I’ve been harping about the W210 Mercedes-Benz E320 wagon the past few weeks and all, but don’t forget the sedan was the real mover when it came to this generation E-Class. It was a stark departure from the W124 and it’s “old school” Mercedes feel and blocky design. But by the facelift models starting in the 2000 model year, they started to really come into their stride. That was of course if it didn’t rust away, which was a major problem. Today, we have a seemingly innocent looking E320, which is why I quickly dismissed it. However, I saw it pop up again and figure something had to be up for it to be priced at $12,000 for having 110,000 miles. Then I saw inside.
The jump from the W124 Mercedes-Benz E-Class to the next generation W210 was a large one. Gone was the slab sided bodies and square headlines and in was a much more soft design with quad round headlights. Inside, the W210 still behaved like a Mercedes from years past, but they made sure to carry over that roundness and a whole bunch of more plastic. Under the hood, a traditional V6 took the place of the trusty inline-six midway through the model run of the E320, and a workhorse it was. Today example, a 2000 E320 up for sale in Florida, is a great example of that. Why? Well, it has almost 300,000 miles on the odometer.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 Mercedes-Benz E320 on eBay
Emerging from the sales slump brought on by the recession and actual fake news, Audi solidified its position in the small executive luxury market with its brand new A4 model in 1996. While in truth the car heavily borrowed from the evolution of the B3/4 series and started life with the same flaccid 12 valve V6 that had replaced the sonorous 7A inline-5 for 1993, the A4 was exactly the model Audi needed to redefine its image.
And redefine it did, going from near zero to hero in just a year’s time.
Car and Driver immediately named the A4 one of its “10 Best” cars, a position it would repeat in 1997 and 1998. Okay, maybe it wasn’t the perennial favorite as the BMW 3-series was for the magazine, but still, that it was mentioned in the same breath was impressive. New sheetmetal was smooth and tight, full of great angles and well-placed curves. The bumper covers were finally integrated well again – something the U.S. specification B4 had inexplicably failed miserably at. Inside was evolution rather than revolution, but the cabin looked and felt upscale and modern. And the market responded to this instant hit; consider, in 1994 Audi sold 12,575 cars in total. In 1996, some 15,288 of just the A4 models were sold. That was before the many variations and improvements Audi rolled out in the B5, too.
Seemingly every year new changes offered refreshment and redesign to the A4. In late 1995 and 1996, you could only get one specification – the 2.8 either with or without quattro. But ’97 saw the introduction of the 1.8T, and the Sport Package got some revisions as well with new Ronal ‘Swing’ 16″ wheels. Today’s Laser Red example has to be one of the better examples out there:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1997 Audi A4 2.8 quattro on eBay
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 model years, with about 600 of those being Tiptronic equipped. This is one of a claimed 80 Imola Yellow 6-speed manual Avants imported for the model year, and for good measure it’s got quite a few upgrades:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Audi S4 Avanton eBay
I’ve seen some pretty odd and particular special editions over the years. Most of the time it is a cash grab by manufactures during the end of a generation to clear out stock and move aging units before a fresh new model comes. Other times its anniversary editions that make sense, but lots of times are clearly just mailing it in. Today, I have one of these strangest special editions I’ve ever seen.
This is the 2000 Mercedes-Benz SL320 Edition. Not Special Edition, not Anniversary Edition, just Edition. They literally just called it the “Edition.” Why? I have no idea. The even more bizarre thing is there was another special edition 2000 SL320 in the Mille Miglia edition. That car looks exactly the same as this one except for the badges. Someone help me here.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 Mercedes-Benz SL320 Edition at Lancaster Classics
Way back in 2015, I looked at a special Allroad – one of ten that were used in the 2002 Sal Lake City Olympics. They were created through Audi’s Exclusive program and were finished in Sprint Blue Pearl Effect. Since they’re so rare, they don’t come up for sale often. But one did come across my desk this week, and it looked awfully familiar. That’s because it’s the same car I looked at back in ’15! So here it is again, about 70k more miles and not quite as pristine as it once was. But it’s still got the desirable 6-speed manual swap, it’s no reserve, and Sprint Blue is always an eye catcher. So let’s take a look at it today!
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Audi allroad 2.7T Audi Exclusive Olympic Edition 6-speed on eBay
Following up on Andrew’s Mercedes-Blah and my interesting because of obscurity 4000 5+5, here’s one of quite a few relatively forgettable Audis. In the small chassis, Audi continued to offer two different chassis levels for the newly introduced for 1992 B4. Carrying over from the C4 range was the same 172 horsepower 2.8 V6, powering either all four wheels or the front wheels only. Few mechanical changes were made to the quattro models versus earlier inline-5 models, but the front drivers received more refinement from a trailing arm torsion beam axle instead of the previous Panhard rod design. Outside, new front and rear fascia was mostly expressed by integrating the hood and grill to match the C4 design. Fender flares increased, new contoured hoods offered more character, and different bumper covers updated the look slightly. New wheel designs were also incorporated into the B4 quattro lineup, with 10 spoke Speedline-made wheels being standard and optional Ronal “Sport” 5-spoke wheels, both in a slightly greater 37mm offset as opposed to the 45mm offset of early B3 models (with the exception of the Coupe). Front drivers came standard with 6-spoke Ronal ‘Aero’ wheels. There were plenty of other minor changes inside and out that added up to a very different and more refined feel versus the earlier B3. But Audi needed to provide some time for U.S. dealers to relaunch the new 90 model range. So, while in 1991 you could buy either a 90 quattro 20V or 80 quattro, in 1992 there was only a 80 model available – no 90s were sold. This coincided with the lowest sales figures for the small chassis Audi had recorded. The new 90 would launch here in late 1992 as a 1993 model in both quattro and FrontTrak form. Mostly people only remember the front-drive 90s in their Cabriolet form, but soldiering on was the 90S/CS as well:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1993 Audi 90CS on eBay
In just a few years as the century turned over, Audi went from only one S model with very limited production imported in the C4 S6 to three models. Top of the range was the S8, but it shared its running gear and sonorous V8 in a slightly detuned state with the new C5 S6. For Audi enthusiasts, though, big news came with the launch of the new S4.
It was unrelated to the first S4 because of Audi’s renaming strategy in 1995. That meant that the new S4 was based on the small chassis B5, and U.S. enthusiasts finally got a taste of Audi’s M3 competitor. Performance came in the form of a new 2.7 twin-turbocharged V6 30V and was mated to either a 5-speed Tiptronic transmission like its bigger siblings or a 6-speed manual. Like other B5s, the S4 made use of the 4th generation of quattro technology driving all four wheels. This utilized a Torsen center differential with open front and rear differentials, both of which employed the ABS sensors to electronically ‘lock up’ the slipping wheels when a speed differentiation was detected. Like other S models, some light revisions to the bodywork and more pronounced exhaust were present, along with polished mirrors and 17″ Avus-design wheels. Most notable was the large front bumper cover with 6 gaping grill covers which hid the twin intercoolers for the motor. With 250 horsepower and 258 lb.ft of torque, you had an all-weather 155 mph warrior – and one that could easily be turned up many notches: