Purists decried the arrival of the “grown up” A3 chassis Golf and Vento, sold as the Jetta in North America. It was expensive, it was heavy (relative to the A1 and A2 chassis, anyway) and the performance was dulled – that was, until the introduction of the GLX model that replaced the earlier GLI models. Now sporting the VR6 that had debuted in the Corrado and Passat a few years earlier, the GLX was all around a screamer. It might have been heavier than the GLI it replaced, but it was quicker to 60, quieter on the highway, more comfortable and better in crashes (if things went south), and returned close to the same fuel economy as the thirsty, buzzy and boxy 16V had. The Volkswagen Jetta III, as it was known in the US, was introduced at a time when US sales were at their lowest and it appeared as if VW was considering pulling out of the US market, but this generation Jetta became the best-selling Volkswagen by the time the production run ceased in 1999. It was insanely popular and seemed to be the defacto college car of choice for both men and women. Because of that, many of these Jettas fell into disrepair or were totaled, so it’s rare to find a lower mile and clean GLX these days:
Back to our old friend, the Scirocco. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that Volkswagen’s water-cooled coupes aren’t my favorite cars in the lineup. And that’s mostly true, with one notable exception. I adore the first generation Scirocco. To me, it’s the early 911 of the water-cooled Volkswagens. Flawed, but full of style and charm. And just like the early 911s, the real treat is to find an ‘S’ model – if you can.
In all reality the Scirocco S was just an appearance package. It shared all of the basic aspects of the Scirocco, but the optional 5-speed was standard, it came with 13″ alloys, a special interior, red stripes, and a front spoiler. Doesn’t sound like much, eh? In all honesty, it wasn’t, and on top of that you only could choose from a few exterior colors. But while finding a clean and original Mk.3 GTI can be tough, finding an original S model Scirocco in good shape borders on impossible. While today’s example is a bit of a project, when you throw in a dose of the heavy-hitting name ‘Callaway’, it’s worth taking note:
The M5 might not have been the original super sedan. It wasn’t even the first hot 5-series. But just like the GTI is synonymous with the hot-hatch segment, the M5 became the standard by which all other super-sedans were judged the moment it rolled onto the scene in 1985. Power seemed other-worldly; 280 plus horsepower from the race-derived M88/3 hunkered down with beefy suspension upgrades and huge (for the time) alloy wheels linked with a limited-slip differential. At a time when “fast” cars had 180 horsepower, BMW’s first M-offering in the sedan range might as well have been a space ship.
BMW promised limited production for the U.S. market, too – and, indeed, only 1,239 were produced for the U.S. with the slightly de-tuned S38. Unfortunately, that was 700 more than BMW had promised to make, and that led to a lawsuit. It also wasn’t very long before the M5’s power reign was eclipsed; first by its replacement E34 model, then by the whole range of new V8 models emerging on the market, from the 1992 Audi V8 quattro to the 500E. Values quickly fell as these old-looking (even when new) boxy rockets fell out of favor, and they remained there for quite some time.
But recently there’s grown a much greater appreciation for all things 80s M, and though the E30 has grabbed the headlines as the market star, outside of the M1 it is the E28 M5 that was brought here in fewest numbers. Even fewer have survived, and finding clean, lower mile examples can be tough. This one appears to tick the right boxes:
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?
Just prior to the launch of the E36 M3 for North America, Canada got a special run of European-specification M3s. However, they weren’t alone in terms of custom E36s available. 1994 also saw the United States get a pretty unique, and quite limited, E36 model.
It was the 1994 325is M-Design. Fans call it the M-Tech, and it was very similar to the Clubsport Coupe that was available in Europe.
While underneath this was basically a stock 325, it was still pretty special. It included nearly all the items that the M3 would have outside of the motor and brakes. You got the M-Tech body kit, mirrors, steering wheel and shift knob, along with the Anthracite M cloth (0506). Many (if not all) were painted Germany’s racing color – Alpine White. Additionally, the M-Design included a cool set of 17″ BBS 2-piece wheels. They were referred to as Style 29s, but were actually a multi-piece version of the forged BBS RG wheel. A limited run of only 150 (according to fans, BMW isn’t sure) were produced by BMW Individual with a $4,700 premium on the base price of the 325iS. What does that translate to today?
When I look through the history of E28 5-series I’ve written up, it’s not hard to notice a pattern. Most are modified, and most feature European-style modifications. Perhaps that annoys the purists and I’ll start off by saying a half-hearted ‘sorry’ to all of them, but here we go again.
It doesn’t take a much of a look to tell that this E28 has undergone the same series of modifications that the last ’87 535iS I looked had; namely, European headlights and bumpers and BBS Style 5s. But unlike that example, this one is done. As in, really, really done. If you’re looking for an as-new 535i with some stellar mods, check it out – but first, move the coffee away from the keyboard, especially as you get to the ‘price’ section:
Do you know how many times I’ve heard “It was just too nice to part out” when referring to an older Audi? Heck, I’ve personally had three that I’ve said that very sentence for, and at least one more I should have said that about. One time I bought a 4000S front wheel drive 5-speed simply because I wanted a door. No, I’m not joking. The entire car was in mint shape – Sapphire with Marine Blue velour, and because I was 18 and had fully subscribed to the idea that the only good Audis were all-wheel drive Audis, I paid $300 to rip what was otherwise one of the nicest 4000S models I had seen to that point in my life apart. Most of it went to the junkyard, in fact. It’s something that near 40 year old me is mad at 18 year old me about, still.
Fast forward 25 years into the future, and since then I keep hearing the phrase in relation to all sorts of obscure, slightly crusty and forgotten examples of the brand. So when this 4000 5+5 popped up for sale it was worth a look. These are highly prized for their donor doors (see what I did there?) which are utilized in Sport Quattro conversions. Does this one have to die?
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:
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????”
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…
Andrew’s been on quite a romp of modern Porsche 911s. But there’s a really compelling alternative, I think – for about the same money as most of the modern Porsche range, you can jump into near supercar-level performance and exotic looks with the Audi R8.
The ‘regular’ V10 cranked out 540 horsepower, and hooked to the S-Tronic 7-speed gearbox is good for 3.5 second blasts to 60. And that speed is linked to all-four wheels with a gorgeous body and interior full of the most modern electronics. Sure, this isn’t a ‘Plus’ model, but there are a few reasons to like this one…mostly, for me, it’s the color combination. But it’s got a few hidden mods to help out with the perceived lack of go: