2001 BMW 540i Sport Wagon

The E39 continued and expanded the 5-series wagon’s popularity by bringing bigger wheels, more power and updated looks to the mid-range Audi-challenger. Like the first generation, these were only available in rear-wheel drive in the U.S., so matching the all-wheel drive variants available from…well, everyone else, required a very good looking and potent package. BMW pulled that off, with the Sport versions of both the 528i and 540i wagons thoroughly encapsulating the ethos of the great Euro five doors.

But there was a catch.

If you wanted a manual gearbox, you had to select the lower output 528i model. For all its shouty V8-ness, the 282 horsepower 4.4 liter M62-equipped 540i only came with BMW’s Steptronic if you needed to haul ass and a family. Still, they’re highly sought packages and this has to be one of the nicer examples left out in the wild, or so it would seem at first glance:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 BMW 540i Sport Wagon 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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2004 Volvo V70R

A few weeks ago I looked at a 1995 Volvo 850 T5-R wagon, one of the all-time great designs launched by the company:

1995 Volvo 850 T5-R Wagon

The Porsche-modified engine managed to channel an impressive 243 horsepower and 250 lb-ft of torque. The downsides? Well, not only was that particular example expensive, it was front-drive only and equipped with an automatic transaxle. Of course, move forward a generation and there was an even more potent possibility if you like fast five-doors; the V70R. The V70R had 300 horsepower driving all-four wheels through a transversely mounted turbo five, along with heavily bolstered sport seats, Brembo brakes, and an Öhlins adjustable suspension. And yeah, you could get a six-speed manual. A vast majority of these cars were used quite heavily as intended, but still are appealing to consider in the used market:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 Volvo V70R on eBay

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1995.5 Audi S6 Avant

I recently did a breakdown of the C4 production changes, including the rolling revisions on the ‘1995.5’ models, which I covered in a lovely Magnolia Pearl White:

1995.5 Audi S6

The only real downside to a clean S6 sedan is that, of course, there was also an Avant provided – and who doesn’t love an Avant? This one looks pretty special, and as an interesting counterpoint to the 2021 RS6, let’s look at Audi’s first true big-body S five-door in the US:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995.5 Audi S6 Avant on eBay

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2021 Audi RS6 Avant

Friends, the great experiment is finally underway. For generations, US fans have lamented Audi’s all-out refusal to bring its fastest wagons to the US market since 1991. Starting with the first generation S4 Avant and S6 Plus with their thundering (and optional) V8s, through the RS2, RS4, and RS6s, Audi has seemed convinced that it would not be able to sell the top-tier fast wagons here. They’re not alone; BMW has also robbed US enthusiasts of the best wagon offerings as we’ve seen, yet Mercedes-Benz has managed to eek out a market here over the past decade and change and has become the defacto boss of fast five doors, minus an occasional Cadillac interloper.

A few weeks ago, though, I saw the first shipment of fully-wrapped RS6s arrive at the port next to my home. Audi’s no longer playing around, and the full-fat 4.0T cranking out 561 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque. Coupled with a hybrid assistance motor and an eight-speed automatic transmission, it’s no surprise the numbers are staggering. 0-60 is a hair over 3 seconds, and it’ll bury the needle close to 200 mph if deregulated. This isn’t a supercar; this is a five-passenger wagon that weighs in just over 5,000 lbs – with nothing in it! Also staggering? The tech, with touchscreens, virtual cockpit, and torque-vectoring. The tires, measuring 285/30 and 22″ in diameter. The brakes, which are 16.5″ in front and ‘only’ 14.6″ out back. And, the price. Last I heard there was already a wait for these cars, and that’s despite the monster pricetag starting at $110,000. Lucky for you, you don’t have to wait…as long as you’re willing to pay:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2021 Audi RS6 Avant on eBay

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1994 Audi RS2 Avant

Why would anyone even contemplate paying nearly $80,000 for a 26 year old, complicated and turbocharged Audi wagon? Because of the badge that adorns the front – the magical ‘Renn’ added to the S2 badge, along with the legendary name Porsche scripted below. That meant that this relatively unassuming Audi 80 quattro Avant had been produced in Zuffenhausen on the 959 production line rather than Ingolstadt or Neckarsulm and had added a healthy dose of even more “Sport” to the small chassis. Ostensibly, though the Sport Quattro was the first RS vehicle, the RS2 was the first to wear the badge which has become synonymous with Audi’s speed department. For many Audi aficionados, though the RS vehicles have become much faster and more luxurious, just like the with W124 500E and the E30 M3 Audi has never made a car better in its overall execution than the original. Not that it was slow by any means; Porsche’s massaging of the ADU inline-5 resulted in 311 horsepower – even more than the Sport Quattro had from essentially a very similar motor.

So despite being much heavier than the Sport had been, the RS2 wasn’t much slower; sub-5 seconds to 60 and a top speed north of 160 mph. Along the way, it was capable of bullying everything outside of a supercar; yet this car also established the move from Audi’s 2-door halo vehicle to a long line of fast five doors. Porsche also upgraded the brakes and wheels with Brembo units and 17″ ‘Cup 1’ wheels creating a signature look, and tacked on 911 mirrors for good measure. So, too, was the color signature; original called RS Blue rather than the color name it’s often mistaken for – the later Nogaro – bright blue is still the go-to shade for Audi’s fastest and was just announced on the launch of the new RS6 Avant. Even within its fast contemporaries, this car was legendary, and the upgrades to the motors and wheels spawned an entire generation of enthusiasts to turn up their inline-5s stateside. Now that these cars are legal for importation, a steady stream have been coming up for sale:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 Audi RS2 Avant on eBay

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1989 Audi 200 quattro Avant

Its hard for me to believe that its been well over a decade since I bid farewell to my Audi 200. It was never meant to be; I had always admired the turbocharged Avants and so when one came up for sale for an incredibly low asking price, I jumped.

Turned out it was more than just me that needed a jump. And it turned out that the 200 needed a lot more than just a jump; the clutch was thoroughly fried, as were the brakes, and the fuel system, and a few other odds and ends. I patched it together and we enjoyed a memorable run of events. Of all my automotive calamity stories, about 50% revolve around both of my big body Audis. The V8 created more hair-raising events (such as the time the throttle stuck wide open and in an effort to stop it I managed to set the brakes on fire), but the 200 wasnt to be outdone.

There was the time I left the tollbooth on the Mass Pike. The car was running particularly well that day, so I gave it the beans leaving the gate. First to second and the nose was pointed at the sky! Surely, everyone must be saying “WOOOOOOOW!!!“, and it turns out they were because I had blown an oil cooler line and was crop dusting Sturbridge with a thick coat of atomized 10W-40. Another time the voltage regulator died, leaving me to switch various electrical items on and off to balance the charge between 11.5 and 14 volts throughout the 2 hour ride home from Cape Cod. It blew several tires while on the road, which admittedly probably wasnt its fault but was exciting nonetheless. I found out that the ABS worked well in an ice storm on 95 one time as I passed a braking BMW on the hard shoulder. The coolant lines froze one day a major feat, since there was at least theoretically antifreeze in them. It twice threw alternator belts, leaving me to drive home the length of Rt. 24 at 5am with no lights on. The air conditioner didnt work. Actually, basically everything electronic didnt work particularly well if Im honest. The radios blown speakers werent enough to overcome the wind noise created by the necessity to have the windows down at all times if the outside temp was over 60. But the kicker? The kicker was that the brake lines collapsed, leaving the calipers to randomly seize partially closed. As a result, you had to go full throttle to maintain 50 mph which, as you read at the beginning of this passage, occasionally presented an explosive problem. I gave up eventually, unable to stomach this car consuming more of my money.

Sound charming? It was. But most of my issues probably would have been remedied if I simply had bought a better example:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Audi 200 quattro Avant on eBay

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Right Hooker RS: 1995 Audi RS2 Avant

Why would anyone even contemplate paying $65,000 for a 25 year old, complicated and turbocharged Audi wagon? Because of the badge that adorns the front the magical Renn added to the S2 badge, along with the legendary name Porsche scripted below. That meant that this relatively unassuming Audi 80 quattro Avant had been produced in Zuffenhausen on the 959 production line rather than Ingolstadt or Neckarsulm and had added a healthy dose of even more Sport to the small chassis. Ostensibly, though the Sport Quattro was the first RS vehicle, the RS2 was the first to wear the badge which has become synonymous with Audis speed department. For many Audi aficionados, though the RS vehicles have become much faster and more luxurious, just like the with W124 500E and the E30 M3 Audi has never made a car better in its overall execution than the original. Not that it was slow by any means; Porsches massaging of the ADU inline-5 resulted in 311 horsepower even more than the Sport Quattro had from essentially a very similar motor.

So despite being much heavier than the Sport had been, the RS2 wasnt much slower; sub-5 seconds to 60 and a top speed north of 160 mph. Along the way, it was capable of bullying everything outside of a supercar; yet this car also established the move from Audis 2-door halo vehicle to a long line of fast five doors. Porsche also upgraded the brakes and wheels with Brembo units and 17″ ‘Cup 1’ wheels creating a signature look, and tacked on 911 mirrors for good measure. So, too, was the color signature; original called RS Blue rather than the color name its often mistaken for the later Nogaro bright blue is still the go-to shade for Audis fastest. Even within its fast contemporaries, this car was legendary, and the upgrades to the motors and wheels spawned an entire generation of enthusiasts to turn up their inline-5s stateside. Now that these cars are legal for importation, it’s pretty tempting to turn to Europe to see what’s available.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 Audi RS2 Avant on eBay

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1992 BMW M5 Touring

BMWs second generation M5 followed the same recipe as the outgoing E28; manual transmission, rear-drive, howling inline-6 under the hood. But the E34 was far from a copy of the car that was really credited with being the first super sedan. BMW upped with power first with the 3.6 liter version of the S38; though the increase in displacement was a scant 82 ccs, the result was impressive. BMW Motorsport GmbH fit a new cam, a higher compression head, and a new engine management system to yield 311 horsepower at a rev-busting 6,900 rpms. They werent done.

In 1992 M upped the capacity again, this time to just 5 cc shy of 3.8 liters. Even higher compression, a further revision in electronic management, and a few other odds and ends now netted 340 horsepower and 300 lb.ft of torque. Again, they werent done. Perhaps tired of Audi cornering the go-fast-5-door market with their 200 20V Avant, in 1992 BMW launched the M5 Touring. Production began in March 1992 and ran through 1995. All E34 M5 Tourings were left-hand drive 3.8 models, and a total of 891 were produced.

BMW opted not to bring the enlarged motor or the M Touring model to the United States, as the 540i took over the top rungs of North American production. But now legal for importation, these rare Ms have been trickling in:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 BMW M5 Touring on eBay

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1995 Volkswagen Passat GLX VR6 Variant with 26,500 Miles

Update 11/17/19: This Passat sold for $5,950.

Without a doubt, wagons are one of the favorite subjects here at GCFSB, and while there are plenty of desirable, big name Avants, Tourings and Estates that grab the headlines and generate the likes on Myface or Spacebook or Instaselfie or whatever, if Im honest Im always a fan of the underdog Passat Variant. Perhaps its because Ive owned two, perhaps its because its the less common choice; Im not entirely certain. True, the Passat isnt the best performing wagon out there, and Id concede that its not the best looking or best made one either. But in terms of the performance you can get in a stealthy, good looking package on a budget, I think that the Passat may be the real sleeper in the German wagon realm.

But the positive aspects of the Passats arent unknown to all; the Quantum Syncro is always a popular if rarely seen 80s icon for the company, and when we got to the Golf-based B3 and B4, there were some cool options too such as the not-for-the-U.S. G60 Syncro. But even in the U.S., the B4 offered some neat performance options for the wagon aficionado interestingly, in very different directions. Check the TDi option, and you had a hyper-miler capable of over a thousand miles on a tank of gas. Check the GLX option on your order form and youd get the torquey, great sounding VR6 engine and BBS wheels in a sporty package. While both of those engine options were also available in the Golf lineup at the same time, if you wanted a true 5-door you could only select the Passat. Admittedly that’s a niche market, so it should come as no surprise that this is a fairly uncommon car to see today:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 Volkswagen Passat GLX VR6 Variant on eBay

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