I don’t write up Porsches that much on the site, though not for a lack of admiration. I just don’t have the history of knowledge that I do with Audi/VW and BMW. Yet one of my weirder first car stories was when I tried to buy a $900 Porsche 914 off a message board in 1998 (craigslist didn’t even have that name at that point), when I was in 8th grade. My mom heard me on the phone and after I hung up was asking me what the hell was going on. It was innocent enough, a pipe dream that I could earn enough money to get a funky little German gokart and work on it myself.
The gokart idea still appeals to me, and daydreams of Elises, Superformance 818s, and 914s still dance around in my head every once in a while. This example is much more than the plaything I’m looking for; it’s the 914 for Porschephiles. No Subaru or LS upgrade here making it a silly toy, but a 3.6-liter flat-6 straight out of a 964. It started as a low-mileage, one-owner 914 that was pretty much rebuilt from the ground up to contain the improved power, resulting in a car that looks like a showroom-perfect beacon of the VW/Porsche gokart project but goes like a scalded cat that got surprised by a cucumber. They included a nice, brief, drone-shot video that gives a great sense of the sound and drama that this orange machine can produce. The build was essentially cost-is-no-object, and the price is accordingly many times more than a standard 914.
As Rob said in his recent 964 Carrera 4 Widebody post, the flared variants of the middle generation 911 can be polarizing. Even more polarizing are the extra-widebody Nakai-san Rauh-Welt Begriff creations. That Akira Nakai is an artist is unquestioned, but whether his creations are genius or blasphemous depend on your definition of art I would suppose. Nakai takes the stock 911 and turns it up to 11, with custom molded, hand crafted flares and widening the lines of the 911 to outrageous proportions. Fitted with giant wheels, lowered suspensions and custom front and rear bumpers, they are the embodiment of the Japanese tuning scene but with a decidedly European feel. Indeed, you don’t need to look far into Porsche’s own developments to find the inspiration for these models from Stuttgart’s own work. Indeed, many of Nakai’s works look a lot like the 964 Turbo S Le Mans racer and later 993 GT2 race car, with their giant gold BBS wheels, huge spoiler, vents and wide flares. Personally, I think that Nakai does an exceptional job mimicking the best of the 911 race car design whilst simultaneously introducing his own style. That becomes more obvious when you see a non-Coupe RWB such as today’s Targa model – I believe the first open-air RWB I’ve seen:
The first time I ever saw a 964 Carrera was in 1992 when my mom took me to see Beethoven at our local two screen. Out of all the images that were burned into my brain from that movie, the bad guy’s black Carrera 2 is the one that I have always vividly remembered. It’s kind of weird that all these years later whenever I see a 964 I think of that movie when there are so many other things to associate the car with both in the racing world and in pop culture. The 964 should really be the most iconic 911 as it bridged the gap between the purist car that the 911 was and the consumer friendly machine it has become. However I think these cars remain under appreciated by most folks, dismissed as being the first step towards the softening of the 911. I’d be quick to point out to these naysayers that the 964 was in fact quite hardcore in its performance numbers despite the addition of creature comforts. This was truly the beginning of the journey towards the “have your cake and eat it too” Porsche we know and love today.
The 964 saw an increase in power, better ride and handling, improved safety features, more effective climate control system and an all wheel drive variant. I’m willing to bet that when it debuted many Porsche enthusiasts made a big fuss about the car going against everything Porsche stands for, much like we do today about, well just about anything Porsche does. With nearly 25 years of hindsight I think that even the grouchiest Luftgekuhlt lovers would have to admit, the 964 generation deserves a whole lot of respect. Take a good look at this example right here and I think you’ll agree that a Carrera 2 might just be the perfect classic 911.
I have a fun ongoing exchange with our reader John; we send each other pretty much every V8 quattro that comes to the market in the U.S., usually accompanied by some brutally honest and laughable one-liner. Considering the number of V8 quattros imported – less than 4000 – and that they were both expensive and a DTM star, they would have been coveted like the rest of the Audi lineup. Yet, many have fallen into extreme disrepair or neglect, leaving precious few left running today and making good ones a rare find. For example, recently John sent me a pretty worn Pearlesant White ’93 model with the line: ” ‘cheap’ and haven’t seen it before, but that’s about it”. I responded that I’d done the “cheap” V8 route before, and that were I to do it again I would have been better off spending three times as much to get a maintained example. The V8 is truly a car that could bankrupt you trying to restore a poor one to original condition. However, if you find a reasonable example that’s well priced, is it a better proposition?
Up through 1995, Audi really liked to do things differently. Since then, they have perhaps become a bit more mainstream – but there are plenty of examples of their unconventional engineering before then. It was even a bit of a joke, with some enthusiasts lovingly (or not so much) using the Audi name for the acronym “Always Unusual Designs Incorporated”. One of my favorite unusual Audi stories, though, must by the development of the Audi V8 race car. Audi looked at what Mercedes-Benz and BMW did in the DTM and said “Sure, we can do that. But, we’ll use our full sized luxury-oriented car”. Then, to add insult to injury, they left the wood trim in the race cars as a reminder that this was their top-tier car. And, of course, you’d assume it would lose to the self-proclaimed most successful race car ever made, the E30 M3. But, it didn’t. It won the championship in both 1990 and 1991. Ever since then, I’ve had a bit of a love affair with the Audi V8 quattro, if for no other reason than it was not the normal choice. Rare to see even when new and quite expensive, nearly all of the 3,868 imported were automatics – a new and important development for bringing Audi to a larger market. But for 72 of those cars, the experience was quite different:
Oh, how I do love the comparos! Today I’ve worked up a third tuner comparison, because frankly this interesting trio was just a bit too good to pass up – as were the other BMWs! But unlike the factory sourced Dinan and Alpina modded cars from earlier, this comparison focuses on some unusual Porsches. Supercharging isn’t the typical choice for the flat-6, but the bolt-on horsepower results are undeniable, bringing the normal flat-6 quickly up to Turbo levels of power. I have three generations compiled here, all popular in their own right but for different reasons. Which is the winner?
I got to laughing the other day during a National Lampoon marathon on television when the memorable “Family Truckster” came onto the screen. The inclusion of that heavily ornamented and modified car in the movie was truly a stroke of genius, but once again a sad reminder that many of the wagons that previously were available to us are gone, replaced by crossovers, “GT”s, or SUV/SAV vehicles. Of course, because of this you don’t have to go back very far in time to find great deals on the last generation of premium 5-doors. Today, with that in mind, I’ve rounded up a set of all-wheel drive sporty wagons to consider – which is the winner?
The Type 44 Audi was an impressive advance for German automobiles, a huge leap forward for Audi in a new marketplace – but also nearly the cause of its demise. It was an aerodynamic, futuristic sedan when both BMW and Mercedes-Benz seemed to be producing cars stuck in the 1970s. It was the blueprint for most modern luxury sedans from not only German companies, but many of the advances were copied by the Japanese, Italians and Americans for their large sedans. Yet, by 1990 Audi nearly pulled out of the American market thanks to some creative journalism from 60 Minutes, who in their effort to prove Audi was at fault for some unintended acceleration cases nearly killed off the company entirely. In part as a result of their efforts, it’s become quite rare to find clean examples of them today – but it’s also because they were such good, long-lived and solidly built machines that few have lower miles today. While I recent featured a few 20V turbocharged examples in the 20V Turbo comparison, today we’ll look at a few of the lesser appreciated examples, starting with a clean 5000CS quattro Avant in Canada:
Audi fans are an interesting bunch. To be fair, I think that most devoted followers of a specific brand in any circumstance are an interesting bunch, but knowing the Audi folks a bit I’m closer to the understanding. What I find interesting is that there’s such a schism between the model fans and who they attract. Each has a devoted following, and each of those groups is a microcosm in and of itself. Take my model group, for example – the Type 85. In that model group, there are the three major notables: the 4000 quattro, the Coupe GT, and of course the Quattro. Then within each of those subsets, there are further fan specializations; 84 4000S quattro versus the 85-87; early GT versus 85-87 and then the “87.5” crew; and of course each one of the model years of the Quattro has its followers. As with the GT, Audi fans have come to naming half model years to differentiate the upgrades; 87.5 GTs received a revised engine and brakes along with some other minor details, but then there are “95.5” S6s and “2001.5” S4s; heck, there are even “2005.5” S4s. Fans become semi-obsessed with differentiating each of the subset models and what makes them special. Today, though, seeing any of these cars in great shape is special to me – and these three each have their special fan base. Thanks to our reader John, here’s a roundup of three fan favorites that are sure to make some smile:
Like the closest counterparts, the BMW M3/M5 and the Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3 16v/500E, the Audi V8 quattro has long enjoyed a cult following. Unlike those other cars, though, finding a decent V8 quattro these days is quite tough. First, not many were imported – a few thousand may sound like a lot, but it’s less than the total number of E30 M3s imported, for example, by a long shot. By the time they got to their last production year, only a few hundred of the super-sedans were imported. Second, because they’re complicated, older cars that lost a lot of their value in the 1990s, many fell into states of disrepair. Over its short life, the Audi V8 underwent numerous changes; from the introductory options of automatic or manual, the 3.6 liter quad-cam all-aluminum V8 pumped a respectable 240 horsepower but by the end of the run the automatic-only 4.2 liter displacement bump resulted in nearly 280 horsepower. Sure, that’s small potatoes today, but outside of the limited Sport Quattro, these were the most powerful production Audis made before 1995. Today we’ll take a look at two of the more desirable models for different reasons – a 3.6 5-speed and a late 4.2 model, both Pearlesant White with Grey Connolly leather
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