As we are now into a new decade, I figured now is a good a time as any to remind you to never buy the car I’m looking at today. What is it? The 2001 Mercedes-Benz S600. Not just the 2001, but any vehicle that comes with one of the worst engines ever made, the M137. This engine was so bad, that it only lasted three model years the US spanning from 2000-2002 in the S600 and CL600. Mercedes quickly admitted their errors and switched to the M275 in 2003, and that was so durable that iterations of it are still in production today. Why exactly was this thing so bad? Lets refresh our memory.
Update 11/13/19: Despite showing as sold for over $34,000, this RS4 clone was relisted with a $32,500 Buy It Now.
On the other end of the spectrum from Audi’s U.S. spec B5 S4 was the monster which left me, and most fans of the marque, frustrated. That’s because Audi skunkworks quattro GmbH partnered with corporate acquisition Cosworth Engineering to create the legendary RS4. The same 2.7T motor from the S4 suddenly developed not 250 horsepower, but 375. Arches flared. Mouth was firmly agape. Seats were huggier. Wheels were bigger. Suspension was lower. It was wagonier. It was all around a better car in virtually every way.
So it should come as no surprise that its lack of importation didn’t stop enthusiasts from trying their own hand at the mods. And because of the turbocharged nature of the B5 S4, it was a little bit easier to achieve similar results to Audi. So here we have a B5 RS4 ‘Tribute’, but one that not only added the OEM body pieces and turned up the motor. Because under the hood hides not 375 horsepower, but punched-out 3 liter V6 churning 700 horsepower – at the wheels, mind you. Welcome to ‘The White Beast’:
The B5 S4. On paper, it’s a car that I should like a lot. Coming from the modest 4000 quattro, Audi produced what should have been a monster on paper; a 2.7 liter twin-turbocharged V6 rated at over twice the power of the old inline-5s mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. 6-spoke “Avus” wheels carried on the late 90s design in 17″ form, with deeper but still subdued body additions and more grills hinting at the better performance of this A4-based creation. Twin polished exhaust tips, Xenon headlights, deeply bolstered sport seats and plenty of technology also came along from the ride, too.
But for me the B5 S4 sedan was never super exciting. Perhaps that was because it was instantly popular. What I remember annoying me more, though, was that it really seemed like Audi could have produced stronger performance. After all, it generated only a few more horsepower than the last favorite – at launch, the already out-of-production E36 M3 was the match for the performance of the S4 due to its lighter weight. And that was in turned-down U.S. spec! More sharply notable was the launch at the same time of the S8, and the S4 was some 90 horsepower down on that model. Yet get behind the wheel of one, and suddenly it wasn’t a lack of grunt you were noticing. It was how well the package pulled together. It rode well, it had a glut of usable torque thanks to the small twin turbos’ ability to spin up so quickly, and the fit and finish inside was leagues better than the E36 was. And while you could stick snow snows on an E36 and make it through winter just fine, as a year-round commuter car the S4 made a lot more sense while simultaneously being a much better sleeper. It was a ‘Q-Ship’; admittedly, not the biggest or fastest one out there, but certainly an undercover speed agent. These cars developed a cult following, so it’s still possible to find nice examples, such as this Casablanca White over Onyx 6-speed:
Update 11/13/19: This A4 was relisted due to non-payment!
Update 10/18/19: This neat A4 sold for an impressive $16,100.
If you read the title and look at the photo above, something doesn’t seem quite right. Obviously, I’ve made a mistake and this is a S4, right? It looks like an S4. There was no diesel B5 brought to the U.S.. And, the coup de grâce of my mistake was surely that even in Europe there was no 2.0 TDI Audi B5. Well, just like most other small chassis Audi platforms, the B5 has proven remarkably adept at accepting other engines – and this one’s a doozy.
The builder took a BHW 2.0 Pumpe Duse TDI borrowed from a Passat B5.5. In stock form, the BHW wasn’t the most impressive TDI from VAG. Producing 134 horsepower and only linked to an automatic transmission in the U.S., the Passat TDI was rated at only 38 mpg on the highway. I achieved that on a 100 mile trip the other day in my 1.8T, for reference. But, of course, the big news with the TDIs was torque and the BHW had 247 stock at 1,900 rpm. The builder of this car took the BHW bottom end, mated it to a BRM head from a Mk.4, and then slapped on a giant turbo. The result? 250 horsepower – the same as the S4 – with 400 lb.ft of torque claimed in a car that will return 45 mpg. And then they slapped it into a very discrete package; an original (and rare) Brilliant Yellow A4 replete with S4 body kit and interior. The result? Pretty impressive, if you ask me:
The last time I looked at a Porsche 911, I proclaimed that in the right application, a nice amount of wood isn’t a bad thing at all. It turns an already good car in something a little different, and clearly I’m not the only one who feels that way as that car seems to have already sold. However, Porsche didn’t always get it right when it came to putting wood inside the 911. Case in point, today’s car. This 2001 911 Turbo up for sale in Illinois is finished in Black over Natural Brown leather with the light wood interior package. Sounds great, right? Not exactly. You’ll understand what I mean when you look inside this car.
Update 10/18/19: This unusual W220 sold for $7,090.
I certainly didn’t expect to see this on U.S. soil. “This” is a 2001 Mercedes-Benz S320 CDI. That means this is a short wheelbase W220 with the OM613 turbo diesel engine. Produced from 2000 to 2002, this S-Class was never brought to North America because the diesel S-Class was killed off in the early-90s during the W140 chassis and still hasn’t returned…and probably never will. It was very light on equipment and options, but it wasn’t about that in this car. It was about that sweet OM613. Have a gentle foot, and you could return 30 miles per gallon out of this boat of a car. I know an economical S-Class is a bit of an oxymoron (more of those here), but this is very much a situation of having it all. Let me explain.
It seems to me that unless you are buying new, a Porsche 911 Turbo isn’t a bad place to park your money and still actually have a car to drive around. If you are buying a new 911 Turbo, you have a level of wealth where the deprecation on your car probably doesn’t matter all that much to you anyway. Enter the 996 Turbo. By far the most inexpensive 911 Turbo, these wasserboxer examples still offer a ton of bang for the buck. Looking at recent auction data, the majority of these cars sell for somewhere in the mid-$30,000 up to about $60,000 for the low mile and rare color examples. Anything outside of that range usually has something exceptional about it, both good and bad, and today’s car is exactly that.
This 2001 911 Turbo up for sale in Connecticut is a black on black example with with just over 87,000 miles. It has some cool options like a full carbon fiber trim kit, crests in the headrests, and navigation. However, it is much less than the usually floor that these usually trades hands at. There is always a catch.
If you follow these pages, it goes without saying that I’m a pretty strong Ingolstadt devotee. My first car was an Audi 4000CS quattro and since then I’ve owned an absurd 9 models along the way. But that doesn’t mean I buy everything from the company hook, line and sinker. Indeed, I’ve been less than impressed with many of the newer models. Sure, sometimes they look slick, go like stink or are really pretty inside. But would I want to own one? In most cases, no – outside of a few very select models, I don’t really desire to own much post ‘Y2K’.
One exception to that rule – and it’s literally and figuratively a huge exception – is the S8. Everything about this car was just spot on to me. In an age when increasingly the offerings from the competition were unattractive and overly complicated, the S8 was to me the last of the great original quattros. It was an analog offering in a digital age; simple, blunt force from a 360 horsepower V8 in front driving all the wheels with a luxurious driver-oriented cockpit. Sure, there were plenty of computers. Probably there are too many. But compared to the new luxo-suites? The D2 seems downright cart-like. And the proportions of the car were just perfect; lowered, menacing stance, huge yet delicate-appearing wheels, just the right amount of bling, yet an understated car which easily fades into the background. So even though I’m still probably a long way from ownership, I often find myself dreaming about being behind the wheel of one.
The pool of candidates that remain is beginning to dwindle; the newest of the D2 S8s are now 16 years old and parts are already getting hard to source. Getting into an enthusiast owned one is the way to go at this point, but that doesn’t automatically mean it’ll break the budget:
A few weeks ago I took a look at a 2002 Porsche 911 Turbo that was totally normal on outside, but then when you opened the doors things took a left turn. Judging by the comments, I wasn’t alone on this thought. Surprisingly, it sold for nearly $52,000, which I think is a premium for a 2002 Turbo, but it did have only 29,000 miles on it. Today, I came across another 996 Turbo, but as you might have noticed the unusual color is on the outside this time. This 2001 up for sale in New York is painted in Forest Green Metallic and shows nearly 65,000 miles. Problem is, it is much more expensive than the car from a few weeks ago.
Audi brought the S4 Avant to the United States for the first time in 2001. It joined the sedan lineup and offered a follow-up to the large chassis S6 Avant from 1995. This was actually the second S4 Avant, as Europeans had enjoyed the C4-based creation in the early 90s. Audi’s renaming convention therefore created a successor to the B4-based S2 Avant. Instead of the traditional inline-5 motivation, though, Audi had developed a new 2.7 liter version of its V6. With a K03 turbocharger strapped to each side, the APB produced 250 horsepower at 5800 rpms and 258 lb.ft of torque at only 1850 revs. Like all the B5s, Audi’s new generation of ‘quattro’ used a T2 Torsen center differential and relied upon an electronic rear differential utilizing the ABS sensors. The B5 chassis used the same technology on the front differential as well and was capable of independently braking each front wheel to try to sort the car out through its dynamic stability program.
But the real fun was that it was available as an Avant and with a 6-speed manual. Just over 1,500 were claimed imported between 2001 and 2002’s model years, with about 600 of those being Tiptronic equipped. LY9B Brilliant Black was the second most popular color ordered behind Light Silver Metallic, and this particular Avant is one of 183 Brilliant Black (out of 850 total) manuals brought in for the 2001 model year: