The “Safari” formula is pretty predicable by now. Take a vehicle, fit some suspension components to lift it, add some knobby tires, auxiliary lighting, and a roof rack if you are feeling spicy. If you really want to go to the point of no return, cut the fenders and bolts on some giant plastic flares. Done. You have yourself a “safari” car. As you might have guessed, this is what we are looking at today.
This is a 1987 Porsche 924S up for sale in Quebec that has all the typical stuff. Sawzall to the fenders, stick on giant BFGoordwich K/O 2 tires, a mix-match of lights, and a roof basket. Since this is a 924S, there are no real performance modifications at all. However, this could be fun for the correct price, right? Well, not so much.
These are always fun. This is a 1987 Mercedes-Benz 230E with a mere 995 kilometers, or 618 miles for us Americans. The story says that it was used as a dealer demo car for a showroom in Germany then stashed into storage until recently discovered. As crazy as it is to see 618 miles, this is about as basic as a W124 gets. The M102 inline-4 with a cloth interior, no power windows, no air conditioning, and a manual transmission. Puzzling at the time, but now as we are entering an era where some covet for basic models with nothing to go wrong, it is tough to argue against this one. Problem is, this one comes with a massive price tag. Like, nice 500E price tag.
Let’s say that instead of just hoping that some day your car will be worth a mint, or indeed even caring what other people think about your vehicular choices, you just want have a car which looks good and is enjoyable to drive. Let’s not forget, this advice is coming from someone with somewhat polarizing vehicle choices…so, take the advice with a grain of salt, but I’m going to persist in my argument that the 944 Turbo is the car for you. A true David of the 1980s, the 944 Turbo was the understated and unassuming Goliath slayer, turned down by the factory so as not to have its performance overshadow the 911 range. Being faster than a 911 is pretty much verboten in Germany and especially in Stuttgart, but nearly everyone that experienced a 944 Turbo in the 1980s came away with the impression that in every statistical (and in some non-statistical ways) it was a better car than the Carrera.
But, as our astute readership has previously noted, certain cars – the Audi Quattro, the BMW M3 and M5, and of course the 911 range – were the cars groups of individuals dream of. The 944 Turbo really wasn’t. There weren’t many people that hung 944 Turbo posters on their walls, because there was always something from Porsche that was a little bit more special – the 928 was more futuristic, the 911 was more comforting as a predictable classic, and “Turbo” was synonymous with only one Porsche in history.
That model wasn’t the 944, nor was it the 924. And though both of those respective cars outperformed their brethren in period and were very impressive outside of the Zuffenhausen lineup, the market of today in many ways continues to mimic the original sales trends. The 944 Turbo outsold the Quattro, outsold the M3 – neither, it should be noted, limited production cars. But today, probably in part because of its success, the 944 Turbo just doesn’t get the wows, the attention, or the press of its contemporaries. Of course, there’s one more thing it doesn’t get as a result – their price:
Last week I took at a look at a Mercedes-Benz E350 in a very interesting color that drew an above average reaction in the comment section. Personally, I wasn’t a fan of the shade, but some enjoyed it and at the end of the day, I’m just glad they still offer some crazy colors. Today, I wanted to take a look at another Mercedes-Benz in a maybe not so popular color, but a lot easier to sallow.
This 1987 560SL is finished in Ivory, and that name pretty much nails it. It is an off-white, eggshell, beige, kind of color. Exciting? No. Understandable on a luxury convertible in 1987? Very much so.
“It’s got a cop motor, a 3.2 liter flat-6 plant, it’s got cop tires, cop suspensions, cop shocks. It’s a model made before catalytic converters so it’ll run good on regular gas.”
Okay, so maybe that wasn’t the exact quote, but you get what I’m saying. What we are looking at is a 1987 Porsche 911 Carrera Targa modified to be used by the Rijkspolitie. What exactly is the “Rijkspolitie?” They are the state and national police of The Netherlands. The story goes that post-WW2, Dutch motorways lacked a speed limit and required police cars to keep with whatever was roaming the highways then. Their solution? Call Porsche and order a bunch of 356s to convert to police cars. Apparently they were happy with this arrangement as this practice continued all the way up until the 964 chassis and even included the 914 and 924 as well. A total of 507 Porsches went into police service, making it the largest Porsche police car fleet in the world. Over the years, some of these cars have trickled into private ownership and trade hands every now and then. This Carrera Targa up for sale has all the cool touches, but also comes with a giant price tag.
Like yesterday’s GTI, the similarly Giugiaro-styled Audi Coupe GT added a touch of upscale Italian design to relatively pedestrian underpinnings. However, there was more of the rally-bred all-wheel drive Quattro DNA in the Coupe GT than its corporate cousin. Nearly everything apart from the door handles in the B2 was overbuilt; massive driveshafts, bigger brakes and heavier duty suspension, and a robust engine meant that in any form these entry level Audis have stood the test of time pretty well. While in Europe there were several different variants of the Coupe in 4 or 5 cylinder and with all-wheel drive, in the U.S. we only got one at any time. Starting with a 2.1 inline-5, the front-drive only GTs worked their way up to the last of the run 2.3 NG motored cars. With 4-wheel disc brakes, special exterior and interior treatments, a unique digital dashboard and 130 horsepower, these lighter “Special Build” GTs were a performance match for U.S. spec Quattros, and are almost as rare. This black example sports some modifications but looks quite clean overall:
If you pop on to the Audi USA configuration site, it’s easy to shake your head at how expensive it seems the range has gotten. The A3 is the cheapest product you can buy, but at $33,000 without options it’s hard to see how this gussied-up Golf is affordable.
Yet, relative to where Audis used to sticker, that price is downright cheap.
Take this 1987.5 Audi Coupe GT Special Build. At the end of the run, Audi sold approximately 850 of these B2/B3 hybrid Coupes to the U.S. market. While things like the suspension and basic body were unchanged, the Special Build got the NG-code 2.3 inline-5 that was seen in the later Type 44/C3 and B3 chassis cars with 130 horsepower. The gearbox was also unique to the Special Build, having beefed up drive shafts (for some unknown reason, as the existing ones were already overbuilt). The Special Build was also the only front-drive B2 to carry 4-wheel disc brakes – again, shared with the B3 instead. Inside, the Special Build got a special digital dashboard in a slightly different hue than the ’86 Coupe GTs with digital boards had. The interior fabric was updated to the Savoy Velour (also from the B3) instead of the B2’s Kensington Velour – this was signified by a triple stripe instead of a dual stripe. To help distinguish the limited cars, the exteriors featured a “dipped” look; window surrounds were body color as were mirrors and spoiler, and if you opted for Alpine White (L90E) the Ronal R8s were also painted body color. As with most later GTs, the Special Build came relatively loaded with few options, though most don’t seem to have the rear wiper selected for some reason. Sunroof, leather steering wheel, power windows, power defogging mirrors, cassette stereo and power antenna, cruise control and a trip computer were all standard. Only heated seats, a rear wiper, leather interior and an automatic transmission could be optioned.
The price for this “heavily optioned” exclusivity was $20,600, and you’d be hard pressed to leave a dealer for much under $21,000 after delivery charges. Inflation corrected from 1987 dollars to 2020 dollars, that’s about $48,000. A brand new A5 coupe starts at $44,000 today and has many more amenities standard. Is it any surprise that we see so many more luxury vehicles today than what we saw in the 1980s?
Most enthusiasts couldn’t give a damn about a mid-80s Audi. I am not ‘most enthusiasts’. Indeed, if two people pulled up to a Cars and Coffee – one in a brand-new C8 Corvette and one in a fairly used 4000CS quattro, I know which one I’d gravitate towards. I’d like to think I’m not alone, either. The 4000CS quattro was one of the best examples of the expression ‘greater than the sum of its parts’. With only 115 horsepower on tap and fairly mundane roots in an economy car, you’d be right to not expect much. But the 4000CS quattro over-delivered in just about every way thanks in no small part to a healthy dose of DNA infused from its bigger, turbocharged brother.
To end production, just as they did with the Coupe GT Audi of America rolled out a Special Build 4000CS quattro. Since it already had four-wheel discs, that wasn’t changed, nor was the engine, unlike its two-door counterpart. But what you got was a special Jacquard quattro-script heated cloth interior, blacked-out badges, body-color mirrors, a trip computer, and one of the best all-weather companions ever created:
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:
1987 saw some minor changes to the fantastic forced-induction 944 Turbo; most notable was the addition of ABS, which meant no more Fuchs. Instead, higher offset ‘Phone Dials’ were added, with an option for the forged ‘Gullideckel’ polished wheels. The other change was in color combinations available. Azurite Blue replaced Copenhagen Blue in the dark tones, while two new standard colors were introduced – Lemon/Summer Yellow (LMIA) and Malven Red (LY3E). Both of these colors were a one-year only option on the 944, and both are pretty rare to see. I looked at a Lemon/Summer Yellow ’87 Turbo back in 2016:
Summer Dreaming: 1987 Porsche 944 Turbo
But I think this is the first time I’ve seen a Malven Red Turbo, and it looks like a good one to consider: