“IT’S NOT GERMAN!!!”
I know. But since today is the conclusion of Le Mans and occasionally we like to take a look at other cars, let’s check this one out. Because, in many ways, I think it has a lot to offer.
The Renault GTA emerged out of the acquisition of independent boutique sports car maker Alpine by Renault. Renault immediately set upon making a rival to those pesky sports cars from Stuttgart and modernize Alpine’s 1970s A310 model. Let’s not forget, this was a period when Renault was quite active in Formula 1 and Le Mans, so a sporting car wasn’t entirely out of character for them (nor was the competition with Porsche, for that matter!). New lightweight plastic body-pieces were fit, and the 1.7 liter 4-cylinder in the back of the A310 was yanked in favor of the 2.5 liter PRV (Peugeot, Renault, Volvo) V6. In 1985, a turbocharger was bolted on and instantly the GTA was a 944 Turbo competitor with 200 horsepower on tap. However, the rear-drive, rear-engine layout and tricky driving dynamics were more akin to early 911s than the well-balanced transaxle Porsches. As a result, the Porsches continued to sell in droves, while the Alpine GTA remains just an interesting footnote in French automotive history.
But for about the same money as a very nice 944 Turbo these days (and significantly less than the price of a decent 911), you can get the Le Premier Absolutment GTA:
The 2002 Turbo is not the type of car that you typically ‘roll the dice’ on. With asking prices for many at or over $100,000 today, they’re one of the established royalty of the storied halls of BMW. The KKK turbocharged slapped on the M10 resulted in a Corvette-killing 170 horsepower in the mid-70s. This was cutting-edge technology as one of the first turbocharged production cars and required the efforts of BMW’s Motorsport division to pull it all off. With just 1,672 produced, they’re rare as proverbial hens’ teeth too.
Yet here is a claimed example that has been restored and is being offered at no reserve, with bids sitting at just $13,100 at time of writing. Is this the deal of the century, or is something amiss?
1983 was the last year of the Type 43 (C2) model, as its replacement the revolutionary Type 44 (C3) design had already been hinted at with the 1981 “2000 Concept” model. The Type 44 would usher in more power, more refinement, and the addition of all-wheel drive. That meant that the Type 43 was quickly forgotten as the newer car emerged. Even in the mid-80s when these cars were nearly new, they felt and looked old compared to the rest of Audi’s lineup.
Performance was dimmed quite a bit over European counterparts, too. The range-topping 5000S Turbo model did feature the same basic engine as the Quattro, but without intercooling and hooked only to an automatic transmission. As a result they were quite a bit more pokey than the U.S.-spec Quattro, which wasn’t exactly a cheetah itself. The Turbo did offer a 30% bump in power over the standard 5000S to 130, though, and had 280mm front brakes and 240mm rear discs unlike the standard 5000S. Those larger brakes necessitated 5-bolt hubs, so the 5000S Turbo shared the 15″ x 6″ Ronal R8s worn by the same model year Quattros. These cars are increasingly rare to find today in functional condition:
A few weeks ago I took a look at a 2002 Porsche 911 Turbo that was totally normal on outside, but then when you opened the doors things took a left turn. Judging by the comments, I wasn’t alone on this thought. Surprisingly, it sold for nearly $52,000, which I think is a premium for a 2002 Turbo, but it did have only 29,000 miles on it. Today, I came across another 996 Turbo, but as you might have noticed the unusual color is on the outside this time. This 2001 up for sale in New York is painted in Forest Green Metallic and shows nearly 65,000 miles. Problem is, it is much more expensive than the car from a few weeks ago.
What is the price of obscurity?
Here we have a 2001 Audi S3. While the S3 has been a recent addition to the Audi lineup to bolster affordable performance options and compete against Merc’s CLA and BMW’s 2-series, the model has a long history which dates back to the nomenclature change for Audi. The first A3 was launched alongside the then-new A4, and while the visual similarities were strong, the two models shared little. That’s because the A3 was based heavily on the Mk.4 Golf platform with transverse mounted engines. Just like the original Audi 50, though, the A3’s arrival predated the Mk.4 Golf by a year.
As I’ve already covered in previous articles, while the U.S. had to wait until the 2004 launch of the Golf R32 to get all-wheel drive performance, Europe had enjoyed Golfs with four wheels driven since 1986. So it was a relative cinch to stick the Haldex-based all-wheel drive system into the A3 chassis where, like the TT, it would be called “quattro”. And just like the TT, a high performance variant of the 1.8T would be included and become the S3 in 1999.
Again, some of the styling cues were shared with the big-brother S4, including 17″ Avus wheels and deeper, smooth bumper covers. The S3 was the first model to utilize the ‘door blades’ that would become signature S bits soon after. Performance was about what you’d expect from a near twin of the TT – meaning, virtually identical. But what you did get was slightly more subtle styling and slightly more practicality, with a bit more storage space and a roomier cabin. Despite the relatively negligible gains, because the 8L S3 never came here, they’re a bit of a hot commodity when they do arrive. How hot?
I’m a big “value for money” guy. I guess that also means I’m cheap, but who cares how you define it. You’ll never find me paying full price for something or heaven forbid even a premium if I can find a better deal elsewhere. Sometimes this works out swimmingly, sometimes it goes up in flames. That comes with the territory. Today’s car, a 2007 Porsche 911 Turbo up for sale in California, is in my eyes a great value for money car. Why is it? Outside of just existing as a borderline everyday super car that you can drive in total relaxation and comfort, some 10-12 years later, prices are about half of MSRP. However, this car is much cheaper than that. There is not one, but two big reasons for that. Let me explain.
For some time, the 964 design was relegated to the “least favorite” column for many in the 911 world. Regarded as little more than a bridge between the classic 911 design of the 3.2 Carrera and the sophisticated modern beauty of the 993, appreciation for the clean lines and steadfast simplicity of the 964 has grown. It hasn’t hurt that the cars around it have rocketed up in value, either. So today let’s take a look at a prime example; a ROW 1991 911 Carrera 2 in Paint-to-Sample in Murano Green.
Unlike earlier cars, changes between the ROW 964s and North American cars were relatively minor (minus the special production cars, like the Carrera RS). Power from the 3.6 air-cooled flat-6 was effectively the same as its North American counterpart. The bumperettes were missing on ROW cars, and of course for Euro plates the center rear bumper section was slightly different. Without the 5 mph mandate, ROW cars didn’t have the heavier crash bars behind their bumpers either, nor do they have the collision bars in the doors. As you’d expect, the headlights and tailights are different, and Euro cars had sidelights that were missing on NA cars. Those headlights were adjustable in cockpit via an adjuster next to the key. Foglights were standard on ROW cars and they also had no third brakelight. ROW cars had larger fuel tanks, lower suspension, and a few other minor tweaks. Reading all of that would probably lead you to believe the ROW cars were lighter, and they are – somewhere around 50 lbs or so.
But here it’s not the missing 5-year-old’s weight you’re excited for – it’s just got to be the color:
Update 5/7/19: This 911 Turbo sold for $51,600.
I’m not breaking any news saying that now is a really good time to buy a 996 Porsche 911 Turbo. Deals can be had on the right car and outside of really any extenuating circumstances, I don’t see them getting any cheaper. The overall 996 market is very popular right now because people are finally starting to warm up to the fried egg cars and see the value in them. Naturally that applies to the Turbo cars because the rising tide usually lifts all ships. Today’s car, a 2002 up for sale in California, shows just a little over 30,000 miles and looks every bit the part. It even has a little bit of a surprise when you open the doors.
Update 4/26/19: This car sold for $41,500 – strong money!
Not convinced that the 8N will be a collectible in the future? Fair enough, they’re a lot of them out there and the performance (while good for what it was) didn’t really hold a candle to ‘true’ sports cars like the M Coupe. Well, its replacement – the 8J – sure offered up more performance in the TT RS. It was a whole lot more limited, too – with a scant 1,300 produced worldwide, collector status was almost ensured for this giant killer.
The 8J platform offered as standard a much improved chassis over the 8N that launched the TT, but it was the addition of the CEPA turbocharged inline-5 that really changed my opinion on the TT. In RS form, the soundtrack and driving experience was transformed into what had made Audi great. It was an outrageous street fighter with the chops to back up the “RS” insignia, with 360 horsepower and matching torque mated through a 6-speed manual. 0-60 was gone in 4 seconds and tenacious grip from giant tires coupled with the all-wheel drive and Audi’s dynamic magnetic ride suspension meant this TT was a corner killer, too. So what does it take to get into a nice one today?
For U.S. Quattro fans, ’85 models are a bit special as they held numerous upgrades over the prior models. Like the rest of the Type 85/B2 lineup, those included revisions to the exterior, most notably the slanted grill and color matched spoiler, but also inside a new dashboard and revised seat fabric patterns. Like the ’84s, wheels were 8″ Ronals, but hidden was a new and more reliable fuse box location to run the whole car.
A few unique colors were offered on the ’85 up models, but since importation ended after one ’86 made it here, these colors are also a bit unique. Unique too was the headlight treatment, which had chrome aero bezels to match the grill. A total of only 73 of these upgraded 85s (plus the one 86) made it to the U.S., and they’ve pretty much always been the most sought of the scant 664 original Quattros sold here. This particular ’85 comes to market looking minty fresh in Amazon Blue Metallic over Quartz leather: