Fans, I have to apologize. I’ll happily admit that there are huge gaps in our daily lineup of cars. When I think of the numerous models that we skip over on a daily basis I genuinely feel a tinge of regret. First off, we really don’t feature much from before 1980 often, and even then it’s limited generally to the more expensive cars that survive such as Porsches or Mercedes-Benz models. Then there are plenty of obscure models we just overlook in our searches. I mean, when was the last time that we wrote up an Audi A3, for example? I’ll save you some time – nearly two years ago was the last time an A3 came across our pages. Or an Audi A2? I’m not sure one has ever popped up here, despite them being a very interesting and cutting-edge car. We rarely look at BMW Isettas or Mercedes-Benz SUVs – actually, come to think of it, pretty much any SUV despite their massive popularity and the reality that quite a few of them are nice trucks (and by trucks I mean cars). How about Porsche 914s, Karmann Ghias and pretty much any newer Volkswagen that isn’t a Passat wagon (sorry about that)? There simply isn’t enough time and space to cover all the models that are out there. As such, we often focus on the cars that interest us, and I’ll admit that since there are only a few writers here that means that we see a lot of the same things day in and day out. So, I’m sorry. But I promise, we do try to vary it up as much as we can!
In that vein, I want to look at a very nice Audi S4 today. The S4 itself is no stranger in any of its several generations on these pages, but often we either focus on the C4 generation or the B5, B6 and B7 Avants. The sedan gets scarcely any coverage here probably because the Avant is such a popular choice. But today’s sedan is pretty special, first because it’s one of the hot B5 colors of Imola Yellow, and second because it’s a low mileage, nearly perfect original model. Is it worth a high asking price?
With recent looks at both B7 and C4 S-cars, it was time to take a look at the middle child of the run – the much loved B5. For some time these were considered too heavy and complicated for long-term enjoyment, but a resurgence of interest in the model has been driven by a very active aftermarket that supports them. In the U.S., the most loved models are the 6-speed Avants and we have two to consider here today for a double dose of forced induction family fun. Which would be the 5-door you’d choose?
Do you ever have those moments where you look back 5-10 years and think of the cars you could have bought so much more cheaply than they appear on the market today? I think back to cars like a few I mentioned this morning – the M3 and Quattro – that could be had in great condition for under $10,000 only a decade ago. Then there are cars on the cusp of taking off – cars like the 190E 2.3-16 and 944 Turbo – that are currently still attainable, but one wonders for how long. Moving up a few leagues from the minors in the majors, though, and it wasn’t very long ago that Porsche 911s weren’t astronomically expensive. Think the E30 M3 is bad? Let’s talk about cars like the 930. In May, 2013 Hagerty valued an absolute top condition 1986 Turbo around $60,000. Today, the same estimate is $315,000 – amazingly, down slightly from last fall when $325,000 was the top number. If you pardon the poor pun, the 930 has simply outpaced the stock market many times over, proving it has supercar staying power.
The same can be said of the car that replaced it, the 964 Turbo. Even a standard 3.3 went from a top value of $50,000 in September, 2014 to a pretty steady $275,000 today. Are these numbers always being realized? Perhaps not, but it certainly gives us a value trend. And that leads us to the 996 turbo model. The 996 has been demonized left, right and center for being watercooled, ugly and even fragile, though at least the latter doesn’t necessarily apply to the turbo model. The result of that is it is, without a doubt, the most performance you can buy on a reasonable budget with a Porsche badge attached to it. There’s another school of thought, though – and that is that the 996 won’t remain a budget forever. It’s impossible to predict if there will be a similar bubble to these cars, but the rumor mill seems to be swirling that people in the know are picking up excellent examples in the anticipation that it just could take off: