2004 BMW 330i ZHP

It’s always a happy occasion when I come across a ZHP that has been well loved and remains unmolested. In fact I think these cars are more likely to have been left in their original state than an M3 simply because the folks that tended to opt for the ZHP were more “grown up”. All I mean by that is while the E36 3 series was in production there was no four door M3 option so if you were a family man who wanted a go fast BMW, this was your car.

The ZHP only got a 10hp increase over the regular 330i but reprogrammed engine management and a close ratio six speed manual made it feel quite zippy. It’s stiffer and slightly lower too but from what I’ve read the ride quality didn’t suffer and that’s a big plus. I’ve driven a couple of E46 M3s and while they’re fantastic for spirited driving, I don’t cruising around in them on city streets. In this era before adaptive suspension setups you had to decide whether you wanted a performance car that was tolerable in day to day life or a sporty car that was OK when you wanted to get after it a bit. The older I get the more I find myself thinking the latter is the right way to go and I think the 330i ZHP is a near perfect choice for the driver who might go to the track a few times a year but mostly enjoys a spirited canyon run.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 BMW 330i ZHP on Pelican Parts

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1995 Mercedes Benz E320 Cabriolet

Aside from the 500E I can’t think of another Mercedes from the 90s that I like more than the E320 ‘vert. All the reliability and practicality of the W124 mixed with the fun of having a convertible that can comfortably seat four adults, that’s a recipe for something really special. The only real knock against these cars is that the tops can wear out both mechanically and cosmetically but that’s true of many convertibles so I don’t think it’s fair to hold that against the car. If you’re in the market for a classic drop top you’ve already accepted that there may be some issues in exchange for bathing you and your passengers in sunlight on a regular basis.

Thankfully this beautiful example has been extremely well kept and the top looks wonderful in addition to operating properly. In fact the entire exterior looks wonderful, both in condition and aesthetically. The Azure Blue with blue top is classy as can be, contrasts wonderfully with the tan leather interior. I’ve always felt these cars had a distinctly nautical vibe regardless of what color they came in but it’s especially strong with this example. Perhaps it’s the fact that much like a boat you and 3 friends can go out and feel the wind in your hair, not always the case with convertibles. I can’t think of a car currently on the market that is both a drop top and legitimate four seater. Perhaps that’s why the E320 cabriolet is quickly becoming a much desired collectors car.

Year: 1995
Model: E320
Engine: 3.2 liter I-6
Transmission: 5 speed automatic
Mileage: 104,106
Price: $12,950 Buy It Now

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 Mercedes Benz E320 Cabriolet on eBAY

You are looking at a very popular sporty luxury convertible. The vehicle has been made and assembled entirely in Germany, and consists only of Germany made parts! This vehicle has a good sport car feeling to it. Because it’s a 3.2L engine, it has nice performance to it. The midnight blue exterior color gives the car a certain kind of unique classy appeal.

The car spent most of its life in Florida!

There are no reported manufacturer’s defects on this vehicle. A never-smoked-in before beauty that looks great and smells clean.

The engine is very strong and provides the power you have come to expect from a Mercedes and runs extra smooth. The transmission has the Mercedes mark on it as well and shifts like on a new car, no skips or slips on shifts. The suspension feels very nimble and comfortable at the same time.  

The A/C works well and blows cold air!

All the electrical options appear to be in working order. As you can judge for yourself from the pictures – the interior is clean!   The check light of the diagnostic computer reads ok. The engine compartment is clean, and free of any leaks.

The power locks, windows, seats and moon roof all work and are in good condition. All the power controls and buttons work.

Like so many of these cars it appears to have lived a pampered life in Florida(of course) where it was probably used as a secondary vehicle, hence the low mileage of 104,106. The interior looks just as good as the exterior, I love that it still has the mobile phone in the center arm rest, little period correct details like that get me every time. The leather still looks fresh, no cracking or wear of any kind. After all these were incredibly well built cars from tip to tail so the detailed service records are really an added bonus here. Too often do I come across W124 Benzes that have been let go, their owners relying on the solid reputation to keep them going instead of going the preventative maintenance route. It’s nice to know that the previous owners really cherished the car and made sure it never wanted for anything.

Though currently located in Pennsylvania and photographed against a bland backdrop of northeast flora, it’s easy to envision yourself cruising through South Beach with a cigar in one hand and the other on the leg of some beautiful woman. Maybe she’s your wife, maybe not, it’s your fantasy not mine! $12,950 isn’t much to make at least part of that fantasy a reality and you’ll even have some money left over to buy some cubans. In many ways I think the E320 cabriolet is still very much a status symbol just not in the same way it was when it debuted. These days I think it lets people know that you’re an enthusaist, a saavy buyer of used cars, someone who knows a classic in the making when they see it. I really don’t think this car will run for its entire 19 day bidding period, not with this level of tidiness. If you like it, better act fast because the E320 cabrio secret is out and I think we’re going to see these things start rising in value considerably over the next couple of years.



2006 Porsche Boxster S

Whenever a luxury car pops up in a unique color combo I’m inclined to write it up. I figure that the majority of them were special ordered by people who really knew what they were looking for and therefore were well taken of. Whether this actually holds up cannot be determined without a proper inspection of the vehicle but it helps to sift through the thousands of listings I find. This Boxster S for sale in Philadelphia is one of the more eye catching examples I’ve come across recently, though I have a feeling the exterior color will be rather polarizing on this site.

I think the Cobalt Blue Metallic is an excellent choice for this car and the dark blue top contrasts well with it. As I’ve said before, the 19″ Carrera Sport wheels are my favorite option for this generation, I’d go so far as to say they’re some of the best factory wheels Porsche has ever offered. Under those wheels are brakes that offer excellent stopping power, 12.52″ up front and 11.77″ out back. I especially love how the red four piston calipers look with the Cobalt Blue, these little details are what makes this car so appealing to me. The whole package is sport and sophisticated, exactly what a Porsche should be in my opinion.

Year: 2006
Model: Boxster S
Engine: 3.2 liter flat-6
Transmission: 6 speed manual
Mileage: 85,954
Price: $21,995

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2006 Porsche Boxster S on Cars.com

1 YEAR – PA – INSPECTION – 5 DAY MONEY BACK GUARANTEE – FULLY SERVICED – FREE CARFAX! This vehicle has been fully serviced and went through a complete PA inspection. FREE power train warranty is included and an extended 5 year warranty is available.

When I first saw this listing I was expecting the interior to be a lighter color like gray or beige, and I was surprised to find that it was black. While I don’t mind the choice, I think the overall look of the car is still great but I think it would be perfect if the interior was lighter, maybe even Terracotta brown. I used to be a huge fan of black interiors but recently I’ve found myself disenchanted with them, especially in sports cars. They seem cold and with a car like this one that already has a cool atheistic going I think some warmth coming from the inside would make for the ultimate package.

Other than not loving the interior, I have nothing negative to say about this car. I think the Boxster S is still massively under appreciated and remains an excellent value for anyone looking to have some serious fun behind the wheel. Driving a Cobalt Blue Boxster at the track might be cause for some snickering in your direction but that’s ok because you know how good it is and that’s really all that should matter. Besides, the majority of people who would tease you for driving a Boxster probably don’t get the intended purpose of the vehicle which is to keep your driving experience as pure as possible. 280hp will feel like plenty when you’re in a rhythm with the 6spd manual, especially with the top down. I’d say that when it comes to bang for your buck in the used Porsche market, the Boxster is hard to beat.


1998 BMW M3 Coupe

If you’re a regular reader of this site you’ll know that I’m a big fan of the E36 M3 and have absolutely no problem saying so. Where haters see the blandest, most under powered M3 in the history of the nameplate, I see a perfectly proportioned bridge between the go kart E30 and the upscale E46. I came of age during the E36 years and though they were few and far between in my neck of the woods, I was well aware that they were something special. Of the two body styles offered during the ’95-’98 production run I prefer the sedan, mainly for the increased sleeper look but also for the daily drive practicality. However I am fond of the coupe as well, especially a well kempt car that hasn’t been stanced, tracked, thrashed or otherwise tampered with. This ’98 coupe in Estoril Blue Metallic over Dove Grey leather is an excellent example of an unmolested car and with just 119,000k on the clock I think this E36 represents the reasonable end of the M3 spectrum.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 BMW M3 Coupe on Cars.com

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Double Take: Which R for you? 2004 Volkswagen R32 v. 2008 Volkswagen R32


The “Hot Hatch”. While Volkswagen may have started the trend with the original GTi, by the 4th edition of the Golf it seemed they had lost their way. Sure, the 1.8T was peppy buy relatively underpowered compared to some of the competition given the Mk.4’s weight, and while there was a VR6 option it just didn’t seem to have the point and squirt feel that the GTi was famous for. Furthermore, the Volkswagen Audi Group had been holding out on importing a major trump card; that was the still not available in the U.S. Audi S3. Sporting an uprated 1.8T powerplant and all-wheel drive, the S3 at least captured some of the intent of the original GTi. The hints of a resurrection to the GTi nameplate came in the 2002 “337” limited edition GTi, but culminated in the 2003 launch of the R32. Sporting the A3/S3/TT Haldex-quattro drive train and a new powerful VR6 pumping out 240 horsepower, the R32 popped the Golf right back to the forefront of the hot hatch market while eliciting memories of the ultra-cool Mk. 2 Golf Limited. Today we’re going to look at the two generations of the R32, starting with the first generation – a clean and rare Tornado Red 2004:


Year: 2004
Model: R32
Engine: 3.2 liter VR6
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Mileage: 65,500 mi
Price: $18,000 Buy It Now

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 Volkswagen R32 on eBay


While I have to say I prefer the 337/25th Anniversary body kit more than the Mk. 4 R32 bumper package, it certainly does draw some serious attention. I’m glad to see the original “Aristo” rims and could do without the Miro wheels that are included, but it’s nice that the car comes with two clean sets. Miles are lower average but condition appears to be one of the better ones I’ve seen. This car was clearly owned by an enthusiast and shows. $18,000 feels like all of the money for one of these super-GTis, so when I was looking I wasn’t surprised to see that the Mk.V edition can be had for about the same money:


The 5th edition of the Golf brought a new level of refinement and better build quality over the Mk.4, but performance was relatively unchanged due relatively unchanged power and weight. One thing that did change was that the U.S. bound R32s only came with the DSG automatic gearbox. Today’s 2008 model is represented in Deep Blue Pearl, the signature color for the R32:


Year: 2008
Model: R32
Engine: 3.2 liter VR6
Transmission: 6-speed automatic DSG
Mileage: 72,693 mi
Price: $18,976 Buy It Now

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 Volkswagen R32 on eBay

Safety Notes
3-point height-adjustable front safety belts w/pre-tensioners & load limiters, 3-point rear safety belts,4-wheel anti-lock vented disc brakes w/blue calipers, brake pad wear indicator,Daytime running lights,Driver & front passenger front airbag supplemental restraint system w/buckle switch,Driver & front passenger side airbag supplemental restraint system,Dual tone horn,Electronic stabilization program,Front/rear side curtain protection,LATCH child seat attachment points
Mechanical Notes
18″ x 7.5″ alloy wheels w/anti-theft wheel locks,4-wheel anti-lock vented disc brakes w/blue calipers, brake pad wear indicator,Dual center mounted chrome exhaust tips,Electric-assist pwr steering,Electronic stabilization program,Independent MacPherson strut front suspension,Independent multi-link rear suspension
Comfort Notes
(2) front & (2) rear assist handles,(2) front cupholders,3-spoke leather-wrapped multi-function sport steering wheel w/audio controls, transmission paddle shifters,60/40 split folding rear seats w/height-adjustable head restraints,Alloy pedals w/R logos,Alloy-look interior trim,AM/FM stereo w/MP3/6-disc CD changer-inc: Sirius satellite radio, (10) speakers,Anti-theft vehicle alarm system w/audible & visual activation,Auxiliary pwr outlet in center console,Brushed chrome interior door handles,Climatronic electronic climate control w/pollen filter,Cruise control,Diversity & satellite radio antenna,Driver & front passenger illuminated visor vanity mirrors,Front center armrest w/storage compartment,Front center dome light w/time delay, (2) front & (2) rear reading lights,Fully carpeted luggage compartment w/light, auxiliary pwr outlet, removable cover,Height-adjustable & telescoping theft-deterrent steering column,Immobilizer theft-deterrent system,Leather shift knob & handbrake grip,Leatherette door panels w/integrated armrests, storage pockets,Locking glovebox,Multi-function trip computer w/trip time, trip length, average trip speed, average trip fuel consumption, current fuel consumption, miles to empty, outside temp,Pwr windows w/pinch protection,Rear window defroster,Remote release for hatch & fuel filler flap,Self-dimming interior rearview mirror,Top sport bucket seats w/heated partial leather seating surfaces, pwr lumbar support, R logo headrests
Exterior Notes
Aluminum color grille,Blue tinted glass,Body-color bumpers,Body-color door handles,Body-color heated pwr mirrors,Body-color side moldings,Body-color side skirts,Daytime running lights,Rain-sensing aero windshield wipers w/heated washer nozzles,Rear intermittent wiper/washer,Rear spoiler,Xenon HID headlamps w/washers

Safety, Mechanical, Comfort and Exterior Notes detail items which were installed at the factory during manufacturing of this vehicle. These items may or may not still be installed on this vehicle. Please call for further details.

In a straight drag race and around a track, the DSG was quicker, but is more expensive to run and lost some of the feel of the manual “chuckability” of the Mk.4. The real shame with the Mk 5. is that there was a 5 door version and manual option in Europe but VAG opted to not import them. It’s too bad because they would have been a clear challenger to not only hatches but the WRX/Evo crowd. I love the original Omanyt wheels (though they’re unbelievably heavy), the color is fantastic, and the car comes with a CPO warranty. Gripes? I never liked the slightly separated exhaust on the Mk.5. It just doesn’t look quite right to me. It may be a minor point, but it brothers me every time I see one. The sound they produce, however, is great in both models.

Were it my money, I think I’d choose….neither. I always want to love the R32, and I always think it sounds great, but the “ultimate” Golf has never really done it for me. If I want a fast V6 all-wheel drive car, I’d rather spend this money on a B5 S4 or S4 avant. If I really wanted a “hot hatch” VW, I’d get either a 337 or 25th Anniversary GTi. Sorry folks, if this is a bit of a letdown, but I just wouldn’t buy either one of these cars. In my mind, they’re overpriced, overly complicated, way too heavy, and try too hard. They’re the antithesis of the GTi – a stripped down tossable hot hatch. Want a good, fast awd hatch? Buy a WRX. Yes, the Golf has better build quality, but you can get a just about new WRX hatch for the price of these two well-used mega-Golfs, and I’d be willing to bet in the long run the WRX would be cheaper to run. And if you haven’t been in a last generation Impreza, you’d be pretty impressed with how they drive for sure.

This might just be the worst conclusion ever, but at least it’s an honest one. Which would you choose?


1991 Jetta GLI w/ TT 3.2L swap

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Mk1 and Mk2 Jettas are sharp cars, and the ease of finding and modifying them makes them a great proposition for motivated German enthusiasts. I’ll get it out of the way early that air suspension and a vastly upgraded engine seem like contradictions to me, but today’s GLI has been done well and thoroughly with an eye towards the VeeDub show scene. Highlighting the parts-bin accessibility of VAG, this Jetta has a TT heart, Golf Rallye headlights, G60 flares and Mk3 suspension and brakes. A conventional suspension would raise the desirability factor for me, along with a lower price. The seller has totalled up all of his receipts to price the car, which we know is a common mistake with modifiers.

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Year: 1991
Model: Jetta GLI
Engine: Audi TT 3.2 liter VR6
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 59k mi engine, 115k mi body
Price: $22,500 Buy It Now

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Volkswagen Jetta for sale on eBay

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1991 VW Jetta original GLI
Fully customized, VERY good condition
[price based on physical items receipt total]
 Body Work:
• shaved banana lights
• shaved rear seams
• shaved turn signals
• shaved exhaust hole
• shaved rear tow hook
• shaved spoiler
• fully ‘shaved’engine bay
• painted engine [black]
 Custom paint — color: Black Cherry
 Flares:
• Front: G60 front flares: Front arches cut;
• Rear: G60 front flares; Rear arches cut and reseamed
 Smoked Hella taillights
 Blackened Golf Rallye headlights
 Audi TT 3.2L engine swap [59K miles on engine]
 Lugtronic stand-alone engine management/full custom wire-tuck
 Techtonics Tuning downpipe
 custom 3″ downpipe back exhaust
 Pusher style Slimline fans
 Black center Schmidt 3-piece modernlines: Front: 16 X 8; Rear: 16 X 9
 Kumho Ecsta 205/40/16 tires
 BagYard Supreme air-ride struts
• Two Vivair 400c compressors
• Eight Asco valves
• AVS 7 switchbox
• 5-gallon air tank airbrushed [riveted metal]
• Mason Tech Sumpsaver Skid Plate
 1998 MK3 5-lug suspension & brakes
 Original GLI Recaro interior
 114,593 miles on car body

Reason for selling: Moving on

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The seller is going to have to be generous with people clicking “Make an Offer” before it actually gets sold, as I see his price as at least 25% too high. I’m sure the TT engine, suspension, work, etc. all cost a pretty penny, and the car appears to be very nice, but no one is going to buy a Mk2 VW Jetta for $22.5k. If he adds up the parts and they really are worth that much, then maybe he should consider disassembly. In reality, he should accept a lower price and pass this nice VW project on to the next enthusiast.


2008 Volkswagen R32

Starting in 2004, VW has started the every four year tradition of releasing an R version of the Golf. Starting with the 2004 R32, these cars were an instant hit with VW enthusiasts, and performance enthusiasts alike. With a 240bhp narrow angle V6 (VR6) 6-speed manual gearbox, and Haldex AWD these cars are capable on the road, and at track days. While the first generation was a hit, the second generation R32 was met with much hesitation among enthusiasts. Based on the MK5 platform, the 2008 R32 offered the same VR6 torque monster, however the 6-speed manual was replaced with VWs DSG dual clutch gearbox. While the DSG was a technological masterpiece, with launch control, and split second shifts,  it still left manual lovers shaking their heads in disgust.

As polarizing as the DSG gearbox is, the R32 still possessed all of the elements for success. With the 3.2-liter, 250-horsepower V-6 engine, six-speed double clutch transmission, Haldex 4 AWD system, electromechanical steering the MK5 R32 did its MK4 predecessor proud.

This Tornado Red on Black 2008 R32 for sale at VW of Oakland is sure to be a cop magnet for whoever buys it.

2008 VW R32 on Cars.com

This is a car that I’m on the fence about.  I have driven the DSG, and it is a great transmission for flogging the R32, but it tends to be quirky around town in everyday situations.  no matter how great it is on paper, I still missed the visceral feeling of ripping through the gears.  All that aside, this 10K mile car is one of the cleaner R32s I’ve seen for sale.  At around 2500 miles annually, this car has seen an easy life.  The asking price of $26,991 (cars.com has an older price advertised) is right where it should be for a car this clean, making it a great deal no matter what your position is on the DSG gearbox.