Update 4/23/19: After a few months, this beautiful Bamboo Metallic 1991 Audi 200 20V quattro Avant has popped up with new photos on eBay in a reserve auction. The seller was looking for $10,000 last time around. Will it sell this time?
I don’t think there are any young children sitting around pining for the loss of the wagon. It’s hard to imagine a young teen hanging a picture of a Audi Allroad on his wall next to the idealistic Ferraris and Porsches, after all. Say to a average car-obsessed 10-year old “someday you’ll really want a wagon”, and they’ll probably laugh. Then try to tell them it will be beige…
All of this raises an interesting point: at what point does this particular car become appealing? Is it because it’s rare? Certainly there aren’t many 200 20V quattro Avants out there, with most fans accepting that approximately 149 were imported. Is it because it’s old? Now on the verge of being 30, the scant number originally imported has dwindled to the point where I’m sure someone knows them all by name. After all, there were more people in my high school graduating class than 200 20V Avants imported. Is it because it’s powerful? Well, to be honest, the 217 horsepower the 3B turbocharged double-overhead cam 20V inline-5 chucked out originally seems pretty tame today. But at the time, you needed to spend a lot of money to go faster than this 5-door. Is it because it’s beige? Now it gets interesting, as I was frustrated by the drapes-match-the-carpet tones in a recent S8, which otherwise shares most of the characteristics I just mentioned:
2001 Audi S8
Yet here, this rare Bamboo Metallic over rare Travertine in the (you guessed it) rare 200 20V quattro Avant pulls the right strings and becomes quite desirable:
Just the other day on my ‘Distinctive Drivers’ page – a Facebook group that looks at unusual automotive finds – I stumbled across a ’92 Honda Accord 5-speed. Here was a rather sedate, base model Accord; yet, because of the rarity of seeing such a car, and its recent complete disappearance from the marketplace, there’s an odd desirability for what was otherwise just an average sedan.
The same holds true today. Here’s a Euro-market Audi 80 TDi. The B4 chassis was nearly a stranger to us and is fairly infrequently seen these days; not many were sold here, especially when compared to the B5 A4 which followed. There were only two configurations they came in; all were 90s, and all shared the 2.8 V6 either driving the front or all four wheels. The 80 had been discontinued after ’92 for the U.S. and it didn’t appear as a B4 here, as there was no 90 model in the ’92 season officially.
But in Europe, of course, the B4 included the 80 model, which was the cheapest Audi you could buy – so they sold quite a few. Engines varied quite wildly from the U.S. models; there were 1.6 and 1.8 models which ranged from 70 to 125 horsepower, then 2.0 models running right up to a high-output variant of the 16V we saw in the GTI and GLI. There was the tried and true 5-cylinder we saw in our 80, and then there were a few V6s – the 2.8 seen in the U.S., but also a lower output 2.6 model for better economy. But if you wanted real fuel savings, you opted for one of the two diesels – the 75 horse 1.9TD or the 89 horsepower 1.9TDi:
To go up against the established Alpha executive from Germany – the S-Class Mercedes-Benz – BMW’s engineers had to think outside of the box. It wasn’t simply good enough to mimic the go-to large luxury sedan. They’d have to outperform it, to be better than Stuttgart’s best. That was a tall order for the Munich firm, since its last truly large sedans were the 501/2 series cars; the Baroque Angels of the early 1950s. Though they launched at roughly the same time as BMW’s microcar craze, they were really holdovers from another era. The same wouldn’t work in the late 1970s, but primed with the success of their 5- and 6-series models, BMW was ready to face the challenge.
Though the E3 had offered a sizeable sedan, the new E23 really stretched BMW’s platforms. The new 7-seres was 6 inches longer overall, most of which fell in a longer wheelbase versus the E3. It was also wider by a few inches and lower, too. Paul Bracq again provided the styling and it was nothing surprising; it carried the torch of many of the design elements of the 3-, 5- and 6-series cars, and that certainly wasn’t a bad thing. But what BMW hoped would help to set it apart from the competition was technology and performance, along with a high-level of material quality in the cabin. Options included Buffalo leather, an on-board computer system, anti-lock brakes, heated and reclining power seats front and rear, and even an airbag late in the run; standard fare today, but way ahead of the curve in the late 1970s and early 1980s. BMW matched this technology with a thoroughly modern driver-oriented cockpit which made the W116 Mercedes-Benz competition feel immediately antiquated.
Where the E23 really established itself, though, was in keeping with the “driving machine” motto of the company. This was a performance sedan, and consequently BMW brought its turbocharger technology over to the E23. Launched in 1980, the new “745i” derived its name from the 1.4 multiplier for turbocharged displacement, and the M102B32 3.2 liter inline-6 cranked out an impressive 252 horsepower with 280 lb.ft of torque channeled through a 3-speed automatic ZF-built 3HP22 gearbox. It provided effortless highway cruising with a broad torque curve. With a full assortment of luxurious options, a driver-oriented design and pioneering turbocharger technology, these really were cutting edge sedans in the early 1980s. The M102 was replaced for the later ’82-86 745is with the M106, which produced the same peak horsepower but at a lower rev range. Displacement was up to match the M30 at 3.4 liters and it now used Motronic engine management:
Let’s head back to some rarities we never received in the U.S.. Now, the V8 quattro did come here, as did (briefly) a manual version. However, U.S. manuals were not only few in number, they were solely 5-speed and hooked only to the lower-output PT 3.6 from the late ’89-90s and a few ’91s. By the time the revised ABH 4.2 launched, Audi had dumped the manual option for North America; if you wanted to row your own in a fast quattro, your option was the S4.
In Europe, though, the S4 could also be mated to a 4.2 V8. And instead of 5-speeds, those cars got the 6-speed manual gearbox. That combination would go on to be the highlight reel of the S6, S6 Plus and early S8s, too. But a few select V8 quattros with the 276 horsepower 4.2 got that 6-cog manual, and our reader John spotted a very clean example:
Continuing on the theme of lightweight, Europe-only specials of a fan-favorite chassis, here’s one I’m willing to bet a fair amount of you aren’t aware of. BMW launched several special variants of the E9x chassis, and we saw some of them – the Lime Rock Park Edition being the most notable – but in total BMW produced a hard-to-fathom 28 special variations of the E9x Ms. As a result, you’re forgiven if you didn’t remember all of them!
CRT stands for “Carbon Racing Technology”, but perhaps ironically it was BMW’s carbon-intensive road cars that led to the model. Spare cuttings from the carbon passenger cells of the i3 and i8 models were recycled and molded into body pieces for this special M3 sedan, while motivation came from the M3 GTS’s upgraded S65B44 V8. Stroked to 4.4 liters and with a lightweight titanium exhaust, the enlarged V8 was rated at over 440 horsepower (20+ over a standard S65B40), while torque was up 30 to 325 lb.ft at a lower 3,750 rpms. BMW produced a total of 68 cars, of which 67 were sold to the public, all in identical Frozen Silver Metallic with Sahkir Orange accented interiors:
On to another special edition of the Porsche 911, but this is one of the few not marketed directly at U.S. customers. We recently saw the 50th Anniversary Edition 911, but it’s far from the first time Porsche has produced a model to commemorate production birthdays. In 1993, Europeans were treated the 30th Anniversary model. Dubbed the ’30 Jahre 911′ by the factory but popularly known as the ‘Jubilee’ or ‘Jubi’ model, a basic 964 Carrera 4 was fit with Turbo flares and wheels, special colors and special interiors. Sound familiar?
Code M096 was selected for a planned 911 examples, but only 896 have been accounted for – the vast majority of which were originally sold in Germany. The Jubilee was available in several different exterior colors; Polar Silver Metallic wasn’t surprising to see as an option, but most Jubilees were Viola Metallic as seen here. Titanium details such as the shift knob topper and parcel shelf numbered badges helped to further distinguish the cars. Inside over 80% received Rubicon Gray interiors, the rest had Black. Of course, if you’re looking at the same picture I am above, you’ll note this ’93 has a red interior. So what gives?
Update 3/15/19: No surprise, this Golf Ryder is down in ask from $16,500 in January to $12,500 today. Heading in the right direction….
In Tuesday’s post about the GTI 20th Anniversary Edition, I mentioned that often the U.S. was left out of the special model production cycle. That was very true for the many limited editions of every generation of Golf. Of course, we did get some special Golfs – the Wolfsburg Edition being the best known, but there was also the Mk.2 Golf GT and, of course, the Harlequin, Trek and K2 models for the third generation. But with clever names like the ‘Driver’, ‘Match’ and the myriad of band-themed Mk.3 Golfs, most were left in Europe. One other model which was a bit of a head-scratcher was the ‘Ryder’.
Of course, Google ‘Golf Ryder’ and you’ll get all sorts of information about Tiger Woods. While the Driver was, like the Golf GT, a de-contented GTI, the Ryder was more confusing. In Mk.2 guise, it got the 4-headlight setup of the GTI, but little else. It had a 1.3 inline-4 barely motivating it, and came to market with steel wheels and manual everything. It did have a special diagonal stripe black interior and a sunroof, but otherwise the only thing you got were badges. They really were playing into the theme that, if you were a driver, you got the more driver-oriented ‘Driver’ model apparently. This was more for people who just wanted a ride in some sort of transportation.
For the third generation, the Ryder returned, but again was even a bit more confusing. Displacement was up to a stock 1.4 rated at 59 horsepower (woooooow!) and it was good for a 16.3 second 0-60 time! Gone were the GTI headlights, replaced by the standard single-chamber stock Mk.3 units. Also not present were painted bumpers, and the steel wheels no longer sported the upgraded trim rings from the Mk.2. The Ryder badges did make a reappearance, but the once standard sunroof didn’t. Also not appearing as standard kit was a radio, air conditioning, cruise control, fog lights…in short, this was about as basic of a Golf as you could get. But since we didn’t get them here, it’s neat to check one out – and what must be the best one out there for sale has appeared in Florida:
Were it not for the four rings on the front, it would be pretty easy to mistake the Audi 100 Coupe S for any number of other late 1960s â€“ early 1970s GT cars. Thereâ€™s a loose resemblance to the the second generation Mustang, for example, but a much stronger link to cars like the Datsun B210 and original Toyota Celica. Too pedestrian for you? How about the Fiat Dino, Jensen Interceptor, Ferrari 365 GTB/4 and Aston Martin DBS? Indeed, there were many coupes that shared the relative same profile in this era, though truth be told itâ€™s not likely that youâ€™ll mistake the Audi for a Ferrari once the curves beckon. Underneath, the Coupe S was â€“ after all â€“ a C1 Audi, not known to be the best drivers out there but good cars on the highway. With 113 horsepower, even with the 4-speed manual you wonâ€™t win any drag races. However, itâ€™s a sharp looking and rarely seen classic, with only a handful in the Western Hemisphere (there are 5 known in the U.S., for example, since they were never imported). That makes this Audi even more rare to see on these shores than a Sport Quattro, for argumentâ€™s sake. Though itâ€™s not as desirable, there is nonetheless a fanbase that love these very pretty early Coupes:
Update 2/2/19: Price fluctuations continue on this E21, which is now listed for $23,323.
Update 12/11/18: After a year on the market – no surprise given the $25,000 asking price from January 2018 – this Euro-spec 323i kitted out with BBS attire has moved apparently from Virginia to Texas and been relisted with a new seller. The photos and description haven’t changed (right down to leaving the original “I drove the car to VA” and the original seller ‘Mike’s number) other than the mileage now listed as 119,999 and the price has dropped from $25,000 to
$19,323 today $21,323 for Christmas. It could be a fake listing and the price is still high enough that it probably won’t sell, but 323is come up for sale here so infrequently it was worth another look.
It’s easy to lament the U.S. bound 320i. Powered by a fuel injection M10, it managed to kick out only around 100 horsepower in the early 1980s and felt like a disappointed follow-up to the fantastic 2002tii, which was lighter and sported 130 horses. While the smart-looking Bracq-designed E21 ticked the right 3-boxes and scaled his vision down well, the U.S. bound models got the unfortunate impact bumpers that made them look heavy and unappealing. It was like a cute kid wearing orthodontic headgear; you were pleased to meet them, but couldn’t help but feel bad for the way they ended up looking. Sure, there was a sport version of the 320i towards the end of the run, and it looked better because…well, it had BBS wheels and everything looks better with BBS wheels, but aside from that the U.S. 320i was the relatively forgettable holdover until the E30 redeemed the small sporting sedan range here.
But in Europe?
Updated 12/6/18: It looks like this 560SEC we looked at in June is still for sale with an even more attractive of price of $9,990. Check it out here.
About a month ago I checked out a really nice and really gold 1984 Mercedes-Benz 500SEC.Â That was a European-spec car with all the nice upgrades over the North American-spec’d cars at the time but as you might have guessed, carried a hefty price tag at $35,000. Today, we have another C126 that wasn’t originally destined for American in a 1990 560SEC. This car comes to California from Japan in a non-factory paint color and some other interesting touches. The price? Probably not as high as you might guess.