Every once in a while, something sneaks under the radar and offers a great opportunity to grab a quality classic for a relative bargain. Perhaps posting this blows up that chance somewhat, but odds are with only a few days left, Sars-CoV-2, and the recent stock market crash, you’re not in a position to drop everything and buy an extra car on a whim – but hey, who knows? And this one is a doozy.
What we have here is a rather inconspicuous 1995 M5. That means it’s a Euro car automatically, and yep, it’s a 3.8 liter S38 coupled to a six-speed manual. And, just like the last one, it’s my favorite Daytona Violet! But this one is a sedan and it doesn’t look like the best example out there, so what’s the draw? It’s a no reserve auction.
‘E36 M3s are garbage‘
You know you’ve seen the internet comments, probably more than once. Odds are, people saying that don’t own or haven’t owned a M3 at all, and more than likely even if they do, they haven’t owned an E36. But there was some weight behind the claim that in some regards the US-market E36 M3 was the least M3ish of all of the generations, and generally speaking they’ve remained the cheapest. That is, all except for one.
The Lightweight was a 1995 homologation special model with aluminum doors, a sport suspension, a shorter rear axle ratio, and an adjustable aerodynamic package. Deleted was the air conditioning, sunroof, and radio as well as some sound deadening, and rumor has it that the S50s were hand-picked for each of the 126 produced. These have been steadily climbing in price, and last year I was pretty shocked to see the asking price of one I looked at crack $100,000. But I don’t think anyone was ready for the results of the ex-Paul Walker group of five in January. If you weren’t paying attention, two hit $220,000, then $242,000, then $258,000. But the gem was the super low-mileage example that hammered for an absolutely astonishing $358,000 after premium. Mouth firmly agape yet?
So it’s no surprise that some of the lesser examples have come out of the woodwork, and this might be the lesser of the lesser. It’s a tired, slightly rusty, blown motor example – but it’s all there, and ready to be restored. What’s the ask?
What if I told you, in the year 2020, that you could buy a 1995 Porsche 911 for just $33,000? Yes, a black over tan leather example with just over 100,000 miles. It isn’t one of the bait and switch listings where the one angle looks fine but when you click on it and scroll through the photos you see the other side was hit by a runaway garbage truck at 55 mph. Nope, this one run and drives just fine, and even has Cup wheels. Even better, it is a 6-speed! After my recent run of automatic 911s, it is finally time get to get back a true manual gearbox. So what is the catch? Well, there is always a catch.
These are strange times for the Mercedes-Benz C36 AMG. Once the breakthrough car of the official Mercedes-Benz AMG vehicles launch in North America, this is now a car that maybe isn’t quite a full blown collectible for what it is, but has some pedigree to be one. The problem with the C36 is that it didn’t have much fan fare when it launched because of its extremely conservative styling as well as the minor bump in power and performance. This led it to be forgotten about and ultimately into the hands of wrong people. You could find a well used example for well under $10,000 and if it was really beat up and rusty, $5,000 might take one home. Now, people want old performance cars with brand caché, even through their performance leaves much to be desired. The thing is, what happens to the examples that still have a ton of life left in them, but are far from the best example remaining? I’m curious to find that out with this 1995 up for sale in California.
A few weeks ago I took a look at a 1997 Porsche 911 Turbo S that had one of the more severe cases of “sticker shock” I’ve ever seen. Nearly $600,000 is what you needed to pony up to drive home with that car and as crazy as that price sounds, and it is crazy, that is still without a doubt a car that is worth hundreds of thousands. Just probably not $600,000. That got me thinking, what could you get for a faction of the price but not the fraction of the experience? Well, I think you know where I’m going with this.
This is a 1995 Carrera 2 is also finished in white, although Pearl White, not Glacier White. It has the Turbo Twist wheels that everyone loves and just 52,000 miles. Is it a Turbo S? Of course not. Could you still have a ton of fun in it and save $526,000? I think I could manage that.
Update 11/17/19: This Passat sold for $5,950.
Without a doubt, wagons are one of the favorite subjects here at GCFSB, and while there are plenty of desirable, big name Avants, Tourings and Estates that grab the headlines and generate the “likes” on Myface or Spacebook or Instaselfie or whatever, if I’m honest I’m always a fan of the underdog Passat Variant. Perhaps it’s because I’ve owned two, perhaps it’s because it’s the less common choice; I’m not entirely certain. True, the Passat isn’t the best performing wagon out there, and I’d concede that it’s not the best looking or best made one either. But in terms of the performance you can get in a stealthy, good looking package on a budget, I think that the Passat may be the real sleeper in the German wagon realm.
But the positive aspects of the Passats aren’t unknown to all; the Quantum Syncro is always a popular if rarely seen ’80s icon for the company, and when we got to the Golf-based B3 and B4, there were some cool options too – such as the not-for-the-U.S. G60 Syncro. But even in the U.S., the B4 offered some neat performance options for the wagon aficionado – interestingly, in very different directions. Check the “TDi” option, and you had a hyper-miler capable of over a thousand miles on a tank of gas. Check the “GLX” option on your order form and you’d get the torquey, great sounding VR6 engine and BBS wheels in a sporty package. While both of those engine options were also available in the Golf lineup at the same time, if you wanted a true 5-door you could only select the Passat. Admittedly that’s a niche market, so it should come as no surprise that this is a fairly uncommon car to see today:
I hate to be cliché, but the facelift W124 Cabriolets are aging very well. It is safe to call them classics now, honestly modern classics, but still old enough to rent a car at the airport. The square handsome lines will never be offensive or jarring, and the quality is nearly unmatched. Even compare it to the same model year Rolls-Royce Corniche, and you’d be crazy not to pick the Mercedes. That has been keeping prices stable for as long as I can remember and it doesn’t look like they are going anywhere. This 1995 up for sale in Arizona is nothing but blue over blue on blue. I think I like it that way.
And now for something completely different. If you walked into your local Volkswagen dealership as a Westfalia devotee when the new Eurovans launched in the early 1990s, you were likely to be a lot disappointed. These came to the U.S. starting in 1993, and there were two configurations – the Eurovan and the Multi-Van (MV for short). The difference was the seating configuration, in that the MV had rear-facing seats behind the captain’s chairs and a table in the middle. Easy, right? Well, then there was the Westfalia model. Volkswagen hadn’t forgotten how successful the T3 was with the pop-top, so a new aerodynamic folding roof arrangement was added to the MV. But here was the catch – the new Westfalia didn’t have the camping gear, but instead was effectively the same as the previous pop-top only Weekender. It was called the Weekender, too.
The full campers were only converted by Winnebago and based on a lengthened chassis. These started being produced in 1995 and replaced the Westfalia in the lineup but were not called Westfalias. But Winnebago also produced an extra-fat and extra-expensive camper, too – the Rialta. This took the front cabin of a Eurovan, the taillights from a Ford Ranger, interior fabrics from your Pyschologist’s waiting room and a lot of fiberglass in the middle to make a small RV. Prices started around $41,000 – in 1995, mind you.
Though rare, you’ve likely seen one before, but unless you owned one (and maybe even if you did…) you probably didn’t realize there were actually four different Rialta model configurations. Beyond that, Rialtas also followed the Eurovan production cycle with power, so early models had the 2.5 liter inline-5, replaced in ’97 by the 12 valve VR6 and finally the 24 valve VR6 in the 2001 model year. What we have here is an early Rialta in the most popular 7-seat QD configuration, powered by the 2.5 liter:
Although the letter “M” attached to a BMW has generally represented the pinnacle of performance for the brand, the reality is the term “M-Sport” has not always denoted the same characteristics. Take the E82 135i, for example. The M-Sport package for that car consisted of slightly different 18″ wheels than the standard 18″ wheels and a black headliner. That’s it.
But zoom back in time to the beginnings of the title “M-Sport” and it meant a bit more. If you wanted a fast, executive super saloon in 1995, your options were dwindling. 1995 was the last year of the Audi S6, and one year after both the V8 Quattro and 500E were taken away. 1995 would also be the last year of the iconic M5, and hints were that it might be a long time before we’d see another. Why? Well, the reality was that with the 6 speed 540i the performance gap between the “super” M5 and the “normal” V8 engined 540 was so close it just didn’t make a lot of sense to have the premium model anymore. The S38 was by now a quite old motor and was getting harder to pass increasingly strict emissions standards; indeed, shrinking sales and high price had resulted in the M5 being pulled from the U.S. in 1993.
As a result, BMW offered a hint at what it could do with the V8 in the form of the M540i in Canada and the 540i M-Sport in the U.S. market. The Canadian model was quite close in spec to the European M5, except that in place of the venerable S38 it ran the M60 V8 out of the normal 540i. If that sounds like a letdown, it wasn’t – mated to the Getrag 6-speed transmission it was a great driver, and with the M5 adjustable suspension, brakes and cosmetic details it was 95% plus of the M5 for most drivers. The 540i M-Sport that the U.S. received differed a bit in not having the trick floating rotors of the M540i, but with nearly everything else out of the M bag of tricks these are cool cars, great drivers, and even more rare than the M5:
The 968 occupies a strange space in the Porsche world. Limited in production, good looking, well-built and with good chassis dynamics and performance, it should have all of the hallmarks of a collector car in todayâ€™s market. Many prominent automobile publications have bashed you over the head with that, too â€“ itâ€™s not just me banging on here. Petrolicious posts an article (the same one, usuallyâ€¦) seemingly every week about the Porsche 968 Club Sport, Hemmings has repeatedly said itâ€™s the best of the breed, and Hagerty told you to get on board last year and buy one. And when Bring a Trailer sold one in late 2017 at $36,250, it seemed 2018 was poised to be the year of exploding values on the 968.
But it wasnâ€™t. Bring a Trailer has, so far to date, failed to present match to that one-off. Itâ€™s not for lack of trying â€“ fifteen came up for sale on the site in 2018, yet none cleared $25,000, and most traded well below that. So here we are in 2019, wondering exactly where the values on these cars will head. But if todayâ€™s example is any indication, things could be interesting: