Motorsports Monday: 2012 Audi R8 LMS Ultra

If you were a gentleman racer over the best part of the past decade and a half, there was only one natural choice for your steed; the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car was, and still is, the most popular choice for factory supported full race cars to buy brand new. But we can thank the success of the Cup formula for an entirely new lineup of racers, from the Lamborghini Super Trofeo to the track-oriented Laguna Seca Mustangs. In the FIA mandated GT3 field, the advent of the Pro/Am designations have similarly diversified the field from the standard Porsches to new entrants, from the seemingly outrageous Bentley Continental GT3 to the Aston Martin Vantage GT3. But while those names may seem like newcomers on the international circuits, the reality is that both the heritage of Bentley and Aston Martin lay exactly with those gentleman racers. No, the real newcomer to the block is the Audi R8; a name steeped in Le Mans history but a chassis built for the street, the GT3 effort resulted in the popular and sonorous R8 LMS Ultra, as Audi shifted its focus from showcasing quattro all-wheel drive in racing to the lightweight technology incorporated into the new mid-engined racer:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2012 Audi R8 LMS Ultra on Race Cars Direct

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2007 Audi S6

I have a bit of a funny relationship with the C6 style Audi A6. On the one hand it is a good looking car that bestowed upon us the option of having a motor with Lambo DNA in a luxury sedan. On the other, it added heft to the most beautiful Audi design of all time, and it didn’t come to our shores in S6 Avant form. For a number of years I have simply found the latter unforgivable, especially since Audi did offer us the C5 S6 Avant. However, Audi crushing my dreams is nothing new, they’ve been doing so with reckless abandon for a number of years now, and frankly their more recent choices have turned me off to the idea of ever getting a new one so long as I’m living in these United States. No manual S4, no manual R8, no hatchback A3/S3?! I understand why these decisions make good business sense, but they’re a blatant FU to the core Audi audience that helped the brand achieve the success that they’re currently enjoying. While I find some of the new cars pretty, and their performance impressive, I can’t help but think that they’ve lost some of the inherent traits that made them special in the past. An RS7 will blow the doors off pretty much anything, and look damn good while doing it, but you’ll need to shell out $120k to have the opportunity to do so. The lower level Audis have just become uninspired, bland, devoid of emotion. That’s why instead of getting a new S4 like every other 30 something that just got a promotion, you should consider picking up an S6 with a 10 cylinders under the hood that only live to please.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2007 Audi S6 

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Tuner Tuesday: 2006 Hartge H50 – REVISIT

Two S85 V10 swapped 3 series in a week? Sure, we can do that! The crazy Hartge-modified H50 built on a base 325 is back and now for sale on eBay. The “Buy It Now” is the same $105,000 asking price as last winter, and with no new photos still this one is still a bit of a head scratcher in a few ways – especially since you can grab a S85 V10 M5 in the $20K range now. But it’s rare, it’s fast, and I’m sure there are still a host of people who’d like it – I’m just not sure at this price, though.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2006 Hartge H50 on eBay

The below post originally appeared on our site December 14, 2014:

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Tuner Tuesday: 1989 BMW M3 Dinan 5.7 V10

The Great Schism was a time of religious crisis for Europe; between 1378 and 1417, there were two Popes. In the early 1300s, a French-born Pope moved the head of the church from Rome to Avignon in France. This was significant for many reasons; Rome had been the spiritual home of the aptly named Roman Catholic Church since the establishment of the 5 main churches by the first Council of Nicea under Roman Emperor Constantine; the first Christian Roman Emperor and the one mostly responsible for converting Europe to Christianity. There are many more stories wrapped up in the ensuing 1,000 years of religious history, but ultimately let’s just say it was a pretty big deal to move the Chair of St. Peter. Ultimately this period, sometimes known as the period of Babylonian Captivity (itself a reference to the actual Babylonians capturing and enslaving the Jewish population about 500 years before Christ was born, if you’re into that sort of thing), resulted in a poor reputation for the Papacy and the Church, as corruption ran rampant through the higher positions in religion. So, in an attempt to correct things, in 1378 the new Pope tried to undo this by returning to Rome. This, of course, pissed the French off. So, they simply claimed they had their own Pope. And since this was during the Hundred Years War, this ultimately split Europe into religious waring factions, each aligned with a different Pope. Not to be outdone, the trading city of Pisa (yes, that leaning tower one…) also briefly claimed they also had their own Pope. Though it ultimately was resolved in 1417 by Church-wide decree that the true Pope was indeed back in Rome, it was the beginning of the end of the omnipotence of the Catholic Church in Christianity, which 100 years later would experience the Protestant Reformation, completing the religious divide of Europe.

Where am I going with this? I think the same divide exists between automobile enthusiasts; two camps, both of whom see their way of expressing enthusiasm as the right way. And, in general, at least one camp doesn’t like how the other camp does things. Ten years ago no one would probably have blinked an eye at someone modifying an E30 M3; however, ten years ago E30 M3s were still effectively throw-away performance economy cars to most people. So that someone hacked one up and threw a Dinan-stroked 5.7 liter V10 and 6-speed into one wouldn’t have raised eyebrows until they were the darling in the marketplace:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 BMW M3 on eBay

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Wagon Week: Forbidden Fruit – C6 and C7 Audi S6 Avants

For a few short years, Audi indulged us. In 1995 only, we received the first S6 Avant on U.S. shores; though the C4 Avant would soldier on until 1998, the 220-odd horsepower turbocharged 5 cylinder hooked to a manual transmission would be gone for a few generations and not seen again in the large wagon. Though the next generation C5 platform would grow in size, Audi would answer with a new S6 Avant for these shores. Now with a seemingly impressive 340 horsepower in an all-aluminum V8, it unfortunately only came to the U.S. in automatic form. It was still a very fast car, but one that catered to a slightly different crowd than the original. It was also, for all intents and purposes, a bit of a sales flop; enthusiasts I think correctly found it difficult to pay the premium when you could get the spiritual successor to the “Ur-S6” in the 6-speed manual, twin turbocharged Allroad 2.7T. As a result, when the new C6 platform launched, although there were new forms of the S6 Avant available, they stopped coming here. Indeed, as soon as we hit 2010, Audi stopped bringing the large Avant all together; you can thank the popularity of the Q7 for that. So today we’ll look at two of the forbidden fruit; the last two generations of S6 Avant that didn’t come to the U.S.:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2006 Audi S6 Avant on eBay

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Tuner Tuesday: 2006 Hartge H50

While engine swaps on BMWs seem downright commonplace, there are the normal engine swaps (the well played out S50/52 comes to mind) and then there’s Hartge. The history between the two premier BMW tuning firms in Germany – Alpina and Hartge – is interesting. They’ve vied for the top spot for several decades with slightly different design philosophies. During that time, they’ve also seemingly flip-flopped; originally, Hartge took a more conservative route than Alpina, whose wild turbocharged creations challenged BMW’s own offerings. But after they were granted full manufacturer status in Germany in 1985, Hartge really came into its own and hasn’t looked back since. While like many firms they offer a line of aerodynamic tweats, wheels, exhausts and engine management chips, their party-piece is taking motors from the larger BMWs and popping them into the 3-series models. None of these conversions is more notable than the E90 H50 though. While the E46 H50 took the V8 out of the 5 series, the E90 had a V8 available in the lineup in the M3. Hartge therefore moved up the food chain to the E60 M5’s S85 V10. With a staggering 500 horspower out of the box and even 50 more with Hartge’s tuning, they transformed the rather mundane small executive sedan into a supercar:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2006 Hartge H50 at Turner Motorsports

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2004 Volkswagen Touareg V10 TDI

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Before the Touareg’s efficiency-minded V6 diesel, Volkswagen put their bonkers 5.0 liter V10 TDI in the family jellybean, a move that garnered little fanfare other than a brief internet stardom at the expense of a Chevy 2500 HD’s pride. With 313hp and 553lb-ft of torque, a small V10 TDI badge was the only indication that a monster lurked within. Today’s example comes in a quiet grey on grey, all the better to surprise the stump when you rip it out of the ground, or pull an unsuspecting 747 like the one a V10 TDI towed in 2006. I miss the gorgeous saddle brown leather of the last Touareg I wrote up , but this one is priced exactly where that one ended and has 30k fewer miles. It’s still well above Blue Book, but clearly there are diesel enthusiasts out there ready to pay for MOAR POWAH.

Click for details: 2004 Volkswagen Touareg V10 TDI for sale on Richmond, Virginia’s Craigslist

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Fast Fives: 1991 BMW M5 v. 2002 BMW M5 v. 2006 BMW M5

As has happened with other series of cars, such as Audi S4s, there are currently several generations of BMW M5s that are converging on value, leaving you with some hard decisions as to which you’d prefer. Indeed, from their start through the E60 M5, the sports sedan got larger and heavier, but gained 2 cylinders per generation and corresponding power levels. The E34 BMW M5 was a refinement and softening of the E28 original design but kept the race-bred S38 inline-6. Purists eyebrows raised when the new E39 M5 launched with a 5 liter V8, but the 400 horsepower soundtrack has subsequently has become a serious legend and fan favorite. Purists once again held their breath as the E60 M5 launched, now with a 5 liter V10 – a high revving, howling banshee of a motor. All of them are serious forms of motivation, and the value of the first 4 generations are all coming into line. While I wasn’t able to find a good example of an E28 M5 for this writeup, I have the subsequent three generations to check out – which would you choose?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 BMW M5 on eBay

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Modern Classic? 2011 Audi R8 V10 Spyder

When judging future collectables, it’s sometimes hard to predict what will be a classic and what won’t. But, it’s a safe bet that halo cars in general will remain the most valuable. Audi re-introduced and re-imagined itself to the world with the introduction of its first halo car, the Quattro. Almost 30 years later, Audi once again re-imagined itself, thanks to acquisitions such as Lamborghini. Whereas the original moved turbocharging and all-wheel drive to the masses, the R8 instead took supercars to a new tier. A celebration of their many wins at Le Mans by the race car of the same designation, the R8 was initially powered by the spectacular 4.2 FSi V8 from the RS4. Later Audi developed its own version of the 5.2 V10 whose sound channeled the original Quattro, and the final development was the introduction of the Spyder model. With slightly revised bodywork – including the removal of the polarizing “blade” the coupe has – the R8 V10 Spyder is a compelling alternative to the 911 Turbo Cabriolet and truly offers supercar-level performance at a relatively budget price:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2011 Audi R8 Spyder on eBay

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2004 VW Touareg V10 TDI

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We’re hitting an interesting time in which the initial generations of truly tech-laden cars are starting to “mature,” and we will begin to see how these various forms of packing 10 pound of technological crap into a 5 pound bag will age. At my Bimmer shop, they noted how they love working on the older cars because they are “real,” and most things can actually be repaired. The owner pointed to an early E65 745i sitting outside the shop and lamented that “anything breaks on that piece of s*** and you might as well buy a whole new car.” The Touareg V10 is certainly on the overwrought spectrum of things, and maintenance on this generation of VW/Audi luxury cars is notoriously spendy. I choose to ignore this reality when V10 TDIs come up because they are such beasts. Not the best looking, not the best value, but hell yes it’s a VW SUV with ten cylinders of diesel-compressing fury.

Click for more details: 2004 VW Touareg V10 TDI on eBay

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