“Youngtimers” have been popular in the automotive news segment over the past few months, as a greater appreciation for cars just turning “vintage” has set the market ablaze. Within that category, automotive collaborations between manufacturers in the 80s and 90s produced some of the most memorable and, consequently, the most sought creations today. There was the Yamaha-powered Taurus SHO, the Mercury Marine-powered Corvette ZR-1, the Porsche-built Mercedes-Benz 500E and Audi RS2, Lamborghini had a hand in the BMW M1, and of course there was the Cosworth-built….everything, from Escorts to 190Es to Audi RS4s and RS6s. But one of the hottest cars from the period was, undoubtedly, the Lotus-built, Corvette-gearboxed Opel Omega/Vaxhaull Carlton twins.
Lotus was majority-owned by General Motors in the early 1990s, which led in part to the “Handling by Lotus” Isuzu Imark and Impulse models. Lotus, in turn, got an engine for their small Elan from the Japanese manufacturer which worked in partnership with GM. But their best work was certainly their last joint venture before GM sold them off to Bugatti in 1993. For the Omega/Carlton, Lotus took the production 3.0 inline-6 and punched it out to 3.6 liters, while fiddling with the 24V head from the Carlton GSi. Then, they hooked it up to a 6-speed manual ZF borrowed from the General’s parts bin. Also borrowed was a limited-slip rear end from GM’s Australian division, Holden. Then, they slapped not one, but two turbochargers on it. Brakes were Group C units employed from AP Racing. The result? A crushing 370 plus horsepower and over 400 lb.ft of torque from the C36GET produced the fastest sedan in the world:
Okay, the third blue Audi in a row and so far I’ve been batting out in terms of cars I’d put in my ultimate garage. While the Audi TT would be on the list, the 180 version wouldn’t be my first choice, and though I wouldn’t kick the S4 out of my bed, I’d opt for a Avant version first. So how about my favorite chassis?
I’ve owned something like 8 or 9 Audi B2s, and though I came very close to owning a Quattro once, my history doesn’t include the illustrious leader of the pack. But a Quattro would very certainly be on my list of ultimate Audis. Which one would I want? Well, if money were no object, I’d probably choose a RR 20V first. The last of the run produced right through the 1991 model year, they were also arguably the best of the breed too; more refined than early models and sporting the 3B 2.2 liter 20V engine we saw in the 200 20V. While 20V conversions are popular, this one was factory. Here’s a link to a nice ’89 that’s for sale for a bit over $100,000.
More affordable are the cars that actually came to the U.S.. It’s a bit of a chuckle, though, as only a few years ago you could pick up a really nice example for well under $20,000. Today, those same cars are trading between $40,000 and $60,000 depending on condition. Here’s a very nice ’84 that comes in right at the middle of that range (and half the amount of the lustful RR) – so how does it stack up?
The seller “m3456y” on eBay has a secret. He manages to find some seriously impressive condition original A1 chassis cars – in particular, GTIs. I’ve looked at a few of them before, and they never fail to impress. In November 2017 there was a lovely white over red 1983:
1983 Volkswagen GTI
May of this year brought a beautiful black over blue 1984:
1984 Volkswagen GTI
And, another black ’84, this one with red interior:
1984 Volkswagen GTI
Each time I’ve been shocked by how clean the presentation is. Having owned one nearly two decades ago, mine was a wreck even then compared to these cars. It was full of miles, holes and mold with electronics and seat fabric that barely functioned. So every time I spy an A1 over this seller’s driveway pavers, it’s as if the clouds have parted and my long-since dead GTI has come back to Earth from Volkshalla, resurrected in much better shape than when I last saw it hanging from the cross.
Well, Mark’s back with another GTI, and this one is the best yet. It’s the most original with the lowest mileage we’ve seen in a while, and I bet it’ll blow your mind, too:
Update 11/11/18: Auto Kennel has dropped the asking price from $109,990 to $99,990.
Just as with Andrew’s 190E 2.5-16 Cosworth Evolution II, a series of modified M3s were run past the FIA to introduce new aerodynamic equipment and changes to serial M3s. Also dubbed the Evolution, three separate models were brought to market to homologate the changes. The last was called the Sport Evolution and brought the most amount of changes in the run. Thin glass and lightweight bodywork was carried over from the Evolution II, while the Sport gained adjustable front and rear spoiler extensions and wider arches in front. Under the hood, the 2.3 S14 was replaced with a 2.5 version of the motor which cranked out 238 horsepower. There were a host of other minor changes, all of which added up to a very special – and very quick – package. A total of 600 were produced; though this was the last of the specials, it was also the most prolific. To help differentiate them from the other Evolutions (if the spoilers weren’t enough), the Sport Evolution also got unique bumper trim and Nogaro Silver painted 16″ BBS wheels, along with special Recaro seats inside. While they are the most frequently produced E30 M3 special, they’re still arguably the most desirable and collector friendly. Since they were never officially imported to North America, it’s quite a treat to see stateside. Presented in Brilliant Red 308, today’s Sport Evolution is one of the better examples on the market:
Perhaps I’m being harsh in my title. But I have to say, this listing annoys me for a few specific reasons. We’ll get back there soon. Predictably, as it did with Mercedes-Benz Pagodas, Porsche 930s, 80s BMW M products and the original GTI, the quick rising of selling prices for the Audi Quattro has continued to bring good examples to market. Where we used to wait seasons between seeing any at all, today you seem to be able to view at least one pretty good one on the market at any given time.
Today’s furthers the recent line of ’83s I’ve looked at. We saw the $59,000 ask on a modded L041 Black one. Recent bids only hit $33,000, which tells us more where market value lies. We saw more of a project a month later with the Treser’d LA5Y Helios example. At $25,000, it was one of the cheaper examples to come to market recently. Then just last week the stellar L97A Diamond Silver Metallic one popped up. Priced right in the middle of the two at $40,000, it looked like the one to buy of the three.
Today’s ’83 comes in a fourth shade available that year. LA3A Mars Red was shared with the A1 and early A2 chassis Volkswagen GTI and GLIs (along with a few others), but is less frequent to see on the Quattro than the color that replaced it in 1984 – LY3D Tornado Red. It’s more orange in tone and distinctive as a result. This particular example is also claimed to be completely original and from a single owner – something none of the others could boast. Priced at $36,900, is this the one to get as a collector?
After looking again recently at the replica E30 M3, I still can’t help but shake my head. While it was an exacting clone of a real M3 in many ways, at the end of the day it was just that – an assemblage of parts made to reproduce the look of a legend. Despite that, and a slightly shady listing, that ad elicited ridiculous bidding and an even more outrageous $50,000 asking price. It makes looking at today’s car all the more refreshing, and helps to put the market into some perspective.
What we have is a L97A Diamond Silver Metallic 1983 Audi Quattro. It’s not a perfectly original example, nor is it heavily modified like a lot that we see. But with some weak areas addressed, a clean bill of health and a very good presentation, this is one of the more desirable examples that we’ve seen recently:
There was a point where it was very hard to find a clean Mk.1 GTI anymore, and consequently the values on them rose sharply and quickly. Predictably, the moment that occurred a bunch of really nice examples popped up for sale and have continued to emerge as the car has finally been recognized as a classic. Now, couple that scenario with the racing pedigree of the Quattro and sprinkle in a dash of ///Mania into the mix and you’ve got a recipe for some very expensive cars.
With only 664 originally imported to the U.S. and a fair amount dead, balled up in rally stages or repatriated to the Fatherland, the remaining cars that do emerge generally fall into two categories: well maintained examples that fetch high dollars, or needy chassis for the project-minded enthusiasts. Although today’s car looks quite clean at first glance, it’s not a perfect example. Yet it does sport some very rare (and very polarizing) period Treser bits, a great set of Fuchs wheels and is awesome Helios Blue Metallic. At $25,000 – the lowest price we’ve seen on a recent Quattro auction, is this a deal or a dud?
