1997 BMW 540i Sport

This week I ran across this early production 540i Sport package car. It’s interesting for a few reasons. First, I’ve always really liked the clean look of the early sport package cars with either the turbine Style 32 wheels or the multi-piece BBS Style 19s as shown on this example. Something really worked for me about this wheel on this body style. An early 540i Sport, it’s missing some of the later additions I covered on later 540s, but still carries the aforementioned 17″ wheels and M-Sport suspension. However, this car is a bit different than the usual one that you’ll come across.

Having covered only 61,500 miles in its life, it’s almost completely original. It sounds strange to trumpet that, but most of the 540i Sports seem to be modified – even slightly. This one just looks like it’s got tint. And everything is there – it’s a California car with all original literature. It also doesn’t have the standard sport seats that would have accompanied the sport package. It was ordered in Arctic Silver Metallic with black leather comfort seats, but it’s got the all-important 6-speed manual transmission. Here, the pre-facelift orange directionals and less fussy taillight design work in harmony with the lack of body kit and beautiful exterior hue. Is it a winning combination?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1997 BMW 540i Sport on eBay

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1991 Audi 200 quattro Avant

1991 was a great year for Audi and Volkswagen enthusiasts in America, robust with performance options all around. Fans of normally aspirated motors had multiple double-cam choices; the 16V twins from Volkswagen with the GTI/GLIs, each with heavily bolstered Recaros and awesome BBS wheels. Going slightly less boy racer and more upscale yielded the equally impressive 20V inline-5 duo from Audi, with the Coupe Quattro and 90 20V quattro. They weren’t as quick off the line, but they were certainly well built, solid performing luxury vehicles. Of course, the big daddy of normal aspiration in the lineup was the V8 quattro. Still at 3.6 liters and 240 horsepower for 1991, it was also available with a manual transmission and was in the midst of a winning streak in the DTM series, usurping power from the E30 M3 and 190E 2.5-16 in monumental style.

If forced induction was more your choice for speed, there were plenty of options there, as well. 1991 featured a slightly revised Corrado, now also with BBS wheels and the 1.8 liter G-lader supercharged motor. Audi offered you a luxury cruiser still in the 200 Turbo, as well. But the big news was finally the release of the 20V Turbo motor into the lineup. Long featured in the Sport Quattro, then RR Quattro in Europe and later S2, in America Audi brought the 3B turbocharged inline-5 package in the 200. As an added bonus, it was available in both sedan form and the innovative Avant wagon. Producing 217 horsepower and a bit more torque, the Audi was capable of 0-60 runs in the mid-6 second range if you were quick with your shifts. But this wasn’t a bracket racer – the 200 was a luxury car through and through, with a well-appointed cabin full of the things you’d expect – Zebrano wood trim, electric powered and heated leather seats front and rear, and a high-quality Bose stereo. Unusual for a luxury car of the time, but underscoring the German’s feelings towards driving, were the number of driver-oriented items. The dash was full of gauges, and unlike the V8 and 200 Turbo, the 20V was manual-only. Next to the shift lever was the manual rear differential lock, though as with all the second generation quattro drivetrains, the electronic lock disengaged at 15 m.p.h. automatically. The center differential was a Torsen unit capable of varying power as well. And the brakes were unconventional floating-rotor designs, intended to help haul the heavy 200 down from triple-digit Autobahn speed with ease. Unlike the normal 200, the fenders on the 20V were flared slightly to accommodate BBS forged wheels, 15×7.5″ all around and shared with the V8 quattro. It sounded like a recipe for success, and was a well regarded car when new even if the unconventional manual/turbo-5 setup lacked some grunt compared to the V8s of the day.

Yet this was still the fallout period of both the recession of the 1990s and Audi’s fall from grace in the U.S. market, so the 200 was a slow seller. On top of that, the C3 was at the very end of its life cycle, replaced mid-1991 with the C4 chassis. As a result, very few of the 200 20V quattros were built; Audi claims 4,767 sedans and a scant 1,616 Avants were produced with the 3B motor. Of those, only about 900 sedans made it to America. But the number you care about? Well, this 1991 200 20V quattro Avant is one of the 149 originally imported here.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Audi 200 quattro Avant on Autotrader

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2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S

You know why we are here. If there is a Porsche in a rare or interesting color, I’m taking a peek. Even better if color on the inside is just as cool as the outside. You can probably see where I’m going with today’s car, a 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S up for sale in Ohio. This example is finished in Radium Green, a color first debuted way back on the 356. As cool as this color is, not exactly something that would appear on the option sheet for a new car. Understanding that, I figured this has to be a paint-to-sample car given it is a historical color. Surprisingly, this is the much more expensive option than having Porsche spray the car for $7,500.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S on eBay

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1968 Mercedes-Benz 280SL

I know when designers sit down with engineers and discuss (or fight) over a new model and how it will work, they really want to end up with the best possible product. Sometimes it ends poorly, sometimes it’s just okay, and sometimes they hit a home run. With the Mercedes-Benz Pagoda, these cheeky German knew they hit it out of the park. Actually maybe it was a “Tor!” since Germans don’t really play baseball. Either way, over 50 years later these things still turns heads. I know I badly desire one, and examples like today’s might just keep that dream alive.

This 1968 up for sale in California is finished in a lovely shade of blue over a tan interior. The condition seems about average, but the price seems awfully reasonable given the top of the food range 280 can bring six-figures for the really nice ones. I think I know why.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1968 Mercedes-Benz 280SL on eBay

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1997 Alpina B6 2.8 Touring

While some other aftermarket tuners such as Ruf and Renntech offer turned up versions of the already potent cars, Alpina operates slightly differently – filling in the voids of models not offered by the manufacturer. There are plenty of examples of this, and if often seems to be misunderstood; Jeremy Clarkson’s review of the Alpina Roadster is probably the most notable case. A slower, softer, automatic version of the hardcore roadster certainly doesn’t make a lot of sense at first glance. But what Alpina does is give enthusiasts the opportunity to enjoy the performance that BMW offered in a slightly different package that sometimes outperforms the original platform car. One of the notable missing gaps in the BMW lineup in the mid 90s was a faster version of the E36 Touring; building off the earlier B6 – effectively, Alpina’s 4-door M3 challenger built between 1992 and 1993 with a bespoke engine and typical Alpina upgrades, the company later launched the Japanese-only market B6 2.8 Touring. Produced between 1996 and 1998, only 136 of these small wagons were produced, again utilizing the 240 horsepower bespoke Alpina motor, special wheels and interiors, Alpina’s own body kit, exhaust and suspension. They were available in 3 colors only; red, green, and silver:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1997 Alpina B6 2.8 Touring on eBay

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1990 Porsche 944S2 Cabriolet

Like the Volkswagen Cabrio, the 944S2 Cabriolet isn’t a car that gets a lot of press on these pages. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have the makings of a classic. Like the Cabrio, it sold in small numbers in the tight times of the early 1990s; Porsche claims it sold only 2,386 in the United States. And it has a potent power plant in the revised 3.0 16V inline-4; pushing 207 horsepower and 208 lb.ft of torque, it was nearly as potent as the first generation Turbo without the inherent lag or accompanying bills. Yet it shared the same perfect weight balance with the rear-mounted transaxle, Turbo brakes and larger roll bars along with the integrated Turbo-look nose and tail. The S2 also received the new “Design 90” wheels that helped to bring it in line with late 928S4 and 964 models.

However, the 944S2 Cabriolet has always been overshadowed. First, for the sporting drivers out there, most will be seeking the clean lines of the S2 Coupe. Then there is always the more popular 911 Cabriolet, but it’s real competition is the later 968 Cabriolet. With more power, revised looks and a 6-speed manual, those late 968s are by most accounts the ones to get. But to me, that means that a clean 944S2 is a better value while offering you most of the experience of the VarioCam. Let’s consider this beautiful Cyclamen Red Metallic example:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Porsche 944S2 Cabriolet on eBay

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1973 BMW 2002tii Zender Widebody

Purists, swipe left.

Still here?

Okay, great, because this is not only one hell of a cool 2002, I think it’s a great deal, too. What are we looking at? Well, what started life as an Inka 2002tii ‘Roundie’ has been hitting the gym and now sports a Zender body kit, SSR mesh wheels, a half-cage with Recaro cloth seats, E21 brakes, and a host of other mechanical and cosmetic refurbishments to leave one seriously sweet piece of ’02 eye candy. The asking price? Less than you’d expect!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1973 BMW 2002tii Zender Widebody on eBay

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1986 BMW 325iX with 300 Miles

While BMW wouldn’t launch the U.S.-spec iX until 1988, Europeans were introduced to the concept in 1986. Unlike Audi’s quattro system which utilized a rearward driveshaft tacked on to a front-wheel drive transmission output shaft, BMW mated a transfer case and two viscous couplings, which effectively were front and rear limited-slips. This was very different from Audi’s contemporaneous system, which relied on the driver to lock the rear and center differentials that were otherwise open. The 325iX was able to be mated to an automatic transmission long before Audi would do so in the small chassis. BMW’s system was also more rearward biased, with 67% of the power being sent to the back wheels. While still more prone to understeer than a standard 325i, it was less so than the Audi.

But outside, there was little fanfare to celebrate the massive change in drivetrain technology. The iX just got a simple lower body kit similar to the Scirocco 16V kit and a single “X” after the 325i designation on the trunk. That’s it. European examples could even be more stealthy, like this ’86 that sports wheel covers. And this one in particular is quite special, as it’s never been road registered and has traveled just 500km since new. Pricing? The ‘E30 Tax’ is strong, my friends.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 BMW 325iX on SuperVettura.com

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2007 Mercedes-Benz S600

In terms of depreciation of the W221 Mercedes-Benz S-Class, we are probably near the bottom. A little bit of a double-edged sword as prices are well in to affordable range, but that means they are also getting into the hands of those who maybe aren’t staying up on the maintenance. On today’s car, a 2007 S600, maintenance is a way of life. Believe it or not, a twin-turbo V12 from 14 years ago isn’t the nightmare fuel you’d guess it to be. Outside of a few small things, Mercedes really did an outstanding job making these V12 durable in terms of what disasters V12 in general can become. However, this isn’t all roses. We are talking about large sums of money to drive a 14 year-ago car that probably isn’t impressing anyone outside of a handful of people and of course, me.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2007 Mercedes-Benz S600 on eBay

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2010 Porsche 911 Carrera 4

Last week I took a look at a very interesting 2007 Porsche 911 Turbo that garnered some discussion and even some people saying they really like it. Outside of the optional and very expensive carbon ceramic brakes, it looked like a pretty standard 997 Turbo. Then you peeked inside the windows and knew this wasn’t your typical example that dentist in the nice part of town leases every three years. No standard black leather here, this was Palm Green. Granted, a very subdued green, but still not something you’ll see everyday nor, for that matter, almost ever. Personally, I loved it. Give me the slightly-wild color combos everyday.

Wouldn’t you know, our friend at Switch Cars just happened to have another 997 in a seemingly restrained exterior color but a wild interior. Brace yourself, this one is a little bit more loud than Palm Green.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2010 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 on eBay

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