1997 BMW 540i Sport

This week I ran across this early production 540i Sport package car. It’s interesting for a few reasons. First, I’ve always really liked the clean look of the early sport package cars with either the turbine Style 32 wheels or the multi-piece BBS Style 19s as shown on this example. Something really worked for me about this wheel on this body style. An early 540i Sport, it’s missing some of the later additions I covered on later 540s, but still carries the aforementioned 17″ wheels and M-Sport suspension. However, this car is a bit different than the usual one that you’ll come across.

Having covered only 61,500 miles in its life, it’s almost completely original. It sounds strange to trumpet that, but most of the 540i Sports seem to be modified – even slightly. This one just looks like it’s got tint. And everything is there – it’s a California car with all original literature. It also doesn’t have the standard sport seats that would have accompanied the sport package. It was ordered in Arctic Silver Metallic with black leather comfort seats, but it’s got the all-important 6-speed manual transmission. Here, the pre-facelift orange directionals and less fussy taillight design work in harmony with the lack of body kit and beautiful exterior hue. Is it a winning combination?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1997 BMW 540i Sport on eBay

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2007 Porsche 911 Turbo

I’m never one to overlook a car with a seemingly tame exterior, but in some cases when you open the doors you wonder if there was a mistake at the factory. I’d love to have a conversation with a production scheduler to figure how and why, outside of customer requests, crazy color combinations get made. If you haven’t caught on where I’m going with today’s car, let me explain.

This 2007 Porsche 911 Turbo, a fine car in its own right, is finished in Arctic Silver Metallic. Outside of plain black, this is surely one of most common 911 colors. Open the door however, and you are treated with a full Palm Green leather inside. Palm Green seats, Palm Green carpets, Palm Green dash, Palm Green everything. Dare I say I really like it?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2007 Porsche 911 Turbo at Switch Cars

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1994 BMW M3

Update 10/18/19: This Euro-spec M3 sold for $26,900!

For some time, there was a giant gulf in between European-spec cars and U.S. spec cars. Granted, part of that divide still exists today if the large assortment of cars that do not make it to these shores, but at least enthusiasts can rejoice that at last for the most part performance versions that are available in Germany are very close to the same that we receive here. One of the last notable cars to exhibit the large divide was the E36 M3; while Europeans enjoyed over 280 horsepower from the individual throttle body S50B30 in 1992, the later released U.S. spec M3 carried an entirely different motor with some 40 horsepower less. Though the S50B30US is certainly a great motor by itself, the knowledge that the better version existed across the pond somehow took a bit of legitimacy away from it. Also differentiating the European versions were better floating rotor brakes, better glass headlights, better lower and stiffer suspension, and some neat interior options. Later Euro E36s got even more power and the optional SMG 1 transmission or a 6-speed manual – none of which came here.

But if you fall into “the U.S. version of the E36 M3 is garbage” camp, you don’t have to scream at the internet for ‘forum cred’ anymore as early versions of the Euro cars are now fully legal for import – and they’re surprisingly affordable:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 BMW M3 on eBay

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Tuner Tuesday: 1994 Alpina B10 4.6 Touring

While the B10 BiTurbo generated the headlines as the world’s fastest sedan, BMW’s replacement M60 V8 motor was making its way into production and the M30 inline-6 was on its way out. Of course that meant it wasn’t too long before Buchloe got their hands on one, and in turn it wasn’t too long before the B10 4.0 replaced the BiTurbo as the top offering. But a year later, Alpina had already punched out the block to 4.6 liters. Now generating 340 horsepower, the new B10 4.6 not only was as quick as the M5, it was considerably cheaper and less complicated than the BiTurbo had been too.

Like the 4.0 before it, the standard 17″ Alpina wheel treatment, upgraded suspension, larger and less restrictive exhaust, aerodynamic tweaks and unique interiors all made their way here. Also like the 4.0, the 4.6 was available as either a sedan or Touring, and as either a 6-speed manual or 5-speed Switch-Tronic automatic. A scant 46 were built before the end of E34 production, of which only 19 were Touring models – making this one of the most limited Alpinas produced:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 Alpina B10 4.6 Touring at Springbok.de

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Feature Listing: 1999 Porsche 911 Carrera 2 Cabriolet

1999 was the first year of the new 911, and it’s been a debate ever since. But Porsche had to move forward from the air-cooled design ultimately, and the new 911 Carrera was happy to pick up the pieces. The smoothed out styling made the 911 more aerodynamic yet was instantly recognizable as being from Porsche. So, too, was the exhaust note; a flat-6 still powered the best from Stuttgart, but now it was water-cooled instead of air-cooled.

The Carrera 2 and Carrera 4 shared a 3.4 liter variant of the flat-6, the M96. Out of the box, these cars had 300 horsepower – a number that a Turbo would have been happy with only a decade earlier. VarioCam assisted the motor in both being smooth in its power delivery and, unlike the Turbos of yore, that power was available in most of the tachometer. 0-60 was gone in 5 seconds and flat-out, even the drop-tops could do 165 mph. They were comfortable, fast sports cars that were capable in the tradition of the company. And today, they are without doubt the most affordable way to get into the 911 range.

Those first 1999 911s came in Carrera 2 form meaning rear-drive only as Carrera 4s rolled out a bit later, but you could opt for either a Coupe or this car, a convertible Cabriolet. The Cabriolet stickered at $74,460, but in typical Porsche fashion as you added in options the price went up quickly. But today, these cars offer a great entr into Porsche 911 ownership:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1999 Porsche 911 Carrera 2 Cabriolet on eBay

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Feature Listing: 2002 Porsche 911 Turbo with 11,000 Miles

Do you ever have those moments where you look back 5-10 years and think of the cars you could have bought so much more cheaply than they appear on the market today? I think back to cars like a few I mentioned this morning – the M3 and Quattro – that could be had in great condition for under $10,000 only a decade ago. Then there are cars on the cusp of taking off – cars like the 190E 2.3-16 and 944 Turbo – that are currently still attainable, but one wonders for how long. Moving up a few leagues from the minors in the majors, though, and it wasn’t very long ago that Porsche 911s weren’t astronomically expensive. Think the E30 M3 is bad? Let’s talk about cars like the 930. In May, 2013 Hagerty valued an absolute top condition 1986 Turbo around $60,000. Today, the same estimate is $315,000 – amazingly, down slightly from last fall when $325,000 was the top number. If you pardon the poor pun, the 930 has simply outpaced the stock market many times over, proving it has supercar staying power.

The same can be said of the car that replaced it, the 964 Turbo. Even a standard 3.3 went from a top value of $50,000 in September, 2014 to a pretty steady $275,000 today. Are these numbers always being realized? Perhaps not, but it certainly gives us a value trend. And that leads us to the 996 turbo model. The 996 has been demonized left, right and center for being watercooled, ugly and even fragile, though at least the latter doesn’t necessarily apply to the turbo model. The result of that is it is, without a doubt, the most performance you can buy on a reasonable budget with a Porsche badge attached to it. There’s another school of thought, though – and that is that the 996 won’t remain a budget forever. It’s impossible to predict if there will be a similar bubble to these cars, but the rumor mill seems to be swirling that people in the know are picking up excellent examples in the anticipation that it just could take off:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Porsche 911 Turbo at Sun Valley Autos

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