Feature Listing: 2012 BMW M3 Competition Package

While there’s no doubt that the E9x M3 was instantly recognizable as the replacement for the outgoing E46 model, there was an inconvenient truth that had snuck into the lineup: weight. Part of what had made the E30 such a curb-hopping maniac was that lack of heft even with all the accoutrements. By the time the E92 launched, the M3 had put on nearly 800 lbs of weight.

To motivate it the extra mass, BMW did effectively what it had done with the S14; it took its top-tier motor in the S85 V10 and removed two cylinders. The result was the S65 V8, and 414 horsepower was on tap for your right foot’s pleasure. That was a monumental leap from the E46; when the E46 launched with 93 horsepower more than the prior generation, I thought there was no way BMW could do it again. But they did, tacking on 81 horsepower to the prior generation’s total without forced induction. BMW topped the E46’s specific output per liter, too, besting 103 in the E9x – in a package which was 40 lbs lighter despite two more cylinders. Impressive, indeed.

Granted, if you were plunking down $60,000-odd worth of your hard earned credit, you’d want amenities like power seats, a nice radio, air conditioning – the normals that made it a better road car to live with day-to-day. But if you were clever in the boxes you ticked, you could still get the essence of what made the M3 the greatest car in its segment without a lot of frills. First would be the Competition Package, which gave you more variability on the suspension and more sideways action from the dynamic stability control. You got bigger wheels and stickier, wider tires to make use of that harder suspension.

Tick the 7-speed M-DCT dual-clutch transmission, and that track-readiness was taken to the next level. Then, you’d want to stop right about there. Of course, few people selected such a targeted, bare-bones performance oriented M3 out of the gate, which makes finding one today difficult:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2012 BMW M3 Competition Package on M3 Post

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1994 Mercedes-Benz E36 AMG Cabriolet

RM Sotheby’s is going all-in on their Youngtimers Collection auction on April 11th in Essen, Germany which features 85 cars from the ’80s, 90s and 2000s that will make your heart bleed. As much as I’d like to go through all of those cars, because believe me, there are some gems, I’d thought I would pick one or two to take a closer look at. Today’s car is a very rare 1994 Mercedes-Benz E36 AMG Cabriolet. This car was originally delivered to Luxembourg of all places and is reportedly only one of 68 W124 E36 AMG Cabriolets ever built. It is painted in one of my favorite colors, Malachite Green Metallic, and has everything you could want from a 90s AMG car. How much is this predicted to hammer for? Quite a lot. I guess I’m not the only one drooling over this car.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 Mercedes-Benz E36 AMG Cabriolet at RM Sotheby’s

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2004 Audi TT 225 quattro with 28,000 Miles

That a clean first generation TT still looks new some 15 years later is rather miraculous. Perhaps it points to a change in car designs; less revolution, more evolution. Consider for a moment that the TT concept (which went into production largely unchanged) toured the car show circuit in 1995 – only 6 years after the move to the 964 model by Porsche. Of course, it’s easy to see why Audi would only evolve the design of the TT. It was a hit off the bat, as pretty much everyone liked the snappy performance, the unique looks, the economic practicality of a 2+2 hatchback, the available all-wheel drive. So park a 2004 TT next to a 2014 TT, and though the design moved into a new decade, it didn’t change direction.

Because the TT has been ubiquitous over the past nearly twenty years in the marketplace, it’s often taken for granted that you can get one pretty much any time you want. News flash: you can get an air-cooled 911 of any variant, an E30 M3, a Bugatti EB110 – whatever – anytime you want, too. The difference? You and I can afford the TT.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 Audi TT 225 quattro on eBay

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2000 Mercedes-Benz CL500

”Purple rain, purple rain. I only wanted to see you, bathing in the purple rain.”

When it rains it pours, and apparently it is raining purple. Last week I looked at a very rare 1991 Mercedes-Benz 300SE painted in Bornite Metallic and as luck would have it, another purple Mercedes pops up only this time it is painted in Almandine-Black Metallic. Now don’t let the word ”black” fool you, this car is purple. Interesting thing is, I actually looked a W220 S430 painted in this color about two years ago and was quite smitten with it. However, this 2000 CL500 up for sale in California, I am in less than in love with. I think the color is fine, it is just everything else is wrong with it. Literally everything.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 Mercedes-Benz CL500 on eBay

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1985 Audi Quattro

For U.S. Quattro fans, ’85 models are a bit special as they held numerous upgrades over the prior models. Like the rest of the Type 85/B2 lineup, those included revisions to the exterior, most notably the slanted grill and color matched spoiler, but also inside a new dashboard and revised seat fabric patterns. Like the ’84s, wheels were 8″ Ronals, but hidden was a new and more reliable fuse box location to run the whole car.

A few unique colors were offered on the ’85 up models, but since importation ended after one ’86 made it here, these colors are also a bit unique. Unique too was the headlight treatment, which had chrome aero bezels to match the grill. A total of only 73 of these upgraded 85s (plus the one 86) made it to the U.S., and they’ve pretty much always been the most sought of the scant 664 original Quattros sold here. This particular ’85 comes to market looking minty fresh in Amazon Blue Metallic over Quartz leather:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 Audi Quattro on eBay

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1991 Mercedes-Benz 190E DTM Replica

Generally I’m not a big fan of replica cars. I think there is no biggest waste of money than the Mercedes-Benz SSK Gazelle replicas that you have to spend $13,000 on to get a Ford Pinto engine and a sheet of plywood screwed to the dash. It looks terrible, it drives even worse, and you surely aren’t fooling anyone given a real SSK is well into the eight-figure range. However, there are exceptions to everything and today’s car, a 1991 190E up for sale in England, might be one of them. Just by looking at it, you can probably tell what it is all about.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Mercedes-Benz 190E DTM Replica on eBay

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1999 BMW M3 Convertible with 3,800 Miles

It’s interesting to consider how enthusiasts today view the E36 M3. Generally speaking, you’re either a completely devoted fan who insists that the E36 is not only the best M3, but perhaps the best BMW ever made. Why stop there? Why not go straight for best car in the history of the world, ever? On the other side of the coin, detractors love to point out that the second M3 was softened up for the U.S. market, that it wasn’t as potent, as pure, as Motorsporty as the original curb-hopping, box-flared legend.

Arguably, they’re both right. It’s certainly true that BMW made the decision to tone down the M3 for North American consumption. That was a really good thing for two reasons: one, that we got it at all, and two, that it remained affordable. Consider, for a moment, that the E30 M3 had grown quite expensive to sport all of that motorsport heritage. By 1991, the base price of the M3 was $35,900. Of course, it was competing against even more expensive cars like the Porsche 944S2, which was a further $10,000 more dear. While we can talk about driving spirit all day long, if we look at the fact sheets what you got was a bit soggy in comparison to today’s cars. Inflation corrected, the M3 would be around $62,000 – pretty much spot on the entry price for today’s M3. The new car has more than double the horsepower of the original and enough tech to launch all of the Apollo program missions.

So what was really exciting when the new M3 was launched in late 1994 was that price point; $36,000. That was some $14,000 less expensive than the European model, and yet performance was within a few clicks thanks to a revised version of the 325i M50 engine. In fact, many – including notoriously BMW-savvy Car and Driver – suggested that the U.S. spec M3 was a better choice than the more exotic Euro model for our roads.

Today, the E36 M3 remains for many the smart choice within the lineup. Long overlooked as the obvious choice, prices have remained low relative to its predecessor and even its replacement. Modern comparisons often skip the E36 entirely. But that doesn’t mean all E36s are affordable:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1999 BMW M3 Convertible on eBay

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Feature Listing: 1964 Porsche 356C Cabriolet

In 1964, Porsche introduced the last iteration of its famed first model, the 356. Dubbed the “C”, Porsche continued to offer two variants of the model – the Coupe and Cabriolet. Base power came from a 1600cc pushrod air-cooled flat-4 with twin Zenith carburetors – this motor carried over from the 356B model – and was good for 75 horsepower. Optional were the 95 horsepower 1600 SC motor and the 130 horsepower 2000 Carrera motor; both with twin-throat Solex carburetors and were expensive options.

But the 356C, in Cabriolet form, was far from cheap. The base price in 1964-65 was well over $4,000 at a time when a 289 V8-equipped Ford Mustang convertible cost about $2,600. But demand was great enough that the C model actually overlapped with the Porsche 911, and these Cabriolets would be the last full drop-top top model until the 1980s.

Cabriolets were assembled by Reutters and are more rare to find than the Coupe equivalent. With a total of around 15,000 356Cs produced, only about 2,500 were Reutter Cabriolets. Today’s is a restored ’64, and currently has a 1600 SC-spec engine installed for a bit more fun:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1964 Porsche 356C Cabriolet on eBay

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1990 Mercedes-Benz 560SEC

Don’t look now, but the Mercedes-Benz W126 coupe is surging fast in terms of value. A very nice 1991 560SEC painted in Bornite with less than 8,000 miles just sold at Amelia Island for $78,400. Yes, that car is an outlier because of its outstanding condition and rare color (plus some competitive bidders), but it sets an interesting example. For the past decade or so, $10,000 could buy you an average SEC. Not cheap in terms of old German luxury cars, but still reasonable for what it is. Now the big auction houses are touting the ”Youngtimers” from the 80s and 90s, and suddenly everyone is running to Craiglist to see what is out there. Are they suddenly going to be doubling or tripling in price like a 190E 2.3-16v? Probably not. However, find a worthwhile example and you can enjoy it maintaining its value for years to come. Today’s car, a 1990 560SEC painted in the rare Signal Red, seems to still priced competitively but I’m willing to bet that this one won’t last long at all.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Mercedes-Benz 560SEC on eBay

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Feature Listing: 1999 Porsche 911 Carrera 2 Cabriolet

1999 was the first year of the new 911, and it’s been a debate ever since. But Porsche had to move forward from the air-cooled design ultimately, and the new 911 Carrera was happy to pick up the pieces. The smoothed out styling made the 911 more aerodynamic yet was instantly recognizable as being from Porsche. So, too, was the exhaust note; a flat-6 still powered the best from Stuttgart, but now it was water-cooled instead of air-cooled.

The Carrera 2 and Carrera 4 shared a 3.4 liter variant of the flat-6, the M96. Out of the box, these cars had 300 horsepower – a number that a Turbo would have been happy with only a decade earlier. VarioCam assisted the motor in both being smooth in its power delivery and, unlike the Turbos of yore, that power was available in most of the tachometer. 0-60 was gone in 5 seconds and flat-out, even the drop-tops could do 165 mph. They were comfortable, fast sports cars that were capable in the tradition of the company. And today, they are without doubt the most affordable way to get into the 911 range.

Those first 1999 911s came in Carrera 2 form meaning rear-drive only as Carrera 4s rolled out a bit later, but you could opt for either a Coupe or this car, a convertible Cabriolet. The Cabriolet stickered at $74,460, but in typical Porsche fashion as you added in options the price went up quickly. But today, these cars offer a great entré into Porsche 911 ownership:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1999 Porsche 911 Carrera 2 Cabriolet on eBay

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