While the step up to the Mk.3 added a fair amount of size – and accompanying weight – to the Volkswagen Golf, the GTI emerged with the much more potent VR6 engine borrowed from the Passat and Corrado. While admittedly the power and the exhaust note was very appealing, and in hindsight the third generation Golf looks positively tiny compared to cars today, I have always lamented the loss of the what I consider the best GTI – the 1990-1992 16V model.
But, what if that model had continued? Well, it did – just not in the U.S.. What we have here is a 1994 GTI 16V from England. Replete with Recaro interior, blacked-out rub strips and fender flares, beefy wheels and dual-chamber headlights with foglights. But the best part is under the hood, where the 9A lived on as the ABF. With Digifant engine management power was up to 148 at a nose-bleeding 6,000 RPMs, while torque remained at 133 lb.ft but again higher in the range. One of these gems has turned up for sale on Ebay:
The more I look at the Mercedes-Benz W124 Coupe, the more appetizing it gets. I checked out a really nice 1994 painted in Tourmaline Green a few months ago for what I thought was a really fair price considering what it is. These C124s are not going to get any cheaper and the clean ones are shooting up in value with the facelifted 1994 and 1995 models leading the charge. Today’s car, a 1994 up for sale in Seattle, Washington, has some upgrades that you usually don’t see on these sleeper coupes. The thing is, I’m not a really a big fan of them. Let me explain.
You’ll be hard pressed to find a more perfect representation of late-1980s and early-1990s Mercedes-Benz than the W124 500E/E500. Mercedes did everything in their power to make the best sports sedan possible and then simply said ”Here you go” to the keen Mercedes buyers who yearned for something as special as the W124.036. No crazy marketing, no limited edition plaque in the center console, no neon colors, just an understated brute of a machine the .036 was and still is. In 1994, the United States market saw the ”E” jump to the front of the line to become the E500 and the front fascia become refreshed with new headlights and a new grille. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think any less of the pre-facelift 500Es, but the 1994 (and handful of 1995s not in North America) looks nearly perfect in my eyes. Not too small, not too large, just the right size. The interior was much of the same story with an array of buttons and switches laid out in just a way that isn’t overwhelming or cluttered. Under the hood was the mighty M119 that made just the right amount of power for this car for its everyday uses. Add all this up and you have classic the day the rolled out of Sindelfingen. (Side note, I love this photo with them in Zuffenhausen next to 964s.)
When you sit down and do the car math on the E500, it adds up to something that no other Mercedes can boast with its low production, Porsche DNA, hand-built status and more than respectable performance numbers. Naturally, this has kept these cars cared for and now as we are into the 25th birthday for some .036s, their prices remain very healthy. This 1994 E500 comes to us from Denver, Colorado with just over 60,000 on the odometer and my favorite wheels of all time, AMG Monoblocks. Yes, I’m biased because I have a set of these wheels, but you aren’t going to find many people that disagree with me when I say that Monoblocks look right at home on E500s. The extra chunky spokes compliment the entire body of the E500 that not many wheels can pulled off.
Karosserie Baur in Stuttgart had a unique history of working directly with manufacturers to produce some pretty special cars. Most notably linked to the Baur name was a string of interesting but also-ran BMW 3-series convertibles. However, three of the most prized 80s German collector cars in the market today were also linked to the firm; first the BMW M1 after Lamborghini’s meltdown, and then Audi’s shortened Sport Quattro rolled through the special production line. Baur also constructed the special bodies of the Porsche 959.
However, Baur is linked most closely with offering drop-top BMWs to a market devoid of such options. First was the E10 chassis, with Baur chopping the top off of everything from 1602s to 2002s. Baur then moved on to the E21 chassis, offering the ‘Top Cabriolet’ TC1. The E30 also recieved the Baur treatment , but by that point BMW had released its own convertible model and the draw of the more expensive TC models waned, leading to a steadily disappearing market share. Perhaps the most unique was their last BMW creation. Based upon the E36 chassis, Baur released what it called the ‘Landaulet TC4’. It was effectively a 4-door E36 Targa (Porsche’s use of the Targa name was proprietary which prevented Baur from using it) and just over 300 were produced, making it one of the most rare E36 chassis configurations to see:
I’ve said numerous times that the W124 Mercedes-Benz 400E/E420 is one of the forgotten gems from Mercedes in the past 35 years or so that won’t cost you a ton of money to buy or live with. It still is modern enough to be a daily driver if you wish and since it is a W124, you won’t hate your life driving it. The .034 E420 offers the punch of the torquey M119 V8 without having to spend $25,000 on a .036 500E. The facelift version, like this 1994 we have today up for bid in New York, is especially attractive with its two-tone paint and really clean appearance for having almost 176,000 miles. This example has some heavy maintenance items already completed and is actually a one-owner car. Question is, are you willing to pay the slightly higher asking price for this example?
Considering just how rare they are, it’s quite special that we get to look at a second Colorline 850CSi in such short order. And this one is quite a bit more rare to find than the prior Tobago Blue example. Only 13 were ordered in the rarest combination – Calypso Red Metallic with Trinidad Red and Black Nappa leather. This is really about as rare as an E31 gets.
Since I didn’t cover the differences between the EG91/2 (Euro) and EG93 (US) 850CSis, it’s worth taking a look at that. Euro-spec 850CSis got additional oil cooling for the differential and engine, along with 13.6″ floating rotors and different side mirrors. The front end also got special smoked lenses. I covered a bit more about what made all 850CSis special in the last post:
1994 BMW 850CSi Colorline
There are a few reasons to really prefer today’s CSi over the Tobago Blue. Beyond the increased rarity, this one has far fewer miles and the presentation is much better. There’s a lot more information provided, too. And, it’s already on this side of the Atlantic, though you’ll need to wait a few more months until it’s ready to roll into the U.S.. Of course, there is one drawback…and it’s a big one:
Continuing on the theme of defacto M cars started with the South African 745i, today let’s look at the much more famous example of the 850CSi. I came of driving age during the reign of the E31, and I still remember magazines taunting that the ‘M8’ would soon be with us. Of course, it never came – at least, not until today. But we still did get an E31 breathed upon by the Motorsports division in the spectacular 850CSi.
Like the SA 745i, the heart of the CSi was a special “S” motor. In this case, BMW Motorsport GmbH took the M70 and beefed it up seriously. Bored out to 5.6 liters and with compression bumped up and revised electronic programing, the resulting S70 took BMW’s V12 from 296 horsepower to 372 with 420 lb.ft of torque on tap. Macht schnell, indeed! But there were a host of other changes; offered only with a manual 6-speed gearbox, the CSi also got a quicker steering rack, Euro M5 brakes, shorter and stiffer springs, and M System II ‘Throwing Star’ 17″ staggered wheels. A new body kit made the elegant E31 look much more menacing, too. Europeans even had the option of 18″ M Parallels and, amazingly, 4-wheel steering.
In 1994, this car cost almost $110,000. Today that’s nothing, as you can spec a special-order M3 up to that amount. But back then? That was nearly the price of three M3s. These super coupes have never really come down in price, as like their contemporary the 928GTS, they have maintained an aura of unobtainium and sacredness to a generation of motoring enthusiasts. With only 225 brought stateside, perhaps it’s worth considering importing this one?
One of the things I love about the W124 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is that it came in every shape and size. What I mean by that is that you could buy a sedan, estate, coupe and cabriolet. This is unique because it is the only generation that can boast such a fact. The prior W123 lacked a cabriolet and every generation after lacked the coupe and cabriolet. You might be saying that the CLK-Class is basically the E-Class coupe, but I don’t see it that way because the CLK was a mash-up of a parts both mechanically and cosmetically from the C-Class made to look like an E-Class, not a true E-Class coupe. Even when they literally changed the named to E-Class Coupe in the recent generations, it is still riding on a C-Class chassis. That leads me right into today’s car, a 1994 E320 Coupe up for sale in Connecticut, that has that classic facelift W124 look and checks all the right boxes if you are looking for a sleek and livable daily driver. The best part about it? It looks to be fully sorted and won’t take much to drive home with.
I don’t feature the 968 all that often. I do, however, tend to feature just about anything I come across in Riviera Blue. I simply can’t turn away from them. Here we have a 1994 Porsche 968 Cabriolet painted in that bright blue. This one also has the very desirable 6-speed manual transmission. Riviera Blue often is associated with the 993 and we rarely think much of it when it comes to other Porsches. But this 968 shows the color off almost as well and even if its sporting pretensions are not quite elevated to the same level as the last of the air-cooled 911s, I’m sure this one will have no trouble attracting attention in a crowd of Porsche enthusiasts. It looks in very good condition and the mileage even is pretty reasonable when we consider it is nearly 25 years old.
The 928 gets the vast majority of the love when it comes to Porsche’s front-engined machines and there’s very good reason for that. The 968 provides its own unique appeal and definitely creates quite an ardor among its fans. And relative to a ’90s 928 prices tend to be much more attainable.
Another M-Design! I’ve featured a string of these ultra-limited ’94 325iS models built by BMW Individual recently. Today’s VIN ends in 478, produced 40 cars after the one I looked at last June. Visually equipped with most of what would become the M3 in ’95, the M-Design is an interesting footnote in United States E36 production.
Of course, “interesting”, “obscure” and “BMW 3-Series”, when combined in the right proportions, usually equate to dollar signs in seller’s eyes. Asks on these cars often rival or exceed M3 prices. Crazy, right? Who would pay more than they would for a M3 to have less than a M3? Well, some people do. Recently a ZHP E46 coupe traded for $26,000. Scoff all you want, but clearly there is a market for the limited edition 3-series. But since some trade for high numbers, many sellers equate their 3 as priceless. Not the case today, as we get a true market indicator of where a driver-quality 325iS M-Design is valued at: