Though not as familiar as Alpina, Hartge was another tuner who took BMWs to a higher level. Starting in the early 1970s, they similarly modified cars with higher output motors, special suspension and body kits, and even eventually their own wheel line. In 1985 Hartge was granted special production status in Germany, but their volume never approached that of their rivals. As a result, it’s a bit of a special treat anytime a fully modified Hartge turns up.
The E30 Hartge range was fairly similar to Alpina’s C and B range, with designations associated with their engine displacement. From the 170 horsepower H23 to the 210 horsepower H27, tuned versions of the M20 were employed – some with unique individual throttle bodies, bespoke exhaust manifolds and camshafts, and other trick items. But Hartge also stuck the M30 in the chassis, creating this car – the H28 – and an even more potent H35. The H28 was rated at 210 horsepower – a 70 horsepower upgrade from the stock 323i on which the car was based – and also was met with upgraded suspension, differential, wheels and tires, brakes and body kit. Like Alpina, you could buy many of these parts piecemeal from authorized sellers, making fully modified factory Hartges quite rare:
It’s a bit amazing to consider that two of the most significant halo cars in German motoring history – both homologation models intended to lead their respective marques into the next decade – so closely paralleled each other, yet were so very different. It’s but a 35 minute train ride between Munich and Ingolstadt, and in the late 1970s both BMW and Audi wanted a range-topping model to grab attention. But their approaches were radically different. BMW designed a bespoke mid-engine, tube-frame supercar around a basic engine design it already had. Audi, on the other had, took a basic car design it already had and added a revolutionary drivetrain.
Both were styled by Giugiaro. Both had to be built out-of-house; Baur had a hand in each. Both had legendary engineers – Walter Treser and Roland Gumpert for Audi, Jochen Neerpasch at BMW. Both raced, though the series they were intended for were ultimately cancelled. Both launched a brand name – BMW’s M division, and Audi’s quattro (and later quattro GmbH). And today, both are both legends and highly sought by collectors. So today we have an interesting showdown; two prime examples have come to market and are nearly the exact same price. Of course, for that to occur the Audi entrant is the ‘ultimate’ evolution of the Quattro, the Sport model. So let’s put aside the ridiculous $700,000 plus asking prices of each of these cars for a moment, and consider – all things being equal (which they nearly are!), which one would you choose? Let’s start with the M1:
I’m pretty sure that I’ve written up more B2 Audis for sale than any other site out there. You won’t get an unbiased account from me, but they truly are a great design. They’re handsome, comfortable, reliable and fun to drive in just about any iteration. They’re more rare to see than both period Volkswagens or BMWs, too. And while they’re not without their quirks, they’re the type of car that certainly rewards ownership and makes you feel special. Obviously, I’m a fan of the Audi Coupe GT. I’ve owned five over the past 23 years and get joy out of seeing each one. But there are a few configurations of the GT that really stand out.
There weren’t many special editions of the GT produced, but in 1986 Audi made an entire run of “Commemorative Design” cars. The 4000CS, 4000CS quattro, Coupe GT and 5000 models all got special upgrades and each were slightly different. The closest were the 4000 quattro and Coupe GT, which shared paint colors and interiors. Option code 761 got you the Special Build package on the GT (750 for the 4000CS quattro). The exteriors of both were either LB7V Graphite Metallic or L90E Alpine White, but inside they shared the same lipstick red “Mouton” leather (92). While the quattro got the slightly uprated JT code 115 horsepower 2.2 inline-5, the GT relied on the KX code motor with 110 horsepower. The difference lay in the exhaust manifold; the GT unit was a 5-1 cast manifold, while the quattro had a beefier 5-3-1 exit, along with a larger diameter exhaust. However, the lighter GT was quicker than the all wheel drive variant; and thanks to the nature of the GT versus the quattro market, more of the 750 special 1986 models have survived. The ’86 CE models also received the notorious digital dash, and if you selected Alpine White, they had color matched wheels, mirrors and rear spoiler. But the Graphite over Mouton color combination really makes the sharp Giugiaro lines stand out:
I’m a sucker for two things: great deals on underdog cars and crazy color combination. Welcome to today’s 951!
I’m not going to hide my love of the transaxle 4-cylinder Porsches. I think they’re still some of the best deals going in the Porsche world, provided you know where to look. For example, I provided you with a stellar example of a 924S just a few weeks ago:
1987 Porsche 924S with 17,500 Miles
As I mentioned there were two ways to consider that car. On one hand, I don’t think you could get a better condition, lower mileage Porsche for any less. But on the flip side, there were plenty of other cars that were a lot more desirable for similar money. This 944 Turbo is one of the cars that I referenced. Granted, it’s not quite as pristine as the 924S was, but I still think it has a lot to offer:
To go up against the established Alpha executive from Germany – the S-Class Mercedes-Benz – BMW’s engineers had to think outside of the box. It wasn’t simply good enough to mimic the go-to large luxury sedan. They’d have to outperform it, to be better than Stuttgart’s best. That was a tall order for the Munich firm, since its last truly large sedans were the 501/2 series cars; the Baroque Angels of the early 1950s. Though they launched at roughly the same time as BMW’s microcar craze, they were really holdovers from another era. The same wouldn’t work in the late 1970s, but primed with the success of their 5- and 6-series models, BMW was ready to face the challenge.
Though the E3 had offered a sizeable sedan, the new E23 really stretched BMW’s platforms. The new 7-seres was 6 inches longer overall, most of which fell in a longer wheelbase versus the E3. It was also wider by a few inches and lower, too. Paul Bracq again provided the styling and it was nothing surprising; it carried the torch of many of the design elements of the 3-, 5- and 6-series cars, and that certainly wasn’t a bad thing. But what BMW hoped would help to set it apart from the competition was technology and performance, along with a high-level of material quality in the cabin. Options included Buffalo leather, an on-board computer system, anti-lock brakes, heated and reclining power seats front and rear, and even an airbag late in the run; standard fare today, but way ahead of the curve in the late 1970s and early 1980s. BMW matched this technology with a thoroughly modern driver-oriented cockpit which made the W116 Mercedes-Benz competition feel immediately antiquated.
Where the E23 really established itself, though, was in keeping with the “driving machine” motto of the company. This was a performance sedan, and consequently BMW brought its turbocharger technology over to the E23. Launched in 1980, the new “745i” derived its name from the 1.4 multiplier for turbocharged displacement, and the M102B32 3.2 liter inline-6 cranked out an impressive 252 horsepower with 280 lb.ft of torque channeled through a 3-speed automatic ZF-built 3HP22 gearbox. It provided effortless highway cruising with a broad torque curve. With a full assortment of luxurious options, a driver-oriented design and pioneering turbocharger technology, these really were cutting edge sedans in the early 1980s. The M102 was replaced for the later ’82-86 745is with the M106, which produced the same peak horsepower but at a lower rev range. Displacement was up to match the M30 at 3.4 liters and it now used Motronic engine management:
There isn’t a whole lot more to be said about the Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16v. We’ve featured them here from time to time and the general consensus is that is a real winner in terms of actual driving experience vs. the price you pay. The prices have sure shot up over the past decade on them, but there aren’t a lot of cars from this era that are worth a damn that didn’t. I think every one realized that the these cars are from an era that is never coming back and thus, making them collectible. I’m sure everyone regrets not buying one of these went they were $7,500 thinking they’d stay around this price for a while and they’d get one when they made a little more money or when the kids were grown, but at least it isn’t like the Porsche 964 where an average car with over 100,000 miles is now $50,000.
Today’s car, a 1986 up for sale in California, is an interesting example. Is isn’t a garage queen, having just over 100,000 miles, but looking at the condition, you’d swear it had around half that. Naturally, you’d expect a giant price tag trying to catch lightning in a bottle from someone who falls in love with it on a whim, but believe it or not, it really isn’t all that bad compared to the current market for them.
Back when the metal was heavy and the hair was high, the cars of Willy KÃ¶nig ruled the earth. Koenig Specials GmbH was a German tuning house that took already outrageous cars on their own from Ferrari, Porsche and Mercedes-Benz and turned them up to 11. Unlike the majority of the tuning houses and coachbuilders from the same era, Koeing made cars that matched their bark with an even bigger bite. In addition to outlandish body work and 13 inch wide wheels, Koenig had a tradition of twin-turbocharging cars that made some of them capable of 200 mph and 0-60 runs under 4 seconds. One very special Ferrari Testarossa that was built by Koenig produced 1,000 hp and recorded a top speed of 229 mph. Today, these cars are still admired and now that everything from the 1980s is cool and very collectible. That is what we have with this car today.
This is a 1986 Mercedes-Benz 500SEC that received the full Koenig treatment including a twin-turbo kit on the M117 V8. It has a body kit that only the Batmoblie rivals and wheels deep enough to cook chicken soup in. Inside, Recaro C Classic seats only begin the wildness with a second gauge cluster added on the dash and enough wood for a dining room table. I rarely see these Koenig Specials come up for sale and this example in Canada is already pulling in big bids. How high will it go?
This Audi Coupe GT 20V sold for $11,900.
Yesterday’s Jade Green ’74 911 Coupe was for me a ‘Greatest Hits’ example. It was a great color on a great classic, with great wheels, great flares, a great interior and great graphics. While I’m certain it wasn’t for everyone, the 911 market of today means that whatever genre your particular greatest hits are composed of you’ll probably find what you’re looking for.
The same cannot be said for Audi, especially when it comes to 1980s examples. Yet here, today, we have what I would consider to be a pretty good attempt to make the greatest Coupe GT. First off, there are some who like the early Coupe or Coupe GT models, but as I’ve had a string of them my heart beats to the later ’85-up chassis. Couple the better looks with improved European headlights and you’re starting off well. Make it one of the better colors for the GT – Alpine White L90E – and things are still great. Inside, the best interior to match that outside was the limited edition Commemorative Design “Mouton” red leather. You’ll want the Nardi leather wheel to hold on to. Kick the wheels up a few notches to really make the GT look more purposeful, and while you’re there, lower the ride height too.
But it’s the go that really separates this GT. The stock KX is hard to develop, between the lack of parts, the CIS fuel injection, and the lack of parts. Did I mention the lack of parts? You can go the cam route and do a bunch of other goodies and once it’s all done, you’ll come out the other side with maybe as much power as the later 2.3 NG. Maybe. But since the GT is a one-wheel drive wonder, you won’t want to overdo the power department. The solution is the short-lived 7A 2.3 20V DOHC motor found in the 1990-1991 90 quattro 20V and Coupe Quattro. Match the 164 horsepower, 7,200 RPM screamer to the 600 lb lighter chassis of the GT and suddenly you’ve got quite a stunner. And why not throw in some period graphics, too?
While it hasn’t been particularly long since I looked at a B2 – either in Coupe GT or in 4000S form – it has been a bit since we saw a nice example of the fan-favorite 4000 quattro. In fact, it’s been over a year since I looked at the last late-build 4000CS quattro.
Such is the marketplace at this point. The newest example is on the verge of being 32 years old and, frankly, not many have lived glamorous lives. Despite this, they are resilient. I was reminded to the 4000CS quattro when I watched a recent Motorweek featuring the then-new 325ix. While admittedly the E30 packed more power than Audi’s traditional normally aspirated inline-5, to me the 4000 still holds greater appeal and was better in its execution of a reliable all-weather sedan. I won’t go through everything that made these cars special as I have done several times, but if you’re interested you can read about the early or late models by clicking.
Today, both the ix and quattro models are few and far-between. Audi originally sold about 4,000 each model year of the 4-year run of the democratized all-wheel drive system shared with its very rare Quattro brethren, but at a cut-rate price and with exceptionally low residual value (I bought mine at 9 years old with under 100,000 miles for only 10% of its original sticker price), there just aren’t a lot of good ones remaining. Here’s one:
I’ve lost track at how many Mercedes-Benz W126 Coupes I’ve looked at because frankly, there are a lot of really nice ones out still there. I think maybe that has to do with it somewhat being see as the pinnacle of Mercedes-Benz large coupes as it didn’t get much better when you factor everything in. A lot of people don’t really like the next generation W140 Coupe and the prior generation, the R107 SLC, isn’t the prettiest car ever made. If you go even further back with the W111, you start talking about them becoming pretty pricey and they aren’t exactly setup to use on a regular basis because of how old they are. Today’s car, a 1986 560SEC, is probably the nicest W126 Coupe I’ve run across. In case you haven’t noticed, it has just a little over 10,000 miles on it and looks every bit the part. As for the price? Well, what are you expecting for a 560SEC with these circumstances?