Okay, so although the New Beetle definitely isn’t the most exciting car we’ve written up on these pages, there were some bright points. Since the architecture was essentially just a Golf underneath, you had some pretty fun performance options, like the Turbo S:
2002 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo S
Then, of course, to kick it up a few notches there was the Volkswagen Motorsport Beetle RSi – a 3.2-liter powered, all-wheel drive monster. It was basically an R32, but it was somehow way, way better – but only 250 were made, and we’re unfortunately not here to look at one. There were plenty of other special editions of the New Beetle produced, but this isn’t one of them, either. No, this is a fairly basic 2000 GLS – replete with a 2.0-liter inline-4 rated at 115 horsepower and a 4-speed auto. So why are we here? Well, it’s 2021, and things are about to get interesting!
The E23 has always been a design which to me has been quite polarizing. As with the E12 and E24, Paul Bracq was heavily involved in the final design and it shows – in many ways, the E23 looks like a cross between the two that was scaled up 10%. The results of that in my mind weren’t always good. Growing up, my father had both E24s and E28s, clean looking, well proportioned designs, and when I first saw an E23 I remember thinking it looked a bit ungainly. In U.S. specification, the bumpers were too big and the wheels were too small, resulting in a car which appeared heavy, sagging and sad. When he’s really upset, my son manages to invert his lip and stick it out, tears streaming down his cheeks. It’s a look which nearly mimics the U.S. spec front end of the E23 I now recognize. However, in European trim the E23 made more sense – it looked lighter, smaller and better proportioned. While not as stately as the W116, it certainly looked a fair bit sportier outside and more modern. Couple those European-market looks with some great period BBS RS wheels and the look is just about perfect; throw in the turbocharged M106 motor and you’ve peeked much interest. Of course, unfortunately the M106 was only pared with an automatic transmission – but then, what would happen if you swapped that for a 5-speed?
While the move from the B2 to B3 chassis brought many changes to the small Audi lineup, it was also very much a case of ‘meet the new boss, same as the old boss’. Some of the features of the 4000 were gone; you could no longer opt to lock the center differential, for example, since the manual locker had been replaced by a more sophisticated Torsen unit. You could still opt to engage a rear differential lock, but electronics overrode that at 15 m.p.h.. That change was indicative of movement in the marketplace and where the B3 was aimed – slightly more upscale from the B2. Interior quality was greater, safety took priority, and production was broken into two categories as it had been in Europe for the B2. Selecting the top-range 90 quattro got you nicer BBS wheels, color matched bumpers and mirrors, a sportier raised spoiler, a better leather interior and wood trim. The downscale 80 would channel more of the outgoing 4000, with a velour and plastic-heavy interior. They even opted to keep the same Ronal R8 wheels as the old model early on, and the subtle rear spoiler was a near copy of the B2.
The more basic 80 was closer in performance to the 4000, too – the luxury and safety items of the B3 meant more weight, and the 90 tipped the scales at nearly 3,000 lbs. Mechanically identical, the 80 quattro was about a hundred pounds lighter and anyone who has driven 80s normally aspirated Audis knows that 100 lbs. makes a difference in performance. Motivation for both was the same NG-code inline-5 that was seen in the last Coupe GT Special Build models, meaning 130 horsepower and 140 lb.ft of torque – smoothly adequate, but certainly never overwhelming. The 80 quattro enjoyed only a short run in the U.S., being available in the 1988-1990 model years and then re-introduced with some 90 quattro upgrades for the ’92 model year as a hold-over until the V6 B4 was ready for production. The de-contented 80 was a fair bit cheaper than its quite expensive brethren; while a Coupe Quattro would set you back over $30,000 with some options, select a basic 80 quattro and you could sneak out of the dealership for $23,000 – barely more than the ’87 Coupe GT retailed for. Later 80s got some upgrades; body-color bumpers and BBS wheels primarily, and a clean Alpine White example has turned up for sale.
Fresh off last week’s 2018 Mercedes-Benz G65 AMG, I thought I’d look at one of the first vehicles equipped with the M275 engine, the W220 S600. This engine replaced the god awful M158 V12 that lasted a few short years and was by far the better engine for the job. It was so good, they literally put it in almost every vehicle in their range for the next 15 years, including that G65 that I just mentioned. You would think an old twin-turbocharged V12 would be nothing but trouble, but they are fairly easy to live with as long as you remember it is an old twin-turbocharged V12.
This 2004 S600 up for sale in Texas comes in with just a little over 32,000 miles and seems to be in top shape. Admittedly, it isn’t the most attractive car ever in terms of looks and of course the tech is a bit dated, but for the price, is it worth look?
My first real car was a B5 Audi A4 1.8t, which means everything related to the B5 RS4 was “it.” That was the holy grail and everything the B5 chassis aspired to be. It had all the little special touches and had just enough differences that made it far from just a B5 S4 Avant with more power. Even more, you are waiting until 2025 to even see one in the US outside of a few rare examples that made their way in. This was the car. Even now that these cars are 20 years-old, the want is still there and the prices reflect that. Today’s example, a 2001 finished in Goodwood Green, is checking all the boxes for me. Just four more years, right?
The 997.1 Porsche 911 is probably my favorite “budget” 911. I wish I could put “budget” in size 82 font quotation marks given we are talking Porsche here, but in the grand scheme of things where a new base 992 C2 is $100,000, your buck doesn’t go very far these days. Now you are probably saying, “What about the 996?” And yes, you are right. But given the very small price difference between the 996 and 997.1, I think it is the perfect sweet spot of having a modern 911 without spending over $50,000 just to get a seat at the table. Today’s 997 has my favorite Lobster Fork wheels and isn’t a boring color. There’s only one problem though – the transmission.
A few weeks ago I took a look at a low-profile GTI; it looked pretty nice, mostly original, and wasn’t too unreasonably priced overall. It’s no surprise, then, that it didn’t last that long:
1983 Volkswagen GTI
Today’s car is also a 1983 GTI, but it’s there that the similarities end. This one was worked over by Mike and Ant of Wheeler Dealers. It’s less original, but also catches attention with its clean presentation. Is it the right price to make it a deal, though?
Back in October I took a look at a very nice 931 over in Europe for sale; one of the best examples I’ve seen on the market recently:
1979 Porsche 924 Turbo
931s are broken into two periods – Series 1 (launch in ’79 -late ’80) and Series 2 (’81-’82). Series 2 cars all had the 5-lug, 4-wheel disc upgrade that only some of the Series 1 were equipped with. Additionally, they had a revised ignition system, improved intake, higher compression pistons but a smaller turbocharger, and the transaxle was shared with the B2 Audi inline-5s. Today’s example is loaded like most and comes from the end of the first series, so it has power windows, locks, mirrors, air conditioning, rear wiper and sunroof. It also has the M471 package, which added Koni shocks, 5-bolt forged 16″ wheels, 928 calipers with 911SC vented discs, larger swap bars, a quicker steering rack, and a small-diameter four-spoke leather covered steering wheel. Outside of the wheels, these changes were mostly invisible to the eye, and generally speaking don’t make a difference in the value of the vehicle. What does is condition, and when you’re looking at a 924 Turbo you want to buy the best one that you can afford. Is this the one?
Every once in a while, something pops up that surprises me. So I’ll start off by saying that I had no idea that this model even existed. ‘What?’, you say – and rightly so, as I just looked at an E89 Z4 Roadster a few weeks ago:
2011 BMW Z4 sDrive35i
Ah, but that was the turbocharged ’35’ model, and while I knew there was a lower-specification naturally aspirated ’30i’ model (the same engine configuration was called ’28i’ in the E8x/E9x at the same time, making things more confusing). What I didn’t realize is that model was short-lived, though I suppose it should have made sense. The 2-Series went to four-cylinder power with its introduction in 2014, ending a long line of naturally aspirated inline-6 power in BMW coupes. But the change had already happened in 2012 in the E89; the N52 was dropped in favor of the N20. That should give you a clue as to displacement; this ’28’ was now 2.0 liters with a turbocharger. That probably sounds like a bit of a disappointment, but in typical German fashion it was pragmatic. The N20 was shorter, lighter, more fuel efficient, and effectively, just as powerful. Output was down to 240 horsepower from 255 with the N52, but torque was up to 260 lb-ft – 40 more than the N52, and while it can’t out-stump-pull the N54/N55’s numbers, for argument’s sake the 2.0 put out the same twist as the S54. Better still, while a majority of these engines were hooked to the equally pragmatic and efficient ZF 8-speed automatic, you could get a six-speed manual. So here’s one of the chosen few so selected:
The story behind BMW’s foray into diesel power in the U.S. was pretty interesting. BMW had developed the M21 2.4 liter turbocharged inline-6 diesel in the 1970s with fuel prices rising; it finally launched in the early 1980s with the E28 524td. But you probably best know that motor for its appearance in mid-80s American iron; an attempt by Ford to improve the fuel economy of its large executive Lincoln Continental. The marriage didn’t work; although the M21 was a good motor (especially when compared to GM’s diesel!), gas prices were falling and the economy was recovering by the time it finally came to market. But since BMW went through the effort to get the M21 legal for U.S. shores, they brought the 524td over here, too. It was a slow seller in the E28 lineup; equipped only with an automatic, BMW dealers shifted 3,635 of the diesels.
No surprise, then, that when the E34 launched, the diesel didn’t come back with it. Though the U.S. market didn’t see the M21 in the lineup though it soldiered on. The M21 was replaced in 1991 by a new version, the M51. Now displacing 2.5 liters and with an intercooler in “s” version, the 525tds upped the power from the 114 seen in the 524td to 141 and it had 192 lb.ft of torque at only 2,200 rpms. This motor carried BMW’s diesels through the 1990s, and was available in everything from the 3-series to the 7-series.
So it’s a bit of a treat to see the M51 in North America. It’s more of a treat to see it in a Touring, and in great shape, and hooked up to a manual transmission. And, it has manual sport seats as well. Yes, the want is strong in this one!