Every once in a while, something sneaks under the radar and offers a great opportunity to grab a quality classic for a relative bargain. Perhaps posting this blows up that chance somewhat, but odds are with only a few days left, Sars-CoV-2, and the recent stock market crash, you’re not in a position to drop everything and buy an extra car on a whim – but hey, who knows? And this one is a doozy.
What we have here is a rather inconspicuous 1995 M5. That means it’s a Euro car automatically, and yep, it’s a 3.8 liter S38 coupled to a six-speed manual. And, just like the last one, it’s my favorite Daytona Violet! But this one is a sedan and it doesn’t look like the best example out there, so what’s the draw? It’s a no reserve auction.
While it’s easy to get wrapped up in the biggest, baddest, and fastest of every type of car, in the background there are some hidden gems. These jewels are, unfortunately for enthusiasts, getting harder to find – in this case, we have a naturally aspirated, inline-6, rear-drive coupe with a manual gearbox. If that sounds like an endangered species, you’re right – it seems to be. But by forgoing the turbocharger of the bigger brother 335i or twin turbos in the 335iS, jumping into this Liquid Blue Metallic 328i won’t cost you an arm or a leg – a good thing, since you’ll need both of each to drive it.
Throngs of U.S. Audi fans rejoiced when the news came that not only was the RS6 returning to this side of the Atlantic, it would be coming for the first time as an Avant. With nearly 600 hybrid horsepower on tap, it promises to be exactly the rocketship full of 5-door tech you’d expect from the company. But it will be interesting to see actual sales numbers after all the internet buzz dies down, because herein lies the problem with the RS6 Avant; if it is competing with the E63 S AMG Wagon (how could it not be?), it will sticker somewhere between $120,000 and $140,000 depending on options. Let’s just say that it’s safe to assume that’s out of the reach of most of the people chastising Audi all over the Internet for not bringing it here to this point.
So is there a solution? Absolutely. There was already a perfectly good RS6 offered here two generations ago. And if you’re willing to pony up roughly $40,000, you can have an Avant here. But today we’re looking at a sedan, because 1) they’re much more plentiful, 2) they’re much more affordable, and 3) this one is turned up and should offer close to the performance of the inbound model. The seller claims this car produces 620 horsepower and 750 lb.ft of torque. Oh, and I almost forgot quattro) it’s a 6-speed manual swap, too:
Earlier this week I just about broke my neck to catch a second glimpse at a car which probably went unnoticed by nearly every other driver out there. It was a new what appeared to be a B8 Passat Variant, and you don’t have to know a lot about Volkswagens to know you haven’t seen one recently – or, probably ever – on these shores since VW dropped the large wagon from its lineup after 2010. Is this an indication they’re coming here? Unlikely, at least according to VW. With the Atlas and Tiguan relatively fresh and still selling like proverbial hotcakes, along with the many iterations of the Golf Sportwagon available, there just is no need. More likely than not, the car I saw was part of a VW testing program which makes sense since I live very close to one of the importation ports.
So that leaves fans of the larger VW wagon to clamor over older examples. So back we go fifteen years to a B5.5 again! This one, like the last, is a silver example from 2004. Also just like the last, it’s a manual and all-wheel drive. But unlike that rare factory 1.8T 4Motion manual, this one is a home brew, mating a 1.9 TDi out of a Jetta, a 6-speed manual from Europe, and a GLX 4Motion chassis into a neat and thrifty all-wheel drive combo that was never offered here:
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:
“Give me crazy options, or give me death!”
That isn’t what Patrick Henry said during a speech he made to the Second Virginia Convention in 1775. It is however something I would say to a group of strangers on the internet when looking at Porsches. This 2018 Porsche 911 GT3 up for sale in Southern California isn’t your typical 991.2 GT3. I know saying a “typical 991.2 GT3” is a little bit of an oxymoron, but seeing the options on this car, you might understand what I mean. Not only is it finished in paint-to-sample Agate Gray, but the full bucket seats are finished in burgundy leather with hounds tooth inserts. It doesn’t stop there either.
The 996 Turbo occupied a strange area of value in the Porsche world for a bit, though it generally seems like the market caught on. And its no wonder; the 996TT not only offers supercar levels of performance in a package which can exploit it, the macho looks overwhelm the uninspired headlights, and the Turbo motor doesn’t have the same IMS worries that the normally aspirated models have you worried about. On top of that, this particular car has the X50 performance package – a desirable option, with K24 turbos, a re-mapped ECU and GT2 intercoolers added to the 3.6 liter flat-6 netting 444 horsepower. This is mated to a 6-speed manual, too. And if you hadn’t noticed somehow, it’s a pretty special color – Speed Yellow – but following up on Andrew’s W111 this one has a very unusual and unexpected interior. If the great package, great options, and unusual color combination weren’t enough, this 2003 Turbo has just 8,500 miles on it. The price? Hang on to your fried eggs and wait until you see that interior:
The words “Q-Ship” and “Sleeper” get tossed around a lot when describing the super-performing sedans, coupes and wagons from Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW – but truth be told, virtually any enthusiast and most non-enthusiasts can spot a high performance model a mile away. We have to go really pretty far back to find examples that were true sleepers – models where it was only the number of tail pipes, subtly wider wheels, or maybe one single badge that hinted at their greater performance. There were no extra gills, bulges, flared fenders, red trim, flashy colored brake calipers and 22″ wheels with 375 section tires. For models like the 450SEL 6.9, you had to know what you were looking at to fully appreciate the performance. But even as we got towards the E28 M5, manufacturers were slapping badges, lowered suspensions, spoilers and special trim to help set their client’s substantial investments apart. In the vein of the 450SEL 6.9, though, Volkswagen launched a discrete performance sedan – a true sleeper – in the Passat W8.
I recently looked at a Laguna Green Metallic 850i 6-speed and talked a bit about just why they’re so special. It’s definitely a car you don’t see every day:
1991 BMW 850i
Out of the 4,194 5.0 V12 M70-equipped, only 847 came to the United States between 1990 and 1994 (as the re-badged 850Ci) with a 6-speed manual transmission. While that’s not quite as rare and desirable as the 850CSi, nevertheless the manual E31s are pretty special bits of kit and very hard to come across. But today we get to look at another, and it’s again a cool 90s color:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: on eBay
Okay, $22,000 is a lot for an old hot hatch, even if it’s the ‘original’. When I was perusing some cars to consider, I noticed that there was a point where Mk.2, 3, 4 and 5 prices were all pretty equivalent. In fact, you can just about buy all four of these cars shown below for the same price as that Kamei X1 GTI. It raises an interesting question; what generation is the one to get at this price point? Certainly a lot depends on priorities – if, for example, you really want a fun daily driver or you’re looking for more of a weekend warrior show car. But let’s look at this group and see which has potential: