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Fashion icon Iris Apfel was noted for saying “life is gray and dull and you might as well have a little fun when you dress and amuse people.” Adapt this quote to automobiles and you are speaking my language. So much of what we see offered today by manufacturers is boring and drab, trying to maximize profit while giving consumers the vague whiff of individuality. There are still a few cars out there which will help you stand out. Continuing on with the Swedish theme I seem to be on this week, Volvo has been one of the few brands to offer what has become a niche vehicle with a rabid following: the performance estate. These cars are an attempt at offering the family man his cake and allowing him to eat it, too. And with this formula comes a bit of whimsy.
It all started in the 1980s when they started turbocharging their five-door offerings. Then, in the 1990s, Volvo went all out and fielded an 850 Estate in the British Touring Car Championship, with the help of Tom Walkinshaw Racing. This spawned a street version, the 850 T-5R. With an engine developed in conjunction with Porsche, this car packed 243 horsepower and was available in both sedan and estate form. The T-5R was then succeeded by the 850 R, essentially the same car with some improvements. This 850 R for sale in Kentucky is a rare sight, an example in very good condition with just 65,000 miles on the clock. Want some sport with your utility? Read further.
We’re pretty much all big fans of fast wagons at German Cars For Sale Blog, but over the past few years the number of offerings has steadily dried up. We’ve never received the hot versions of the M5 Touring or RS6 Avant, for example, and steadily even the quick versions of the Audi and Volkswagen wagons have left these shores too. That leaves fast wagon fans to look towards only two places in the last few years; Cadillac, oddly, with the CTS-V wagon and the last German holdout, Mercedes-Benz. It’s somewhat odd that Mercedes-Benz has upped the nuttiness in its large E-class wagon too, since it never really took part in the original Wagon Wars between its countrymen. True, there were some limited number AMG conversions done in the late 80s/early 90s, but for the most part Mercedes-Benz had stayed away until recently. Then, a few years ago, it started offering AMG-enhanced versions of the E-Class Estate; first in 55, then later 63 form. If you can get by the strange numbering system that doesn’t correspond to the actual engine under the hood, that leaves you with one of the fastest wagons made out of the box. Walk down to your local Mercedes-Benz dealer and you can order up one of these W212 Estates with a staggering 577 horsepower in “S” form. That was a true supercar number not very long ago, but it comes wrapped in the guise of a sensible wagon with all-wheel drive and a slick 7-speed automatic transmission. Of course, it’s heavy…so it only does 0-60 runs in 3.6 seconds. That means you won’t be able to keep up with your neighbor’s new BMW M6 Gran Coupe, which does the run in 3.1 seconds. Time to hit the Brabus gym, then…
The question of badges, badge engineering and car’s values are always interesting to me. Obvious car values vary considerably, but some times enthusiasts really gravitate towards one particular year or sub-model within a lineup and choose that model for value. Yesterday’s 1995 M3 raised that point; while it was a neat color and lower mileage with good overall condition, it was the OBD1 status that had some claiming that it should be worth more than later models. In the case of the E31, it’s obviously the big-dog 850CSi that stands out with its BMW Motorsport heritage and build. But let’s say, for argument’s sake, that there was arguably a nicer example of the lesser 850i 6-speed with some light modifications available at the same time – is the M badge that important?
People don’t really give BMW enough credit as a risk-taking company, in my opinion. First came the M1, a mid-engined supercar from a company that was producing primarily economy sport sedans. Audi has been applauded for bringing the brilliant R8 to the market, but BMW did it nearly 30 years prior. Then they introduced that same M88 motor into their mid-range sedan and big coupe, changing the definition of sports sedans and bringing GT cars to a higher level. The M3 helped too, and forced Audi and Mercedes-Benz’s hands to make higher performance small sedans that enthusiasts have enjoyed for a few generations now. More recently, the i8 has gone from concept to reality, and stands as one of the most game-changing designs in history. But one that was often overlooked was the i8’s spiritual predecessor, the E31 8 series. A soft, big and angular departure from BMW’s styling in the 1980s, the E31 received a tremendous amount of development and accolades when it was released, but enthusiasts remained skeptical – partially because it seemed the 8’s performance didn’t live up to the promise of the design cues from the M1. Enthusiasts hoped for a high-performance “M8” that magazines taunted but never came. Instead, we received the heavily M-division-modified 850CSi:
The authors of German Cars for Sale Blog are always throwing around ideas for new features and I thought it might be neat to occasionally…