Don’t look now, but the Mercedes-Benz W126 coupe is surging fast in terms of value. A very nice 1991 560SEC painted in Bornite with less than 8,000 miles just sold at Amelia Island for $78,400. Yes, that car is an outlier because of its outstanding condition and rare color (plus some competitive bidders), but it sets an interesting example. For the past decade or so, $10,000 could buy you an average SEC. Not cheap in terms of old German luxury cars, but still reasonable for what it is. Now the big auction houses are touting the ”Youngtimers” from the 80s and 90s, and suddenly everyone is running to Craiglist to see what is out there. Are they suddenly going to be doubling or tripling in price like a 190E 2.3-16v? Probably not. However, find a worthwhile example and you can enjoy it maintaining its value for years to come. Today’s car, a 1990 560SEC painted in the rare Signal Red, seems to still priced competitively but I’m willing to bet that this one won’t last long at all.
We could argue the merits of what made the “ultimate” 924/944/968 all day long. A lot depends on what you consider the most desirable, or most pure form. Take that argument to the 911 range, and it becomes even more convoluted. Is it the 901? The RS? The Turbo Carrera? For me, it’s this car.
If the Ferrari F40 was the pin-up hero for most teenage boys, the Porsche 959 was its arch-enemy, and was the car I was always interested in. The F40 was a pared down street racer, while the 959 sported experimental exotic technologies that even 30 years later most cars don’t have – 6 speed manual? Yep. Active suspension? Yep, that too. Hollow spoke wheels with tire pressure monitoring system? Sure, we can do that. Kevlar composite body? Why not? Active torque splitting all-wheel drive system? Let’s give it a go. A technological Tour de Force, the 959 wowed crowds with all of these shocking options when it was launched in a still hard to believe 1985, beating the F40 to the market.
Even at the time it was released, the 959 was a bit of an enigma – did Porsche want to win Le Mans or Paris Dakar with it? Well, it did both – Paris Dakar outright, and it won its class at Le Mans. It was also one of the fastest production cars in the world, with a sub-4 second 0-60 time – something that modern supercars still strive for. Did I mention this car is the best part of 30 years old? Like all of the dream cars that remained firmly out of U.S. buyers hands, the 959 remained a forbidden fruit for many years. But today, even if your name isn’t Gates or Seinfeld, you can own in the U.S. one of the most highly sought after cars ever made – a Carrera White 1987 Porsche 959 Komfort:
How many times can you write-up the same car, or find something new to say? Somehow, for me these older Audis drive a passion of discovery which keeps them fresh. Today’s example of a B2 Audi is, like the 4000CS quattro from the other day, a last year model. Unlike the 4000CSq, though, the late Coupe GTs were upgraded with the Special Build package. A crossover to the B3 chassis, they featured rear disc brakes, color-matched trim, B3 interior fabric and a 20 horsepower bump thanks to the addition of the 2.3 liter NG inline-5. The Special Build also had a slightly different version of the ’86 digital dashboard. The best performing GT offered here, these are generally considered the most desirable of the lineup.
Today’s example is much like my ‘87.5 project, (unfortunately) right down to the automatic transmission. But with only 60,000 claimed miles and in pristine shape, is this the one to get?
Earlier this month, Carter looked at a 1979 BMW 733i Limousine that was an interesting car to say the least. Like he mentioned, it is really tough to top Mercedes-Benz when it comes to limousines, both aftermarket and factory. I personally think a factory Mercedes Pullman is without question the best limousine in the world, but some aftermarket companies have figured out how to make a nice product as well. Today’s car originally passed muster, but like all things, didn’t age all that well.
This 1987 560SEL up for sale in The Hamptons was converted to a limousine by Carat Duchatelet. Carat Duchatelet was a French company (now Belgian) that converted Mercedes S-Class into limos and other armored vehicles while adding their own special touches. This car was stretched to add a center divider as well as changed out the interior color to something a little more creamy. The entire car screams 1980s and I have come to find out that this car has an option I have never seen before on a Mercedes limousine: a calculator holder!
I have said before that I like variations of colors, especially when those variations are subtle. It’s why I like seeing so many of the blues and greens that Porsche has offered. That doesn’t mean I always will prefer those variations, but I appreciate the variety. While Porsche’s reds too come in a wide variety we don’t see them as much. I think that is partly because lighter shades of red tend to be less desirable, which leaves us only moving in one direction toward burgundy in its various forms. The variant we do see somewhat frequently is Carmine Red and it is a color I happen to like quite a bit. It’s actually quite rare having only been available from ’87-’88 and as the German – cherryrot – would suggest it has more of a cherry color to it than the much more common Guards Reds. So it’s a little deeper and can really look great.
Here we see it on a 1987 Porsche 911 Carrera Coupe, located in Pennsylvania, with Black leather interior and 113,848 miles on it.
BMW has teased us with competitor’s to Audi’s S8 and the Mercedes-Benz S63/5 AMGs, and there’s no doubt that the current M760i is a weapons-grade executive. With over 600 horsepower and a 3.4 second 0-60 time, drives to you your business lunches will be brief to say the least. But BMW has stopped short of coming out with a full-fledged M7 to this point, and it turns out they’ve been teasing us all along.
The first 7-series was a big step forward for the company, and just like today’s top-shelf offering, the 745i was a turbocharged variant that offered the best performance. That is, of course, unless you were in South Africa. That’s because South Africa got a very special E23, and it all had to do with the right side – of the road, and of the motor. On the M102 and 106, performance of the M30 was boosted by a big KKK K27 turbocharger on the right side of the motor. The placement conflicted with right-drive steering columns, and as a result BMW didn’t build right-hand drive 745i turbos. But South Africa was having none of that, and decided to build their own super-saloon. Instead of turbocharging, BMW SA installed a M88/3 in a claimed 209 of their E23s, matching the performance with M5/6 brakes and a stiffer suspension, along with BBS wheels:
Update 8/28/18: This clean 924S sold for $5,000. What a steal!
Rounding out my trio of affordable VAG 2-doors is, of course, the Porsche 924. Not that one would consider the 924 very affordable by the end of the run, mind you – but, then, it was cheap by Porsche standards. In 1987, the Scirocco had grown 8 more valves and was a competent performer – more than the match for most of the competition. Base price had also grown to almost $14,000, and equip one with power options to match its more luxurious Audi and Porsche cousins and suddenly you were close to $16,000 out the door. But it was still a big leap to the Special Build Coupe GT, which crested $21,000 with a few options. While it offered a bit more luxury than the 16V, there wasn’t any improvement in performance from the 130 horsepower NG 2.3 10V. To get more grunt, you had to turn to Porsche.
Porsche’s “budget” 944 had also grown in price, and by ’87 you were looking at – no surprise – a $5,000 increase over the Audi to get a more prestigious badge. So to bring the 944 back to its sub-$20,000 base price roots, Porsche brought back the 924. The car that was originally suppose to be the Scirocco and was, for some time, the bread and butter of Porsche’s sales was a 924 in body only as it now had 944 underpinnings. The Super 924 was therefore a bit of a sleeper, offering slightly better performance than the base 944 due to better aerodynamics of the pure design and lighter weight. Base price was briefly $19,900, so in dealerships that sold both Audi and Porsche products, this was a heads-up competitor to the late GTs. And though they ostensibly had similar missions, they were remarkably different cars. Today, little has changed but that the two remain in the same price bracket:
Update 9/26/18: This pristine 4000S has sold to a reader!
While Iâ€™m a big fan of the Audi B2 chassis, I donâ€™t spend much time looking at or for the low man on the totem pole â€“ the 4000S. If you read my Audi badging rant from a while ago, youâ€™ll remember that there was no model below the â€œSâ€ offered here, so the 4000S was the base model. Although these were the least powerful B2s on offer, in manual form they could keep up with the Coupe GT because they were also the lightest of the chassis here. Power came from a 1.8 inline-4 borrowed from the GTI and GLI Volkswagens, but it was mounted longitudinally like all B2 motors. Even though they were down on power to the 5s, the inline-4 also had 20% less motor hanging out front, making them fairly nimble. Like their 5-cylinder GT brethren, you had a choice between a 5-speed manual or the venerable 3-speed automatic that appeared in everything from the Vanagon to the Porsche 944. They were also the cheapest Audi you could buy in the 1980s. Though we often look at 4000 quattros, the reality is that about 75% or more of any given model year’s sales were front drivers. 1987 saw 9,043 out of 11,972 sold in this configuration. These appeared to be bought primarily by older women who wanted a more refined sedan but werenâ€™t ready to buy the W201 Mercedes-Benz or E30 BMW. Much more often than their all-wheel drive counterparts, or even the GT, clean examples of the prolific 4000S pop up for sale:
Now that it is the middle of August and it could snow next week for all we know, I have to start thinking about my winter vehicle situation. My trusty Land Rover Discovery 1 that I’ve had for the past 12 years probably won’t see the flakes fly because I think some coolant is leaking into the cylinders and that is a problem. Because a Discovery with 180,000 miles that has been in Pennsylvania for the past 12 years is worth roughly the price of a used lawnmower, which I’m sure people on Craigslist will offer up for trade, it isn’t worth pulling the heads and fixing. This of course has led me to shopping for G-Wagens. The sensible decision would be to find a decent Land Cruiser/Lexus LX and never lose a dime on it while being 100% reliable, but the crazy person in me says go find a G-Wagen because that is what I really want at the end of the day.
During my search for the perfect G, I came across this wild example up for sale in Canada. You might notice it is quite a bit longer and has a few more seats. This W460 300GD was cut up and lengthened a massive 32 inches. This added room for another row of seats while still keeping a healthy amount of space in the rear. The fit and finish look great along with basically everything else on this G. But I have to ask, why?
I think this will be the first 944 I have posted, which is kind of weird. Any time I find myself looking at a model I don’t typically write about the first thing I do is search through our archives just to make sure we didn’t already feature it. And then a funny thing happened. I was reading through a few of Carter’s old posts on the 944 and how the model never really has commanded the attention of enthusiasts the way the 911 and 928 have. Whether we think of the 944 during its actual production or on the present secondary market they aren’t the Porsches people dream about. They never were a poster car. Suddenly I found myself nodding my head. He might as well have been explaining my own thoughts to me.
I write about the 911 a lot and the 928 somewhat frequently. Those are the cars that attract my notice; they are the Porsches that linger in my mind; I notice them on the road. The 944? Not so much. I typically pass them by. Even if I see one on the road today I might only give it a second glance if it’s in very nice shape. So how did we end up here with this Alpine White 1987 Porsche 944 Turbo appearing as one of my posts? Pretty much for exactly the reason just mentioned: it looks really good and comes in a pretty eye-catching color combination. Bright red interiors were quite the thing in the ’80s and it doesn’t get much brighter than Can-can Red. Contrasted with Alpine White it really stands out!