1994 BMW 850CSi

I have a romantic vision that there will be some day that I’m able to go for a cruise on the weekend with my family in the fast GT car. Part of that stems from a childhood dream; my grandfather was lucky enough to own a Ferrari 250GT/L Lusso back in the 1960s and 1970s; it was long gone before I was any age to appreciate it, but I’ve always had a thought that I could buy one some day. Well, recent market changes have moved the Lusso from a $100,000 Ferrari to a $1,000,000 plus Ferrari – the chances of me ever buying one have gone from slim to none. Even the replacement models like the 365GTC/4 are also firmly out of reach too. So my dream of the classic Ferrari has moved on to more recent, affordable models. The 456GT is a great example – classic looks, perfect layout, and most reasonable examples can be had between $50,000 and $60,000. Great! The problem? Well, it’s still a Ferrari; frequent belt services seem to run between $6,000 and $10,000, the windows apparently fall out of place and are $1,000 to fix (if you can find and independent who can be trusted), even the brakes are multi-thousand dollars. What’s a reasonable option then? Well, I think the 850CSi is probably one of the best reasonable Ferrari replacements. But is it less money?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 BMW 850CSi on eBay

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1987 BMW 535iS

As I mentioned in the M635CSi post in August, there is some of the confusion about these “M” branded models came from the nomenclature between the E24 and E28. While the M6 and M5 co-existed in the United States market, they did not in Europe. This left the M635CSi to be the equivalent of the M6. But the same was not true of the M535i. This model was sold as a more affordable alternative to the M5; most of the look of the Motorsports model but without the bigger bills associated with the more exotic double overhead cam 24 valve M88/3. Instead, you got a 3.4 liter M30 under the hood just like the rest of the .35 models. The recipe was a success, selling around 10,000 examples in several different markets – but never in the U.S..

Instead, the U.S. market received the 535iS model. The iS model was specific to the North American market and gave you the look of the U.S.-bound M5, with deeper front and rear spoilers, M-crafted sport suspension and sport seats. It, too, was quite popular – between 1987 and 1988, just over 6,000 examples sold in the United States alone, and of those, a little more than half were the preferred manual variant. One of the nice aspects of the 535iS was that if you enjoyed colors other than black you were able to order the lesser model in any shade you wanted, unlike the M5. This particular 535iS has some cool mods to give it a bit more style, too:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 BMW 535iS on eBay

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Sciroller: 1988 Volkswagen Scirocco 16V

Stalled projects. If you’re a budget-minded enthusiast, they are both your best friend and your worst enemy. On more than one occasion, I’ve taken over a stalled project. Or, five.

“Can you believe someone would GIVE me an Audi Coupe GT? FOR FREE????”

Twice.

Of course, nothing is really free. Invariably, the subject is several hundred miles away. It’s not running. It’s missing key parts. It’s probably a little very dirty. And despite the low entry price, by the time you’re finished you’ll likely be upside down compared to a clean example you could have bought, enjoyed, and…perhaps…driven in that time you were saving dollars to sort your pile of parts.

But then you see the ad and you’re instant thought is “Oh MAN, look at all those good parts and potential!!!”

And the cycle continues…

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Volkswagen Scirocco 16V on eBay

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1994 Volkswagen Passat GLX VR6

At the risk of bordering on Passat overload, I want to take a look at another. VW’s radical redesign on the B3 resulted in a unique, angular look at still stands apart from the crowd today. And because the internals were based on VW’s A2 chassis like the Corrado, when the 2.8 VR6 debuted in the sporty coupe for ’92 it was only a matter of time until its four-door friend got it too. That happened in ’93 with the release of the GLX VR6.

To help distinguish the GLX from the 2.0 16V GL and GLS, the VR6 sported badges front and rear indicating the new motivation. 15″ BBS-made wheels hid upgraded 11″ brakes and ABS was standard, as was electronic traction control. The GLX got a unique bumper with integrated foglights, too, as well as a body color integrated rear spoiler on the trunklid. You could opt to have the GLX in Variant form as well – something unavailable on the GLS for ’93. GLXs came standard with premium sound and could be opted with an all-weather package and leather interior – options you couldn’t get on the base model. All this luxury added up in weight, and the GLX tipped the scales a full 200 lbs heavier than the base GL. But it more than made up for it with the extra 40 horsepower and heaps of torque from the 2.8 VR6. This was a two-year only model, as the B3 was shortly replaced with the heavily revised B4; of course, that coupled with VW’s early 90s sales slump means coming across a clean B3 VR6 like this Alpine White ’94 is something you don’t do every day:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 Volkswagen Passat GLX VR6 on eBay

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High Mileage Hero: 1988 BMW 325iX

Continuing on my all-wheel ‘driveatribe’, I’d be remiss to not discuss BMW’s take on moving power around to all four wheels. While BMW wouldn’t launch the U.S.-spec iX until 1988, Europeans were introduced to the concept in 1986 – the same year as the Golf syncro. Unlike Audi’s quattro system which utilized a rearward driveshaft tacked on to a front-wheel drive transmission output shaft, BMW mated a transfer case and two viscous couplings, which effectively were front and rear limited-slips. This was very different from Audi’s contemporaneous system, which relied on the driver to lock the rear and center differentials that were otherwise open. The 325iX was able to be mated to an automatic transmission long before Audi would do so in the small chassis. BMW’s system was also more rearward biased, with 67% of the power being sent to the back wheels. While still more prone to understeer than a standard 325i, it was less so than the Audi.

Compared to other E30 models, the 325iX was a slow seller – BMW moved just 6,346 over the four production years between 1988 and 1991, putting these on just about equal footing with the M3 in terms of rarity. But two factors make finding clean ixs even harder; where they were used, and how they were used both result in rust being a big concern and it’s hard to find low-mileage examples. But while the odometer reading is stratospheric on today’s first-year ’88 2-door, it’s undergone a never-seen full restoration to return it to unbelievable condition. Also unbelievable? The price…

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW 325iX on eBay

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1990 Volkswagen Rallye Golf Tribute

Watch out Quattro, here comes the Golf!

While in the 1980s if you bought any of the branded ‘quattro’ systems you basically got the same drivetrain no matter what model you jumped in, the same was not true at corporate sibling Volkswagen. To add all-wheel drive to its lineup, VW had to incorporate three distinct systems all of which fell under the moniker ‘syncro‘. As just discussed in the T4, the T3’s system was a viscous coupling setup sending power forward with twin locking differentials. The B2 Passat shared its platform with the Audi B2, so there the all-wheel drive syncro was really just a re-badged generation 1 quattro system. But in the A2 chassis, a different viscous coupling setup engineered by Steyr-Daimler-Puch helped to transfer power rearward from the transverse engine when the front wheels slipped. The engineering was pretty trick, but underneath it all it was pretty much just a standard Golf – albeit one with potential.

So in the late 1980s when Volkswagen Motorsports wanted to enter Group A racing with the new all-wheel-drive Golf, it needed to build more than just race cars if they wanted a mean motor in it. It was homologation at its finest. Okay, maybe not, but build more they did, with at around 5000 road-going units planned of what was dubbed the Rallye Golf.

Defined by its rectangular headlights with cooling slats underneath, the Rallye continued the Im a race car on the road SHHHHHHH! theme with typical 1980s box-flared fenders. The Sebring alloy wheels were also seen on U.S.-bound Corrados. Despite the racer looks, the extra performance of the 1H G60-supercharged, 1.8-liter 8-valve inline-4 rated at 158 horsepower wasnt enough to overwhelm the additional mass of the rear drive system, and, consequently, a well-driven GTI 16V would be quicker to 60 and around a track. But BOXFLARES!

Consequently, though the Rallye may not win the VW drag race, it won the hearts of enthusiasts. This tribute plays into that with a visual recreation of the Rallye – lacking the viscous coupling setup, but with a lot more motivation under the hood:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Volkswagen Rallye Golf Tribute on eBay

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1990 Volkswagen Corrado G60

Update 10/18/19: This Corrado sold for $5,650.

While the second-generation Scirocco was a re-body of the first-generation chassis with some upgrades, when it came to the end of the 80s and the launch of a new sporty Volkswagen, they turned toanother antiquated chassis. Prepared for the 1990 model year, the A2 chassis was already the best part of 7 years old and not the most refined unit out there. Despite this, plans moved ahead at cash-strapped VW to produce two new models that were adaptations of the A2 chassis.

The result was the third generation Passat and the sporty Karmann-built Corrado. The design was more VAG evolution than revolution; in many ways, the Corrados profile and several aspects mimicked the upscale Audi products. Volkswagen again went to the tried-and-true Operation Copy Giugiaro plan that worked with the Scirocco. It looks like a shorter, chunkier Audi Coupe GT to me especially in its original G60 supercharged guise. While the GTI went to the 2.0 16V and slick BBS wheels making an instant classic, Volkswagen relied on the G-Ladder supercharger that was seen in the European Golf Rallye and G60 GTI for the motivation for the Corrado. But the Corrado wasnt made to challenge its siblings; it was aimed at the 944 crowd, replacing the 924S as a Poor Mans Porsche rather than just an expensive GTI alternative.

Ostensibly, this made it the top-trump at Volkswagen, what with 160 horsepower and good torque. But the heavy weight and complicated nature of the model meant that the GTI retained greater appeal. It seemed as though Volkswagen hit a home run when they finally slotted the even more potent and better sounding VR6 into the Corrado for 1992, relegating the supercharged model to obsolescence and obscurity. This model was thoroughly overshadowed by the VR6 and GTI, so values sunk quickly. Often they landed in the hands of those not able to afford the expensive repairs. And, no surprise, the result is that finding clean G60s is pretty tough today – but they don’t get much cleaner than this Alpine White one:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Volkswagen Corrado G60 on eBay

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1984 Audi 4000S quattro

Update 8/22/19 – this 4000S quattro sold for $3,000.

The 1984 Audi 4000S quattro is a bit of a unique beast. Though it appeared for all intents and purposes identical to the 4000S Limited Edition from the same year, underneath the two shared little in common. Indeed, when you lifted the covers much more of the quattro model was shared with its bigger brother, the exotic Quattro the so called Ur-Quattro by fans. Herein lies part of where things get confusing in Audi history, since the actual development mules for the boxflared rally wonder utilized the 4000 (nee 80). You could make a pretty convincing argument that the small sedan was the original, but thats neither here or there at this point and is generally semantics (though, its occasionally nice to splash the waters of reality on enthusiasts ill-informed fires of unshakable belief). Whoever was technically first, theres no denying that the 4000/80 model brought the idea of permanent all-wheel drive to a much more affordable market of rally-bred enthusiasts who eagerly snapped up the roughly 4,500 examples of the first year model. Radical looking changes came for the 1985 model year with a thorough refresh, and there are those who love both generations with equal aplomb. Admittedly, Im a fan of the post-’85 models, sometimes referred to the as the sloped grill cars. But you dont have to go far to find fans of the more square 84 model. One reader of ours tasked me with the goal a few years back of keeping an eye out for a clean 84. Easy, right? Not so fast

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1984 Audi 4000S quattro on eBay

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1991 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 16V

Update 7/21/19: This Jetta GLI 16V sold for $2,750.

Volkswagen of America’s new ‘Fahrvergngen’ sales campaign in the early 1990s was, while a marketing ploy and a totally made up neologism, underscoring sporty changes at Volkswagen. The more serious 2.0 16V GTI I’ve already covered recently, but the same motor was available in the more fun-to-drive Passat here, too. Then there was the Corrado, which while it only had 8 valves sported a supercharger. You could that that G60 in the Passat in Europe, too.

Volkswagen’s popular smaller sedan had a healthy dose of upgrades though, too. In ’89, the Jetta GLI 16V had a special Wolfsburg Edition which had added the deeply bolstered Recaro Trophy seats and BBS RA alloys. These were color-matched to the Helios Blue Metallic paint outside. The seats and BBS wheels would carry over for the 1990 model year, but like the GTI the Jetta received the new 9A 2.0 16V and revised bumper/trim of all the A2s. Brakes were updated to 10.1? and dual tailpipes emerged from the new big bumper A2 refresh. Central locking and a cassette player were standard, while you could opt for many power options including windows, mirror, anti-lock brakes, trip computer, cruise control and of course a sunroof.

Although the package was essentially quite similar to the GTI, I’ve never quite taken to the 2.0 GLI 16V in the same way. But it’s still very nice to see a clean example hit the market:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 16V on eBay

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1988 Volkswagen GTI 16V

Update 7/21/19: This GTI 16V sold for $7,500.

Another GTI 16V?

Yes. And there are good reasons to look at this one!

A few years ago it seemed near impossible to find a clean, original 16V anymore. With prices of nice ones in the basement and most modded to death, it was a really rare treat to find a survivor. But they still weren’t really worth anything, so most nice examples remained tucked away, appreciated by their owners instead of the market. Today, though, the market has very much changed as 80s icons are enjoying celebrity star power once again and cars like today’s ’88 GTI attract as much attention as that new Porsche GTsomenumeral. Don’t believe me? Well, the lightly modded Montana Green Metallic example I just looked at hammered at $12,900 just the other day:

1992 Volkswagen GTI 16V

The ’87-89 model years are, to me, not quite as appealing as the later 9A GTIs. But in true hot-hatch form, they retained a strong link to the normal production models while offering sports car performance. Adding 8 more valves in ’87 to the GTI gave it about 20% more power, and that additional grunt was met with new wheels, trim, a deeper spoiler and a revised interior. ’88 saw the change to the “big door” and one-piece glass, along with a new 3-bar grill. We’ve recently seen two ultra-clean Tornado Red ’89s, so let’s take a look at this L90E Alpine White ’88:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Volkswagen GTI 16V on eBay

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