1986 Ford RS200

Now, before you start shouting at your screen that there’s a blue oval appearing here, I’m aware that Ford is an American-based company. I could go into theatrics about how we’re actually speaking a form of German to attempt to rationalize a Ford appearing on these pages, or I could point out that Henry Ford was awarded the Grand Cross of the Supreme Order of the German Eagle on his 75th birthday – the only American to ever receive this award. Of course, that and Ford’s inclusion in Mein Kampf probably aren’t highlights in the storied history of the family or the company. But it does point towards Ford’s reach across the globe, and indeed the European branch of Ford is Ford of Europe AG, headquartered in Cologne, Germany. If that still isn’t German enough for you, let’s just say that once in a while something that’s partly non-German pops up that we’d like to cover. While usually that’s a Swedish car, today it’s a Ford. But this isn’t just any Ford, okay?

The RS200 was conceived in a world for a world that, by the time it came to fruition, no longer existed. Built to maximize the Group B rules, Ford spanned Europe looking for the best talent to make the RS200 a winner. The body of the car was Italian in design but assembled in France. The chassis and engine designs were perfected by Formula 1 aces in England. It was a winning formula that unfortunately was launched at an time of unprecedented speed and power in the World Rally Championship; a combination that proved deadly. Barely into competition, the FIA changed the governing rules in the WRC and immediately the RS200 was shelved. The result was a few hundred competition ready cars that were hugely expensive with nothing to compete in.

But like the Sport Quattro, 205 Turbo-16, 037 and Delta S4, the Group B cars have all experienced a resurgence in interest in the past decade and appreciation has gone from just a group of oddball, off-beat rally fans to the greater automotive community. The result has been spectacular pricing on models like this 1985 RS200:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Ford RS200 on eBay

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1978 Volkswagen Dasher Hatchback

The Volkswagen Passat [née Quantum (née Dasher)] has always been a bit of the odd-man out in the Volkswagen lineup, but each successive generation has offered something special – even in the U.S.. As Paul wrote up last week, in the B7 you could get a TDi manual – something of an oddity in the marketplace last year, as automatic whirring hybrids have ruled the minds and pocketbooks of middle management for the last decade. The B6 had a fantastic hidden gem in the 3.6 4Motion; an unappreciated car in general but perhaps the car Audi should have built. The B5? It was the car that finally made the Passat successful in the U.S., and introduced the cool if too complicated W8 4motion package. The B3/4 had the you-can’t-kill-it-unless-it-rusts 1Z diesel and sonorous VR6 motors. The B2’s trump card over the Audi 4000 it closely resembled was the Syncro Wagon. And the B1? Well, if you wanted a 4-door Volkswagen hatchbach that was a bit more substantial than the Rabbit on offer, briefly your wish could come true:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1978 Volkswagen Dasher on eBay

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10K Friday: 2008 Volkswagen GTi

Normally, the 10K Friday posts that I’ve done have been comparos of multiple different cars that are usually a stretch of the budget. Each one has highlights such as being more desirable, better looking, more functional or luxurious, or faster. But today I’m going to do something a little different – a comparo of only one car. That’s because the GTi is one of the best all-arounders ever made and I think we do our readership a disservice by not looking at the newer models more often. By the time that Volkswagen got to the Mk.4 chassis, many automotive journalists and enthusiasts alike began to dismiss the GTi as fat, tired and played out. Quality was poor, pricing was really high, and performance relative to some other models wasn’t as impressive as it once had been. The GTi was, in many ways, a victim of its own success. Every subsequent generation was compared to the original, a car which had such a mystique that it was effectively impossible to match. Mk.2 models had the stellar 2.0 16V and great looks; Mk.3 models sprouted the wonderful VR6. The Mk.4 models introduced turbocharging, more luxury and much improved interior quality, all-wheel drive, 6-speed transmissions and more technology than was probably recommendable. And while the Mk.4 was a success from a sales standpoint, the GTi was still a fringe car that was arguably too expensive for what you got.

Volkswagen took a huge step forward, though, when it progressed to the new Mk.5 chassis. Unlike the previous generations that had mostly been enjoyed strictly by the Volkswagen faithful, suddenly journalists were talking about how great the new GTi was. Interior quality was leagues better than it ever had been, with a slick design and high quality materials. The new 2.0T motor was great too – with more power than even some versions of the VR6 had previously offered. Weight was up by dynamically the new GTi was a better driver than it had been. It was a return to greatness, and instantly the new GTi was a popular choice for the performance minded practical enthusiast. Because of the success, there are many available in the market today that are coming down to a quite reasonable level:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 Volkswagen GTi on eBay

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To Force or Not To Force 2: 1993 968 Coupe and 1992 968 Cabriolet Supercharged

In my post from earlier today, I looked at the dilemma in my fictional enthusiast life; the Porsche 944 Turbo versus the 944S2. To throw a monkey wrench into that theoretical debate, there is of course the car that replaced the 944S2 – the 968. With updated styling, the addition of the Variocam variable valve timing and a 6th gear, the 968 is arguably one of the best front-engined water-cooled Porsches. Now with better fuel economy, modernized looks and 236 horsepower, it was really a match for the 944 Turbo. However, as I’ve covered before, most of the competition left it behind; in the marketplace, the 4 cylinder Porsche not only squared up against the V8 Corvette, but the refined trio of Japanese turbocharged cars in the RX-7, 300ZX Twin-turbo and Supra Turbo. If you just wanted performance, it was hard to argue that your money was best spent on the 968. However, a few decades on, the 968 is really starting to come into its own as a potential collector and is widely recognized as a great driver with classic Porsche attributes. Today, I have an interesting pair; a cheap 6-speed coupe and a supercharged cabriolet. Which would you choose?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1993 Porsche 968 on eBay

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1992 Porsche 968 with 32,000 Miles

Our lineup has recently been bolstered by contributing author Pablo, a wealth of information on all things front-engined, water-cooled Porsches. One of the models he really touts as the best development of this setup is the 968, and it’s easy to see why. With near perfect balance, great looks, daily-driver practicality and a very flexible engine, the 968 was a package that could actually be enjoyed on both road and track. Unlike their rear-engined counterparts from the same time period, values have not yet taken off in a frenzy; this means that you can get one of the best packages out of the box from Porsche for a relative steal. But the 968 is still a Porsche, and as Pablo has outlined as the miles creep up on 968s the potential repairs to the engine can get quite expensive. Therefore, while it’s tempting to jump into a $10,000 car with some miles on the clock, that price could easily be doubled quickly in maintenance that was deferred due to expense by the previous owners. Perhaps, then, the answer is the best, low mileage example you can find:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 Porsche 968 on eBay

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10K Friday Poor-sche Edition: 928S4 v. 944 v. 944 Turbo v. 924 v. 944 S2 v. Boxster v. Boxster S

“Poor Man’s Porsche”; while it’s a moniker usually attached to the 924 series, the reality is these days it applies to everything outside of the 911. The surge in 911 prices has been so great, that it has also pulled other lesser alternatives to the 911 up as well – try to get into a clean 912 and you’ll be surprised by the price. Even the lowly, forgotten 914 is in the mid teens for a really clean example of a flat-4 model up towards $100,000 for original 914-6 models. So does this mean you need 6-figures to be a true Porsche enthusiast? I don’t believe that’s the case – I think there are a plethora of great options at or around $10,000, so I’ve lined up an assortment. Which do you think is most worthy of wearing the crest of Stuttgart?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Porsche 928S4 on eBay

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1994 Porsche 968

For a long time now, we’ve been banging on about how the 924/944/968 were the best deal in classic German motoring. For sure, these models offer solid build quality, great looks, reasonable practicality and more affordable repairs. Couple these traits with one of the best-handling chassis Porsche has made and you’ve got instant success, right? Well, not so fast. In thinking about writing up this car, I remember back to the early 1990s when the Japanese upped their game and suddenly the 944/968 wasn’t the natural choice. They were, in fact, quite expensive and relatively underpowered compared to their cutting-edge rivals. How does the 968 stack up against the FD RX-7 Twin Turbo, the Z32 300ZX Twin-Turbo, the Mk. IV Supra Turbo and the C4 Chevrolet Corvette LT-1 today?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 Porsche 968 on eBay

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Motorsport Mondays: Unconventional Updates – V8 E30 M3 and 944 3.0 16V

The Porsche 944 and BMW E30 are two of the most popular chassis to use in drivers events and club racing. Cheap, plentiful and effective, they’re usually turned up with race suspension, cages, and once you’ve run out of gusto, it’s not uncommon to see them get greater motivation. Generally for the 944, this means looking towards the turbocharged variant of the 2.5 liter inline-4 that was available from Porsche themselves; similarly, E30s receive a great swath of later Munich-based motors including the S50, S52 and even S54 if you’re really racey. But today there are two lesser-used mills powering this pair of perennial favorites. Which is the one for your sporting needs? Let’s start with the 944:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Porsche 944 on eBay

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1991 Porsche 944S2

Another great alternative to the E30 market remains the stellar Porsche 944S2. With nearly identical performance numbers to the E30 M3, for the most part these hidden gems remain considerably more affordable. They look great, have great boxflared fenders, are generally considered extremely well built, make you feel very special and are even reasonably practical as a daily driver. They’re also fairly rare – production numbers are below what the E30 M3 numbers are, with around a reported 3,600 imported to the U.S.. Also like the E30 M3, many fell by the wayside or were turned into track cars – but despite the similar trajectory of their history, the S2 remains a solid performance bargain. Check out this Cobalt Blue example with color matched interior:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Porsche 944S2 on eBay

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10K Friday: Grand Tour Ready – 1993 Porsche 968 v. 1994 BMW 840Ci

You don’t have to despair if you’ve missed out on the E30 M3 and Porsche 911 market – there are still plenty of alternatives that make great occasional vehicles with enough sport to have fun with and enough presence to make you feel really special. Two of the best coupes from the early 1990s are often overlooked and are still very affordable – the Porsche 968 and the BMW 8 series. Now, truth be told most 968s are out of the “10K” price range, and 850i/Cis are often close in disrepair if they’re at or below $10,000. But if you’re willing to take higher miles on the well-built 968 chassis and opt for the smaller motor in the E31, you can find examples of either that fit a budget. Which would you choose?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1993 Porsche 968 on eBay

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