Update 7/19/18: Bidding hit $35,000 on this Quattro in June but failed to hit reserve. It’s back up with bids currently at $25,000 with two days to go. Will it clear reserve this time?
Quattros have been a hot commodity in the marketplace over the past year, and speculation coupled with their low numbers continues to drive prices up. This is especially true of cars that arrive to market in good to excellent condition with few needs since the pool of those candidates is remarkably small.
How much speculation? Cars that traded in the teens less than five years ago are suddenly – and regularly – hitting close to $50,000. A really pristine example hit $81,400 in January. And, the last time we saw a Quattro is was a desirable ’85 with some good modifications. Bids had rocketed past $35,000 before the auction was pulled because of a private sale.
Pretty much every time a Quattro comes up for sale, it’s worth a look. This one, at least on the surface, looks pretty great – so where does it fall in the market? Welcome to the ‘new norm’:
While not the fastest or the prettiest car Volkswagen ever made, the GTI represents the ethos of VW’s 1980s philosophy of cheap, fun-to-drive, and eminently practical cars for consumers. As they did when new, the first generation GTI also represented a car which gave much faster cars a run for their money. True, the 90 horsepower under the hood won’t scare a supercar. But what this car lacks in straight-line performance it more than makes up for in value.
You see, over the past few years we’ve watched the fan-favorites and driver’s cars from the 1980s increasingly price themselves out of the range of most enthusiasts. The esoterics are also forged in unobtanium today, and while there was a period where you could snap up cheap 80s products in Europe and import them, they’re going away, too. Sure, the M3 and 911 led the charge, but today a clean 190E 2.3-16 or Quattro will set you back some serious bucks. And then when you do get one, you need to worry about collector insurance, expensive and hard-to-source parts and whether you bought in a bubble.
The solution is still the giant-killer GTI. Find a clean one, and you’ll have a car that can be driven at 10/10ths still today and generate plenty of smiles, yet is relatively cheap to buy and very cheap to run. You’ll get thumbs up just like the 911 driver will. Maybe even more, honestly, because when was the last time you saw an A1 cruising around?
Back to the Golf. A few days ago I looked at a pristine, original low-mileage ’85 Golf. A Westmoreland build, it was a very basic model. But your only other option in the first model year was the GTI, and it was a $2,000 upgrade over the basic Golf. Of course, for that amount you did get quite a jump in quality. Replacing the basic 85 horsepower 1.8 was a high-compression HT 100 horsepower unit. It didn’t sound like a lot, but that did represent a roughly 20% gain in power. Signature red-striped trim announced that this was the performance variant of the hatchback, and you also got 4-wheel discs as a first in the U.S. range. Those brakes hid behind carry-over “Avus” (Snowflake) wheels, though instead of the machine/dark gray finish the A1 had, they were now all silver and with “Volkswagen” imprinted on flush covers. Sometimes GTIs were equipped with “Montreal” (Bottlecap) alloys which were also shared with the Jetta GLI. Application seems somewhat indiscriminate. The GTI also had an upgraded suspension with front and rear sway bars and a close-ratio 5-speed manual as the only transmission. Of course, the interior was also upgraded with a leather-wrapped steering wheel borrowed from earlier GTIs, a multi-function display and specially-trimmed cloth sport seats. Unlike the prior GTI, the new model now also had flush-fitting aerodynamic glass headlights which were also seen on the Jetta, and later in 1986 the Golf Wolfsburg Edition.
In all, it was a substantial upgrade over the standard Golf, and you could of course further opt to include a sunroof, air conditioning, power steering, and a nice radio. Early U.S. Mk.2 GTIs were only available in Mars Red, Diamond Silver Metallic, or as seen here Black. Magazines fawned over the new GTI, which quickly established itself by winning Motor Trend‘s ‘Car of the Year‘ award. They proclaimed the model was “a case of specialized strengths plus broad flexibility â€” domination in some areas combined with sound capabilities in all others â€” to produce a commendable win.”
Today, those first two years of the GTI are quite hard to find. More popular were the later, much more potent 16V versions. But occasionally a really nice early example turns up, and here it is: