Generally I’m not a big fan of replica cars. I think there is no biggest waste of money than the Mercedes-Benz SSK Gazelle replicas that you have to spend $13,000 on to get a Ford Pinto engine and a sheet of plywood screwed to the dash. It looks terrible, it drives even worse, and you surely aren’t fooling anyone given a real SSK is well into the eight-figure range. However, there are exceptions to everything and today’s car, a 1991 190E up for sale in England, might be one of them. Just by looking at it, you can probably tell what it is all about.
Update 9/13/18: After being listed as sold for $27,300 in February and then again for $35,900 on April 5, I wasn’t hugely surprised to see it back up for sale. This time bidding has started at $25,000 and the Buy It Now is listed at $50,000. Will it actually trade hands?
If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck in today’s collector world, you might still be looking at a turkey. So valuable have some cars gotten that it’s worthwhile for enterprising individuals to undermine the market with a less-than-honest example. The problem is that it seems all too easy for those sellers to misrepresent the vehicle, so it then becomes incumbent upon the buyer to investigate the background. Beyond that, though, sometimes I think buyers are so eager to get a “deal” that they’re often willing to overlook what’s highbeaming them right in the eyes.
Case in point; today’s E30.
Obviously, the M3 is a hot and desirable car. That’s nothing new and we’ve talked about it plenty of times. But there are quite a few less-than-desirable examples out there. It’s also possible to create a replica of the M3, because of the relative plethora of replacement parts or wrecked examples. Granted, this comes up in the 911 and muscle car market a lot more, but it’s happening for BMWs, too.
So while the photographs of this “1988 M3” look great at first glance, what’s wrong with what you’re looking at?
Kit cars don’t get much love on these pages. Well, to be fair, they don’t get much love, period. But kits cars do offer something; exotic(ish) looks on a pedestrian budget. And strangely enough, some kit car and limited-manufacture cars have begun to be considered collectable in their own right. So when I came across two unique Volkswagen-based bits, I thought “why not?”
So today we have two very limited production examples of fiberglass laid over a VW chassis. Which is the winner? Let’s start with the Bradley GT II:
If the 924 Turbo was an impressive development of the first water-cooled chassis for Porsche, the subsequent developments were outstanding. Porsche brought the Carrera name to the 924, added GT and turned up the boost, widened the flares and created a legend in its own right. The 2.0 in GT form produced over 200 horsepower; in later GTS form, nearly 250 horsepower. Instead of the 6″ wide wheels of the 931 we saw yesterday, 911SC front 7″ Fuchs were matched with 8″ wide 930 spec rear wheels. Konis were standard, but early 924 springs were used to actually lower the car slightly. Boxed flares in the rear were met by better integrated flared fronts to cover the much wider track. But the big story was the boost; the M31.50 engine was a tower of power in period, giving the lowly 924 Le Mans winning speed and making it faster than the 911SC. Indeed, the model was a homologation special to allow Porsche to race the car in Group 4 racing. Porsche would use the development GTR models to score impressive class victories in 1981 and 1982 at Circuit de la Sarthe, but it was the 1980 result of 6th overall that was most impressive.
The model was largely the basis for the more mainstream 944 Turbo that was developed later, and often is mistaken for being the later model because of the similarities between the body and look. But a fringe of Porsche enthusiasts appreciate the early Carrera GT even more than the 951, and consequently quite a few have undertaken making replicas. As only 406 Carrera GTs were made, they’ve become fairly unaffordable for most, so this exacting replica in Spain offers a chance to drive a legend at a fraction of a real one’s price:
Such was the depth of BMW’s great designs from the 1980s that often the E32 is overlooked. Unlike the E23 it replaced, the scaled-up Claus Luthe-inspired design really worked and the heavy-weight look of the 5-series in a fat suit was met with more aggression, yet still elegantly. As you’d expect from a car intended to challenge the W126, BMW threw the kitchen sink at the 7-series, upping not only the technology, luxury and interior materials utilized in the E32, but the engine offerings, as well – the M70 and later M73 V12s beat Mercedes-Benz to the market with silky smooth and powerful twelve cylinder motors that were the trump card with the Trump types.
Yet while popular and well built, finding good examples of especially early 7s has become quite difficult. Today we have two interesting examples to consider. Both are far from original, though each in their own way is compelling. For those who like subtle speed, there’s a M70-powered, low mileage 750iL Alpina B12 5.0 clone from Japan. If you’re a little more in-your-face and like to row your own, there’s a Racing Dynamics-inspired 735i 5-speed. Which would you choose?
