‘It’s like déjà vu all over again!’
Only a week after looking at another example of my favorite GTI – the Montana Green 2.0 16V – we get another of my personal greatest GTI hits. Again, it’s one that’s pretty hard to come across at all, never mind in good shape. In this case it’s Ginster Yellow last-year Mk.3, and yet again after claiming it’s hard to find one, one popped up pretty recently:
1998 Volkswagen GTI VR6
Since I just covered what made the Mk.3 tick, I won’t do so again, but let’s dive a bit into this example. The last one, as it turned out, may have had some issues which prevented it from really being a top-tier example. Is it the same with this pristine and lightly modded one?
After its unceremonious and unexplained exit from the U.S. market with the introduction of the third generation Golf in 1993, the GTI came roaring back in a big way for the 1995 model year. Sure, it was bigger, bulkier and well…roundier, but it came with a bunch more gusto thanks to the addition of the VR6 motor as seen in the Corrado and Passat models. The single-overhead cam, twelve valve head lacked the race-bred feel of the Mk.II 16V, the new motor more than made up for it with the addition of two more cylinders. Good for 172 horsepower and 173 lb.ft of torque, it swept the hot hatch from 0-60 in 7.1 seconds and produced a 15.5 second quarter mile at over 90 mph. But much like the original, the GTI was more than the sum of its numbers, with drivers enjoying the great 6-cylinder soundtrack which accompanied the waves of usable torque.
Of course, like all VWs from the period, it was expensive. Really quite expensive. A base GTI VR6 rolled out the door in 1995 at $18,875, and with a few options it wasn’t difficult to breech $20 grand. Yet that was still only a little more than half the money it would take you to grab a same-year M3, which offered only a bit more motivation and cornering prowess. Catch the pesky BMW driver off-guard, and they’d be unlikely to easily out-drag you. So you could either look at this model as a really expensive Golf or a really cheap BMW. That was what the legendary GTI had always been about, and this was a resounding return to form and continuation of the brilliance that was the GTI 16V, even if they felt (and, looked) completely different:
While the last few VWs have been a bit strange in some way or other, each held a specific subset of people absolutely obsessed with them. The same does not seem to be true of today’s Mk.III Jetta GLX VR6, which is strange to me since it has the hallmarks of a potential collector.
Purists decried the arrival of the â€œgrown upâ€ A3 chassis Golf and Vento, sold as the Jetta in North America. It was expensive, it was heavy (relative to the A1 and A2 chassis, anyway) and the performance was dulled â€“ that was, until the introduction of the GLX model that replaced the earlier GLi models. Now sporting the VR6 that had debuted in the Corrado a few years earlier, the GLX was all around a screamer. It might have been heavier than the GLi had been, but it was quicker to 60, quieter on the highway, more comfortable and better in crashes (if things went south), and returned close to the same fuel economy as the thirsty, buzzy and boxy 16V had. The Volkswagen Jetta III, as it was known in the US, was introduced at a time when US sales were at their lowest and it appeared as if VW was considering pulling out of the US market. This generation Jetta became the best selling Volkswagen by the time the production run ceased in 1999. It was insanely popular and seemed to be the defacto college car of choice for both men and women. Because of that, many of these Jettas fell into disrepair or were totaled, so itâ€™s rare to find a lower mile and clean GLX these days:
Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to daily drive a car that isn’t 38 years-old and has such luxuries like airbags, ABS and a modern climate control system. Don’t get me wrong, I love my W116 Mercedes-Benz 300SD, but sometimes I yearn for heated seats and a tire selection greater than three different brands. Once in a while I will see what kind of options are out there for more modern replacements for my W116 and today’s car, a 1998 E300, might just be a perfect combination of modern amenities and the old school diesel feel. This W210 hails from the Northeast with only 100,000 miles and in what should be a total shocker to almost everyone reading this, has no rust. Is this the answer to all my wildest dreams and fantasies?
Yellow is always a hit or miss color when it comes to German cars. Some cars it looks great on like a Porsche 930Â or a Volkswagen GTI 20th Anniversary Edition.Â Other cars, maybe not so much. When it comes to yellow Mercedes-Benz, there aren’t a whole lot of them out there. This was a hot color in the 1960s and 1970s, but outside of the first-generation SLK and the new AMG GT, you won’t find many painted in this bright shade. When you do, it is literally just a handful of them and they were probably painted that way by special request. Today car, the king R129 SL600, is painted in the factory Yellowstone 685. At least that is how it sits now. Let me explain.
”The champ is here!”
This is it. The big one. One of the craziest road legal Mercedes-Benz ever produced and a car we probably won’t see anything like ever again. The CLK GTR. The result of a homologation requirement from the 1997 FIA GT Championship, this CLK GTR, along with the Porsche 911 GT1, literally took grand touring cars and made them road legal. Only 35 CLK GTRs were ever produced by Mercedes and AMG. 26 of them being production cars, seven racing cars for the GT Championship and two prototypes. Out of those 26 production cars, six were roadsters that looked even wilder. All of them were powered by the M120 V12 borrowed from the W140/R129 chassis with 21 cars being 6.9 liter variants that made 604 horsepower and the five other cars, called CLK GTR Super Sport, using a 7.3 liter making 655 horsepower. All of these CLK GTRs used a 6-speed sequential manual gearbox with gears that were so loud that the radio was hopeless in trying to drown out the noise. How much did these cost when new? $1,547,620. If you are wondering, yes, that was the most expensive price for any production car at the time. Just to put that into perspective, that is $3,255,285 in July 2018 money, which is right where a new Bugatti Chiron is priced.
Now that we have all that out-of-the-way, let’s get to why we are here. This 1998 CLK GTR is car number nine of 25 that was originally sold in Germany before being shipped to Hong Kong for a while before moving again to the US where it will go up for auction next month. It has just under 900 miles so it is safe to say this one didn’t get out much but that just means potential buyers will likely have another reason to send the bid into another league. How much is it projected to sell for? Well, you can cancel your order for your Chiron and still need to head down to the bank to withdraw a few more million from your checking account.
Whenever I see a Europa Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen pop up for sale, I always take time to really check it out. Personally, if you gave me the choice to buy and live with any G-Wagen out there, from military-spec W460s all the way up to W463 G65 AMGs, I’d probably pick a Europa truck. I think they are the perfect compromise between the spartan offerings and the outrageous luxury you can get from a G-Wagen. You get a G that still can be daily driven in total comfort with modern safety but without the crazy options that ultimately you fear of breaking and then driving you nuts. This 1998 G320 up for sale in New Jersey just might be the perfect G-Wagen but fair warning, something this good won’t come cheap.
So, you have to drop $40,000 for a unique M Roadster? Hardly. If you’re willing to forgo the additional grunt of the S54, S52-powered Roadsters are still very affordable. And, they can be plenty unique in their own right. Take today’s ’98 for example. Evergreen is probably a bit polarizing in tone, but it’s also quite distinctive. The total pool of Evergreen examples represents only 2% of overall production of M Roadsters, though. Out of the 10,501 produced, 201 were shipped in the bright green shade – and out of those, 176 were equipped with the equally distinctive two-tone Nappa leather interior color matched to the outside. I’ve looked at a few of these examples previously:
Evergreen Forest, Part II: 1998 BMW M Roadster
So you get an unusual color, a more unusual interior, and still quite a potent convertible in the early M Roadster. What is the price delta, though?
The 993 C2S always has been one of the best looking 911s on the market. Maybe even the best. Combining the wonderful curves of the 993 itself with the wider rear of the 993TT made for a perfect marriage for those seeking a beautifully refined 911, but without the additional costs of the Turbo (nor all-wheel drive). That it also offered improved suspension, also borrowed from the Turbo, made it even better. (While this one does have the red calipers that would tend to designate the Turbo’s brakes, the C2S didn’t come with those. For the Turbo brakes you’ll need to find a C4S.)
While looking at this one I started to ask myself whether the proportions are off. It looked too squat and I began thinking it needed the rear spoiler from the Turbo to provide balance. Perhaps it’s just an effect of the angles and lighting of the photography, or maybe because it’s black, which doesn’t really show the curves as much as brighter colors. On the rare occasions I see one in the flesh I do find the 993TT to be a gorgeous car that snaps my head around in a way no modern 911 Turbo ever could. The C2S reminds me a lot more of those modern Turbos.
The picture I chose to lead with is the one I think looks the best. Perhaps it’s telling that the presence or lack of the spoiler isn’t readily apparent from that angle. It’s still a beautiful car, possessing all of the attributes that make a 911 so captivating; I’m starting to wonder if it could be better. Maybe it’s not perfect after all.
The majority of the wagons were feature around here are of the Audi variety.Â For good reason, of course. They look good, they are all-wheel-drive, come in manual transmission and usually they have the potential to be pretty quick. But every once in awhile I pull out a Mercedes-Benz wagon that can run with the four rings. Usually it’s an E55 or E63 AMG Estate that not only looks great, but hauls ass and literally everything else. Although this time around, I have something much more rare and it’s actually on North American soil ready to be snagged up by our Canadian friends.
The W202 C43 AMG Estate is a rare bird. Only 717 of these were built between 1998-2000 and thanks to the rust monster that the W202 usually succumbs to, that number is decreasing faster than you think. Nearly a year ago, I actually checked one of these out in right-hand drive specÂ that was pretty tidy and what I thought was a reasonable price. But this German-import has it’s flaws and the starting price (with reserve) is pretty reasonable. So is this the one to get?