2000 Audi A4 1.8T quattro Avant

Even though for me the B5 chassis A4 was the beginning of the dilution of the Audi brand, I admit I have always had a soft spot for nice examples. And the first A4 had plenty of things to celebrate. First off, it effectively saved and resurrected the brand in the U.S. from near extinction; consider for a moment Audi sold a total of 18,124 cars in 1995, the same year that the A4 was introduced as a 1996. By 1997, Audi sold 16,333 of just the A4 quattro model alone. As a success, that subsequently meant that there were a plethora of options to be had in the new chassis as production opened up. Soon we had the 1.8T turbo model joining the V6, the V6 was soon revised to have 30 valves, there was a light refresh in ’98 as well and another in ’01, the Avant joined the lineup for ’98, and of course we got a new S4 in 2000.

Considering that for some time there had only been one way per a year to get the small chassis in quattro form, this relatively dizzying array of chassis configurations meant that there are still quite a few nice ones out there to be had. Today finding clean examples is getting hard, and they’re heading up in price:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 Audi A4 1.8T quattro Avant on eBay

Continue reading

2006 BMW 550i

While there wasn’t much of a contest between the E28 M5 and E34 535i, by the end of the E34 run the 540i M Sport was – for all intents and purposes – a M5 without the S38. BMW upped the ante to 400 horsepower in the new E39 M5, once again widening the gap to the 540i model. But the successor E60 545i offered 330 horsepower with matching torque in 2003 alongside the outgoing E39 and once again the gap in performance became much smaller. That gap was made almost impercievable in 2005, when BMW revised the E60 with the increased displacement in the N62 motor. Now sporting 4.8 liters from the N62B48, the new “550i” now had 360 horsepower and 361 lb.ft of torque – a much better match for the S62. What was perhaps more amazing was that the new N62 also nearly matched the torque of the new E60 M5’s S85 V10. But while that screaming V10 produced far more horsepower, the peak torque was reached only at 6,100 revolutions – hardly practical in your daily commute. In comparison, peak twist on the N62 came at a much more realistic 3,400 r.p.m.s, and on the fly these 550is were – and still are – seriously quick sedans. They also introduced the next generation of design language and computer technology into the 5-series. Some love the look while others lambaste the design. While it’s certainly not my favorite 5, at least it’s distinctive and different in a world full of cookie-cutter designs and dare I say I think it may look better today than it did new – perhaps a testament to its avant garde lines. While the lust-worthy V10 captures the imagination of enthusiasts, day to day the 550i is likely as fast 95% of the time and much cheaper to get into and run. The thing is, is this the one to get?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2006 BMW 550i on eBay

Continue reading

2011 BMW 328i xDrive Sports Wagon 6-Speed

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!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2011 BMW 328i xDrive Sports Wagon on eBay

Continue reading

1980 Porsche 924 Turbo

Back in October I took a look at a very nice 931 over in Europe for sale; one of the best examples I’ve seen on the market recently:

1979 Porsche 924 Turbo

931s are broken into two periods – Series 1 (launch in ’79 -late ’80) and Series 2 (’81-’82). Series 2 cars all had the 5-lug, 4-wheel disc upgrade that only some of the Series 1 were equipped with. Additionally, they had a revised ignition system, improved intake, higher compression pistons but a smaller turbocharger, and the transaxle was shared with the B2 Audi inline-5s. Today’s example is loaded like most and comes from the end of the first series, so it has power windows, locks, mirrors, air conditioning, rear wiper and sunroof. It also has the M471 package, which added Koni shocks, 5-bolt forged 16″ wheels, 928 calipers with 911SC vented discs, larger swap bars, a quicker steering rack, and a small-diameter four-spoke leather covered steering wheel. Outside of the wheels, these changes were mostly invisible to the eye, and generally speaking don’t make a difference in the value of the vehicle. What does is condition, and when you’re looking at a 924 Turbo you want to buy the best one that you can afford. Is this the one?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1980 Porsche 924 Turbo on eBay

Continue reading

2011 BMW 550i 6-speed

I’ve recently noticed a large amount of second-hand F10s hitting the market, and what’s been surprising to me is just how cheap they’ve gotten so quickly. Perhaps I just haven’t been paying attention, but suddenly the asking prices on the early F10s are precariously close to $10,000. I suppose it makes sense; the F10 is out of production and no longer the “new thing”, with early examples over 100,000 miles and 8 years old. That’s pretty much a death sentence for a mid-sized executive sedan.

But before you entirely dismiss the F10 line and commence your search for lightly used G30s, there are a few reasons to consider some specific trims in the lineup. For one, the F10 was a lot less controversial of a design than the E60 had been. Second, they seemed to integrate the technology better into the platform, making it a lot less glitch-prone than its predecessor. And, as with all 5-series iterations, power was once again up in the newer models across the board.

But within the F10 lineup for the U.S., there was one particular model which was quite special – what’s listed here as a 550i M-Sport 6-speed. Some 611 550is were equipped with manuals, but of those only 269 were made with the M-Sport package. Today’s example is one of just 16 550i manuals produced in Cashmere Silver Metallic:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2011 BMW 550i 6-speed on eBay

Continue reading

2013 BMW 335is Convertible

The natural comparison point to the 135is Convertible I just looked at is, of course, the same year 335is. Indeed, since the two share a fair amount of architecture and a similar recipe, on paper it’s a bit strange that they were offered at the same time. But though the 335is and 135is looked similar, there were actually quite a few differences between the two packages.

For starters, though they were both turbocharged and rated at 320 horsepower, the 335is package retained the N54 motor to do so. I’ve never quite understood BMW’s logic on this one, but clearly there was something about the N54’s power delivery that they felt was superior to the N55 single-turbo. The reserved the higher-output N54s in late production for the 1M (335 horsepower), the Z4 sDrive3.5is (335 horsepower) and the 335is (320 horsepower). The N54B30TO also got a 7 second overboost of 40 lb.ft of torque on top of the 332 that was rated in this car as stock. As I described in the 135i post, the easiest identifier for these cars was the wheels, and on the 335is you got massive yet delicate Style 313 M Double Spoke wheels, 8″ in front and 9″ in rear, with more aggressive offsets than the E8x got. Hunkered down on M-Sport suspension, the 335is also got a unique M aerodynamic body kit, and the transmission was borrowed from the M3, along with additional cooling for the engine. They carried a less restrictive exhaust system. Coupes went so hardcore that, like the 135i, they dropped the foglight option. The convertible variant was apparently judged to be a little less track-ready, as so like today’s Le Mans Blue Metallic example, you could retain the foglights:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2013 BMW 335is Convertible at Carmax

Continue reading

Roll the Dice: 1980 Porsche 924 M471

You don’t have to cast a very wide net to get a needy Porsche 924. Heck, you don’t need to cast a wide net to get a pristine 924, either! That fact alone makes the requisition of a 924 in need of restoration not only financially irresponsible, but downright ludicrous. But there are reasons which sometimes defy common sense and logic.

Now, if you wanted to grab a tired 924 that would be special, there are plenty to choose from. A few years ago there was a ’88 Special Edition near me for a song. I still regret not going to check it out. But any late 924S offers a budget sports car with a special badge, and the 944 crossover parts mean it’s easy to keep them going. Moving to the early chassis, there are of course Turbo models that are popular, but also a plethora of special editions – the Sebring, the Martini and the Limited Edition being the most notable here.

Today’s car is none of those models. But if anything it’s much more rare, and that’s why it’s worth a closer look. That’s because this car has the very rare M471 Sport Group Package. While often associated with the Turbo, it was also available but seldom chosen on the naturally aspirated model. The M471 package came with 5-bolt hubs, Turbo 4-wheel disc brakes, 15″ ATS mesh wheels, Koni sport shocks, Euro Turbo 23/14mm sway bars, and the Turbo rear spoiler. Early models also came with a special “S” decal on the hood. With only a claimed 100 imported, it’s one of the most rare configurations of the 924:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1980 Porsche 924 on eBay

Continue reading

2001 BMW 325xi Touring

Although my recent experience with a BMW wagon wasn’t the most endearing of my automotive life, I have to admit I still keep an ear to the street every time an interesting one comes up. If nothing else, the promise of what BMW offered in their wagons was compelling – at least, until very recently. That’s because in addition to the 5-doors from the 3- and 5-series appearing on these shores in the E34, E39 and E46 generation, so too came all-wheel drive. “BUT, AUDI!” the internet insists. And right they’d be. Except that as the 2000s drew to a close, so too did the performance versions of Audi’s Avants – and with it went the manual option. So if you wanted to row-your-own, you had to turn to BMW to get what we see here – an all-weather faithful 5-door companion. While the “M” versions of the wagons didn’t come this way, what we did get was what you see here – the option to have the classic inline-6 mated to a manual transmission with near perfect weight distribution. Equip the package with the Sport option, and you got some nice alloy wheels and fantastic seats too. Even 17 years later and with a not insignificant amount of miles accrued, this is a package which stirs the soul:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 BMW 325xi Touring on Santa Barbara Craigslist

Continue reading

Melange à quattro: 2001 Audi A4 1.8T quattro Avant

Update 9/26/18: This A4 Avant sold for $6,986.

Even though for me the B5 chassis A4 was the beginning of the dilution of the Audi brand, I admit I have always had a soft spot for nice examples. And the first A4 had plenty of things to celebrate. First off, it effectively saved and resurrected the brand in the U.S. from near extinction; consider for a moment Audi sold a total of 18,124 cars in 1995, the same year that the A4 was introduced as a 1996. By 1997, Audi sold 16,333 of just the A4 quattro model alone. As a success, that subsequently meant that there were a plethora of options to be had in the new chassis as production opened up. Soon we had the 1.8T turbo model joining the V6, the V6 was soon revised to have 30 valves, there was a light refresh in ’98 as well and another in ’01, the Avant joined the lineup for ’98, and of course we got a new S4 in 2000.

Considering that for some time there had only been one way per a year to get the small chassis in quattro form, this relatively dizzying array of chassis configurations meant that there are still quite a few nice ones out there to be had. But unlike other cars that have skyrocketing asking prices, a very clean B5 quattro can still be had for a song:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Audi A4 1.8T quattro Avant on eBay

Continue reading

Double Take: 1982 BMW 320i

Perhaps 2019 will be the year of the E21? Along with the early 7-series E23, these relatively unloved BMWs remain solid values in the classic car world. Why? Well, it’s pretty simple. The E21 didn’t have the spunk of its E10 predecessor, nor the looks, power or handling of its E30 replacement. Even without those bookmarks, if you’re looking at late 70s to early 80s BMWs, the star power still is firmly planted in the E24 while the E12 and early E28s are more classic and practical. That leaves the E21 in a strange limbo of value, making it hard to justify restoration or keep miles off a clean chassis.

So herein lies this comparison; both Henna Red 1982 BMW 320is, I found a pretty clean light restoration candidate and a reasonably clean high mileage “S” package. Traditionally, the Sport package has always been the star in this Washington Generals lineup, so will that hold true today?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1982 BMW 320i on eBay

Continue reading