2003 Volkswagen GTI 20th Anniversary Edition with 26,000 Miles

For the last few years, Volkswagen has perpetually teased us with the hottest Clubsport and Clubsport S version of the GTI, promising they “may” come to the United States but never following through. While this is no doubt disappointing to the twelve people who actually would have bought them and the 1.8 million who claim on the internet they would if given the option, it follows a long tradition in German motoring of leaving the best of the breed in the homeland. When it came to the GTI, not only did we have to wait several years before we got the original hot Golf, but indeed it was a bit watered down and heavier when it did arrive. The same continued in the next two generations; more weight, less power. Both in the second and third generations we also lost out on supercharging, all-wheel drive and special body kits available in the European market.

Once again in 2001, a neat Golf was launched that – of course – wasn’t coming to the United States. But of all of the special editions that weren’t sold here, perhaps this one made the most sense to be excluded. It was called the 25th Anniversary Edition and you didn’t need to be good at math to realize that there was no GTI sold here 25 years before 2001. Since the “18 year Anniversary Edition” didn’t make much sense from a marketing perspective even in spite of Volkswagen’s continual spotty judgement in that regard, it was no surprise that it wasn’t offered. That was too bad, as it had a lowered suspension, better brakes, a bit more power, fantastic Recaro seats and the best looking BBS wheels fit to any Volkswagen, ever. Volkswagen enthusiasts in America drool inwardly and shouted openly, so in 2002 Volkswagen finally did bring the special edition here. Again, since “19th Anniversary” didn’t make any sense, we instead got the “337” Edition. This was, for all intents and purposes, an exact copy of the 25th Anniversary model, but instead the 337 referenced the internal project code for the original GTI. But they were quite limited, with only 1,250 sold in the U.S. and 250 sold in Canada. So, you probably missed out on your chance to own one, right? Well, wrong, because in 2003 Volkswagen re-released the 337 edition. Conveniently, there was now a round number that they could actually commemorate the GTI’s longevity with as it had been 20 years since the A1 GTI rolled out of Westmoreland. Again, it was a greatest hits edition; the 337 upgraded 12.3 inch vented brakes with go-faster red calipers carried over, as did the upgraded suspension. Though they sported different fabric, inside was the same Recaro interior with deep bolsters. The golf ball shift knob also returned, though it now was mated to a new 6-speed transmission (MQ350) which in turn were connected to R32 Aristo wheels in place of the BBS RCs. Deeper front and rear valances matched the previous two models, and the 20th AE got blacked headlights more similar to the 25th AE. The AWP 1.8T turbo’s boost was cranked up a bit, delivering 180 horsepower through the front wheels and tied to an electronic differential. A final homage to the original model were subtle rabbits adorning the rear and vintage inspired GTi badging. But the biggest change was that the 20th AE was available in three colors unlike the silver-only prior cars; Black Magic Pearl, Imola Yellow and Jazz Blue :

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Volkswagen GTI 20th Anniversary Edition on eBay

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Tuner Tuesday – Hammertime: 1992 Mercedes-Benz 300CE AMG 6.0 Widebody

There are the pretenders, and then there’s the Daddy. Or, in this case, there’s the Hammer. No other widened car in the 1980s was able to capture the imagination and hearts of so many enthusiasts as the W124 Coupes, and there were plenty to choose from. From DP’s shovel-nosed 911s to the straked Koenig creations, most of them were cool in an outrageous way but never pretty. AMG broke with that tradition, creating elegant lines that accentuated the design rather than underscoring the tacked-on nature of period modifications. The integration of the slick widened panels, perfectly matching wheels and upgraded interiors was met under the hood by another buck in 1980s tradition. As tuners like Dinan, Ruf, Alpina, Callaway, Abt and others all experimented with increasing power through turbocharging, AMG went old school with a monster motor. Rated at somewhere around 380 horsepower, the M117/9 four cam V8 provided the motivation to match the looks of the bespoiled W124. On top of all of this, you got Mercedes-Benz legendary bomb-proof build quality. The result was one of the best all around packages any modified car has ever come to market with:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 Mercedes-Benz 300CE AMG 6.0 Widebody on Autoleitner

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Tuner Tuesday AMG 6.0 Double Take: 1990 560SEC 6.0 and 500SL 6.0

The “Hammer” was a legend born in top-speed shootouts in magazines. It was the stuff of dreams; a sedate sedan running toe-to-toe with Lamborghinis, Ferraris and Porsches. At the heart of the this performance was not a high-revving V12 or turbocharged flat-6 with ridiculous boost, but an enlarged version of the M119 motor sporting twin cams and 32 valves. The result? 376 horsepower and 428 ft. lbs of torque, or at least that’s what they reported – the motor ultimately may have exceeded 400 horsepower. In 1990, that was about as close to F40 performance as you could get – and they came with supercar pricetags, sometimes exceeding $200,000 and making them very rare. It was available in many different forms, from the E-Class Coupe to the S-Class in either sedan or coupe, as well as a smattering of early 500SLs. While today’s examples of the AMG 6.0s are both cars we’ve previously written up, I thought it would be interesting to compare the two. There’s been a lot of attention focused on not only 1980s tuner cars but in particular limited production AMG models recently, so what has that done to the market?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Mercedes-Benz 560SEC AMG 6.0 Widebody on eBay

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Tuner Tuesday: 1994 Mercedes-Benz E320 Coupe “CE36 AMG”

Generally we focus on different angles, heritage or the performance of a car, but today I want to talk about the smell. Strange? No, in three separate conversations with different groups of enthusiasts, the smell of a particular run of car has come up. Now, my wife attributes it to the degradation of “horrible 1980s plastics” and more than likely she’s right. That warm and fuzzy feeling that you get – let’s call it ‘Old Car Smell’ – is probably giving you some type of unbeatable cancer. But do we love it? You bet. Over the summer when my friend Tom dropped off the 1987.5 Coupe GT, opening the door welcomed me into the exact same smell of my 1986 Coupe. And the same thing happened when I bought the M3; popping open the door revealed nearly the same scent as I recall my father’s M5 having the first time I got in. Not to be outdone, recently we posted a E500 and the comments veered off from talking about the typical attributes of the super sedan to the particular smell of the W124. And, oddly, when pondering this E320 coupe, the first reaction I had was that of wondering what it smelled like inside…

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 Mercedes-Benz E320 Coupe “CE36 AMG” on Los Angeles Craigslist

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Tuner Tuesday Pre-Merger Madness: 1989 Mercedes-Benz 300E AMG 3.2 and 1990 Mercedes-Benz 500SL AMG 6.0

Such is the pedestal AMG products are placed upon, perhaps it’s only Ruf that is better regarded as the leading tuning firm from Germany in the 1980s. Combining revised suspension, special exhaust and warmed over motors, AMG managed to straddle the line between outrageous and tasteful in the 1980s perfectly with wild body modifications that somehow worked just perfectly. Inside, they were the most opulent German cars you could buy with power seats and all the luxury items you’d expect from a top-tier luxury manufacturers. But the bad boys from Affalterbach, like the Ruf cars, managed to be more than the sum of their parts – a total package that is still stunning today. They didn’t just bolt on a bunch of bits to make a go-faster car. AMG redefined the packages of the car, bringing them to another level. Today we have two examples to consider from the end of AMG’s independence – which is the perfect creation from the 1980s for you?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Mercedes-Benz 300E AMG 3.2 on eBay

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Wednesday Wheels Roundup

Time for another Wednesday Wheels Roundup, and I have a few neat sets of wheels I stumbled across. First is the super rare and super awesome (but also super priced) Speedline 3-piece wheels for Porsche Turbos. Though they’re listed as 930 wheels, I more often associate them with the 993 Turbo model. They’re not exactly like the Supercup wheels, but they’re not far off. Next is a non-German set of wheels, but a pretty spectacular one – the Clio Williams is one of my favorite hot-hatches, and these would really suit a BMW or Volkswagen 4-lug well, in my opinion. How about the 7 1/4″ width? Next are some rare Carlsson and Abt wheels that need some work but are both hard to find, and we round out the review with some show-ready Style 29 BBS BMW wheels. What are your favorites and why?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: Speedline 5×130 18×8/10 Wheels on eBay

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Feature Listing: 1995.5 Audi S6 Avant

In yesterday’s S4 post, I covered many of the special items that made the ’92 model unique for the U.S. market; in fact, I said that in many ways it was the most highly sought of the C4 models. Well, that probably was a bit of overstatement in at least one regard, because while it may be true for sedans for many the Avant model from 1995 was much more special. 1994 to 1995 saw some major changes for the C4; the most obvious being the model designation change from S4 (1991-1994) to S6 (1995-1997). European models had some additional drivetrain options that weren’t available in the U.S., and indeed the Avant had previously been available in S4 form, but the 2.2 liter turbocharged inline-5 carried over largely unchanged into 1995. The big news was the addition of the Avant to the U.S. lineup; at the time, as expensive as an Audi got here. There was also the obvious external refresh; smooth body-colored bumpers and wider side trims eliminated the rubberized black moldings. The hood and lights were lightly re-sculpted too, along with the change (rolling, for some models) from the Fuchs-made 5-spoke alloys to the Speedline-made 6-spoke Avus wheels which would be the signature S-wheel for the next decade. Gone were two staples of the Audi lineup from the 1980s – Procon 10, the seatbelt pre-tensioning safety system Audi highly marketed in the late 1990s disappeared with little fanfare, but also, perhaps more strikingly, S cars would no longer be branded with “quattro” badges – a change that would carry on nearly until today’s models, where models like the RS7 re-introduced it in the grill. Inside minor changes were introduced; a revised dashboard, shift knob, along with the introduction of the most notable change (once again, rolling) to a 3-spoke sport steering wheel. It was a tremendous amount of minor changes that in sum resulted in a slightly different feel for the S6; slightly more polished and grown up, carrying the new design language for Audi that would remain for the next decade. Audi wasn’t done, though, because in “1995.5” Audi once again changed several items on the then-still-new S6. This included a major change moving forward – the elimination of driver control of the rear differential, a hallmark of Audis since the introduction of the original Quattro. Audi opted for an “electronic differential lock”, which in reality was a system which utilized the ABS system to detect wheelspin and apply the brakes. This major change resulted in some minor interior tweaks, such as moving the cigarette lighter, and there were additional revisions to the radio. The transmission’s traditional weak first gear was also addressed, as well as adding infrared locking and some other minor trim changes. All of these changes – some of them running changes – give the limited production S6s, and especially the Avants, a bit of a bespoke feel. With numbers produced only in the hundreds, these are special and coveted cars that are very capable – and highly sought:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995.5 Audi S6 Avant on QuattroWorld

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Wednesday Wheels Roundup

Today I have a few more rare sets of wheels to check out. On the bigger and newer front are some brand new OZ Racing Superleggeras for Mercedes-Benz or Audi fitment. They’ve never even seen the road, but are a stellar deal at only $900. A much more expensive but equally large set of Speedline Alessios for BMWs are next; at $3,300 they’re staggeringly expensive but quite impressive looking on that E34. Next we travel back in time to when 13″ wheels were something that was the norm; equip an early A1 Volkswagen or 2002/320i BMW with these BBS RA wheels, though, and it’ll be sure to standout even with small rubber. Lastly are a set of the ATS made Porsche 924 Weissach Edition wheels; they’re slightly different than the normal ATS wheels that were optioned onto the 924 because the Weissach had machined faces and graphite inserts instead of being all silver. These need some work, but would make an early 924 or Audi look pretty special if so equipped. Both of the smaller wheels are pretty affordable at less than $500. What’s your favorite?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: OZ Racing Superleggera 5×112 18×8 Wheels on eBay

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Wednesday Wheels Roundup

I have another few rare sets of wheels to check out this week, starting with some polarizing but cool Brabus wheels. They’re pricey but quite a way to set your Mercedes-Benz apart. There’s also a set of BBS RX wheels which remind me of some of the great designs gone by since BBS switched hands. This week I found another set of Rial wheels, this time slightly different with a large offset. There’s also a rare set of Volkswagen Votex wheels. And if you’re feeling ridiculously rich and have an early 911 that you want to have a race look, there’s a set of ultra-rich magnesium Minilites that is priced around the cost of most cars I look at. Enjoy!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: Brabus Monoblock 2 17×8 5×112 Wheels on eBay

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1974 BMW 2002 S14

The surge in popularity of the E30 M3 has drawn into stark contrast what an incredible deal you can get on classic BMWs, and the 2002 is not only a fan favorite but also a great example. In many ways, the E10 spawned the idea of the small German performance sedan and since inception they’ve not only been popular choices as transportation, but indeed great tuning and racing platforms. However, a recent surge in prices have brought many to the market as owners try to capitalize on the increased value, so we’ve seen some great labors of love turn up for sale. This is one such case; a restored and resto-modded 2002 with a great match for a powerplant – the venerable S14:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1974 BMW 2002 S14 on eBay

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