1988 BMW 535i

When I look through the history of E28 5-series I’ve written up, it’s not hard to notice a pattern. Most are modified, and most feature European-style modifications. Perhaps that annoys the purists and I’ll start off by saying a half-hearted ‘sorry’ to all of them, but here we go again.

It doesn’t take a much of a look to tell that this E28 has undergone the same series of modifications that the last ’87 535iS I looked had; namely, European headlights and bumpers and BBS Style 5s. But unlike that example, this one is done. As in, really, really done. If you’re looking for an as-new 535i with some stellar mods, check it out – but first, move the coffee away from the keyboard, especially as you get to the ‘price’ section:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW 535i on eBay

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1988 Alpina B10 3.5/1

It’s hard to imagine being the bottom of the totem pole at Alpina, but the 3.5/1 might just be that car. In part that’s because the E34 lineup was so robust, featuring the cool 3.0 Allrad and the Learjet-channeling BiTurbo. When BMW ceased the production of the M30, V8 powered 310 and 340 horsepower 4.0 and 4.6 models replaced the inline-6. In comparison to those headliners, the 254 horsepower B10 3.5/1 seemed like an article more suited for the corner of page 2. However, consider for a moment that the B10 3.5/1’s power numbers weren’t too far off the contemporary super-saloon S38-powered M5 and it helps to restore some clarity to the impressiveness of the products rolling out of Buchloe. Today one of the 572 3.5/1s produced is up for sale in Massachusetts:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Alpina B10 3.5/1 on eBay

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1988 Mercedes-Benz 560SEC

Last week, I took a look at one of the nicest examples of a W140 Mercedes-Benz S-Class that I’ve seen in quite some time. In addition to it being extremely clean, it was also optioned with the cloth/velour interior. Like mentioned, that interior choice was actually a more expensive option, which in terms of the American market, seems counter-intuitive. As luck would have it, another top of the range S-Class popped up with a velour interior and this time its on US soil.

This 1988 560SEC up for sale in Portland, Oregon is a left-hand drive car built for the Japanese market which means it has all the European-spec goodies. Shorter bumpers, the proper headlights, and the wonderful patterned blue velour interior. Wait until you see it.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Mercedes-Benz 560SEC on eBay

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Sciroller: 1988 Volkswagen Scirocco 16V

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????”

Twice.

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…

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Volkswagen Scirocco 16V on eBay

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1988 BMW M6

Though theyre the juggernaut of BMW performance today, the reality is that there were quite a few stumbling blocks and it took many years for BMW Motorsport GmbH to establish themselves as the benchmark for German performance. Though many consider the M1 the genesis of BMW M, in fact the brand was born nearly a decade earlier with the introduction of the 3.0 CSL. The high performance E9 was built together with BMWs competition department, a relationship which ultimately resulted in the birth of BMWs Motorsport division. A few years later, the new entity would give birth to an equally legendary creation, the 2002 Turbo. But when it came to the first car to carry the M badge, it was of course the legendary M1 with its motorsport derived M88/1 double overhead cam inline six screaming in the middle of the car. Youd think this recipe carried over to the sedan range, but that was not immediately the case. First, BMW produced the M535i in the E12 chassis. Though the E28 model of the same designation was mostly an appearance package, the E12 model was turned up over the rest of the range but not with the M88; BMW instead relied on the M30 to power the M535i. Then, there was a year where nothing happened; the M1 was out of production, the E12 was replaced by the E28, and ostensibly BMW had no real performance models.

That was remedied at the 1983 Frankfurt Motor Show, where a juiced up version of the 635CSi was offered. It was labeled the M635CSi; but unlike the M535i, under the hood wasnt the venerable M30 that powered the normal 635CSi. In its place, the Motorsport division decided to slot the M88, now with /3 designation; the result was 286 horsepower a staggering figure at the time, considering that the contemporary Porsche 930 was considered fairly bonkers with a little over 300 horsepower and though it looked much larger, the early E24s only weighed about 200 lbs. more than the Porsche. Coupled with some aerodynamic tweaks, heavier duty suspension, brakes and larger wheels and tires, the result was the menacing presence worthy of the nickname Shark. For all intents and purposes, this was really the first M car for the masses. BMW brought its M lineup to the United States for 1987 with the renamed M6, and that model was lightly revised for ’88. Power was down to 256 with the catalyst-equipped S38, but ’88s picked up some visual appeal with revised headlights and slimmed corners, as well as body-color painted bumpers that make the ’88s and ’89s look a lot more polished than the ’87s.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW M6 on eBay

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High Mileage Hero: 1988 BMW 325iX

Continuing on my all-wheel ‘driveatribe’, I’d be remiss to not discuss BMW’s take on moving power around to all four wheels. While BMW wouldn’t launch the U.S.-spec iX until 1988, Europeans were introduced to the concept in 1986 – the same year as the Golf syncro. Unlike Audi’s quattro system which utilized a rearward driveshaft tacked on to a front-wheel drive transmission output shaft, BMW mated a transfer case and two viscous couplings, which effectively were front and rear limited-slips. This was very different from Audi’s contemporaneous system, which relied on the driver to lock the rear and center differentials that were otherwise open. The 325iX was able to be mated to an automatic transmission long before Audi would do so in the small chassis. BMW’s system was also more rearward biased, with 67% of the power being sent to the back wheels. While still more prone to understeer than a standard 325i, it was less so than the Audi.

Compared to other E30 models, the 325iX was a slow seller – BMW moved just 6,346 over the four production years between 1988 and 1991, putting these on just about equal footing with the M3 in terms of rarity. But two factors make finding clean ixs even harder; where they were used, and how they were used both result in rust being a big concern and it’s hard to find low-mileage examples. But while the odometer reading is stratospheric on today’s first-year ’88 2-door, it’s undergone a never-seen full restoration to return it to unbelievable condition. Also unbelievable? The price…

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW 325iX on eBay

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1988 Volkswagen Polo C Hatchback

As I mentioned in my Audi A4 TDI post, the VAG community loves things that are different; and any Volkswagen Polo that makes it to the U.S. is certainly different since the model was never sold here. The Polo launched in 1975 as a rebadged Audi 50, but managed to outlive the car that it was based upon by some good measure. In 1981, the second generation debuted on the A02 platform – a standalone for the model and its be-trunked twin, the Derby (also not sold here). These super-minis were intended to be cheap and efficient; very basic equipment was met with very basic engines, though there was a GT version and an even cooler supercharged G40 model which we’ve looked at previously.

Today’s example is none of those. This is the basic 2-door wagon model that looks a bit like a delivery van. I had a friend I went to visit in Germany, and he and his girlfriend shuttled me around in a Polo not too dissimilar to this. A Volkswagen fan, I loved being in a model that wasnt available in the States, but I did get the distinct impression that for many Germans ownership of a Polo was akin to a venereal disease. It was something you had to live with and couldnt easily get rid of, and you really didnt want anyone else to know you had it. But because these are different than the run-of-the-mill A2s, are they desirable today?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Volkswagen Polo C Hatchback on eBay

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1988 Mercedes-Benz 230TE 3.2 AMG

AMG subsidiary AMG Japan produced some wonderfully subtle vehicles in their heyday. The natural course of action if you are a tuner is to go big or go home, which they did occasionally, but not every car can be a 6.0L V8 with giant wide fender flares to make the Batmobile jealous. Today’s car, a 1988 230TE 3.2, exemplifies how AMG Japan sometimes modded cars. It is very subtle and under the radar compared to the normally flashy vehicles that came from Japan and they even went as far as converting the front end to a facelift look that I think finishes the car off perfectly. The thing is, if you want one of these, you’ll be paying for it. Collectors are gobbling up any early AMG car they can get their hands on and this one looks like it will be no different.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Mercedes-Benz 230TE 3.2 AMG on eBay

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1988 BMW M5

The M5 might not have been the original super sedan. It wasnt even the first hot 5-series. But just like the GTI is synonymous with the hot-hatch segment, the M5 became the standard by which all other super-sedans were judged the moment it rolled onto the scene in 1985. Power seemed other-worldly; 280 plus horsepower from the race-derived M88/3 hunkered down with beefy suspension upgrades and huge (for the time) alloy wheels linked with a limited-slip differential. At a time when fast cars had 180 horsepower, BMWs first M-offering in the sedan range might as well have been a space ship.

BMW promised limited production for the U.S. market, too and, indeed, only 1,239 were produced for the U.S. with the slightly de-tuned S38. Unfortunately, that was 700 more than BMW had promised to make, and that led to a lawsuit. It also wasnt very long before the M5s power reign was eclipsed; first by its replacement E34 model, then by the whole range of new V8 models emerging on the market, from the 1992 Audi V8 quattro to the 500E. Values quickly fell as these old-looking (even when new) boxy rockets fell out of favor, and they remained there for quite some time.

But recently theres grown a much greater appreciation for all things 80s M, and though the E30 has grabbed the headlines as the market star, outside of the M1 it is the E28 M5 that was brought here in fewest numbers. Even fewer have survived, and finding clean, lower mile examples can be tough. This one appears to tick the right boxes:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW M5 on eBay

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1988 Volkswagen Scirocco 16V

How can you talk about 1980s Volkswagens and not mention the Scirocco? Karmanns lift of the Giugiaro Asso di Picche, Asso di Quadri and Asso di Fiori designs was plainly evident, but that they were borrowed really should come as a surprise. After all, the reception to the master Italian designers other pens the Golf, first generation Scirocco, Audi 80 (4000) and Coupe GT firmly established both companies in the public limelight. In the case of Volkswagen, it defined a company emerging from the shadow of the air-cooled generation; for Audi, it modernized designs and capitalized on the success of the 100 lineup in the 1970s. But Karmann had been integral in the production of the first two as well, making an easy transition from ItalDesign to Volkswagens go-to special production for the second generation Scirocco.

But while the design was all grown up and modern for the 1980s, the underpinnings were the same; little changed dynamically between the 1981 and 1982 model year, and though upgrades came over the next few years with higher-spec trim and a bit more power, it wasnt until 1986 that VW coupe fans finally got to rejoice as the addition of the PL 1.8 liter dual-cam inline-4 finally joined the lineup. Now with 123 high-revving horsepower, the Scirocco went a bit more like the wind it was named after. The wide-ratio, economy-minded gearbox of yore was gone too, replaced by a close-ratio gearbox. Like the GTI and GLI, 14? Teardrop wheels and a new bodykit heightened the boy-racer appearance, and the 16V models got all matchy-matchy before the Golf and Jetta, too, with body-colored painted bumpers.

Perhaps this was a shot across the bow of the other Giugiaro-designed, sporty 2-door coupe on the market the Isuzu Impulse Turbo. Because as much of a VW nut as I am, lets be honest the Impulse was cooler. It had much better integrated bumpers, for example, and looked even MORE modern than the Scirocco. And it had cooler wheels. And it had a turbo, and as neat as having dual cams was, having a turbo got you into pants in the 1980s. While it only had one cam, the intercooled 4ZCI was good for 140 horsepower in 1985. That power was channeled through the back wheels, too, with near perfect weight distribution. To top all of that off, in 1987 you could get the RS model which was painted all white yes, even the wheels. That was as radical as it got that year – people actually paid a lot of money to tuners to achieve that look, yet a few models like the 300ZX, Audi Coupe GT and Impulse RS gave it to you from the factory. They came fully loaded with electronic gizmos, and mostly unlike the VW, they worked. Then, as if that wasnt enough, GM links created the Lotus Tuned Suspension package for the 1988 model year. If one of these rolled up to the party you and your Scirocco were at, you were going home lonely (and, more slowly).

But this isnt low-production Japanese cars for sale blog, so well look at the Scirocco.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Volkswagen Scirocco 16V on eBay

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