Last week I took a modest dive into cars that have been produced in the past 20 years or so and how they are in a bit of strange spot. Too new and insignificant to be collectible, and generally not worth the trouble. That in turn, with a few exceptions, sends prices to floor. Today, we have another example of that.
This 2001 Mercedes-Benz S430 is a perfect storm of a car that seemingly no one wants. A pre-facelift W220, it is finished in tan over tan with the less-powerful 4.3 liter V8. I don’t need to rehash my thoughts on how the pre-facelift W220 was a massive disappointment compared to the end-of-production W220, but it seems I’m not alone on this one. The good news is that this car is in really nice shape for having over 100,000 miles. The even better news is that is cheap. Really cheap.
It was bound to happen. Everyone’s favorite “love them or hate them” Porsche tuner, RAUH-Welt BEGRIFF (RWB), has suddenly been pumping out a ton of builds over the last few years thanks to the magic of the internet. These cars are extremely divisive in the car community as some think they are rolling art, while others think they are all show and zero go, along with the fact is it literally cutting up clean Porsches. The formula is pretty straightforward on the builds, as you contact Akira Nakai, give him a giant pile of money, a 911, and enough beer and cigarettes to get him through the process, and he gives you a one-of-kind car that will never be overlooked. Some builds are pretty tame like this backdated G-body, while others go really wild like this 993. Either way, these cars are not for the purists.
Naturally, when things get popular organically, companies want to jump in and try to capitalize. This is exactly what went on with the build we are looking at today with a 1991 964 that was commissioned by a video game maker Electronic Arts for their Need For Speed series. Just as a side bar, I grew up addicted to the Need For Speed games, especially Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit and Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed and can directly correlate some bad grades on report cards because I was playing those games instead of studying. Although look at me now; we all have spell check and I write about cars for a living. Back on track, this 964 was built in the typical wild JDM style we are used to seeing, but also had some help from some other builders. Electronic Arts also reached out to Magnus Walker for the styling and Bisimoto Engineering for drivetrain. They must have been writing some pretty big checks for this one.
Down the road from me is a gentleman who daily drives a Porsche 914. Now, I’ve never been a big fan of the boxy flying pancake. In the right configuration they look pretty cool, but my eyes always gravitate towards the more classic grand touring look of the replacement 924. However, I certainly can understand the appeal of a cheap and simple classic Porsche. For some time about a decade and a half ago I had this dream that some day when I was a little better off I’d pick up an early 911 – because, of course, a decade and a half ago no one wanted them and they were still relatively cheap. Since having a classic car is by no means a necessity, for us with less well-endowed bank accounts and no trust funds, ownership of such cars remains a dream. In that light, the 914 makes more sense since compared to the rear-engine counterparts it’s still relatively cheap – though find a good one and it’ll be a pretty penny.
But dipping in to the classic car market doesn’t have to break the bank, and there are still a few neat older German cars that would be great weekend warriors. Certainly, one of the most unsung heroes and yet one of the more visually captivating is the Opel GT. The slinky 2-door had the looks of its parent company sibling Corvette, but motivation by the normal Opel inline-4 drivetrain meant it was much more affordable. These days they’re rarely seen but always a treat:
Do you know how many times I’ve heard “It was just too nice to part out” when referring to an older Audi? Heck, I’ve personally had three that I’ve said that very sentence for, and at least one more I should have said that about. One time I bought a 4000S front wheel drive 5-speed simply because I wanted a door. No, I’m not joking. The entire car was in mint shape – Sapphire with Marine Blue velour, and because I was 18 and had fully subscribed to the idea that the only good Audis were all-wheel drive Audis, I paid $300 to rip what was otherwise one of the nicest 4000S models I had seen to that point in my life apart. Most of it went to the junkyard, in fact. It’s something that near 40 year old me is mad at 18 year old me about, still.
Fast forward 25 years into the future, and since then I keep hearing the phrase in relation to all sorts of obscure, slightly crusty and forgotten examples of the brand. So when this 4000 5+5 popped up for sale it was worth a look. These are highly prized for their donor doors (see what I did there?) which are utilized in Sport Quattro conversions. Does this one have to die?
Last week Porsche announced the new 992 Turbo S and of course, the stats were bonkers. All you really need to know is that it does 0-60 mph in 2.5 seconds and will top out a little north of 200 mph. Much to no one’s surprise, it will be an 8-speed PDK gearbox with almost zero chance of a 6 or 7-speed manual gearbox given that the entire 991 Turbo generation did not offer a true manual gearbox. I totally get why, and you can’t blame Porsche for not offering it. First, the majority of 911 Turbo buyers don’t want a three pedal car, and if they did, as soon as they smashed the throttle in first gear, they’d be banging it off the redline. As much as we like to think we are all amazing drivers, your dentist Gary is not. That means if you do want a 911 Turbo with a 6-speed manual gearbox, you have to venture all the way back to the 997 generation.
This 2012 911 Turbo up for sale in New York is just 1 of 163 examples produced for the North American market with the 6-speed compared to the significantly more PDK cars. That means finding one is very a tough task to say the least. Finding one in Carrera White with a Carrera Red interior and just 6,000 miles? Bring your checkbook.
The M Coupe has moved from cult legend into one of the most desirable M products produced. Late production S54 equipped models have recently topped $90,000 at auction. Add in a rare color and great condition, and they’re all the more desirable. While not quite a 1:1, the M Coupe is like the Porsche 964 and has gone from being ugly duckling to the market darling, and the S54 models are the RS America of the lineup.
For most of us, that means if you want a ‘Clownshoe’ you’ll need to look towards early production when they were equipped with the venerable S52. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as lower running costs and higher production numbers mean much lower asking prices. Take this 2000 in Dakar Yellow, for example. First off, only 2,180 S52 M Coupes were sold here. Of them, 52 were Dakar Yellow II – so you know this one is special. But even more telling is the number when you consider slicktop models, of which this is one. Just 342 were delivered sans sunroof, and only 14 of those were Dakar. Just ten shared the black Nappa leather seen here. So this one is a very low production number car with interesting options and, in this case, fairly low mileage. What does that mean for the price?
One of the most interesting things I want to see in the next 5 to 10 years is what happens to the cars that were extremely expensive when new and offered a ton of things, but no one really wants anymore because they’ve become very dated. It is tough to compare that the to path the cars of the ’70s, ’80s, and now ’90s because they were all relatively straightforward in what they were and now are. Something like a 1992 S600 Coupe or 1993 BMW 850Ci was at the top of the food chain in the mid-’90s, but as soon as something new came out, they were dumped for the latest and greatest. Now 20 years later people are clamoring for clean examples of those because sometimes the the latest isn’t necessarily the greatest.
Case in point, a 2008 Mercedes-Benz CL63 AMG. At the time, this and the CL65 were the top of the range big coupe in the Mercedes lineup and had everything and more when it came to a car. Extreme power and the best tech, but now there are much faster cars and the tech isn’t really the best anymore. The thing is, this car isn’t bringing back feelings of nostalgic for probably anyone. These cars burn fast and hot, then are forgotten about given all the other ways we can spend a pile of money on a fun car. What does that do for prices of these? Straight down.
Sometimes just for fun I go back and look at concept cars for production models just to see how much had to be changed for whatever reason. The first-generation Porsche Boxster is an interesting example of what started as a really progressive design with some homages to years past, only to be changed significantly because of production requirements and cost control. Go look at the working 1993 concept, and the exterior had shades of 550 Spyder while the interior had some really wild features such as little three-fan blades as blower fans. I totally get why something like that didn’t make production as it would have been extremely expensive to produce, and even more expensive to fix after they broke twenty minutes after leaving the dealer lot from someone sticking something in them. What ended up in production is a design that was still fresh for the mid-1990s, but an interior that was watered-down considerably. Still, it is tough for more to argue about this Boxster as this car literally saved Porsche from dire financial straits, along with the Cayenne.
Now that we are nearly almost 25 years from the launch of the Boxster in 1996, are these becoming classics that will be looked at the same way we now look at the 914? Tough to say.
Last night I watched Netflix’s Dirty Money documentary on the Volkswagen diesel saga. As amazing, and interesting, and disturbing as I might have thought it was on Saturday, the revelations outlined in the documentary draw the company’s ambition – and moral ineptitude – into much stronger focus. Seriously, they hatched a plan to gas people (or, as it actually turned out, monkeys) basically to death to prove that their dirty diesels were oh-so-slightly better than a Ford F250. On one hand, I can see the point of what they’re hinting at, and indeed – unregulated truck emissions are probably a bigger problem in the U.S. than 500,000 Volkswagens – but then, seriously VW? You saw no problem with a German company suggesting introducing gas into a chamber with a person inside might have a historical overtone?
Beyond that, and I promise it’s worth the watch even for the head-shaking nature of the outcome, was Ferdinand Karl Piëch. Indeed, he’s almost glazed over but for a momentary introduction with a diabolical ‘Mr. Burns’-type soliloquy. Piëch’s incredible, insatiable drive to have Volkswagen be the world’s number one company was certainly at the heart of the TDi. But it was also at the heart of this car.
The flip side to VW’s TDi debacle was, of course, the push to move Volkswagen upmarket. Re-integration of Audi technology and build-quality into the top-tier products was paramount, and the result was of course the spectacular in execution (and failure in the U.S. market) Phaeton and the entire Passat B5 lineup, but primarily the W8. Let’s take a look at this lower-mile example of a wagon for sale today:
I still remember the moment as the wave of envy set over me. A struggling college student, I had tried hard to balance my love of cars with the multiple part-time jobs I fit in between classes. Ultimately, cars probably came before some things they should have, but still fell staunchly behind the realities of life. Rent. Tutition. Books. Utilites. FOOD. These necessities multiplied themselves together over the years, grasping at my meager weekly paycheck more rapidly than I could deposit it in the bank. Trips to the pump were always metered; weeks went by holding breath at every turn of the key, praying for a safe completion of circuit. And when you own a ’84 Volkswagen that sat in a driveway not running for decade rotting away before you resurrected it, often your dreams of a trouble-free commute are unrealized.
As a result of my shoestring budget, I often turned to a friend to help with mechanical work that my GTI often needed. He’d stop by my house after work and wrench for a bit, or I’d drive it by his place for a replacement part or ten. He also had a A1 – a sweet special edition Cabriolet from ’85 which he had spent years tricking out. But on one of these repair stops, he introduced me to his new toy.
It was 1998 and he had picked up a ’90 Corrado G60. He had picked it up cheap, too, as they often broke even when pretty new. Two things struck me about this car. Though it was only 6 years newer than my GTI, it might as well have been a spaceship. The two shared nothing in common outside of the badge. My pyrite-in-the-rough GTI was rusty and not so trusty. Horrible build quality meant things regularly broke, or fell off, or rusted off; often, the trifecta struck. It was a square slowly-deteriorating block of iron oxide in a rounded-off world. In comparison, the Corrado looked well-built, felt modern, was comfortable, had air conditioning and electronic items that…well, functioned, and even had paint all in one color. But the other thing that struck me was just how tired and old that Corrado already felt in 1998. I rarely buy cars that are newer than 10 years old, but this Corrado felt a lot more than that already. Perhaps that was because the VR6 model had so quickly replaced it. Or perhaps it was because I was still excited for new cars to launch in 1998. Looking back, though, my initial impressions of the Corrado G60 still hold true. But am I still jealous that I didn’t have one?