2008 BMW M3 Sedan

Looking for the sweet spot in M3 performance, practicality, and price? I think it might just be the E90 M3 Sedan. As clean E36 and E46 prices sharply rise and newer M3/4 prices sharply fall, the E9x curve seems to have turned into a plateau. Following on the heels of the popular S54-equipped model, BMW needed to step up its game. That step came in the move from 6- to 8-cylinders, as BMW Motorsport GmbH created 80% of a S85 V10. With over 400 horsepower on tap and 295 lb.ft of torque, the S65 represented a healthy increase over the S54. As with the E46, a Convertible (E93) and Coupe (E92) version were available, but BMW also reintroduced us to the M3 Sedan.

In my eyes, these are the ones to get. The M3 Sedan is quite a bit more rare than the Coupe; 5,867 were sold versus 15,997 2-doors. Of those, over 50% were either Jet Black, Jerez Black or Alpine White – so one with a bit of color is always great to see. Here we have one of the 483 pre-LCI Silverstone Metallic (A29) Sedans with NDH2 extended Novillo Fox Red leather and the all-important third pedal:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 BMW M3 Sedan on eBay

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2003 Audi RS6 6-speed

Throngs of U.S. Audi fans rejoiced when the news came that not only was the RS6 returning to this side of the Atlantic, it would be coming for the first time as an Avant. With nearly 600 hybrid horsepower on tap, it promises to be exactly the rocketship full of 5-door tech you’d expect from the company. But it will be interesting to see actual sales numbers after all the internet buzz dies down, because herein lies the problem with the RS6 Avant; if it is competing with the E63 S AMG Wagon (how could it not be?), it will sticker somewhere between $120,000 and $140,000 depending on options. Let’s just say that it’s safe to assume that’s out of the reach of most of the people chastising Audi all over the Internet for not bringing it here to this point.

So is there a solution? Absolutely. There was already a perfectly good RS6 offered here two generations ago. And if you’re willing to pony up roughly $40,000, you can have an Avant here. But today we’re looking at a sedan, because 1) they’re much more plentiful, 2) they’re much more affordable, and 3) this one is turned up and should offer close to the performance of the inbound model. The seller claims this car produces 620 horsepower and 750 lb.ft of torque. Oh, and I almost forgot quattro) it’s a 6-speed manual swap, too:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Audi RS6 on eBay

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2000 BMW 740iL Protection Package

While Mercedes-Benz is the go-to for protected dignitaries, executives and everyone else who has a potential mark of their back, they’re not alone in offering upgraded armor to their lineup. BMW also entered the game with their “Protection Package”. This turned the 7 into the ‘ultimate surviving machine’ by adding bulletproof glass front, sides and rear along with armor behind the body panels and no sunroof. A claimed 44 were sold here, making this one of the most rare variants of any BMW imported:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 BMW 740iL Protection Package on eBay

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1977 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9

The holy trinity of M100-powered Mercedes-Benz cars, the 600, 300SEL 6.3, and 450SEL 6.9, are not for the causal or faint of heart owners. The buy-in is expensive, the parts are expensive, the labor is expensive, everything is expensive. These are not cars you can stick in the corner of the garage under a cover with a battery tender hooked up only to drive it once a month, if that. They all use extremely complicated suspension systems that will leave you weeping if you walk out in the garage and see the car suddenly resting on its rocker panels. Despite support from the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center, lots of parts have been no longer available for many years and aren’t coming back, so your only hope it to pray that it doesn’t break and if it does, hope it can be rebuilt. There is a very small, but passionate group of owners of these cars in the M100 club, but their membership is decreasing as the years going on as younger generations aren’t interested in spending sometimes five-figures for routine repairs on these cars.

If you are brave enough to dip your toe into the world of dry-sump engine lubrication and doors heavy enough to slice your fingers clean off if they get caught in them, then the 450SEL 6.9 is where you want to start. Full disclosure, I own a W116 chassis, in non-6.9 trim, so I am a bit biased on these, but also extremely realistic as I’ve worked on a 6.9 extensively and lived to tell about. The hydraulic suspension system is sturdy, but again, very pricey if something goes wrong, and the same can be said for the 6.9 engine itself. The non-6.9 bits are some of the best materials you could ever ask for in a car, sans the god-forsaken US-spec HVAC, so it is for sure a give and take situation. Buy a well-sorted example and stay diligent with the maintenance, it won’t be so bad. However, buy a project and have fun explaining to your wife and kids why Santa won’t be visiting your house this year. Thankfully the car I’m looking at today, a rare European-spec 1977, looks to have all the major things looked after and is it relatively good health. The thing is, I don’t think the owner wants to let go of it. At least for not what I think it is worth.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1977 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 on eBay

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2013 BMW M5 Individual

If I’m honest, most newer cars bore me. I’m much more excited to see a clean ’85 GTI than I am to see a modern M anything, frankly. I don’t live in the most expensive or opulent area in the world, yet within a shockingly short drive from me there are several new M3s, M4s, M5s and the like being daily driven. It’s not unusual for a Ferrari or Lamborghini to roar by my house. Porsches are downright commonplace. Please understand, this is not intended to elevate my status as a braggart. But when I was a child you just didn’t see these things, and I grew up very close to where I live now. I still remember the excitement of egging my father on as he chased a Ferrari 308 down the highway just so that I could get a closer look. My son doesn’t even turn his head when the multiple 488s cruise by.

I’m not just spouting off a baseless ‘back in my day’ statement as I shake my fist towards the clouds. I was a bit older than my son is now when the E28 M5 launched. 1,340 were shipped to the United States. The same was roughly true of the replacement E34; 1,678 shipped here. Then the markets went wild; 9,992 E39s, 9,491 E60s and 8,088 F10s. While they’ve steadily been losing ground to the growing field of competition and fast SUVs, the fact is they’re far more common than their ancestors. So how do you stand apart from the crowd? Well, BMW’s Individual options are certain to assist:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2013 BMW M5 on eBay

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1978 Porsche 928

When I was about 5 years old, my father took me to the Porsche dealership. Rows of new arrivals from Zuffenhausen lined up, a cornucopia of Easter egg-colored speed machines. In 1983, the low, organic, flowing shapes of the 911 and 944 stood in vast contrast to the bulk of three-box designs that proliferated the marketplace. But there was one shape that really stuck out to me – the 928.

In 1983, Porsche hadn’t yet abandoned its hope that the 928 would ascend to the top of the Porsche model lineup, and because of this I don’t remember seeing any 928s outside. Where I did see them was inside the showroom, where I distinctly remember one residing. My father was taken by the 911 (still is, to this day), and perhaps it was a father-versus-son stereotypical response, but the air-cooled model looked old and antiquated. The 928 was, both literally and figuratively, the antithesis of the 911. Water-cooled, front-engined, Grand Touring. It looked like a spaceship both inside and out. Clearly, this was the future I was witnessing.

Yet the 928, for all its press and relative market success, never caught completely on. It was never able to wrest the crown from the 911 as the signature model for Porsche. But what is perhaps most surprising to me is that it is one of the few cars that today, over forty years gone from its design phase, that unlike basically every other car model produced in the 1970s and 1980s, it still looks futuristic today. Okay, admittedly, the plastics have aged, tiny wheels with big, comfy side walls are no longer the norm and flush-fitted windows, lights, locks and antenna would clean the design up significantly. But compare this design to a few contemporaries, for a moment – the 1976 Chrysler New Yorker, the Toyota Cressida, or the Fiat 128. Three different nations, three different versions of the present, none anywhere near as revolutionary as the design that sits here:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1978 Porsche 928 on 928Classics.com

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1990 Audi V8 quattro

If Alfa Romeo built a German car, it would be the V8 quattro.

First, it was hugely complicated. There were computers controlling everything, and in the great manner in which Audi and Volkswagen developed their late 1980s computer technology, it worked great until it didn’t, at which point the car would be thoroughly incapacitated. One day driving my ’93 4.2, during a rain storm the “convenience controller” failed, opening all of the windows AND the sunroof and not allowing me to close them. Needless to say, it was less than convenient. Second, it hemorrhaged fluids. We’re not talking a little bit, either – full on “Oh, I’m sorry, did you want me to keep that $20 a liter worth of hydraulic fluid IN me?” hemorrhaging. Oil, coolant, transmission fluid…you name it, if you could put it in, it would instantly come out. It tried to kill me, too. Not just once, either. See, that fluid loss resulted in a buildup of oil gunk. Where does the oil gunk build up, you ask? On the throttle. This normally isn’t a problem, unless once in a while you opened the throttle. Then, it became a problem, as the throttle wouldn’t close. Again, not a problem so much on a 4000 quattro with all 115 stampeding horses, but in the ’93 V8 quattro, there were 2.5 times that amount – 276 horsepower with even more torque launching my 3,900 pound missile down Route 195. Leaks presented themselves in other odd ways, too – like, for example, when I got a self-imposed flat tire at a winter driving school. Out came the tools to jack the car up, no problem. However, when I went to retrieve the spare, a sad sight awaited me – the trunk had leaked into the spare tire well apparently, resulting in the space saver spare being thoroughly embedded in 10 inches of tire well-shaped ice cube. In story generation alone, the V8 quattro was by far the Professor Emeritus of my car history. Thirdly, no one knew what it was when you went to get a part. Allow me to present a theoretical trip to the parts counter – even at an Audi dealer…