One of the most enjoyable aspects of writing up cars for GCFSB has been the head-scratchers I come across; cars I knew little (or, in the case of today’s, nothing) about. This Sbarro 328 Roadster replica is a great case in point. Of course, replicas are neither a new phenomena nor are they particularly unique. Often, they fail to capture the essence of the original car and if an enthusiast is unwitting enough to actually mistake the fabrication for the original it can be borderline offensive to real examples. Volkswagen based Bugattis, Fieros turned into F40s, Bentley badges slapped on a Chrysler 300 – you name it, it’s just downright ugly.
But this one is interesting, at the very least to me. Italian-born Franco Sbarro started his company in 1971 in French-speaking Switzerland and immediately started copying German automobiles. They’re still open today, continuing to build limited-run prototypes, but in the 1970s a majority of their work seems to have been based upon historic cars; Bugattis, GT40s, Lola T70s. What was interesting was what they built these replicas on; Sbarro installed fiberglass copies of the originals over BMW or Mercedes-Benz chassis with original components. In the case of the 328 replica you see here, the engine, chassis, rear suspension and transmission was based upon the E10 2002. Some of them even wore 2002 Turbo alloys. In front, Sbarro utilized NSU components for the front suspension and steering. Headlights came from a Mercedes-Benz. The result of this hodge-podge was surprisingly good, managing to capture a fair amount of the aesthetic of the original without looking too out-of-shape, though they were admittedly slightly shorter and more squat that the original. Having standard BMW running gear simplified the importation process, and consequently Sbarro offered these replicas in the US market through a Florida dealer. At least a few were sold here, typically with chassis numbers XXXXUSAXX. This one is chassis number 2328:
On the verge of three years ago I took a look at a neat 911 Carrera RSR tribute. Rather than take the typical path of copying the IROC cars, the builder of this particular car chose the “Mary Stuart” Martini Racing example to clone. The car was named because the wrap around rear duck-tail spoiler reminded some of the high collars which were the vogue during Mary, Queen of Scots’ reign. With its unique tail offsetting those iconic colors, it is certainly an attention getter. However, the seller has now attempted to shift this car more or less continually since 2013 – first at an asking price of $165,000, then dropping in 2014 to $135,000, and now back up to $165,000 presumably to try to capitalize on the current 911 market. It is without a doubt a neat build and unique execution, so even though it’s unlikely to trade this time around again I thought it was worth another look:
The below post originally appeared on our site September 9, 2013:
I think I’ve made it pretty clear that I think Martini Racing colors are just awesome. Some people insist everything looks better in “Gulf Blue”, but for me, it’s those Martini stripes that made some of the best looking race cars (and in a very few cases, even improved road cars). Case in point is today’s example; perhaps one of the strangest downforce attempts of the 1970s on a Porsche – the Mary Stuart tailed Martini Racing RSR. While a neat design in some ways, it certainly looks odd from other angles. Today’s 1971 911 is a recreation of the original, but you can’t deny that it looks fantastic in the proper Martini Racing colors of the 1973 RSR:
After a string of quick Mercedes-Benz wagons, it’s time to take a look at the maker most associated with bonkers 5-doors. While Audi may have never imported any of their fastest wagons into the United States, since the 5000CS quattro Avant the maker has been intrinsically linked with speedy family rides. While we got some good ones in the former, the 200 20V quattro, and the C4 and C5 S6 Avants, the real speed was always in the “RS” line. With the exception of the S6 Plus, all of the top-tier models have carried the RS moniker and traditionally have been the engine blueprint many Audi fans have followed to get the best speed. If they’re really devoted, they take it to the next level and copy the look as well. The result can be very impressive, as shown in this RS4-spec 2001 S4 Avant:
The 1971 Mercedesâ€“Benz 300 SEL 6.8 AMGÂ is one of my favorite cars ever. The ‘Red Pig’ enteredÂ 1971 24-hour race at SpaÂ as the over-weight underdog. To everyone’sÂ surprise, itÂ finished 1st in it’s class and second overall thanks to the madmen at AMG who took the already impressive M100 engine and pushed it toÂ 428 horsepower and 448 lb-ft. This example for sale in California isn’t the famous Rote Sau, but it is a very nice tribute that will have you yelling ”Sooie!”
Is there a better known name across multiple marques than Cosworth? From the DFV formula one engine to Can-Am, Touring Cars to Rally, I can’t think of a more versatile or storied engine supplier. Just the other day, Paul took a look at an expensive and questions asked 1986 190E 2.3-16V Cosworth, and that got me thinking about some listings I’ve run across. Today, then, I have an interesting question and two very different cars that share one word – Cosworth. Both are legends in their own right and both are rare to see in the U.S.; and each for each model I have a valuable original and a replica. Which would you choose?