedster. So if you want a GT4, but also want the open-air feeling, here you go.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2020 Porsche 718 Spyder on eBay

Continue reading

1998 BMW Z3

In the realm of unappealing BMWs, the Z3 might just take the cake. Sure, it’s partially rescued by unusual body styles or a big motor in the case of the Coupe or the M editions. But for a standard Z3, there seems to be little appeal. It was not the best built car from BMW, it was certainly not the best looking car they’ve made, and in the case of the four-cylinder models, you didn’t have much in terms of performance, either.

Here we have a ’98 Z3 1.9. Under the hood was the 138 horsepower M44, and since the Z3 wasn’t exactly the feather weight of the original Miata, it resulted in pretty average acceleration. It would wisk you to 60 mph in just a hair under 10 seconds, and hitting 100 would take the best part of half a minute. It did return nearly 30 mpg on the highway, but then my 135i does that too, and it has a bit over twice as much horsepower. Heck, go easy on the throttle and the M3 will return almost 30 on the highway.

But if you want a budget convertible, the Z3 is a solid German option. First, you could get a manual. Second, they’re cheap to fix and cheap to run. There were a lot of them, too, so used parts are available. And this one is presented in a pretty neat color – Violett-rot 2 (328) with some good options. Is there hope?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 BMW Z3 on eBay

Continue reading