Back in July 2021 I took a look at a rare bird; a stock Mk.4 GTI 1.8T with only 75,000 miles:
2003 Volkswagen GTI 1.8T
That may not sound like a rare car on the surface, but it’s far more difficult to find one of these than…say, pretty much any 911 ever. Today’s example is pretty similar in some ways; it’s also got only 75k miles, also appears to be stock, and also is a 1.8T manual. But this one turns up the rarity a few notches; not only is it equipped with the Luxury Package (which adds a power moonroof and Monsoon audio), Cold Weather Package (heated front seats), and Leather Package (you guessed it), but it’s also Rave Green. It’s not perfect, but that’s not holding back bids – let’s take a look:
It boggles my mind that the Z8 design is now on the verge of 27 years old. First penned in 1995 and shown at the Japanese Motorshow in 1997, the Z8 looked outrageous and the recipe sounded perfect, with internal components borrowed from the E39 M5. That meant the S62 quad-cam double-VANOS 4.9 liter V8 cranking out 394 horsepower and routed exclusively through a Getrag 6-speed manual transmission driving only the back wheels. Coupled with Henrik Fisker’s sumptuous lines, the Z8 managed to both channel the history of BMW’s landmark 507 and be a cutting-edge design at the same time. It was the halo car that helped to lead BMW into a new millennium. Sold for sometimes upwards of $160,000 when new, they were instantly collector fodder – but these cars also caught headlines almost immediately due to problems with their aluminum space frames deforming in the shock tower area.
Between collectability, the up-front expense and fear of destroying the chassis, a fair amount of these cars appear today with very low mileage. So why look at this one? Well, it is well below average mileage, but mainly – the color. Only 5,703 Z8s were produced, putting it roughly on level footing with the E24 M6 in terms of scarcity. Red Z8s are particularly rare birds, though, with just 291 made. This particular example is one of 137 with black leather upholstery, and for good measure it’s got just 16k miles.
These are always fun. This is a 1987 Mercedes-Benz 230E with a mere 995 kilometers, or 618 miles for us Americans. The story says that it was used as a dealer demo car for a showroom in Germany then stashed into storage until recently discovered. As crazy as it is to see 618 miles, this is about as basic as a W124 gets. The M102 inline-4 with a cloth interior, no power windows, no air conditioning, and a manual transmission. Puzzling at the time, but now as we are entering an era where some covet for basic models with nothing to go wrong, it is tough to argue against this one. Problem is, this one comes with a massive price tag. Like, nice 500E price tag.
Yes, the Mk.4 GTI ushered in a more bloated body, subdued styling, increased safety, and a lot more weight. But, it also brought with it a lot more choice. While the VR6 continued over into early models largely unchanged, though a more potent 24-valve version emerged later. But the big news was the entrance of the turbocharged 1.8T into the lineup for me. More in keeping with the character of the original model, the peaky and punchy 1.8Ts grew in power over the production run, and they also offered the basis for a few special models; the European-market 25th Anniversary model, the 2002 337 Edition, and the 2003 20th Anniversary Edition.
Today’s car is none of those special models, but it carries a large amount of the same DNA in a more discrete standard package. It’s also got only 75,000 miles and is claimed to have lived with just one owner, and it’s completely stock. This might be the rarest GTI of them all.
For years I’ve banged on about the E34 M5, a conundrum of the M lineup. It’s got all the right DNA to be a classic, yet like the similar 944 Turbo has generally languished in value compared to similar products. That may sound like a broken record on these pages, but it’s a tune which is both catchy and sweet-sounding for BMW fans because it means they’re getting more car for their money. They’ve got plenty of the right ingredients – the last of the individual throttle body S38 motors producing 315 horsepower, Motorsport details throughout, a great subtle look which still is commanding of respect, supreme road manners and limited numbers – only 1,678 were imported. It’s the right recipe for a future classic. This chassis is still generally overlooked compared to the E28 and E39 models, but those that have spent some time behind the wheel of these well engineered, hand-built Q-Ships proclaim they’re one of the best BMW products made. Recent market activity in since 2016 has started to remix the tune, though, and E34s have been on the rise. Hagerty currently places top value on 1991 M5s at over $74,000 – steep sounding given what many traded for over the last few years, but perhaps more in line with their legendary build quality and performance especially when considering their siblings. So let’s see what a top value M5 looks like today:
Will the second generation R32 ever reach collector status? In January I took a look at a pretty nice example in signature Deep Blue Pearl:
2008 Volkswagen R32
I was left pretty unimpressed by the lack of detail on what should have been a pretty prime example. However, I found an even better one to consider, and pricing…well, let’s just say it’s not cheap.
The other day an Alpine White M2 briskly blew past me. It’s amazing how much presence that car has rolling down the road; it’s nearly square-looking and quite mean. Unlike the 1M that preceded it, the M2 hasn’t maintained its pricing on the used market in quite the same way. Right now, the M2 Competition (your only option) stickers at nearly $60,000 with no options but also has a derivative of the S55 from the M3/4. The earlier M2s aren’t quite as mean, and like the 1M they had a turned up version of the normal production motor rather than a “S” motor. In this case, it’s a 370 horsepower version of the N55 and they weigh a bit less than the M3/4 (though, only a bit), so performance is on par with similar acceleration numbers. Equipped in lovely Long Beach Blue Metallic with matching contrasting stitching, this particular example also has the ‘slower’ but preferable long-term 6-speed manual. And to make it a bit more sweet, it’s got a few Dinan mods tacked on:
Like Alpina, Dinan has distinguished itself as a premier BMW tuner good enough to get the nod from the factory. But unlike Alpina, whose cars often sport unique trim details, body kits, wheels, and interiors, Dinan’s creations are usually much more sedate – following the Roosevelt-esque ‘speak softly and carry a big stick’ ideology. Outside there’s generally little to identify that Dinan has breathed upon a given model, but depending on what level of modification you choose, they can range from a suspension kit all the way through supercharged monsters with increased displacement. Today’s example, a lovely end-of-the-run E36 convertible, is claimed to have a Dinan S1 serial number, and it wears the company’s exhaust, intake, computer programing, suspension, and a few other details. That alone would probably make it work taking a look at, but it doesn’t hurt that this example is also Techno Violet, low mileage, and has a hardtop. What’s not to like?
Within the world of older Audis, it’s often a case of pick your poison. Do you want low miles? Do you want good exterior condition? Do you want good mechanical condition? Do you want a manual? Do you want a desirable model?
Running down the checklist when considering the pool of available candidates, infrequently are you allowed to shout out “BINGO”!
I’m not sure today is that day, either. Here’s a 1986 Audi Coupe GT, and yeah, I really do try to look at every single one I can find. But in particular I wanted to look at this car because it’s very similar to how my own GT was delivered from the factory; Oceanic Blue Metallic, a quite rare color to find on any Audi from the 80s. How rare? Well last year I wrote Audi to ask them. And they claim that in 1986 114 Oceanic Blue Metallic with Gray Velour Coupe GTs were produced. That number seems low, but to me it also seems a bit suspect. Audi also claims they sold 2,846 Coupe GTs here in 1986. If those numbers are both to be believed, it’d mean that every 25th Coupe GT we’d come across would be Oceanic Blue Metallic. Maybe that number does make sense, but it seems to be unlikely; spotting an OBM Coupe GT in the wild seems to be a lot more unlikely than that number would suggest. Regardless, we don’t see it often, so it’s worth taking a look:
I still remember the moment as the wave of envy set over me. A struggling college student, I had tried hard to balance my love of cars with the multiple part-time jobs I fit in between classes. Ultimately, cars probably came before some things they should have, but still fell staunchly behind the realities of life. Rent. Tutition. Books. Utilites. FOOD. These necessities multiplied themselves together over the years, grasping at my meager weekly paycheck more rapidly than I could deposit it in the bank. Trips to the pump were always metered; weeks went by holding breath at every turn of the key, praying for a safe completion of circuit. And when you own a ’84 Volkswagen that sat in a driveway not running for decade rotting away before you resurrected it, often your dreams of a trouble-free commute are unrealized.
As a result of my shoestring budget, I often turned to a friend to help with mechanical work that my GTI often needed. He’d stop by my house after work and wrench for a bit, or I’d drive it by his place for a replacement part or ten. He also had a A1 – a sweet special edition Cabriolet from ’85 which he had spent years tricking out. But on one of these repair stops, he introduced me to his new toy.
It was 1998 and he had picked up a ’90 Corrado G60. He had picked it up cheap, too, as they often broke even when pretty new. Two things struck me about this car. Though it was only 6 years newer than my GTI, it might as well have been a spaceship. The two shared nothing in common outside of the badge. My pyrite-in-the-rough GTI was rusty and not so trusty. Horrible build quality meant things regularly broke, or fell off, or rusted off; often, the trifecta struck. It was a square slowly-deteriorating block of iron oxide in a rounded-off world. In comparison, the Corrado looked well-built, felt modern, was comfortable, had air conditioning and electronic items that…well, functioned, and even had paint all in one color. But the other thing that struck me was just how tired and old that Corrado already felt in 1998. I rarely buy cars that are newer than 10 years old, but this Corrado felt a lot more than that already. Perhaps that was because the VR6 model had so quickly replaced it. Or perhaps it was because I was still excited for new cars to launch in 1998. Looking back, though, my initial impressions of the Corrado G60 still hold true. But am I still jealous that I didn’t have one?