Motorsports Monday: BMW Legends Collection

Let’s say you want to start a car collection, and for ease of argument’s sake, let’s say you’re really into BMWs. Which is the model you want? You could be a 507 enthusiast, love the classic 3.0 CSL or 2002, envy every E30 or lust over the modern muscle the company produces. But odds are if you’re reading these pages you, like me, gravitate towards BMW’s Motorsport models.

Within the Pantheon of classic models, there then comes the difficult decisions. How do you choose between the E30 M3 and the 1M, for example? Well, Enthusiast Auto Group has a suggestion. Why not have them both? Or, even better, why not assemble all of the greatest hits from BMW’s M division over the past 40 years and put them together into one curated, turn-key package?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: The Collection of BMW Legends at Enthusiast Auto Group

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Litmus Test: 1991 BMW M3

Update 4/20/2018: After showing sold again at no reserve for $46,400, this 1991 M3 is back again on a new no reserve auction. Bidding is currently much lower, but I have a feeling that even if you’re the high mark at the end there might be shill bids involved here.

Update 3/28/2018: Although it was listed as no reserve and sold at $39,900, the 1991 M3 I looked at in February is back again on a no reserve auction. With a day to go, bids are already in excess of February’s auction. Will this one actually sell this time?

I’ll refrain from my typically verbose introductions, as even the few who only occasionally peruse our pages will need to hear about how, when, or why the E30 M3 came about. There’s not really much point in talking about the mechanicals, either – ‘S14’ has become nearly as recognizable as the chassis designation. Nor is this particular M3 a special edition, limited run, or race car. It’s not completely stock, it’s not perfect, it doesn’t have super low mileage, and it’s not the best color combination. No, there’s really only one reason to talk about this car. Price.

For a while it was only really outstanding M3s that were bringing big bucks. Pundits called it a bubble that was due to burst at any moment. I’m not here to say they’re wrong; it certainly does seem unsustainable. But, then, the U.S. economy also is pretty unsustainable if you boil it down to some basic facts, yet it seems to keep on rolling. And just two weeks ago another (albeit low mileage) example sold for $102,000. So today’s M3 is particularly interesting not because it’s the best or most rare example out there, but because it represents a much greater majority of the pool; cars that were driven and modified, even if only a bit, from their stock configuration. Yet unlike nearly all that are for sale today, the seller of this car has taken the brave step of testing what actual market value is:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 BMW M3 on eBay

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Feature Listing: 1990 BMW M3 Sport Evolution

While the name “Evolution” become synonymous with Mitsubishi’s WRX-fighting Lancer for the X-Box generation, the term had much greater meaning for racing fans in the 1980s and 1990s. That was the period where homologation really took off; in order to be eligible to race, the FIA stipulated a certain amount of vehicles generally matching the race version of a car would have to be produced. This resulted in some great race-inspired production cars, and in order to best each other on the race track manufacturers would be forced to modify those cars. In order to have the modifications legal to race, the maker would have to introduce those significant changes to the road-going model, too. Those changed models would be termed “Evolution” to differentiate their model changes. As a result, enthusiasts ended up with ‘Evo’ versions of the Ford RS200, the V8 quattro, the Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 and, of course, the M3.

The M3 Evolution I was first introduced in 1987 with only a slightly revised motor. The Evolution II followed in 1988, and signaled the first real changes in the lineup. Major alterations to the aerodynamics, bodywork, chassis, and engine netted more power, more downforce and less weight for the FIA-regulated 500 units sold to market. Iconic even within the impressive normal M3 production, these fan-favorites generate feverish bids when they come to market.

But there is an even more desirable variant: The Sport Evolution. BMW Motorsport GmbH maxed out its E30 development in an all-out attempt to dominate the world’s racetracks. A new 2.5 liter S14 cranked out nearly 240 horsepower, while the same ‘add lightness’ recipe was prescribed; lightweight glass and body panels were met with adjustable front and rear spoilers. Signature 7.5″ wide BBS wheels were now darker Nogaro Silver and 10mm closer to the body thanks to lower suspension, while special Recaro seats kept you firmly planted inside from the g-force they were capable of generating. It was as if BMW took all of the best aspects of the E30 and distilled it down into an even more pure form. Produced only in Jet Black or Brilliant Red, 600 of these super M3s were rolled out to fans and remain arguably the most desirable model in the run:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 BMW M3 Sport Evolution at Lusso Fine Motorcars

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1990 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16

Last week I wrote up a tidy looking 190E 2.3-16, the boxy, 80s DTM-racing inspired version of the W201 from Mercedes that has never really gained the same kind of attention as its obvious competitor, the E30 M3. Perhaps that is changing, as more of these come to market in respectable shape. The general consensus among enthusiasts, however, seems to be that these cars are neither desirable nor fast enough to merit the higher price tags we’re beginning to see. (Once upon a time they were firmly in the sub-$10k category, whereas now sellers seem to want the mid teens and up for non-basket case examples.) But maybe the skeptics will be won over by a an imported 2.5-16 like this one?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 on eBay

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Motorsports Monday: Mecum Racing Porsches Roundup

As Rob mentioned in his Jade Green Targa piece the other day, we’re entering in quickly to auction season. Mecum, typically the purveyors of more muscle cars than European rides, nonetheless had quite an impressive lineup of signification Porsche race models that cover a few decades and many changes in the company’s history, so I thought it would be pretty neat to take a look at them. It’s very interesting to see over a relatively short period of time the many changes that Porsche’s motorsports programs have gone through.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1977 Porsche 934.5/935 at Mecum Auctions

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Motorsports Monday: 1990 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II

While the regular 190E 2.3-16 Cosworth had originally been intended to be a rally car, by the time the company got to producing the “Evolution” models they were fully embroiled in the DTM war of the late 1980s. Massive wings mounted trunklids, fenders flared, and engines roared to new heights of power. While most probably associate the E30 M3 as being the pinnacle of this period, the wildest road-going warrior was the 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II. Mercedes-Benz made 502 of these cars, replete with AMG-tuned motors and enough wings and flares to make an M3 jealous. It should be no surprise that these cars hold a special place in enthusiast’s hearts and they’ve led the market in value because of their very limited nature:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II on eBay

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1990 BMW M3 Sport Evolution

There is nothing that I can say here that will matter at all. I won’t convince you that the E30 M3 is overpriced – maybe, compared to some of the other limited run homologation vehicles like the Sport Quattro and even the asking price on Paul’s 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II two weeks ago this Sport Evolution is downright cheap. Despite that, I could tell you that for the for the asking price of this car you could have a whole fleet of very interesting cars. Heck, you could buy a lesser E30 M3 and still have a huge chunk of change left over to buy many other vehicles and even maintain them. Some houses are less expensive than this car. College for most is less expensive than this car. The average worker at Walmart won’t make in a decade what the asking price is here. But none of that matters, because if you’re even still reading I’m just making you tread water until you can see more photos and drown in the eye-watering price:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 BMW M3 Sport Evolution on eBay

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1989 Mercedes Benz 190E 2.5-16V EVO I

As I have mentioned previously, there are not many Mercedes models that I really lust after. Sure, there are models that I certainly wouldn’t mind driving if someone handed me the keys to them but very few that I really desire. The car you see here is one of those few, in fact it’s at the very top of the list. I would take this car over an SLS, C63 or even the new AMG GT any day because while those cars might be luxurious, pretty and insanely fast, they lack the uniqueness Mercedes and AMG were able to instill in the car you see before you. The 190E 2.5-16 was a rare car to begin with, but in 1989 Mercedes added the Evo I designation to the mix creating a new tier of rare for the brand. Only 502 of these fantastic machines were built and like the regular 2.5 liter equipped 190Es, none of them came to our shores. If you want to own what I consider the coolest Mercedes ever built, you’ll have to import one or move out of the U.S. I hear Portugal is quite nice almost year round.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Mercedes Benz 190E 2.5 16 Evo I

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1993 Mercedes Benz 500E

For all my talk of fandom concerning older Mercedes models, there aren’t many that I would actually pony up the dough for. Sure I appreciate the W123 for the road warrior that it is and I’ve often day dreamed about enjoying a summer cruise in a Blue over White Leather W124 convertible but neither would satisfy my craving for speed and handling capability. My love of technical canyon roads and aggressive cornering is probably why I’ve always been more attracted to BMW than Mercedes and my fiscal responsibility is probably why I ended up in the middle with Audi. As much as I love brute power, I’ve grown fond of driving a slow car fast rather than a fast car slow up in the twisties. Bottom line is you can only do so many 80-140 mph pulls before the experience becomes boring or you get yourself locked up for reckless driving. But if ever there was a Mercedes that would pull me away from Quattro and Efficient Dynamics and manual transmissions, it would be the 500E.

To me, the rarity of this car is one of the most attractive things about it, only 1,528 were imported to the U.S. during its run. Equally as attractive is its ultimate Q-Ship status, as far as I’m concerned it is the finest example of a factory produced sleeper. Of course that makes sense given that the car was hand built by two of the world’s most respected automakers. Today it’s hard to fathom Mercedes collaborating with Porsche but back in the early 90’s it made a great deal of sense. Mercedes wanted a car to beat the M5 and V8 Quattro, Porsche wanted to show their engineered prowess could be applied to a four door sedan. Yes, I’m drastically over simplifying the whole project but there are those far more knowledgeable on the subject than I who’ve written about the car at great length. I am more than comfortable saying that this example appears to be an absolute peach.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1993 Mercedes Benz 500E On eBay

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Apocalypse Now: 1988 BMW M3 Evolution II

We’re an odd group, enthusiasts. Normally you’d assume that we’d be excited to see each and every example of rare cars that pop up. Sometimes, even semi-rare cars excite us. Occasionally, it’s just a plain-jane base model that’s not often seen that will peak the interest of the masses. Yet the excitement usually isn’t there; instead, what results is a form of cyber-bullying as every keyboard warrior attempts to find each and every wrong detail with a particular example. It could be something from small details – paint chips, a scratch, a rust bubble to things that are downright esoteric; my complaint, for example, that the RS2 color “RS Blue” appear correctly on B4s instead of the more commonly associated Nogaro Blue. It could be omission of mechanical details, incorrect listing information, a slip of the fingers in typing in a VIN. Seriously, does it matter? Well, it does when it comes to top-dollar collector cars. In the case of today’s car, the second E30 M3 Evolution II in as many weeks here on the site, my microscope attention focuses on the wheels:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW M3 Evolution II on eBay

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