For a while, if you were a diesel and wagon fan, you had some options; Volkswagen graced us with a manual TDi Jetta and Golf five-door, Mercedes-Benz floated the E-Class over here, and last but not least was BMW. The F31 launched in 2012, replacing the E91 we just looked at:
2011 BMW 328i xDrive Sports Wagon 6-Speed
It was larger in pretty much every way, but also took on a more aggressive stance. It looked lower and meaner than the E91, especially when outfitted with M equipment. Gone were the manual and six-cylinder options, but you did get the option of selecting even more trim lines and a diesel, to boot. That’s exactly what we have here; a well-optioned 2017 328d xDrive, representing the end of F31 production. As the G21 hasn’t yet arrived and there’s currently no wagon available from BMW, nor are there plans to bring the diesel over yet, this really represents a unique opportunity:
Truth told the E91 isn’t a particularly rare car. There are plenty up for sale every day of the week, and of those that you can find for sale today, the all-wheel drive 328i xDrive isn’t particularly rare, either. But what is not seen very often is the combination of those two factors plus a stick in the center console which can be articulated in 7 different positions. That’s right, we have a unicorn manual! Such is the frequency with which these are referred to by the mythological term, you’d be forgiven for thinking that BMW dealers had a special option box that you could select for your unicorn badge.
Salesman: Now that you’ve selected all your other options, I’m going to tell you about one final “dealer special” option we can offer you – but it’s only for select, and discerning customers!
Rich Plebian: Uh, okay, what is it?
S: It’s the not offered to public “Unicorn” option
RP: “Unicorn”? Like, horned mythological beast?
S: Yes, exactly. The Unicorn Package is option code 785.
RP: Okay, what does it get me?
S: You get to tell everyone how unique your mass produced car is.
RP: Wait, it gives me special powers?
S: No, you just get to say that your car is more special than the other cars that are exactly like it.
RP: Well, people have always told me how special I am, so sign me up!
Thus, when it comes time to sell your unicorn package car, you too can tell everyone that this was the only one that’s like it! Except for the other ones that are like it. But don’t mind them. Let’s look at this one!
Ahhhhh, the 80s. Tuners in the 80s were pushing the limits of their crafts, redefining performance and styling with cutting-edge technology. Of course, when I say ‘cutting edge’, I literally mean cutting. Take Walter Treser, for example. He not only lopped the top off of a Quattro to create his ‘Roadster’, but he also had at the roofline of the Type 44 to create the hatchback ‘Liner’ model. While Audi was busy sawing Quattros in half and removing about a foot to create their Sport Quattro, Treser went in a different direction. As in, the complete opposite. Apparently not satisfied that the Roadster and Liner were crazy enough, Treser chopped a 200 clean in half, stitched 12.6 inches into the middle of it, and created the ‘Largo’. I presume that the pronunciation is akin to the current President’s (for today, anyway) residence of choice, but all I can see is “Large-Oh”. And large it is. Audi themselves would later create their own Lang version of the V8, but Treser’s version appeared over half a decade earlier. To say they are rare is an understatement of…well, long proportions. But one can by yours today in Florida, if you’re up for a project:
The E23 has always been a design which to me has been quite polarizing. As with the E12 and E24, Paul Bracq was heavily involved in the final design and it shows – in many ways, the E23 looks like a cross between the two that was scaled up 10%. The results of that in my mind weren’t always good. Growing up, my father had both E24s and E28s, clean looking, well proportioned designs, and when I first saw an E23 I remember thinking it looked a bit ungainly. In U.S. specification, the bumpers were too big and the wheels were too small, resulting in a car which appeared heavy, sagging and sad. When he’s really upset, my son manages to invert his lip and stick it out, tears streaming down his cheeks. It’s a look which nearly mimics the U.S. spec front end of the E23 I now recognize. However, in European trim the E23 made more sense – it looked lighter, smaller and better proportioned. While not as stately as the W116, it certainly looked a fair bit sportier outside and more modern. Couple those European-market looks with some great period BBS RS wheels and the look is just about perfect; throw in the turbocharged M106 motor and you’ve peeked much interest. Of course, unfortunately the M106 was only pared with an automatic transmission – but then, what would happen if you swapped that for a 5-speed?
Around this time each year it’s nice to draw up a ‘wish list’ of things that, were I obscenely rich, I’d love to get myself as a holiday present. And if you’re Jeff Bezos, bored, reading this blog, and feeling spendy for some reason, this one is top of my list. What you see here is a car that not many are very familiar with. It comes from the firm Isdera, which doesn’t sound particularly German at all. But Isdera is an acronym for Ingenieurbüro fur Styling, DEsign und RAcing, which does seem particularly German. In fact, I’m surprised it’s not just one word. Anyway, Isdera was the brain child of Eberhard Schulz, who started off by building himself a sports car called the Erator GTE that looked very similar to the GT40, but had gullwing doors. Shulz worked for Porsche and Mercedes for a bit as a result of this impressive prototype, and later moved to the tuning firm B&B which ultimately led to the CW311 show car in 1978. Based upon Mercedes-Benz mechanical components and stylistically the successor to the Mercedes-Benz C111 rotary prototypes, Isdera then launched his own topless form of the CW311 called the Spyder 036i, 17 of which were made, and finally a ‘production’ version of the B&B CW311 called the Imperator 108i.
Not stasfied with 20-odd 108is produced through 1991, Shulz then dropped a 6-liter V12 in the middle of the chassis and hooked it to a Ruf-modified gearbox, Porsche suspension, a windshield wiper yanked from a Japanese Skinkansen bullet train, and a name befitting the founder of a certain Italian supercar maker. The result was stunning in 1993, and I’d argue it’s still pretty stunning today. And if you can pony up a whole lotta cash, the one existing example can be yours early next year.
The E30 M3 has, for all intents and purposes, been driven out of the reach of most mortals with an average job. We all know that the market is a bit crazy on them, but you’re realistically looking at at least $40,000 for one with needs, and $50,000 to over $100,000 for a nice example. This drove me a few years ago to knock on a door when I saw a ratty example that was sitting under a tree down the road from me; alas, the owner ‘knew what he had’ and wasn’t going to part with it anytime soon.
Well, another ‘project’ M3 has popped up on eBay and it’s no reserve, so it was worth a look. Is this the way to save a few bucks and get into a legend?
While the Porsche 986 Boxster might have been the car that saved Porsche with its massive popularity, the 987-derived Cayman was what made the mid-engine design popular with track enthusiasts. Especially in more potent “S” form, the Cayman is a giant killer with sublime vehicle dynamics and plenty of punch even without a turbo. The 987 refresh in 2005 fixed many of the perceived visual faults of the 986 Boxster design with a slant towards a more aggressive look. The Coupe added a smooth, flowing hatchback line to the 997-inspired exterior, creating a lightweight, 7/8ths scale mid-engine 911. That it was less expensive than the traditional flat-6 lineup didn’t hurt, either. It was, and remains, a hit.
Despite that, it’s not a car that we feature often here. I’m not sure why, because the Cayman S is really one of the more affordable ways to get into a newer Porsche coupe. On the downside, that means that it’s not usual to find modified examples, and today’s car falls into that category. However, despite the mods I think it’s worth a look for a few reasons – probably the most notable of which is the color combination.
For the US market, the last of the D2 Audi S8s were brought here as Audi Exclusive packages; 100 each of three color combinations, with one new color of Avus Silver Pearl Effect over burgundy leather and revised ‘Celebration’ wheels. For the European market, though, the last S8s got a different Audi Exclusive package. Dubbed the ‘Final Edition’, the car came with 20″ high-polish ‘Celebration’ wheels, Bose audio with a six-disc changer, bi-xenon headlights, an extended leather interior, and dark myrtle wood trim. Four colors were offered with four total interiors; Avus Silver Pearl Effect over either Brilliant Red or Mauve leather, Misano Red over Silver Grey leather, Aqua Blue over Morning Dew leather, or Ebony Black over Brilliant Red or Silver Gray leather. What we see here is the latter of those; a lower-mileage Final Edition in Ebony Black Pearl Effect over Silver Gray leather. It might not be the highest-spec car out there, but boy are these Final Editions impressive-looking!
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?
Let’s say that instead of just hoping that some day your car will be worth a mint, or indeed even caring what other people think about your vehicular choices, you just want have a car which looks good and is enjoyable to drive. Let’s not forget, this advice is coming from someone with somewhat polarizing vehicle choices…so, take the advice with a grain of salt, but I’m going to persist in my argument that the 944 Turbo is the car for you. A true David of the 1980s, the 944 Turbo was the understated and unassuming Goliath slayer, turned down by the factory so as not to have its performance overshadow the 911 range. Being faster than a 911 is pretty much verboten in Germany and especially in Stuttgart, but nearly everyone that experienced a 944 Turbo in the 1980s came away with the impression that in every statistical (and in some non-statistical ways) it was a better car than the Carrera.
But, as our astute readership has previously noted, certain cars – the Audi Quattro, the BMW M3 and M5, and of course the 911 range – were the cars groups of individuals dream of. The 944 Turbo really wasn’t. There weren’t many people that hung 944 Turbo posters on their walls, because there was always something from Porsche that was a little bit more special – the 928 was more futuristic, the 911 was more comforting as a predictable classic, and “Turbo” was synonymous with only one Porsche in history.
That model wasn’t the 944, nor was it the 924. And though both of those respective cars outperformed their brethren in period and were very impressive outside of the Zuffenhausen lineup, the market of today in many ways continues to mimic the original sales trends. The 944 Turbo outsold the Quattro, outsold the M3 – neither, it should be noted, limited production cars. But today, probably in part because of its success, the 944 Turbo just doesn’t get the wows, the attention, or the press of its contemporaries. Of course, there’s one more thing it doesn’t get as a result – their price: