Row Your Own? 2000 BMW 528iT v. 2003 BMW 540iT

I have a bit of an interesting comparison today, and I think in many ways it’s harder than it would first appear to be. If you said to most enthusiasts “Would you rather have a manual or automatic?”, the collective ire of autophiles towards self-controlled cars is akin to suggestion a revision to the 2nd Amendment at a NRA rally. And outwardly, today’s two E39 5-series wagons seem quite similar. But they represent two different directions for BMW and I think it will be interesting to see which foot enthusiasts land on. So, what would it be, then – a 5-speed 528i Sport Touring or a 5-speed (automatic) 540i M-Sport Touring?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 BMW 528i Touring on eBay

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1997 Mercedes-Benz C280 Sport

Of all the cars I’ve ever owned, the 1998 Mercedes-Benz C230 was perhaps the most honest. It wasn’t overly flashy, was rather basic as compared to other US market Mercedes at the time and went about its business with 148 horsepower on tap in a steady but dignified manner. While there were hotter AMG versions on offer, Mercedes did offer a Sport package for the W202 throughout its life which gave the standard models a bit more zest. This 1997 C280 Sport for sale in Illinois has covered just over 60,000 miles and represents the last year the M104 inline-6 appeared under the hood of the W202, to be replaced by the M112 2.8 liter V6 in 1998. These Sport models had came equipped with a tighter suspension, 15″ AMG wheels, blacked out exterior trim, carbon fiber look trim inside and a smaller diameter steering wheel.

Click for details: 1997 Mercedes-Benz C280 Sport on eBay

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1991 Audi 90 quattro 20V

Sometimes, where a car is sold or turns up for sale is baffling to me. Sometime in 1991, a person walked into an Audi dealer in Florida. Now, considering that Audi only sold 12,283 cars in 1991 that in and of itself was something of a minor miracle. 1991 was the worst year in Audi’s sales history outside of 1970 when the brand was reintroduced. To put it in an even bigger prospective, Audi sold more 100 models in 1971 than it sold total cars in 1991 – by nearly 50%. So, this person had walked by the Mercedes-Benz and BMW dealers – in Florida, mind you – and popped into an Audi dealer. Then, they selected a 90 quattro 20V. Now, starting in 1990 Audi had upped the game with the 7A 20V motor in the 90 quattro, and in terms of horsepower it was at least on par with Mercedes-Benz and BMW. But it was heavy and slower than the competition thanks to the all-wheel drive quattro drivetrain, so these 90s – and the rest of the quattros sold – were mostly relegated to Northern and Mid-Western states. And the buyer paid a steep price in 1991; around $27,000 before options. What was even crazier was that they then opted for the sport package and heated sport seats, as well as Pearlescant White Metallic paint. In short, this was the absolute most expensive Audi 90 you could buy in 1991. Yet, here it is, with low miles and in essentially perfect condition thanks to being stuck in Florida its entire life:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Audi 90 quattro 20V on Orlando Craigslist

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1986 BMW 325es

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Here’s a chance at an affordable E30 that should be a pretty decent driver. It has the 2.7-liter eta engine which may only return low-20s gas mileage but is definitely a cruiser, as the 2000rpm highway speed noted by the seller confirms. He’s apparently put quite a bit of effort into making the car quite strong, with lots of newly replaced parts and no mechanical issues to note. There are a few cosmetic bits, but they can be forgiven in favor of that sweet early cowcatcher underneath the bumper. The interior looks quite nice other than the typical dash crack. Altogether it’s a tidy E30 that could be a good value.

Click for details: 1986 BMW 325s on eBay

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B2 Love: Audi Coupe GT Roundup

My affinity for the Audi Coupe GT goes without saying, and it’s been a bit since I’ve written one up – but a few nice examples floated past my computer screen thanks to the quattroworld B2 forum and I thought they were worth looking at. Below are three distinctly different versions of the same car – one of the early design 84 Coupe GTs with some great modifications, a stock but automatic 86 model and a last-of-the-run 87.5 “Special Build”. Which is the one to grab as these cars continue to appreciate but are still quite affordable?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1984 Audi Coupe GT on German Cars For Sale Blog’s Self Service Classifieds

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10K Friday: BMW 3-series Showdown

Rightly so, I’ve been accused of comparing everything to BMWs – so for today’s 10K Friday, I thought why not compare BMWs to BMWs? Part of the reason I compare various cars I write up to the alternative BMW products is because for some time they have been considered the benchmark, and their popularity from new to the used classic market means that they set the pricing trends against which others can be judged. That’s especially true of the 3 series; for some time, the go-to performance product from Germany, increasingly many earlier generations of the 3 are being viewed as not only collectable, but indeed as investments. So, what does your $10,000 budget buy these days? I’ve rounded up five examples from the first five generations, covering nearly every configuration the small executive platform has been available in. Which is the winner?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1980 BMW 320is on eBay

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1994 Audi 90CS quattro Sport

If you were looking for a sporty small executive sedan in 1994 and opted to buy an Audi 90, something was amiss. You would have waded through the miring scandal of “Accelerategate” and the media implication that your Ingolstadt-born all-wheel drive wonder would suddenly attempt to go full throttle (preferably, when your husband was opening the garage door….). Okay, so you must have had some understanding of physics, logic, spacial awareness and could differentiate a square pedal from a rectangular pedal and your left from right. That, in and of itself, isn’t all that odd. But then you still bypassed the BMW dealer to look at the Audi; a move which probably surprised even them. After all, in 1994 the E36 chassis was still relatively fresh and won nearly every magazine competition it was entered into. In comparison, 1994 was the penultimate year for the B4 quattro as the new A4 was already on the horizon, and though it had received a refresh in 1992 the now B4 chassis didn’t really offer much new technology or refinement over the outgoing B3. It was dressed up with some newer clothes, wheels, and a slightly more powerful motor, but it was still numerically at a disadvantage to the BMW on several fronts. The V6 produced 172 horsepower – about 17 less than the inline-6 in the E36. That V6 also hauled around more weight than the BMW did, so the Audi was predictably slower in every measure, too. The weight and larger displacement meant it got worse gas mileage. And for the pleasure of this slower, thirstier, older chassis, you paid less, right? No – walk into your dealer and select the 1994 90CS quattro Sport as shown here, and you were going to pay over $35,000 – about $5,000 more than the base price on a 325i sedan. Is it any wonder that Audi only shifted a reported 773 of them that year?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 Audi 90CS quattro Sport on Orange County Craigslist

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Feature Listing: 2012 BMW 335is

Like this past weekend’s 135i, a potential alternative to the M3 that I’ve considered quite a few times is the 335i. Upping the ante a notch, in 2011 BMW introduced the 335is; ostensibly, the spiritual successor to the ZHP package that the E46 had in the 330i. As they had with the 1M, BMW kept the N54 twin-turbo motor in the 335is instead of the usual N55 single turbo that was in the 135i and 335i. Tuned up to a reported 320 horsepower and 332 lb.ft of torque, the N54-equipped 335is also enjoyed a revised short-shift 6-speed gearbox and M-Sport styling outside, bringing it closer visually to the M3 – along with unique split 5-spoke wheels. While the 335is wasn’t much of a match for the high-revving V8 of the M3, in real world conditions it wasn’t much slower – and notably, with a healthy bump in torque over the S54, the 335is matched or bettered the reported E46 M3 acceleration numbers. Having just driven an E46 M3 this past weekend, the soundtrack is great but there’s a notable lack of grunt under 3,000 RPM – certainly to be expected, but when I get into even my considerably less powerful Passat, the fun of the turbo engagement at lower revolutions to provide a healthy kick in the pants – even at partial throttle – is something it’s hard to get out of a normally aspirated car without huge displacement. On top of a bit of extra grunt and some go-faster body kit, this particular 335is was optioned in one of the better blues BMW has offered in recent generations; LeMans Blue Metallic:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2012 BMW 335i on eBay

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Fired Up Quattro: 1982 Audi Quattro

Obviously I’m the big Quattro fan here at GCFSB, and I’ve carefully tried to track nearly every example that comes to market in the U.S.. I was frankly a bit surprised to see this one pop up, as it comes from a fellow enthusiast who has really enjoyed using the car as a collectable show car over the past few years. A staple at European events like S-Fest and Carlise, this Quattro has been seen and admired by many, who now have the opportunity to own their own rally legend:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1982 Audi Quattro on Hemmings

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1994 Porsche 968 Sport

It’s not uncommon for automotive manufacturers to tailor a particular model to the likes and needs of a certain market. Porsche is well known for this; one example being the 911 RS America of the early 1990s. Deemed a bit too hard edged for US consumers, Porsche decided to soften the Carrera RS formula a bit and make a special run of 701 cars, which were initially cheaper than a 911 C2. Given their rarity, these RS Americas are now worth much more than their standard Carrera counterparts. Around the same time, Porsche was focusing on another lightweight special, the 968 Club Sport. Unfortunately, the 968CS never made it stateside, but Porsche produced a special run of similar models for the UK market, dubbed the “Sport.” These were essentially 968CS models with the CS luxury package, which offered a bit more features and convenience than the track focused CS. This 1994 968 Sport for sale in southwest England has very low mileage for its age.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 Porsche 968 Sport on Classic Driver

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