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?
I’m going to begin this post with a little bit of a tangent. In yesterday’s write-up of a Speed Yellow GT3 I mentioned that it is my favorite of the 996 GT3 colors. However, that’s only partially true because I knew even when writing that there is always an exception. The problem is that there is only one: a paint-to-sample Minerva Blue Metallic GT3. Paint to sample wasn’t really a popular option during the 996’s production. So while it seems like almost every GT3 produced today is paint to sample this wasn’t the case with earlier models and we so rarely see them that if I want to speak of favorites it makes more sense to refer to the primary colors that were available. But I know that Minerva GT3 exists and I, of course, began searching for it again just to remind myself of its beauty.
That more or less brings us to this Iris Blue Metallic 1986 Porsche 911 Carrera Targa. Obviously, it isn’t Minerva and Minerva is a better color, but the early Iris Blue – note that the color changed significantly on the 993 – possesses a similar level of beauty. Porsche blues are some of my favorites and I’m reminded of that nearly every time I come across one. There’s variety spanning the whole spectrum from seemingly black dark blues to the brightest blues we can imagine. Whether metallic or non-metallic they bring out some of the best in any 911. Whoever chose to build that Minerva Blue GT3 made an inspired choice.
Update 8/30/18: The car has been relisted at $3,000 Buy It Now.
I keep chuckling as I come across A2 Jettas. Iâ€™ve already professed that theyâ€™re not my favorite, yet interesting examples continue to pop up and theyâ€™re simply too good to pass on. Todayâ€™s may buck that trend, however, as itâ€™s a non-original, non-running example. So whatâ€™s it doing here? Well, because of how it was built and how it appears today, it was worth a closer look. With a 1.8 PL 16V swap, a great set of Ronal wheels and some other VW-chic mods, is this a Jetta worth saving?
In the mid-1980s, Volkswagen aimed its market sights upwards and tried to gain more traction in a niche market by offering…well, more traction. Starting in 1986, Volkswagen partnered with Steyr-Damiler-Puch and made a unique alternative to corporate partner Audiâ€™s quattro drivetrain utilizing a viscous center differential. Puch was also responsible for design and manufacturing of the T3 Vanagon Syncro, which used a different viscous coupling system because of the rear-drive platform and nature of the Vanagon. In addition to the transmission of power forwards, the T3 also offered a rear differential lock while both center and front were viscous.
But in 1986, there was a third option. Because the Volkswagen Quantum (nÃ©e Passat) shared nearly all of its internal architecture with the B2 Audis, fitment of the quattro setup from the Quattro and 4000S/CS quattro was possible â€“ so Volkswagen did it. As there was no Audi B2 Avant, Volkswagen offered the new Quantum quattro â€“ also badged Syncro â€“ in Wagon form, and only in wagon form. This meant that there was no competition crossover between the 4000 quattro and Quantum Syncro in the U.S. market. The Quantum also continued to run smaller 4x100mm hubs versus the Audi, which allowed it to utilize the same â€œsnowflakeâ€ Avus wheels borrowed from the GTI. Pricing was on par with period 4000 quattros, though â€“ base price was $15,645, but equip the Quantum similarly to the standard 4000 with power windows, mirrors, locks and sunroof and youâ€™d quickly crest $17,000 â€“ about $4,000 more dear than a standard GL5. Unlike the 4000, Quantum Syncro Wagons came standard only with power steering, brakes, cruise control and air conditioning. You had to opt-in the power package to get the other items.
That made the Quantum Syncro Wagon very much more expensive than, say, a Subaru GL 4WD Wagon or the Toyota Tercel SR5 4WD Wagon. But both of those cars were part-time 4WD; in order to get a car with similar build quality and seamless drive of all wheels, youâ€™d need to pony up a staggering $30,000 for the Audi 5000CS quattro Avant. Volkswagen only brought over 2,500 1986s, making them a rare treat to see today. But the condition which this particular 1986 appears in is staggering:
Update 8/1/18: According to the seller, the car was stolen in the Chicago-area yesterday. See the updated ad here for information.Â
There are cars from the 1980s, then there are cars that are so 1980s that you’d think they are an actual parody of the decade and just dressing up for a 1980s themed party that one of your friends is having on a Saturday night. As you might have noticed, one of these cars is the Mercedes-Benz 560SEC by German tuner ABC Exclusive. ABC Exclusive was one of the many tuners in the 1980s that pumped out crazy creations from workshops in Europe only to fade away after the money dried up only leaving behind a handful of their creations. We actually featured a BMW E24 6-Series a few years ago by them and it was just as outrageous as today’s car. Most of the time, cars like these are in pretty rough shape by now thanks to the liberal use of fiberglass and body filler, but this 1986 seems to have survived the test of time. Now that cars like these are actually old enough to be retro and cool, would you pony up the cash this C126 is expected to bring?