1988 BMW M6

Though they’re the juggernaut of BMW performance today, the reality is that there were quite a few stumbling blocks and it took many years for BMW Motorsport GmbH to establish themselves as the benchmark for German performance. Though many consider the M1 the genesis of BMW M, in fact the brand was born nearly a decade earlier with the introduction of the 3.0 CSL. The high performance E9 was built together with BMW’s competition department, a relationship which ultimately resulted in the birth of BMW’s Motorsport division. A few years later, the new entity would give birth to an equally legendary creation, the 2002 Turbo. But when it came to the first car to carry the “M” badge, it was of course the legendary M1 with its motorsport derived M88/1 double overhead cam inline six screaming in the middle of the car. You’d think this recipe carried over to the sedan range, but that was not immediately the case. First, BMW produced the M535i in the E12 chassis. Though the E28 model of the same designation was mostly an appearance package, the E12 model was turned up over the rest of the range – but not with the M88; BMW instead relied on the M30 to power the M535i. Then, there was a year where nothing happened; the M1 was out of production, the E12 was replaced by the E28, and ostensibly BMW had no real performance models.

That was remedied at the 1983 Frankfurt Motor Show, where a juiced up version of the 635CSi was offered. It was labeled the M635CSi; but unlike the M535i, under the hood wasn’t the venerable M30 that powered the normal 635CSi. In its place, the Motorsport division decided to slot the M88, now with /3 designation; the result was 286 horsepower – a staggering figure at the time, considering that the contemporary Porsche 930 was considered fairly bonkers with a little over 300 horsepower and though it looked much larger, the early E24s only weighed about 200 lbs. more than the Porsche. Coupled with some aerodynamic tweaks, heavier duty suspension, brakes and larger wheels and tires, the result was the menacing presence worthy of the nickname “Shark”. For all intents and purposes, this was really the first “M” car for the masses. BMW brought its M lineup to the United States for 1987 with the renamed M6, and that model was lightly revised for ’88. Power was down to 256 with the catalyst-equipped S38, but ’88s picked up some visual appeal with revised headlights and slimmed corners, as well as body-color painted bumpers that make the ’88s and ’89s look a lot more polished than the ’87s.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW M6 on eBay

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1994 Volkswagen Corrado SLC

Until fairly recently, “collector-quality Volkswagen” was pretty much an oxymoron unless you were talking about some rare air-cooled packages like the T34 Ghia or a 23 window microbus. But an explosion of 1980s products means that we’ve seen Mk.1 Sciroccos and GTis break $20,000 or more, and even an odd Mk.2 GTi come close to the same amount. If you’re trying to break in to the 1980s collector scene for Volkswagens, you might be a little late to the party. Not much from the 1990s makes the same impression, save one car – the Corrado. Unlike pretty much every Volkswagen ever made, these expensive sport coupes were prized since new and generally have avoided the pitfalls of downstream VW owners who tend to neglect and abuse them. As a result, we regularly get to see all-original, pristine low mileage Corrados that always amaze me. So throw on some flannel and crank the Soundgarden, we’re taking a trip back in time to 1994:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 Volkswagen Corrado SLC on eBay

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1980 Porsche 924

Update 10/23/19: This cool 924 sold for a surprising $8,100.
Update 12/4/19: This car has been listed again for sale at $14,900 by the new dealer.

Early Porsche 924 models are one of the most interesting paradoxes in the Stuttgart world. They were the entry model into the fabled badge and, as a result, generally disregarded by those who love the classic 911. For front-engine cars, the mighty V8 grand tourer 928 thoroughly outshines what was admittedly originally intended to be the car for Volkswagen that became the Scirocco. The engine in the early models is an Audi 2.0 8V inline-4 found in the 100 and rated at 110 horsepower – hardly a headline grabber.

But then there’s the other side of the 924; many were owned by enthusiasts who likely didn’t have deep enough pockets for the more illustrious models. Though they were short on money they lacked nothing in passion, and today it’s still possible to find very clean examples of the early 924 for sale. And because Porsche tried hard to offer many special incentives to jump into Porsche ownership, there are a plethora of early special editions to choose from. But those were almost entirely appearance packages; smart money looks for the later upgraded examples as Porsche threw the parts catalog at the 924 on its way out:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1980 Porsche 924 on eBay

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1992 Porsche 911 Carrera Cup

It would be easy to assume that the ’92 Carrera Cup USA was a turned up version of the RS America, but actually it shared more DNA with the European market Carrera RS. Porsche intended to continue the trend of its successful 944 Cup and 944 Turbo Cup support series races with a 911 Carrera Cup in the U.S., but after luring 45 buyers and converting 25 to full race spec by Andial funding for the series fell through. Many of the Andial-converted cars were then returned to full road-legal spec and the legend of these lightweight 911s has been circulating ever since.

he RSA was actually the least expensive 911 version in showrooms in the early 90s too, while the Cup was a substantial 20% premium. Why? Well, it was a lot more than just removing a few extra items. While the RS America lopped 70-odd pounds off a standard C2, the Carrera Cup was 200 lbs lighter. The Cup wore bigger 24mm 5-way adjustable front/ 18mm 3-way rear sway bars, stiffer progressive-rate springs that were 50mm front/45mm rear lower than a standard car, aluminum hubs, ball joint upper spring mounts, and Bistein rear shocks. The engine was the M64/03 rather than the RS America’s M64/01, and featured a lightweight flywheel, only one accessory belt, a remapped DME and solid rubber mounts to channel more of the extra power to the ground. The Cups had a lightweight battery and master electrical shutoff, along with a more simple carpet and rear shelf layout. The gearbox was also different, as the Cup for the G50/10 with longer first and second gears, hardened synchros and mounts, and a standard variable locking differential. Brakes? Yep, different too – the Cup wore Turbo calipers with 322mm front vented and cross-drilled rotors. They kept the standard retracting rear spoiler rather than the RS America’s fixed unit, but had no undercoating and thin glass as well. These were racers through-and-through. And today, they’re not cheap:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 Porsche 911 Carrera Cup on eBay

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1991 BMW M5 with 31,300 Miles

For years we’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 $70,000 – 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:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 BMW M5 on eBay

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1988 Mercedes-Benz 300CE with 60 miles

It seems like every so often a car pops up that somehow has completely fallen off everyone’s radar – including the owner. Usually it is some story about how they were bought for a business but shut down suddenly and everything was left as-is, or how an owner bought the car and suddenly passed leaving the car sit while the family had other things to deal with. Sometimes you might hear about how someone bought a car and stashed it away thinking it’ll be worth big money sometime in the future. As a result, most of these cars have but a few thousand miles – maybe somewhere in the hundreds – but I can’t recall seeing too many cars with this few miles.

This 1988 Mercedes-Benz 300CE up for sale in Poland has just 98 kilometers on the odometer. For those who live their lives in miles, that is roughly 60. That’s it. How did this happen? I don’t know. The seller says that this car was originally sold in Sweden where it sat in a barn for the past 30 years before somehow ending up in Poland. It has never been washed and everything is included from when it left the dealer’s lot. Problem is, this C124 isn’t exactly a time capsule as you might have noticed by the photo. On second thought, it maybe is a time capsule, only one of those that wasn’t sealed correctly and when they dig it up to open it, everything inside is ruined from water damage. Yes, that’s more like it.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Mercedes-Benz 300CE on eBay

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2000 BMW Z8 with 4,602 Miles

It boggles my mind that the Z8 design is now 24 years old. First penned in 1995 and shown at the Japanese Motorshow in 1997, the Z8 looked outrageous and the recipe sounded perfect with internals were 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 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. Worldwide only 325 were selected in Topaz Blue Metallic, and of those this is one of the 131 produced for the 2000 model year and only 30 sent to the U.S., 21 of which had the Crema interior of today’s example:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 BMW Z8 on eBay

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1993 Mercedes-Benz 190D with 2,200 miles

Last week I looked at one of my favorite and oddest Mercedes-Benz ever: the 190E Avantgarde Azzurro. It was an incredibly expensive car for its time at $40,500 ($72,000 in 2018 money), especially when you considered it was marketed towards younger buyers. As expensive as that car was, Mercedes offered a much more inexpensive option if you still wanted a new W201. How inexpensive? Nearly half the price at just $21,000. Of course you might have noticed I am talking about the 190D. This 190D up for sale in Poland has just 2,200 miles and in addition to being a time capsule, is probably the most bare bones and basic Mercedes I’ve looked at in a long time, if ever. The data card lists just six different build codes compared to the 20 for the Avantgarde Azzurro. Seriously, my manual-everything 1983 240D has more luxuries than this car. I hope the buyer for this car has lots of money and likes the sound of total silence, but that is what is going to take to own this car. Let me explain.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1993 Mercedes-Benz 190D at Classic-Trader

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1986 Mercedes-Benz 560SEC with 10,369 miles

I’ve lost track at how many Mercedes-Benz W126 Coupes I’ve looked at because frankly, there are a lot of really nice ones out still there. I think maybe that has to do with it somewhat being see as the pinnacle of Mercedes-Benz large coupes as it didn’t get much better when you factor everything in. A lot of people don’t really like the next generation W140 Coupe and the prior generation, the R107 SLC, isn’t the prettiest car ever made. If you go even further back with the W111, you start talking about them becoming pretty pricey and they aren’t exactly setup to use on a regular basis because of how old they are. Today’s car, a 1986 560SEC, is probably the nicest W126 Coupe I’ve run across. In case you haven’t noticed, it has just a little over 10,000 miles on it and looks every bit the part. As for the price? Well, what are you expecting for a 560SEC with these circumstances?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Mercedes-Benz 560SEC on eBay

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2001 BMW 330Ci with 750 Miles

I haven’t spent much time telling you about my recent BMW adventures, but they’ve been split between my 2003 M3 and my wife’s new-to-us 2009 135i Sport. There’s something pretty darn compelling about the small BMW coupes. They look great, they’re deceptively big inside, they’ve got plenty of trunk space for a long haul. Both get almost 30 mpg on the highway – the 135i is a bit better, actually. Poke them, and both are capable of ripping your face off. And to drive? They’re simply sublime. I’ve driven a lot of cars over the years, but few match the natural composure and connection to driving that both the E46 and its near twin E82 do. They’re just impressive cars that you can drive every day with a family aboard, have fun and feel pretty special without spending a million dollars.

All this sounds pretty irresistible, and that’s one of the reasons that BMW sold about 4 trillion 3-series coupes over the past 40 years. While I know their proliferation isn’t uniform across the country, near me you can’t drive much more than a minute without seeing one or many. And if you pop onto eBay or your local Craigslist, at least on the coasts, you’re likely to be overrun with examples. But if buying “the best one” is your goal, this particular 330ci might just be the one you’re searching for. That’s because if you ever hoped you could find an as-new ’01 330Ci, we have:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 BMW 330Ci on Pittsburgh Craigslist

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