2008 BMW 135i Sport

The 1-Series sought to return BMW to its more affordable small car roots by shrinking the swollen 3-Series down substantially. What BMW unintentionally did was to create an E46 successor. The E82s are similarly sized, similarly equipped and were similarly priced to the E46. And in its most basic, most sporty form, the early 135i Sport is on paper a close match for the performance of the third generation M3. Okay, there’s no doubt that the 135i isn’t a M3 when you get behind the wheel. But is it a special car? Yes. And does it move? The N54/55 are rated at 300 horsepower – about 10% shy of the S54. But they’ve got 300 lb.ft of torque, almost about 15% more than the M3 had. And because they’re a turbo motor and they were able to tune that torque curve in, it’s about as flat as the Makgadikgadi Pan. That means roll-on performance, and the 135i rewards you any time you want in any gear you’re in. The strange thing is, it really doesn’t drive like it is a turbo motor. There’s no lag, no flat spots, no real woosh. It just feels like a very strong high-compression inline-6. It ALWAYS has power. And though it won’t corner like a E46 M3, it’s not far off in acceleration or driving feel.

So while it’s not quite the visual triumph that is the E46 M3, it’s a very compelling alternative. Better yet, the polarizing looks have meant that these haven’t taken off in value yet compared to full M models. Today, now just over a decade after launch, few come to market looking quite as fresh as this Sedona Red Metallic first-year model:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 BMW 135i Sport on eBay

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More Than Just a Tribute: 2001 Audi S4

Update 11/13/19: Despite showing as sold for over $34,000, this RS4 clone was relisted with a $32,500 Buy It Now.

On the other end of the spectrum from Audi’s U.S. spec B5 S4 was the monster which left me, and most fans of the marque, frustrated. That’s because Audi skunkworks quattro GmbH partnered with corporate acquisition Cosworth Engineering to create the legendary RS4. The same 2.7T motor from the S4 suddenly developed not 250 horsepower, but 375. Arches flared. Mouth was firmly agape. Seats were huggier. Wheels were bigger. Suspension was lower. It was wagonier. It was all around a better car in virtually every way.

So it should come as no surprise that its lack of importation didn’t stop enthusiasts from trying their own hand at the mods. And because of the turbocharged nature of the B5 S4, it was a little bit easier to achieve similar results to Audi. So here we have a B5 RS4 ‘Tribute’, but one that not only added the OEM body pieces and turned up the motor. Because under the hood hides not 375 horsepower, but punched-out 3 liter V6 churning 700 horsepower – at the wheels, mind you. Welcome to ‘The White Beast’:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Audi S4 RS4 Tribute on eBay

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2001 Audi S4

The B5 S4. On paper, it’s a car that I should like a lot. Coming from the modest 4000 quattro, Audi produced what should have been a monster on paper; a 2.7 liter twin-turbocharged V6 rated at over twice the power of the old inline-5s mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. 6-spoke “Avus” wheels carried on the late 90s design in 17″ form, with deeper but still subdued body additions and more grills hinting at the better performance of this A4-based creation. Twin polished exhaust tips, Xenon headlights, deeply bolstered sport seats and plenty of technology also came along from the ride, too.

But for me the B5 S4 sedan was never super exciting. Perhaps that was because it was instantly popular. What I remember annoying me more, though, was that it really seemed like Audi could have produced stronger performance. After all, it generated only a few more horsepower than the last favorite – at launch, the already out-of-production E36 M3 was the match for the performance of the S4 due to its lighter weight. And that was in turned-down U.S. spec! More sharply notable was the launch at the same time of the S8, and the S4 was some 90 horsepower down on that model. Yet get behind the wheel of one, and suddenly it wasn’t a lack of grunt you were noticing. It was how well the package pulled together. It rode well, it had a glut of usable torque thanks to the small twin turbos’ ability to spin up so quickly, and the fit and finish inside was leagues better than the E36 was. And while you could stick snow snows on an E36 and make it through winter just fine, as a year-round commuter car the S4 made a lot more sense while simultaneously being a much better sleeper. It was a ‘Q-Ship’; admittedly, not the biggest or fastest one out there, but certainly an undercover speed agent. These cars developed a cult following, so it’s still possible to find nice examples, such as this Casablanca White over Onyx 6-speed:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Audi S4 on eBay

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2007 Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG with 322,000 miles

For me, there is this constant back and forth between “They don’t make them like they used to” and “Newer cars can basically go forever with proper maintenance and repairs”. Today’s car falls in the latter half. Although I’m skeptical. Very skeptical. Why? In case you haven’t noticed the title, this is a 2007 Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG with over 322,000 miles on the odometer. Yes, this 6.0 liter twin-turbocharged whale of a car that produces 604 horsepower and 738 pound-feet of torque has somehow racked up over 322,000 miles. According to the helpful Carfax, this car registered just over 29,000 miles in its first three years – a totally normal amount. Then the next five years saw the odometer jump to 200,000 miles. Six months later, 250,000 miles. That is 275 miles every single day for six months. How? Why?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2007 Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG at Selective Motor Cars

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2008 BMW 328i Sports Wagon N54 6-speed

While traditionally Audi held the reigns in the U.S. fast wagon scene and there’s news that could resume with the return of the RS6, more recently it’s been rival BMW who has offered enthusiasts a dose of quick 5-doors. Like Audi, BMW had two flavors of wagons in the 2000s; the 5-series Sports Wagon was dropped for the U.S. after 2010, but did breifly offer a turbocharged inline-6 that could be mated to a 6-speed manual. The 3-series Sports Wagon still soldiers on in the market today and you can find a few at dealers, but the bad news is that it, too, has been removed from its ever shrinking fan base. On top of that, BMW never offered the top-tier motors with the 3, and more recently even gave up on the signature manual option. These are dark days, my manual-loving friends.

Luckily for us, though, that hasn’t stopped some individuals from saying ‘why not?’ and combining the best attributes of BMW’s sportier Coupes with their versatile wagon:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 BMW 328i Sports Wagon N54 6-speed on eBay

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2003 Porsche 911 Turbo X50

The 996 Turbo occupied a strange area of value in the Porsche world for a bit, though it generally seems like the market caught on. And its no wonder; the 996TT not only offers supercar levels of performance in a package which can exploit it, the macho looks overwhelm the uninspired headlights, and the Turbo motor doesn’t have the same IMS worries that the normally aspirated models have you worried about. On top of that, this particular car has the X50 performance package – a desirable option, with K24 turbos, a re-mapped ECU and GT2 intercoolers added to the 3.6 liter flat-6 netting 444 horsepower. This is mated to a 6-speed manual, too. And if you hadn’t noticed somehow, it’s a pretty special color – Speed Yellow – but following up on Andrew’s W111 this one has a very unusual and unexpected interior. If the great package, great options, and unusual color combination weren’t enough, this 2003 Turbo has just 8,500 miles on it. The price? Hang on to your fried eggs and wait until you see that interior:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Porsche 911 Turbo X50 on eBay

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2017 BMW M3 30 Jahre Edition

Having not really checked in on E30 M3 pricing lately, I decided to take a gander this week. The situation has not improved. Pristine examples are still asking north of $80,000. If you want one on a budget that’s no reserve, there’s a rusty example with little documentation and 200,000 miles with a wrecked interior for…$20,000 so far. That’s pretty insane for a car that needs a full mechanical and cosmetic restoration, because that money gets you into a pristine E36 or E46 and you’re knocking on the door of the E92s, too.

So I’m taking a different path today. Let’s say you want a collector-grade car but don’t want something old. Well, as I’ve mentioned previously there are a lot of special edition M3s out there. One that quietly slipped through in 2017 was the 30 Jahre Edition of the M3 Sedan. Built on a Competition Package base, the 30 Jahre added Macao Blue Metallic over full Merino leather in Black/Fjord Blue from BMW Individual. The exterior trim was treated to BMW’s high gloss Shadowline treatment and there were plenty of special badges to go around both inside and out. For the 150 out of 500 produced sent to the U.S. market, these cars came equipped with the Driver Assistance Plus Package and LED lights. With the boost turned up on the S55 and hooked to the dual clutch, the 444 horsepower was good for 3.8 second sprints to 60. Check that box for the DCT, and you were $86,150 lighter in the wallet – about the same ask as that E30 I posted earlier. So what does one of these limited models set you back today?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2017 BMW M3 30 Jahre Edition on eBay

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2003 Audi RS6 6-speed

Update 7/27/19: The asking price of this RS6 6-speed is down to $20,000 today from the $28,500 original price.

From the C3 chassis we looked at the other day to the launch of the C5 was just a scant 7 years. The styling was evolutionary and instantly recognizable, but the C5 really broadened Audi’s offerings in the U.S. market. Building on the success of the A4, Audi launched not only the normal sedan and wagon offerings, but the return of the S6 and introduction of new 2.7T performance models, along with the Volvo-challenging Allroad.

The pinnacle of the C5 was, of course, the twin-turbocharged all-wheel drive version you see here built by Audi’s skunkworks, quattro GmbH. With assistance from VAG-owned Cosworth Engineering, the resulting BCY motor cranked out a peak 444 horsepower at 5,700 rpms and an impressive 415 lb.ft of torque between 1,950 rpms and 5,600 revs. The body, brakes, wheels and suspension were all upgraded by quattro GmbH too, with plenty of technology incorporated to transfer the power to the ground and keep the RS6 planted. Though it was saddled with an automatic transmission only and tipped the scales at a massive 4,050 lbs, the tenacious all-wheel drive, computer programming and massive power resulted in a 4.4 second 0-60 sprint, besting both the contemporary M5 and E55 AMG. The RS6 had 14.4″ front brakes, dynamic ride control, and meaty 255-section Pirelli P-Zeros to control that speed. Lowered ride height, flared sills and fenders and giant gaping intakes and exhaust along with signature honeycomb grills set the stage for how these cars have looked since.

The first RS model imported to the U.S., Audi expected to sell 860 at nearly $80,000 a pop. But they didn’t. They sold more, such was the demand, with an estimated 1,200 making the journey to North America. But as with basically all complicated, fast older German cars, they’re not worth what they were new, making them very tempting in the used marketplace. And there are a lot of used RS6s out there to choose from at any given time – currently, there are 10 available just on eBay. The thing is, you should avoid most of them. But not this one:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Audi RS6 on eBay

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2001 Audi S4 Avant

Audi brought the S4 Avant to the United States for the first time in 2001. It joined the sedan lineup and offered a follow-up to the large chassis S6 Avant from 1995. This was actually the second S4 Avant, as Europeans had enjoyed the C4-based creation in the early 90s. Audi’s renaming convention therefore created a successor to the B4-based S2 Avant. Instead of the traditional inline-5 motivation, though, Audi had developed a new 2.7 liter version of its V6. With a K03 turbocharger strapped to each side, the APB produced 250 horsepower at 5800 rpms and 258 lb.ft of torque at only 1850 revs. Like all the B5s, Audi’s new generation of ‘quattro’ used a T2 Torsen center differential and relied upon an electronic rear differential utilizing the ABS sensors. The B5 chassis used the same technology on the front differential as well and was capable of independently braking each front wheel to try to sort the car out through its dynamic stability program.

But the real fun was that it was available as an Avant and with a 6-speed manual. Just over 1,500 were claimed imported between 2001 and 2002’s model years, with about 600 of those being Tiptronic equipped. LY9B Brilliant Black was the second most popular color ordered behind Light Silver Metallic, and this particular Avant is one of 183 Brilliant Black (out of 850 total) manuals brought in for the 2001 model year:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Audi S4 Avant on eBay

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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

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