1990 Mercedes-Benz 300CE

I think the days of picking up a nice W124 Mercedes-Benz coupe for very little money is probably over. I remember only a few years ago where a decent example could be had for $4,200 or so and everyone would leave happy. The last year or so? Not so much. Most have been trading in the $10,000 ballpark with some really nice examples selling for much more. Yes, you can probably find a handful of 300CEs that need some love for much less than 10k, but how much as you spending to get it back up to snuff?

That brings me to today’s example, a 1990 up for sale New Jersey that has just over 100,000 miles on the odometer. It looks to be well looked after and not beat up at all. But I think the problem with this car is interesting color scheme of Signal Red with the slightly darker lower cladding. Is it garish? Probably. Is it old enough where a crazy paint scheme is now considered cool? Maybe so.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Mercedes-Benz 300CE on eBay

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1990 Volkswagen Rallye Golf Tribute

Watch out Quattro, here comes the Golf!

While in the 1980s if you bought any of the branded ‘quattro’ systems you basically got the same drivetrain no matter what model you jumped in, the same was not true at corporate sibling Volkswagen. To add all-wheel drive to its lineup, VW had to incorporate three distinct systems all of which fell under the moniker ‘syncro‘. As just discussed in the T4, the T3’s system was a viscous coupling setup sending power forward with twin locking differentials. The B2 Passat shared its platform with the Audi B2, so there the all-wheel drive syncro was really just a re-badged generation 1 quattro system. But in the A2 chassis, a different viscous coupling setup engineered by Steyr-Daimler-Puch helped to transfer power rearward from the transverse engine when the front wheels slipped. The engineering was pretty trick, but underneath it all it was pretty much just a standard Golf – albeit one with potential.

So in the late 1980s when Volkswagen Motorsports wanted to enter Group A racing with the new all-wheel-drive Golf, it needed to build more than just race cars if they wanted a mean motor in it. It was homologation at its finest. Okay, maybe not, but build more they did, with at around 5000 road-going units planned of what was dubbed the Rallye Golf.

Defined by its rectangular headlights with cooling slats underneath, the Rallye continued the I’m a race car on the road … SHHHHHHH! theme with typical 1980s box-flared fenders. The Sebring alloy wheels were also seen on U.S.-bound Corrados. Despite the racer looks, the extra performance of the 1H G60-supercharged, 1.8-liter 8-valve inline-4 rated at 158 horsepower wasn’t enough to overwhelm the additional mass of the rear drive system, and, consequently, a well-driven GTI 16V would be quicker to 60 and around a track. But BOXFLARES!

Consequently, though the Rallye may not win the VW drag race, it won the hearts of enthusiasts. This tribute plays into that with a visual recreation of the Rallye – lacking the viscous coupling setup, but with a lot more motivation under the hood:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Volkswagen Rallye Golf Tribute on eBay

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1990 Porsche 944S2

While cars like the Audi Quattro and BMW M3 may have popularized boxy flares with their racing credentials to back it up, in my eyes no one pulled off the muscle-bound economy look better than the Porsche 944. The addition of several inches of width and wider wheels to the 924 chassis meant an entirely new feel that mingled with supercar lines instead of Volkswagen lineage. Simply put, they were the most sensual looking German car in the 1980s, and that got even better late in the run with some subtle aero additions that enhanced and updated the look. The smooth Turbo bumpers and rear diffuser carried over to the S2 model, along with some lovely “Design 90” wheels that were also highlighting the 964 model. As Porsche moved to a full update of the watercooled transaxle cars with the introduction of the 968, the outgoing 944S2 even adopted the new “bridge” spoiler design from the not yet introduced model.

Turbo looks without the associated power wasn’t an unknown quantity for Porsche, but the 944S2 was no slouch in its own right. Powered by the M44.41 3-liter inline-4 that had been enlarged from the double overhead cam 944S motor, the 208 horsepower wasn’t as much as the 968 would sport but was still awfully close to what the original 944 Turbo had produced in power. Better yes, with instant torque the S2 was, and still is, a very entertaining drive. Hardly cheap, on paper they were not immediately the smart choice for a sports car buyer in 1990 and 1991, as twin-turbocharged monsters from Japan were all the rage and often less expensive than the best part of $50,000 a 944S2 would cost you. With only around 3,600 imported to the U.S., they’re a bit rare to see but offer great Porsche build quality, performance and even practicality in a very attractive package:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Porsche 944S2 on eBay

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1990 Porsche 911 Carrera 2

Oh Paint to Sample, you’ve really done it this time. What you are looking at is a 1990 Porsche 911 C2 painted in “Karminrot.” In English, that is “Carmine Red,” but you can see that this car is not red. Even more so, if you see that a Porsche is painted in Carmine Red, it will look like this. So what gives? Why is this car pink? During a point in 911 history, Karminrot was actually this color. I suppose somewhere along the line they came to their senses and decided that it doesn’t make a lot of sense to call a pink car “red,” as well as the fact that no one was actually buying this color. That likely leaves this 964 as possibly the only example finished in a color most associated with bubblegum.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Porsche 911 Carrera 2 on eBay

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1990 Volkswagen Corrado G60

Update 10/18/19: This Corrado sold for $5,650.

While the second-generation Scirocco was a re-body of the first-generation chassis with some upgrades, when it came to the end of the 80s and the launch of a new sporty Volkswagen, they turned to…another antiquated chassis. Prepared for the 1990 model year, the A2 chassis was already the best part of 7 years old and not the most refined unit out there. Despite this, plans moved ahead at cash-strapped VW to produce two “new” models that were adaptations of the A2 chassis.

The result was the third generation Passat and the sporty Karmann-built Corrado. The design was more VAG evolution than revolution; in many ways, the Corrado’s profile and several aspects mimicked the upscale Audi products. Volkswagen again went to the tried-and-true ‘Operation Copy Giugiaro’ plan that worked with the Scirocco. It looks like a shorter, chunkier Audi Coupe GT to me – especially in its original G60 supercharged guise. While the GTI went to the 2.0 16V and slick BBS wheels making an instant classic, Volkswagen relied on the G-Ladder supercharger that was seen in the European Golf Rallye and G60 GTI for the motivation for the Corrado. But the Corrado wasn’t made to challenge its siblings; it was aimed at the 944 crowd, replacing the 924S as a ‘Poor Man’s Porsche’ rather than just an expensive GTI alternative.

Ostensibly, this made it the top-trump at Volkswagen, what with 160 horsepower and good torque. But the heavy weight and complicated nature of the model meant that the GTI retained greater appeal. It seemed as though Volkswagen hit a home run when they finally slotted the even more potent and better sounding VR6 into the Corrado for 1992, relegating the supercharged model to obsolescence and obscurity. This model was thoroughly overshadowed by the VR6 and GTI, so values sunk quickly. Often they landed in the hands of those not able to afford the expensive repairs. And, no surprise, the result is that finding clean G60s is pretty tough today – but they don’t get much cleaner than this Alpine White one:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Volkswagen Corrado G60 on eBay

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1990 Audi V8 quattro

If Alfa Romeo built a German car, it would be the V8 quattro.

First, it was hugely complicated. There were computers controlling everything, and in the great manner in which Audi and Volkswagen developed their late 1980s computer technology, it worked great until it didn’t, at which point the car would be thoroughly incapacitated. One day driving my ’93 4.2, during a rain storm the “convenience controller” failed, opening all of the windows AND the sunroof and not allowing me to close them. Needless to say, it was less than convenient. Second, it hemorrhaged fluids. We’re not talking a little bit, either – full on “Oh, I’m sorry, did you want me to keep that $20 a liter worth of hydraulic fluid IN me?” hemorrhaging. Oil, coolant, transmission fluid…you name it, if you could put it in, it would instantly come out. It tried to kill me, too. Not just once, either. See, that fluid loss resulted in a buildup of oil gunk. Where does the oil gunk build up, you ask? On the throttle. This normally isn’t a problem, unless once in a while you opened the throttle. Then, it became a problem, as the throttle wouldn’t close. Again, not a problem so much on a 4000 quattro with all 115 stampeding horses, but in the ’93 V8 quattro, there were 2.5 times that amount – 276 horsepower with even more torque launching my 3,900 pound missile down Route 195. Leaks presented themselves in other odd ways, too – like, for example, when I got a self-imposed flat tire at a winter driving school. Out came the tools to jack the car up, no problem. However, when I went to retrieve the spare, a sad sight awaited me – the trunk had leaked into the spare tire well apparently, resulting in the space saver spare being thoroughly embedded in 10 inches of tire well-shaped ice cube. In story generation alone, the V8 quattro was by far the Professor Emeritus of my car history. Thirdly, no one knew what it was when you went to get a part. Allow me to present a theoretical trip to the parts counter – even at an Audi dealer…

Parts Guy: Hi, what kind of car?
Me: Audi
PG: What model?
Me: V8
PG: No, not what engine, what model.
Me: V8
PG: They made a model named V8?
Me: Yes
PG: (turns to other Parts Guy) You ever hear of an Audi V8?
OPG: He probably means A8.
Me: No, the A8 is the model that replaced the V8.
(both look confused)
PG: Okay, what year?
Me: 1993
PG: Audi made cars in 1993?
Me: Yes. Not many.
PG: Okay, the computer tells me that your car doesn’t exist.
Me: It’s outside. Would you like to see it?
PG: No, maybe I can cross reference the part. What do you need?
Me: The transmission control unit.
PG: ………………
PG: ……….. (turns to other PG and looks confused)
Other PG: Ah, you should probably just go to the dealer.

Fourth, when eventually you convinced someone who supplied parts for your non-existent car that it really was real, inevitably the part would be expensive. Really, really expensive. And, on backorder, or no longer available. It made repairs lengthy and always have at least one comma in the price estimate. That estimate was almost always below what it actually cost to get it running again, and when it did run again, inevitably there would be something still wrong that would need to be fixed on the next trip to the mechanic. And that was 15 years ago!

Yet, more than any car I’ve previously owned, it’s the one I’d want back.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Audi V8 quattro on eBay

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1990 Audi 200 quattro Avant

Although the C3 Audi chassis enjoyed a reasonably long production run of 1984-1991, each year introduced changes that, while evolutionary, were notable and make each specific model year feel a little bit bespoke. The biggest change was the 1986 introduction of Audi’s all-wheel drive system of quattro to the large model range, making three distinct packages you could get the unique drivetrain in the luxury market. In the U.S. market, 1986 5000 quattros came only in “CS” spec and sedan – basically, fully loaded with only heated seats, Fuchs forged wheels and Pearlescent White Metallic paint as options. 1987 opened the options, but not with more gadgetry – the Avant, previously only available in front drive normally aspirated “S” form, joined the quattro lineup full time after being introduced about halfway through the 1986 model run. Alcantara also became a seldom-selected option. 1988 saw a very minor revision to the turbocharged “CS” models with new script badges in the rear and a few more options including heating for the rear seats and Velour interior options, but the big news was a new “5000S quattro” model, which came sans turbo and without the twin-bulb headlights, but shared the big brother turbo brakes and wheels. It was a smart move to drop the price on the quattro models, as the normal run 5000 reported outsold the 5000CS quattro by a measure of 4:1!

1989 was highlighted by a complete model refresh, moving to the European “100/200? model designations. Accompanying the change were some new colors and minor alterations, such as more upscale-looking 15?x6” BBS wheels (color matched on Pearlescent White Metallic examples, just as the aero and Fuchs wheels had been). But inside an entirely new sweeping dashboard setup would be the standard on big Audis for the next 7 years. Instead of the previously confusing “S/CS” monikers, turbocharged models now wore the 200 badge, while normally aspirated models were 100s. The Alcantara and Velour options disappeared on the 200 models, which came only fully-loaded, and Fuchs were no longer an option. The 100 quattro shared many components with the 80/90 quattros from the same time, including the NG normally aspirated motor instead of the turbocharged MC1. 100s also ran the familiar small-chassis 4×108 bolt pattern with accompanying smaller brakes, but oldly Audi commissioned BBS to make a run of 15?x6? wheels that matched the look of the 200’s wheels outwardly. Mechanically, otherwise there were few changes to either model, though as with the 80/90 quattros, the option to lock your own differential was now limited to the rear, and then speed limited to 15 m.p.h.. While 1990 saw few changes to the run overall, there was a change in motor in the 200. A rolling change saw the revised (and very short lived) MC2 replace the MC1. Twin knock sensors allowed engineers to run higher compression; coupled with a reground camshaft, lighter mass flywheel and smaller K24 turbo meant that the MC2 could run less boost and spool more quickly for a better driving experience, but ultimately the facts and figures say the power was unchanged. As always, top of the heap was the 200 quattro Avant, like this Zermatt Silver Metallic example:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Audi 200 quattro Avant on eBay

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‘Le 911’: 1990 Renault Alpine GTA

“IT’S NOT GERMAN!!!”

I know. But since today is the conclusion of Le Mans and occasionally we like to take a look at other cars, let’s check this one out. Because, in many ways, I think it has a lot to offer.

The Renault GTA emerged out of the acquisition of independent boutique sports car maker Alpine by Renault. Renault immediately set upon making a rival to those pesky sports cars from Stuttgart and modernize Alpine’s 1970s A310 model. Let’s not forget, this was a period when Renault was quite active in Formula 1 and Le Mans, so a sporting car wasn’t entirely out of character for them (nor was the competition with Porsche, for that matter!). New lightweight plastic body-pieces were fit, and the 1.7 liter 4-cylinder in the back of the A310 was yanked in favor of the 2.5 liter PRV (Peugeot, Renault, Volvo) V6. In 1985, a turbocharger was bolted on and instantly the GTA was a 944 Turbo competitor with 200 horsepower on tap. However, the rear-drive, rear-engine layout and tricky driving dynamics were more akin to early 911s than the well-balanced transaxle Porsches. As a result, the Porsches continued to sell in droves, while the Alpine GTA remains just an interesting footnote in French automotive history.

But for about the same money as a very nice 944 Turbo these days (and significantly less than the price of a decent 911), you can get the Le Premier Absolutment GTA:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Renault Alpine GTA on eBay

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1990 Audi V8 quattro

From the dated underpinnings of the Type 44 chassis, Audi emerged in 1988 with an all-new 4-cam aluminum engine that could be mated to an automatic transmission. Now, to most enthusiasts that probably sounds like a bad idea. But when it came to selling car – especially expensive luxury cars – the overwhelming majority of buyers wanted the car to do most of the heavy lifting. Audi’s response was the next generation of quattro drivetrains with a series of clutches in the center differential that helped to transfer power and allowed the car to be mated to an automatic transmission. That transmission – the ZF 4HP24A – was a derivative of the 4HP24, the same automatic found in the V12-equipped BMW 750 and 850s. Like the Mercedes-Benz, Audi employed Bosch ABS and a locking rear differential. But unlike other Audis with their manual- or electronic-locking rear differential, the V8 quattro used a Torsen rear differential with helical gears which would automatically split torque in up to a 3:1 ratio to the wheel with grip. Coupled with a more rearward weight bias with the shorter V8 and the gutsy torque on offer throughout the rev range, though much of the car was borrowed from the rest of the lineup it took on an entirely different character. That was matched with new, updated bodywork outside and a wider stance with flared arches. The effect? Magical. And, complicated.

But the V8 quattro wasn’t only about its unique new form of all-wheel drive. The moniker obviously indicated there had been a change in motivation, too, and indeed the V8 launched a new all-aluminum 4 cam, 32 valve V8 displacing 3.6 liters dubbed the PT. Rated at 240 horsepower and 254 lb.ft of torque, it was the most powerful Audi for sale in the late 1980s and brought the brand to a luxury level it had previously not competed at. In the U.S., these mega-Audis were met with mixed success. The 1990 launch of the V8 resulted in reasonably good sales; Audi sold 2,823 between late 1989 and the end of 1990 which represented over 10% of their yearly sales. Values in the used market plummeted after timing belt fiascos on early cars and the general recession of the early 90s, along with the ’92 launch of the turbocharged, manual and later Avant-equipped S4/S6 twins. Today, we it’s a bit of a treat to see a clean V8 quattro, and this looks to be one of the better examples out there for sale:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Audi V8 quattro on Bend Oregon Craigslist

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1990 Mercedes-Benz 500SL 6.0 AMG

I promise that this will be the last Mercedes-Benz R129 for a while. It’s just that I ran across this car and if you look at the title, you know it is something special. This is a 1990 500SL 6.0 AMG with just under 22,000 miles. The backstory on this car is that it was originally commissioned by the Jordanian Royal Family in 1990 but for whatever reason never made it there and ended up in Japan. This car was built as a normal 500SL before being transported to AMG’s facilities in Affalterbach for the full conversion. The biggest change to the car was of course the M119 being converted to a 6 liter which increased power to 380hp and 428ft-lb of torque. Those are respectable numbers even for today, never mind in 1990. Now it is up for sale in San Diego and ready for a new home.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Mercedes-Benz 500SL 6.0 AMG at Symbolic International

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