I’ve recently noticed a large amount of second-hand F10s hitting the market, and what’s been surprising to me is just how cheap they’ve gotten so quickly. Perhaps I just haven’t been paying attention, but suddenly the asking prices on the early F10s are precariously close to $10,000. I suppose it makes sense; the F10 is out of production and no longer the “new thing”, with early examples over 100,000 miles and 8 years old. That’s pretty much a death sentence for a mid-sized executive sedan.
But before you entirely dismiss the F10 line and commence your search for lightly used G30s, there are a few reasons to consider some specific trims in the lineup. For one, the F10 was a lot less controversial of a design than the E60 had been. Second, they seemed to integrate the technology better into the platform, making it a lot less glitch-prone than its predecessor. And, as with all 5-series iterations, power was once again up in the newer models across the board.
But within the F10 lineup for the U.S., there was one particular model which was quite special – what’s listed here as a 550i M-Sport 6-speed. Some 611 550is were equipped with manuals, but of those only 269 were made with the M-Sport package. Today’s example is one of just 16 550i manuals produced in Cashmere Silver Metallic:
The E31 was BMW’s first real attempt at integrating lots of computer designs and controls into one of their road cars. The clean-sheet design resulted in a 2-door grand tourer that shared some visual similarities with the great M1, but stood apart as a more practical cruiser. Unlike the E24, the windows could fully drop, revealing a graceful pillarless design to match the sweeping greenhouse. The sharp nose amazingly hid an even larger motor than its predecessor; in fact, it was basically two conjoined M30s. That configuration certainly has some drawbacks, but there was no denying that the 850i had serious presence and credentials with the M70 V12 kicking out 300 horsepower.
However, BMW softened the character of what potentially could have been a screamer. Many were outfit with 16? wheels for a better ride and tied to an automatic transmission. This was truly a GT car, and not the supercar slayer that BMW teased with its M8 Concept. Still, there are a few which were hooked to 6-speed manual transmissions prior to the launch of the manual-only 850CSi, and they’re a whole lot cheaper than the M-modded model is trading for today:
We could argue the merits of what made the “ultimate” 924/944/968 all day long. A lot depends on what you consider the most desirable, or most pure form. Take that argument to the 911 range, and it becomes even more convoluted. Is it the 901? The RS? The Turbo Carrera? For me, it’s this car.
If the Ferrari F40 was the pin-up hero for most teenage boys, the Porsche 959 was its arch-enemy, and was the car I was always interested in. The F40 was a pared down street racer, while the 959 sported experimental exotic technologies that even 30 years later most cars don’t have – 6 speed manual? Yep. Active suspension? Yep, that too. Hollow spoke wheels with tire pressure monitoring system? Sure, we can do that. Kevlar composite body? Why not? Active torque splitting all-wheel drive system? Let’s give it a go. A technological Tour de Force, the 959 wowed crowds with all of these shocking options when it was launched in a still hard to believe 1985, beating the F40 to the market.
Even at the time it was released, the 959 was a bit of an enigma – did Porsche want to win Le Mans or Paris Dakar with it? Well, it did both – Paris Dakar outright, and it won its class at Le Mans. It was also one of the fastest production cars in the world, with a sub-4 second 0-60 time – something that modern supercars still strive for. Did I mention this car is the best part of 30 years old? Like all of the dream cars that remained firmly out of U.S. buyers hands, the 959 remained a forbidden fruit for many years. But today, even if your name isn’t Gates or Seinfeld, you can own in the U.S. one of the most highly sought after cars ever made – a Carrera White 1987 Porsche 959 Komfort:
Believe or not, if you want a 6-speed manual in your run-of-the-mill Mercedes-Benz C-Class, you could actually buy one in the United States. Mercedes offered a small handful of them starting with the W203 and even more surprisingly carried that over to the next generation W204. Before you get too excited, these gearboxes were only offered on non-AMG cars and even finding one is nearly impossible because you can probably guess what the target market is for a base C-Class in America. Today, I finally found one that is worth taking a look at because the interior isn’t falling apart yet. This 2008 C300 up for sale in Maryland looks very nice and even has a good service history. Question is, would you even consider this car seeing as what this one costs over 10 years later?
Let’s head back to some rarities we never received in the U.S.. Now, the V8 quattro did come here, as did (briefly) a manual version. However, U.S. manuals were not only few in number, they were solely 5-speed and hooked only to the lower-output PT 3.6 from the late ’89-90s and a few ’91s. By the time the revised ABH 4.2 launched, Audi had dumped the manual option for North America; if you wanted to row your own in a fast quattro, your option was the S4.
In Europe, though, the S4 could also be mated to a 4.2 V8. And instead of 5-speeds, those cars got the 6-speed manual gearbox. That combination would go on to be the highlight reel of the S6, S6 Plus and early S8s, too. But a few select V8 quattros with the 276 horsepower 4.2 got that 6-cog manual, and our reader John spotted a very clean example:
Update 4/4/19: This stellar swap sold for $26,677.
That M3-powered 325xi Touring was pretty impressive, no? But it’s not without competition in the market today. That’s because at the same time BMW was leaving the most powerful 3-series out of the Touring market, Audi was offering U.S. customers the 250 horsepower twin-turbocharged all-wheel drive 6-speed S4 Avant finally! The blown 30V V6 was capable of hustling the small wagon from 0-60 in 5.9 seconds while your groceries remained firmly embedded in the hatch trim.
Of course, as impressive as the U.S. bound S4 Avant was, it was still over 75 horsepower down on the brand-new E46 M3. That wouldn’t do for Ingolstadt, who employed Cosworth Technologies to revisit the V6. The result was quattro GmbH’s RS4 Avant, and power increased to 375 while the B5 sprouted flared arches, slits in the nose and deep valances. Unfortunately for U.S. customers, the B5 RS4 was a no-go for importation, leaving some to
wonder what might have been build their own:.
If I’m honest, neither the outrageous Passat W8 nor the overpriced A4 Avant from Sunday really thrilled in the same way as the 2.7T-swapped B6 Ultrasport build did. Granted, you could just about buy both the Audi and the Passat for the same price as that build, but if you’re going to take on a complicated older fast wagon, there must be some sort of reward for all the risk, right?
Well, not to be outdone, here’s a stellar BMW option. The standard 325xi Touring, while available with a 5-speed manual, isn’t nearly as exotic sounding or performing as the duo from the other day. The M54 2.5 liter inline-6 was about 100 horsepower down on the Passat W8 and they weighed pretty close to the same. BMW also chose to not equip any of the xi models with the M-Sport suspension, either. While the 3-series was substantially cheaper than either the A4 2.0T S-Line Titanium package or the Passat W8 4Motion, out of the box it also didn’t feel as special.
Of course, if you rip it apart and rebuild it with a S54 borrowed from a M3 and a 6-speed from a X3, the story changes a bit…
Fortunately for its seller but unfortunate if you actually were interested in it, the 2.7T-swapped Audi B6 A4 Ultrasport Avant ‘Unicorn Killer’ I wrote up a few weeks ago sold just before I went to press. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other interesting options out there, and I found two in direct competition (at least, ostensibly) with one another on my local Craigslist.
Here, we have two all-wheel drive wagons from VAG. Both are complicated. Both are reasonably quick. Both have mindbogglingly long names. Both have 6-speed manuals, both originally had MSRPs north of $40,000 and both, predictably, are quite rare to find. But while the mileage on the two is different, their asking prices are within a hundred dollars. So which would you take?
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:
While it was certainly impressive to see the unique Aquamarine S4 Avant over the weekend, for nearly everyone it was a letdown. Many of the faults would be excusable were it not for the outrageous asking price – getting on for four times the market value of a decent “normal” S4 Avant. Of course, one of the great things traditionally about Audis is that the chassis flexibility means parts from a myriad of other models work across platforms. So, unhappy with the available options out there, why not build your own super Avant?
That’s exactly what folks at Black Canyon Performance did, taking an already desirable B6 A4 Avant Ultrasport 6-speed and turning the wick up substantially. The modifications range from installation of a B5-generation 2.7T V6 to a factory RS4 interior and a special Porsche color – 7A1 Gray Black borrowed from the 997 GT3 RS, but don’t end there. Welcome to the Unicorn Killer….or was it Killer Unicorn?