In just a few years as the century turned over, Audi went from only one S model with very limited production imported in the C4 S6 to three models. Top of the range was the S8, but it shared its running gear and sonorous V8 in a slightly detuned state with the new C5 S6. For Audi enthusiasts, though, big news came with the launch of the new S4.
It was unrelated to the first S4 because of Audi’s renaming strategy in 1995. That meant that the new S4 was based on the small chassis B5, and U.S. enthusiasts finally got a taste of Audi’s M3 competitor. Performance came in the form of a new 2.7 twin-turbocharged V6 30V and was mated to either a 5-speed Tiptronic transmission like its bigger siblings or a 6-speed manual. Like other B5s, the S4 made use of the 4th generation of quattro technology driving all four wheels. This utilized a Torsen center differential with open front and rear differentials, both of which employed the ABS sensors to electronically ‘lock up’ the slipping wheels when a speed differentiation was detected. Like other S models, some light revisions to the bodywork and more pronounced exhaust were present, along with polished mirrors and 17″ Avus-design wheels. Most notable was the large front bumper cover with 6 gaping grill covers which hid the twin intercoolers for the motor. With 250 horsepower and 258 lb.ft of torque, you had an all-weather 155 mph warrior – and one that could easily be turned up many notches:
After last week’s Porsche 911 Targa 4 GTS loaded up with a seemingly endless amount of options, I wanted to look at another GTS in the Porsche lineup, the Cayman. Porsche introducted the Cayman GTS in 2014 with much fanfare, as this was once again a setup with the S model but not as hardcore as the yet to be released GT4. It boasted respectable numbers from the 3.6L flat-six, and would accelerate to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds with the manual transmission, 4.7 seconds with PDK, and 4.5 seconds with PDK and Sport Plus mode. Base price was around $75,000, but of course you could never find one for that price given how many options were stuffed into these. This 2015 up for sale in New York is a great example of it.
As I mentioned in the M635CSi post in August, there is some of the confusion about these “M” branded models came from the nomenclature between the E24 and E28. While the M6 and M5 co-existed in the United States market, they did not in Europe. This left the M635CSi to be the equivalent of the M6. But the same was not true of the M535i. This model was sold as a more affordable alternative to the M5; most of the look of the Motorsports model but without the bigger bills associated with the more exotic double overhead cam 24 valve M88/3. Instead, you got a 3.4 liter M30 under the hood just like the rest of the .35 models. The recipe was a success, selling around 10,000 examples in several different markets – but never in the U.S..
Instead, the U.S. market received the 535iS model. The iS model was specific to the North American market and gave you the look of the U.S.-bound M5, with deeper front and rear spoilers, M-crafted sport suspension and sport seats. It, too, was quite popular – between 1987 and 1988, just over 6,000 examples sold in the United States alone, and of those, a little more than half were the preferred manual variant. One of the nice aspects of the 535iS was that if you enjoyed colors other than black you were able to order the lesser model in any shade you wanted, unlike the M5. This particular 535iS has some cool mods to give it a bit more style, too:
I’d never thought I’d type this, but maybe it isn’t such a bad idea to buy a W220 Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG. Okay, maybe that was a little too broad. What I mean is maybe it isn’t such a bad idea to buy a W220 Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG if you really want a crazy powerful sedan and have lots of discretionary income to support such a purchase or you were seriously considering last week’s mess of a S600. I think that statement gets a little closer to my point, or maybe it is just one of those situations where it isn’t nearly as bad as it could be.
In the shock of the century, the W220 SL/CL/S65 AMG cars seem to be holding up fairly well considering what could actually go wrong with them. After all, this is what happened when the engineers at AMG turn the dial up to 9, with a 10 only being the SL65 AMG Black Series. Just encase I didn’t make this clear, I’m not saying these are cheap or inexpensive to keep running, but rather the same situation as living in Siberia and saying “Hmm. -8°F today, not that cold at all”. On the price end of the equation, it seems that these have hit rock bottom and dare I even say are actually being sought after by enthusiasts. So when a really sorted example pops up like today’s S65 in Los Angeles, should you actually give it consideration?
I must admit I had a soft spot for the E36/5 when it first came to our market. To me, it combined some luxury looks with practical performance. And when I say performance, honestly there wasn’t much available. The M44 engine that was fit to the 318ti was a decent performer, but it had only 138 horsepower, and at the price point you were much better off getting a GTi VR6, which oddly was more luxury oriented than most of the 318tis and offered more performance. However, the base of the 318ti was a good idea; a smart looking, light and nimble hatchback with a manual transmission and rear drive. This one has some strong positives going for it, but just one thing is missing…
I suppose you find what you look for, but it seems like I’ve been finding a whole slew of interesting 996 Porsche 911 Turbos of late. Case in point, this 2002 up for sale outside of Boston is finished in the not-so common Orient Red Metallic paint. Inside, it’s equally not as common with Natural Brown leather and the Light Wood trim package. Yes, it is a 6-speed manual gearbox car thankfully, and the best part? Just 9,800 miles. Now we are talking.
Stalled projects. If you’re a budget-minded enthusiast, they are both your best friend and your worst enemy. On more than one occasion, I’ve taken over a stalled project. Or, five.
“Can you believe someone would GIVE me an Audi Coupe GT? FOR FREE????”
Of course, nothing is really free. Invariably, the subject is several hundred miles away. It’s not running. It’s missing key parts. It’s probably
a little very dirty. And despite the low entry price, by the time you’re finished you’ll likely be upside down compared to a clean example you could have bought, enjoyed, and…perhaps…driven in that time you were saving dollars to sort your pile of parts.
But then you see the ad and you’re instant thought is “Oh MAN, look at all those good parts and potential!!!”
And the cycle continues…
Rather unceremoniously, 2020 marks the death of an automotive icon. The very last Volkswagen Beetle rolled from the third generation production line in Puebla, Mexico in July and while you can log in to VW’s website and still see the model listed, existing stock is all that’s left. The two most recent Beetles never really achieved the notoriety of the original, but nonetheless they offered a welcome break from the standard three-box design and were decidedly anti-SUV. You don’t have to like them, but you can respect that they were different.
In the case of the third-generation Beetle, I think they were actually pretty good looking, too. Spacious, economical, and good-to-drive thanks to a shared Golf MQB platform, several special models graced dealerships in an attempt to sway buyers. Here’s one – the ‘Dune’. More a fashion statement than an actual Baja Bug, the Dune added .2″ of ground clearance and a half an inch of plastic moldings all around. Faux skid plates, special decals, a huge spoiler and polished door sills rounded out the exterior trim additions. Power came from the familiar 1.8T shared with the Passat, Golf and Jetta models (among others worldwide), and gave you 170 horsepower channeled only through a 6-speed automatic:
What if I told you, in the year 2020, that you could buy a 1995 Porsche 911 for just $33,000? Yes, a black over tan leather example with just over 100,000 miles. It isn’t one of the bait and switch listings where the one angle looks fine but when you click on it and scroll through the photos you see the other side was hit by a runaway garbage truck at 55 mph. Nope, this one run and drives just fine, and even has Cup wheels. Even better, it is a 6-speed! After my recent run of automatic 911s, it is finally time get to get back a true manual gearbox. So what is the catch? Well, there is always a catch.
As we are now into a new decade, I figured now is a good a time as any to remind you to never buy the car I’m looking at today. What is it? The 2001 Mercedes-Benz S600. Not just the 2001, but any vehicle that comes with one of the worst engines ever made, the M137. This engine was so bad, that it only lasted three model years the US spanning from 2000-2002 in the S600 and CL600. Mercedes quickly admitted their errors and switched to the M275 in 2003, and that was so durable that iterations of it are still in production today. Why exactly was this thing so bad? Lets refresh our memory.