Summer Dreaming: 1987 Porsche 944 Turbo

I’m guessing that if you’re a fan of the 944 Turbo, you’re reading this with a slight tinge of regret that you didn’t bid on the two no reserve 944 Turbos I posted the other day. Both were unique in their own ways, but the condition and pricing made them compelling options. The Nougat Brown car traded for a staggeringly low, “why the hell didn’t I jump in on that auction” $8,100. The Alpine White car, with a bit better presentation and neat options, has just broken $10,000 with a few hours remaining. The 944 Turbo is one of those cars that keeps me thinking, wondering when they too will be out of reach for most enthusiasts. Today I have another interesting configuration, low mile Turbo to consider – is this one worth the plunge?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Porsche 944 Turbo on eBay

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1994 BMW M3 Canadian Edition Individual

You’re not going to buy this M3. It’s not because of lack of desire; certainly, a limited run European-specification Canadian Edition M3 is already a very hot commodity. Further upping the ante was the BMW Individual “Giallo” yellow color, slightly different than the standard specification Dakar Yellow. While that may seem like a strange choice, it was what the original buyer of this already very expensive ($60,000 in 1994, about $90,000 today) ordered – and that choice made this particular car the only out of production color in the run of 45. Obviously, since they cared a lot about their prized Euro M3, miles are super low and condition is effectively near perfect. But you’re not going to purchase this car, not because of the colors, or the miles, or the low production number, or even because it’s a Euro car. You’re not going to buy this E36 because the asking price is $65,000:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 BMW M3 Canadian Edition on eBay

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1997 BMW M3 Coupe with 45,000 Miles

The value of E36 M3s has been much debated over the past few years, with detractors snickering and deriding every asking price and speculators suggesting their worth is many times the average selling price. While it’s true you can find cheap E36 M3s, the question remains – where is the market going on these cars? The result of their relatively low value for such a protracted period means that today there just aren’t the glut of good examples that there once were, so when a really nice one comes along, now too do the bids. Case in point – today’s 1997 Coupe. A quick search of my local Craigslist ads suggests I can buy one of these for $6,500. No, actually, I can buy four of them, all for $6,500 (or less). So why would I pay more for this one?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1997 BMW M3 Coupe on eBay

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1 of 45: 1994 BMW M3 Canadian Edition

Conventional wisdom would have it that North America was robbed of the “real” M3; the undiluted, S50B30/B32, individual throttle body, floating rotor, continuously variable VANOS enthusiasts’ dream. Conventional wisdom, though, is wrong. Exploiting a loophole in importation laws, in 1994 BMW Canada commissioned a run of 45 exclusive European-spec E36 M3s. These were the full-fat BF91 rather than the BF93 which would come slightly later to U.S. shores. That meant the full spectrum of Euro goodies were optional on these cars, but most notably the 286 horsepower engine was the highlight. Each got a numbered plaque to commemorate fooling “The Man”, the only real changes from standard specification were the additions of daytime running lights and a third brake light to meet Canadian road laws. Sure, your E36 M3 is special, but these Canadian Edition cars are more specialerer. And this one isn’t in Canada anymore – it’s in the U.S.. Feel cheated no more, E36 fans!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 BMW M3 Canadian Edition on eBay

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1991 Audi 200 20V quattro

Timothy Dalton was a pretty forgettable James Bond, and The Living Daylights was an even more forgettable Bond film. Beyond the pretty ridiculous plotline of the cellist turned assassin turned sympathetic refuge and maybe the only woman the protagonist never sleeps with, perhaps the most notable appearance was the Mujahideen in another sympathetic roll. They were, after all, the freedom fighters trying to kick out the Western baddy-of-the-decade Russians – never mind that they’d basically become the Taliban in short order, or that the CIA was funding guys like Osama bin Laden to be over there fighting and training alongside them. If you leave the serious lapse in global politics out of the movie, the best part was probably the two Audis you forgot about. James used a 100 quattro Avant for survaillence, but when he needed a quick getaway, it was a really slick looking Stone Gray Metallic 200 quattro with some particularly awesome BBS RS wheels under lightly flared arches. In European guise, it was not a car we got here, with the slab-sided 5000 carrying the torch in 1987 – the year the movie premiered. There was a 35 horsepower difference between the European variant and what came to us, too. That was rectified in 1991, though, when Audi very nearly recreated the look of that James Bond car in the 20V version of the 200. With flared arches, 15×7.5 forged BBS RG wheels and a new, double over head cam turbocharged 3B motor producing 217 horsepower channeled only through a manual gearbox and all four wheels, the 200 finally became a chariot worthy of a super spy. Audi also moved in a new direction minimizing badging; the rear window had a “quattro” script defroster and in front the quattro badge adorned the grill, but as with the 1990 V8 and Coupe models, no other model designation was present. You either knew what you were looking at, or you didn’t. Most didn’t, since these expensive Audis didn’t sell particularly well in the wake of Accelerategate, but those that got them bought a treasure of potential and great build quality:

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

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1989 Porsche 944 Turbo with 37,000 Miles

Kicking and screaming, enthusiasts are watching super heros from the 1980s slowly (or not so slowly, depending on the model) move firmly out of affordable price ranges. The last bastion of performance to rise is one of the best available, proving that the market doesn’t always recognize what theoretically should be the best cars. 944 Turbos, just as they did when new, have been rapidly accelerating in value and the top of the heap for road models are the ’88 Turbo S and the S-spec ’89 Turbos (properly, without S – more later). In my time writing for GCFSB, I’ve watched nice examples move from mid-teens to firmly into the 20K range. But Hagerty currently values them even higher, with a sharp spike in 2015. 2016 forecasts have the market cooling slightly, but it’s still at record highs for several models. The current top value on a 1989, at least according to Hagerty, is $36,400. Today’s car is priced at $39,000. Is it better than perfect?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Porsche 944 Turbo on eBay

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1998 BMW M3 Convertible

From a performance standpoint, the E36 M3 Convertible may not be the most desirable BMW product produced. However, if you’re able to back out that this won’t be a car dominating your local track days, the E36 Convertible does offer quite a bit of M-car magic for your money. True the U.S. spec E36 M3 was detuned and mass-produced, but it’s still a great looking, sounding and fun to drive car. Drop your prejudice, and the M3 convertible is a neat package in many ways – plus, it is one of the more affordable ways to get into a M3. This particular model is well equipped and neatly optioned with the forged Motorsport wheels and a host of recent Dinan upgrades:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 BMW M3 Convertible on eBay

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Entwicklung 80: 1990 Audi 80 Quattro V8

It was really neat to see the interestingly optioned pre-production Audi 90S V6 last week, but more from a curiosity standpoint. As many noted, what’s the market on a front drive pre-production Audi 90 with 200 miles? It would take a very special and specific fan to be interested in that chassis. The same can’t be said of today’s example. When it came to tuning up the Type 89 quattros, Audi offered a few options; the DOHC 7A motor with 164 horsepower came to the U.S., but European markets also got the stellar S2 in 20V Turbo form. Though both were most common in Coupe quattro form, sedans and even for European customers Avants later were available with the legendary turbocharged mill. However, let’s not forget that technically the 20V Turbo wasn’t the top of the heap in 1989, since Audi had just launched the revolutionary quad-cam all-aluminum 3.6 V8. That motor was the signature mill of the eponymous V8 quattro. Out of the box, the V8 was the most powerful Audi on offer, but the engine package would only be available initially in the D11 chassis, but in 4.2 form it would later be offered in the C4 S4/S6 as well. The first small chassis Audi with a V8 wouldn’t be until the B6 S4, right? Well, wrong, because a few generations prior Audi apparently toyed with the idea in some development 80s:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Audi 80 Quattro V8 on autoscout24.com

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1995 BMW M3 Individual

Back from the brink of total nausea and bankruptcy inducing cars, let’s look at one of arguably the best values going in the used German car market – the E36 BMW M3. You could make a pretty persuasive argument that it was not the best quality product BMW produced and in fact there are some who will claim it’s not a true M-car, and in some ways they may have a point. However, let’s boil down what it is at heart – a front-engine, rear-drive manual equipped car that offers style, performance and practicality on a budget with strong aftermarket support. You can buy one of these still for well under $10,000, and while that might not yield the best example and 240 horsepower is positively blasé these days this is still a potent package. As a mass-produced car, too, there are many to chose from any day of the week. For example, right now on eBay there are 178 cars listed in the category “M3”. At the same time, there are 14 pre-2000 Audis available. How does one stand out from such a glut of examples then? How about a BMW Individual example painted in rare-to-see Morea Green Metallic?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 BMW M3 on Seattle Craigslist

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1995 BMW M3 Lightweight

The year was 1994, and BMW brought some pre-production M3s in Dakar Yellow to various tracks around the U.S. to engage their primary target audience; enthusiasts. I still remember seeing them and being both very excited and slightly let down. From a performance standpoint, even in turned-down U.S. form the M3 was a potent small sedan. 240 horsepower was top of the small car market back then and around a track, stock for stock the E36 was easily a match for the outgoing fan-favorite E30. Coupled with an eye-searing color, it was an impressive and modern package that I loved. But I also loved the street-racer aspect of the E30, and that was something that the E36 didn’t capture well….at first. That was remedied later in 1995 with the introduction of the “CSL” version of the E36. Stripped out, available only in Alpine White and with Motorsports GmbH details throughout, the M3 Lightweight channeled both the E9 3.0CSL racers that started the M trend and captured the spirit of the E30 with its giant, adjustable rear wing and splitter. Instantly these began popping up at track events; despite the entire production run of only 126 cars, it wasn’t uncommon in 1995 and 1996 to see 4 or 5 of these special cars turn up and trounce all the other cars with ease. Since new, these limited edition M3s have always held more value than nearly all of the rest of the model run – and as prices of all things M rise, it’s no surprise that it appears the tide is carrying them up as well:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 BMW M3 Lightweight on eBay

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