1984 BMW 745i 5-Speed

The E23 has always been a design which to me has been quite polarizing. As with the E12 and E24, Paul Bracq was heavily involved in the final design and it shows – in many ways, the E23 looks like a cross between the two that was scaled up 10%. The results of that in my mind weren’t always good. Growing up, my father had both E24s and E28s, clean looking, well proportioned designs, and when I first saw an E23 I remember thinking it looked a bit ungainly. In U.S. specification, the bumpers were too big and the wheels were too small, resulting in a car which appeared heavy, sagging and sad. When he’s really upset, my son manages to invert his lip and stick it out, tears streaming down his cheeks. It’s a look which nearly mimics the U.S. spec front end of the E23 I now recognize. However, in European trim the E23 made more sense – it looked lighter, smaller and better proportioned. While not as stately as the W116, it certainly looked a fair bit sportier outside and more modern. Couple those European-market looks with some great period BBS RS wheels and the look is just about perfect; throw in the turbocharged M106 motor and you’ve peeked much interest. Of course, unfortunately the M106 was only pared with an automatic transmission – but then, what would happen if you swapped that for a 5-speed?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1984 BMW 745i 5-Speed on eBay

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1992 BMW 525tds Touring

The story behind BMW’s foray into diesel power in the U.S. was pretty interesting. BMW had developed the M21 2.4 liter turbocharged inline-6 diesel in the 1970s with fuel prices rising; it finally launched in the early 1980s with the E28 524td. But you probably best know that motor for its appearance in mid-80s American iron; an attempt by Ford to improve the fuel economy of its large executive Lincoln Continental. The marriage didn’t work; although the M21 was a good motor (especially when compared to GM’s diesel!), gas prices were falling and the economy was recovering by the time it finally came to market. But since BMW went through the effort to get the M21 legal for U.S. shores, they brought the 524td over here, too. It was a slow seller in the E28 lineup; equipped only with an automatic, BMW dealers shifted 3,635 of the diesels.

No surprise, then, that when the E34 launched, the diesel didn’t come back with it. Though the U.S. market didn’t see the M21 in the lineup though it soldiered on. The M21 was replaced in 1991 by a new version, the M51. Now displacing 2.5 liters and with an intercooler in “s” version, the 525tds upped the power from the 114 seen in the 524td to 141 and it had 192 lb.ft of torque at only 2,200 rpms. This motor carried BMW’s diesels through the 1990s, and was available in everything from the 3-series to the 7-series.

So it’s a bit of a treat to see the M51 in North America. It’s more of a treat to see it in a Touring, and in great shape, and hooked up to a manual transmission. And, it has manual sport seats as well. Yes, the want is strong in this one!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 BMW 525tds Touring on eBay

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1991 Audi 200 20V quattro Avant

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?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Audi 200 20V quattro Avant on eBay

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1993 Volkswagen Golf CL Euro-Spec

Ah, European specification. As Andrew recently mentioned in his bare-bones SL280, it’s not everyday that we see a European-specification model that arrives on these shores, but it is unusual when it’s a base model. Case in point; today’s Golf CL. Outside of a sunroof, it’s about as basic a Golf as you could get. Yet it’s this basic nature, coupled with its ultra-low mileage, great condition, and nice color combination that makes it appealing today:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1993 Volkswagen Golf CL on eBay

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1984 Alpina B6 2.8/1

Alpina E30s have exploded in popularity over the past year; I never remember seeing quite so many of these small tuned 3s for sale on a regular basis. In part I’m so incredulous because so few were produced; with this B6 model for example, a scant 259 were made between late 1983 and mid-1986, with just over 1,100 total E30s modified in all forms by the legendary company. The B6 2.8/1 wasn’t as wild as the later big-motored 3.5, but it was still much more than adequate with 210 horsepower from the M30 coupled with lower suspension, bigger wheels and brakes. Alpina, of course, added their personal flare of colors, stripes and awesome interiors, and the B6 is one attractive small sedan in such form. It’s easy to forget that there was a time before the M3, and in early 1984 this was the fastest small German 4-seater you could buy. That would change in mid ’84 with the introduction of the B6 3.5, but today it’s still a very desirable and rare to find package.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1984 Alpina B6 2.8/1 on eBay

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1995 BMW 320i Touring

We’ve covered just about every generation of 3-series wagon here, barring new ones. The E30 is most popular to import these days, and the E46 introduced the US market to the idea that BMW made smaller, fun wagons too; but in between, the rest of the world got to enjoy the neat looks of the E36 Touring.

So here we are; it’s 2020, and that means cars that were produced up through November 1995 are a lot easier to procure and import. And that’s exactly what someone did with this Calypso Red Metallic 320i Touring, produced for the UK market in April 1995. Now that it’s here, is it the one to get?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 BMW 320i Touring on eBay

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1976 Porsche 911 Carrera 3.0

For some reason, I feel like I need a distraction today. Let’s look at some fun cars!

Following on the heels of the Carrera 2.7 MFI, Porsche introduced two hot 911s in 1975. Of course, the big arrival was the 930 Turbo Carrera. But Porsche took components from the 2.7 MFI and the Turbo Carrera, backed out the turbocharger, and produced the car you see here – the 200 horsepower Carrera 3.0, a healthy bump over US-spec cars. They are quite rare, having been built only between 1975 and 1977, and a total of just 3,687 are claimed to have been built. There were numerous changes between the 1976 and 1977 model years, with the ’76 being the more rare of the two. Of course, these were European-specification cars, and as a result were not imported to the US. So it was a bit of a treat to stumble across one of the roughly 1,100 ’76 Coupes (maybe…see below) for sale in Arizona:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1976 Porsche 911 Carrera 3.0 on eBay

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1993 BMW M3 Coupe

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 for a lot of fans of the marque. Also differentiating the European versions were better floating rotor brakes, better glass headlights, better lower and stiffer suspension; you get the point. We could bang on all day about how the US-spec model was pretty much as quick as the Euro cars, is a lot cheaper to run, and is…well, you know, already here. But when a Euro car pops up for sale, I still take time to take notice, and it’s hard not to notice this Dakar Yellow ’93:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1993 BMW M3 Coupe on eBay

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1994 Volkswagen GTI 16V

While the step up to the Mk.3 added a fair amount of size – and accompanying weight – to the Volkswagen Golf, the GTI emerged with the much more potent VR6 engine borrowed from the Passat and Corrado. While admittedly the power and the exhaust note was very appealing, and in hindsight the third generation Golf looks positively tiny compared to cars today, I have always lamented the loss of the what I consider the best GTI – the 1990-1992 16V model.

But, what if that model had continued? Well, it did – just not in the U.S.. What we have here is a 1994 GTI 16V from Europe. Replete with Recaro interior, blacked-out rub strips and fender flares, beefy wheels, and dual-chamber headlights with foglights. But the best part is under the hood, where the 9A lived on as the ABF. With Digifant engine management power was up to 148 at 6,000 RPMs, while torque remained at 133 lb.ft but again higher in the range. One of these gems has turned up for sale on Ebay:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 Volkswagen GTI 16V on eBay

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1979 Porsche 924 Turbo

Because it’s an early 1980s Porsche and the model ends with “Turbo”, it must be automatically unaffordable, right? Not so fast. While the air-cooled market has lost some of its forced-induction steam as of late, few would consider the 930s out there “cheap”. But there is still plenty of value in the transaxle marketplace; and from early 928s to the fledgling 924 Turbo, automotive journalists are pegging these cars as the ones to buy before they, too, head upwards.

The 924 Turbo, or 931 internally, was a huge upgrade from the standard 2.0 924. The addition of a KKK K26 turbocharger and 6.5 lbs of boost did the best part of double the power in Europe – even in U.S. trim, an impressive 140 horsepower was available. Yet they developed a reputation as expensive to run and finicky; when later, equally powerful normally aspirated 944s and even more potent 944 Turbos came along with fewer drawbacks, the 924 Turbo fell into relative obscurity. Today, find a good one though, and it’s a recipe for an instant classic collectable:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1979 Porsche 924 Turbo on eBay

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