Parts Guy: Hi, what kind of car?
Me: Audi
PG: What model?
Me: V8
PG: No, not what engine, what model.
Me: V8
PG: They made a model named V8?
Me: Yes
PG: (turns to other Parts Guy) You ever hear of an Audi V8?
OPG: He probably means A8.
Me: No, the A8 is the model that replaced the V8.
(both look confused)
PG: Okay, what year?
Me: 1993
PG: Audi made cars in 1993?
Me: Yes. Not many.
PG: Okay, the computer tells me that your car doesn’t exist.
Me: It’s outside. Would you like to see it?
PG: No, maybe I can cross reference the part. What do you need?
Me: The transmission control unit.
PG: ………………
PG: ……….. (turns to other PG and looks confused)
Other PG: Ah, you should probably just go to the dealer.

Fourth, when eventually you convinced someone who supplied parts for your non-existent car that it really was real, inevitably the part would be expensive. Really, really expensive. And, on backorder, or no longer available. It made repairs lengthy and always have at least one comma in the price estimate. That estimate was almost always below what it actually cost to get it running again, and when it did run again, inevitably there would be something still wrong that would need to be fixed on the next trip to the mechanic. And that was 15 years ago!

Yet, more than any car I’ve previously owned, it’s the one I’d want back.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Audi V8 quattro on eBay

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2009 Porsche Cayenne GTS

Love them, indifferent, or hate them, the Cayenne was really good for Porsche. They resulted in a significant cash boost for the company that allowed them to really invest in development of the 911 and basically everything else since these SUVs were launched in the early 2000s. So the next time you see a 997 GT3 RS 4.0 driving along, think to yourself, “Thanks Cayenne.” Okay, so maybe that isn’t the first thing that will pop into your head, but you get where I am coming from.

Today, I wanted to look at a Cayenne that isn’t the lease special V6 but also not the insanity that was the Cayenne Turbo and Turbo S. The GTS trim on any model always was, and still is, that sweet spot for those who want something a few notches up from the base model but aren’t spending $200,000 on a Turbo or GT car. The Cayenne GTS was a really nice spec Cayenne that had some different body work, 21″ wheels, and a 400 horsepower 4.8 liter V8. Even better, it was offered in a 6-speed manual that was completely off the table for any person who was married. This 2009 up for sale in Texas has the standard automatic that is significant other friendly, but at the end of the day can still do 0-60 in 5.7 seconds. The best part? They are getting cheap.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2009 Porsche Cayenne GTS on eBay

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2007 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG Estate

Last week Carter took a look at a US-legal C5 Audi RS6 Avant that in terms of “super wagons” is right up there, and now that they are over 15 years-old, serious collectible vehicles. Thing is, you don’t get these amazing long bodies without some serious creative engineering and doing things like twin-turbocharging an already big V8. Mercedes-Benz is never one to be outdone, so they jumped into the game with the first-generation E55 AMG Estate and then went nuts on the W211 chassis with the supercharged E55 and 6.2 liter V8 E63. Today’s car is is the latter E63 that is just 1 or 62 examples produced for the 2007 model year for the US market. However, just like the RS6, big power means big issues, and judging by this car’s history, the E63 is not immune to that.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2007 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG Estate on eBay

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1998 Mercedes-Benz C43 AMG

Please note: We have corrected this post to note that it is fitted with a 4.3L from the factory, not the 5.4L. Our apologies for the mistake. -dc

“Buy one now while you still can.”

How many times have you heard this over the years? We’ve seen it with all the cars that used to be not-so expensive and now are basically so crazy that it is cheaper just to build and buy replicas. Case in point, the E30 M3. I remember back in the early 2000s, staring into a monitor that was so heavy it would bow my desk, only dreaming of how I could get together $9,500 to buy one of those. Now? A 1988 with that’s been painted twice, has a non-original motor, and 240,000 miles sells for $30,000 all-in. Same goes for the 190e-16v. One used to be able to snag a decent one for under $10,000 without issue. Now, anything in that $10,000 range is going to be a serious project. Carter just featured a non-original Quattro that’s very much the same case. These cars come in waves as the years go on, only that wave never crashes and just stays high the entire time. Today’s car, a 1998 Mercedes-Benz C43 AMG, is starting to jump on a wave.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 Mercedes-Benz C43 AMG on eBay

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