I have to admit that when I initially heard the details of the 337 Edition GTI, I was very excited. To me, it seemed like Volkswagen had finally gotten the message and brought us a modern interpretation of the car that I loved, the 1990-1992 GTI 2.0 16V. After a period of low performance 4-cylinder variants, the pokey 1.8T was now pumping out 180 horsepower and matching torque – finally, the car had the go to match the show. While the VR6 had continued into the fourth generation GTI, the accompanying weight, luxury items and electronic throttle meant that while horsepower numbers went up, the seat of the pants kick and thrill that was the hallmark of the original and 16V GTI – and even the Mk.3 VR6 – had been replaced by a stout highway cruiser. As if to answer critics and revisit the original formula, in 2001 Volkswagen introduced a stripped down, turned up version of the GTi called the 25th Anniversary edition, celebrating the original 1976 launch. For me, it was a return to form for the original hot hatch with some great updates. Unfortunately, it wasn’t heading to the U.S., because of course we didn’t receive the GTI until the 1983 model year. But U.S. fans were taken care of too when the nearly identical GTI 337 was launched. Outside, it got some awesome shot-peened BBS RC wheels that looked stunning compared to the rather bland wheel styles that had adorned the GTI since the BBS RMs on the 16V. Behind those wheels were beefed up brakes and red calipers, because red is of course faster (or, slower in that case?). It also sported a new body kit that highlighted the lower stance – hunkering the GTi down over those great wheels. After a period of hidden tailpipes, a polished exhaust tip emerged from the rear valance – a nice change for sure! Inside, special details like brushed trim, red-stitched shift boot and special “Golf Ball” knob for the 6-speed manual and some awesome Recaro seats greeted you. And to keep weight down, no sunroof was offered. This was a sporty car that went like it looked for a change! Limited to 1,500 examples, it was an instant hit and apparently a good bet for a future collectable:
I’ve owned Audis of all sorts, but the B3/4 chassis has so far eluded me. It’s not that I haven’t come close, though. My first experience with a B3 was at one of my first jobs. One of the delivery men had bought a brand-new 1990 Coupe Quattro. It was a mess, though it was only 6 years old at that point. I offered to clean it for him, and thus was born my first drive with the 7A. It started up and sounded just like my 4000CS quattro, and if I’m brutally honest, below 3,000 rpms you couldn’t tell any difference between the two in performance. But keep your foot buried in the loud pedal and the DOHC 2.3 inline-5 began to sing, eagerly heading for the redline at every prodding. The fit, finish and luxury of the Coupe made me envious of the time; though my Audi was only four years older, it might as well have been five times that. Such was the jump from the B2 to the B3. Soon after I met another Audi fanatic who had a string of Lago Coupes I would often drool over.
My later encounter came much closer to actual ownership. I met a friend in England during grad school and we quickly bonded over Audis. It turned out that back in his hometown in Canada, he, too, had an Audi waiting. It was a graphite 1990 90 quattro 20V. And, after some time, he asked me if I wanted to buy it. When I got home I pursued this prospect since I had sold the 4000 to leave for England. Long story short, when the photos arrived of the car, it was quite a bit more crusty underneath than I was hoping. His price was reasonable, but then for about the same ask a 1993 4.2 V8 quattro came up for sale locally, and the rest was history for me.
The B3 20V has never left my thoughts, though I haven’t gotten any closer to owning one. The Coupe and its 90 quattro 20V brother each have their devoted fanbase, yet they’re remarkably different cars both in how they look and who wants to own each. Both are fairly rare, with around 1,500 Coupes and roughly 1,000 90s imported with the 7A originally – and, in all honesty, probably only a fraction of that number remain today. This week a clean example of Pearlescent White Metallic 90 popped up, and it’s worth a look:
While the move from the B2 to B3 chassis brought many changes to the small Audi lineup, it was also very much a case of ‘meet the new boss, same as the old boss’. Some of the features of the 4000 were gone; you could no longer opt to lock the center differential, for example, since the manual locker had been replaced by a more sophisticated Torsen unit. You could still opt to engage a rear differential lock, but electronics overrode that at 15 m.p.h.. That change was indicative of movement in the marketplace and where the B3 was aimed – slightly more upscale from the B2. Interior quality was greater, safety took priority, and production was broken into two categories as it had been in Europe for the B2. Selecting the top-range 90 quattro got you nicer BBS wheels, color matched bumpers and mirrors, a sportier raised spoiler, a better leather interior and wood trim. The downscale 80 would channel more of the outgoing 4000, with a velour and plastic-heavy interior. They even opted to keep the same Ronal R8 wheels as the old model early on, and the subtle rear spoiler was a near copy of the B2.
The more basic 80 was closer in performance to the 4000, too – the luxury and safety items of the B3 meant more weight, and the 90 tipped the scales at nearly 3,000 lbs. Mechanically identical, the 80 quattro was about a hundred pounds lighter and anyone who has driven 80s normally aspirated Audis knows that 100 lbs. makes a difference in performance. Motivation for both was the same NG-code inline-5 that was seen in the last Coupe GT Special Build models, meaning 130 horsepower and 140 lb.ft of torque – smoothly adequate, but certainly never overwhelming. The 80 quattro enjoyed only a short run in the U.S., being available in the 1988-1990 model years and then re-introduced with some 90 quattro upgrades for the ’92 model year as a hold-over until the V6 B4 was ready for production. The de-contented 80 was a fair bit cheaper than its quite expensive brethren; while a Coupe Quattro would set you back over $30,000 with some options, select a basic 80 quattro and you could sneak out of the dealership for $23,000 – barely more than the ’87 Coupe GT retailed for. Later 80s got some upgrades; body-color bumpers and BBS wheels primarily, and a clean Alpine White example has turned up for sale.
Update 12/26/20: This 200 20V quattro is back up with better photos!
By my account, I seem to have the market cornered on writing up Bamboo Metallic 1991 Audi 200 20V Avants. When today’s example popped up near me in Connecticut, I thought at first that it was the same as the last 200 20V Avant that I looked at in the Constitution State:
1991 Audi 200 20V quattro Avant
An easy mistake, given that 1) they were both in Connecticut b) they were the same color combination and both have Euro headlights and III) there were only 149 imported, so what are the odds?
But that wasn’t the only Bamboo Avant I’ve looked at:
1991 Audi 200 20V quattro Avant
Amazingly, that car also had European headlights, but there were enough differences to tell me that wasn’t today’s car either. So welcome to the third installment of my continuing series that I call ‘1991 Audi 200 20V quattro Avants in Bamboo over Travertine for sale‘. Surely it can’t go to a fourth episode?
Around this time each year it’s nice to draw up a ‘wish list’ of things that, were I obscenely rich, I’d love to get myself as a holiday present. And if you’re Jeff Bezos, bored, reading this blog, and feeling spendy for some reason, this one is top of my list. What you see here is a car that not many are very familiar with. It comes from the firm Isdera, which doesn’t sound particularly German at all. But Isdera is an acronym for Ingenieurbüro fur Styling, DEsign und RAcing, which does seem particularly German. In fact, I’m surprised it’s not just one word. Anyway, Isdera was the brain child of Eberhard Schulz, who started off by building himself a sports car called the Erator GTE that looked very similar to the GT40, but had gullwing doors. Shulz worked for Porsche and Mercedes for a bit as a result of this impressive prototype, and later moved to the tuning firm B&B which ultimately led to the CW311 show car in 1978. Based upon Mercedes-Benz mechanical components and stylistically the successor to the Mercedes-Benz C111 rotary prototypes, Isdera then launched his own topless form of the CW311 called the Spyder 036i, 17 of which were made, and finally a ‘production’ version of the B&B CW311 called the Imperator 108i.
Not stasfied with 20-odd 108is produced through 1991, Shulz then dropped a 6-liter V12 in the middle of the chassis and hooked it to a Ruf-modified gearbox, Porsche suspension, a windshield wiper yanked from a Japanese Skinkansen bullet train, and a name befitting the founder of a certain Italian supercar maker. The result was stunning in 1993, and I’d argue it’s still pretty stunning today. And if you can pony up a whole lotta cash, the one existing example can be yours early next year.
Neither the E24 M6 nor the E28 M5 need an introduction on these pages. Legendary even when new, they both captured the imagination of generations of German car enthusiasts and established the benchmarks for sedan and GT performance in period. Both went through a relatively long downturn in value, as well. And today, as each has moved firmly into classic status and the market ///Madness continues, each has increased in value considerably over where they stood a few years ago.
But with so many shared components, which is the one to get? While a lot of that boils down to personal preference, more so than ever it’s also dependent on your budget. We’ve seen asking prices for nice examples of each chassis hovering between $50,000 and $80,000 depending on mileage and condition, and with a hot market there’s no letup of good ones to choose from. Today’s example is not the most pristine or low mileage on the market by any means, but it does balance that out with some desirable mods:
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?