While there’s no doubt that the E9x M3 was instantly recognizable as the replacement for the outgoing E46 model, there was an inconvenient truth that had snuck into the lineup: weight. Part of what had made the E30 such a curb-hopping maniac was that lack of heft even with all the accoutrements. By the time the E92 launched, the M3 had put on nearly 800 lbs of weight.
To motivate it the extra mass, BMW did effectively what it had done with the S14; it took its top-tier motor in the S85 V10 and removed two cylinders. The result was the S65 V8, and 414 horsepower was on tap for your right foot’s pleasure. That was a monumental leap from the E46; when the E46 launched with 93 horsepower more than the prior generation, I thought there was no way BMW could do it again. But they did, tacking on 81 horsepower to the prior generation’s total without forced induction. BMW topped the E46’s specific output per liter, too, besting 103 in the E9x – in a package which was 40 lbs lighter despite two more cylinders. Impressive, indeed.
Granted, if you were plunking down $60,000-odd worth of your hard earned credit, you’d want amenities like power seats, a nice radio, air conditioning – the normals that made it a better road car to live with day-to-day. But if you were clever in the boxes you ticked, you could still get the essence of what made the M3 the greatest car in its segment without a lot of frills. First would be the Competition Package, which gave you more variability on the suspension and more sideways action from the dynamic stability control. You got bigger wheels and stickier, wider tires to make use of that harder suspension.
Tick the 7-speed M-DCT dual-clutch transmission, and that track-readiness was taken to the next level. Then, you’d want to stop right about there. Of course, few people selected such a targeted, bare-bones performance oriented M3 out of the gate, which makes finding one today difficult:
From the dated underpinnings of the Type 44 chassis, Audi emerged in 1988 with an all-new 4-cam aluminum engine that could be mated to an automatic transmission. Now, to most enthusiasts that probably sounds like a bad idea. But when it came to selling car â€“ especially expensive luxury cars â€“ the overwhelming majority of buyers wanted the car to do most of the heavy lifting. Audiâ€™s response was the next generation of quattro drivetrains with a series of clutches in the center differential that helped to transfer power and allowed the car to be mated to an automatic transmission. That transmission â€“ the ZF 4HP24A â€“ was a derivative of the 4HP24, the same automatic found in the V12-equipped BMW 750 and 850s. Like the Mercedes-Benz, Audi employed Bosch ABS and a locking rear differential. But unlike other Audis with their manual- or electronic-locking rear differential, the V8 quattro used a Torsen rear differential with helical gears which would automatically split torque in up to a 3:1 ratio to the wheel with grip. Coupled with a more rearward weight bias with the shorter V8 and the gutsy torque on offer throughout the rev range, though much of the car was borrowed from the rest of the lineup it took on an entirely different character. That was matched with new, updated bodywork outside and a wider stance with flared arches. The effect? Magical. And, complicated.
But the V8 quattro wasnâ€™t only about its unique new form of all-wheel drive. The moniker obviously indicated there had been a change in motivation, too, and indeed the V8 launched a new all-aluminum 4 cam, 32 valve V8 displacing 3.6 liters dubbed the PT. Rated at 240 horsepower and 254 lb.ft of torque, it was the most powerful Audi for sale in the late 1980s and brought the brand to a luxury level it had previously not competed at. In the U.S., these mega-Audis were met with mixed success. The 1990 launch of the V8 resulted in reasonably good sales; Audi sold 2,823 between late 1989 and the end of 1990 which represented over 10% of their yearly sales. Values in the used market plummeted after timing belt fiascos on early cars and the general recession of the early 90s, along with the ’92 launch of the turbocharged, manual and later Avant-equipped S4/S6 twins. Today, we it’s a bit of a treat to see a clean V8 quattro, and this looks to be one of the better examples out there for sale:
Recently on our Facebook page I posted a poll to see what our fans would like us to write-up. The choice in that poll was between two different generations of Grand Tourer; cars with the same purpose but very different execution. The Porsche 928GTS was at the end of its illustrious production run, the ultimate evolution of the V8 transaxle design. On the other hand, the fairly recently introduced 850CSi wasn’t quite the ‘M8’ BMW had teased, but in a post-Recession economy it was still pretty special. The 928GTS clocked in to work with a slightly revised exterior, 17″ Cup wheels, giant Brembo brakes and a stonking 5.4 liter 4-cam V8 capable of 345 horsepower. The 850CSi was, of course, also naturally aspirated, but a 5.6 liter V12 lay under its computer-designed angular bodywork. The E31 was heavily breathed upon by BMW’s Motorsport division, the S70 laughed at Porsche’s V8 by channeling 372 horsepower to the rear wheels solely through a 6-speed manual gearbox. Like the 928, bodywork revisions, M-System II forged wheels and mega brakes along with suspension updates helped justify the lofty price.
In their days, both of these cars could eclipse $100,000 easily with options. The thing is, they’ve never really come down in price. Both were quite limited production; a total of 1,510 850CSis were made with only 225 sent to the U.S., while 2,877 928GTSs were made, with I believe 451 landing in North America.
The Facebook poll came down to a dead heat between the two, each with 44 votes. So, I did my best to come up with two worthy examples priced closely to consider today:
It boggles my mind that the Z8 design is now 24 years old. First penned in 1995 and shown at the Japanese Motorshow in 1997, the Z8 looked outrageous and the recipe sounded perfect with internals were borrowed from the E39 M5. That meant the S62 quad-cam double-VANOS 4.9 liter V8 cranking out 394 horsepower and routed exclusively through a Getrag 6-speed manual transmission driving only the back wheels. Coupled with Henrik Fisker’s sumptuous lines, the Z8 managed to both channel the history of BMW’s landmark 507 and be a cutting-edge design at the same time. It was the halo car that helped to lead BMW into a new Millennium. Sold for sometimes upwards of $160,000 they were instantly collector fodder, but these cars also caught headlines almost immediately due to problems with their aluminum space frames deforming in the shock tower area.
Between collectability, the up-front expense and fear of destroying the chassis, a fair amount of these cars appear today with very low mileage. So why look at this one? Well, it is well below average mileage, but mainly – the color. Only 5,703 Z8s were produced, putting it roughly on level footing with the E24 M6 in terms of scarcity. Worldwide only 325 were selected in Topaz Blue Metallic, and of those this is one of the 131 produced for the 2000 model year and only 30 sent to the U.S., 21 of which had the Crema interior of today’s example:
Update 1/17/19: The E30 sold for $4,200.
Continuing on the custom theme, today’s post comes thanks to some unusual chassis combinations. Of course, BMWs – and particularly the 3-series – are no stranger to swapped motors. I’ve covered just about everything, from a M62’d E30 to the outrageous S85-powered Hartge H50 and, of course, the ubiquitous S50/2 swaps in E30s or E36s.
But today’s power overhauls come in the form of American V8s stuffed into the noses of Munich’s finest small sports sedans. While their personalities are quite different, both manage to pull off the swaps as relative sleepers despite the crazy changes underneath. So which is the winner?
One of my new year’s resolutions on this site is to feature less run-of-the-mill common cars and more really special and rare cars. I’m off to a decent start with a 500SEC Koenig Specials Twin-Turbo and a 300SL Gullwing AMG from this past week. Today, I ran across another really cool car and has some awfully cool options. This is a 1991 560SEL 6.0 AMG up for sale in Japan. It looks like it was a normal 560SEL that was converted by AMG Japan into one of the most well-equipped W126s I’ve ever seen. What exactly is so special about it? Wait until you see the rear seats and under the hood.
We’re on a bit of a modified car kick, so I wanted to continue with a superlative BMW. In this case, it’s not a classically modified example, but rather a very recent one. For a long time, modifying cars was relatively easy – they came from the factory usually in a pretty tame form with a lot of potential – from aerodynamic tweaks to suspension overhauls and, of course, more power. But when you consider the E9X BMW M3, you have to really wonder if an aftermarket company could improve upon the design. After all, with the S65 4.0 V8 that revs to 8,400 RPMs and generates nearly 420 horsepower in completely stock form, how much better could you really make it?
That hasn’t stopped companies from trying, and relative unknown IND took on the task of making a NÃ¼rburgring-inspired E92 M3 the ultimate dual purpose street/track weapon. Did they succeed, and how have the mods held up?
The Audi S8 is, at its heart, just about the opposite of beige. Beige is neutral, calming, blends into its surroundings to the point where it becomes less a color and more a sickly feeling. None of those ideas represent the D2. It is beautifully sculpted and built, exhilarating to drive and listen to, distinctive in its presence. Yet, in many ways, it’s also a car not befitting the brilliant Solar Orange I just looked at. So perhaps the Melange Metallic of this 2001 is the perfect tone?
There’s something else odd about beige S8s. Amazingly, several of the best I’ve seen in recent years have been draped in blah. The Canvas Beige Metallic 2002 with a scant 13,000 miles was certainly one of, if not the best, used D2s on the market recently. I believe it’s the same car that recently sold on Bring A Trailer for $25,200 with 23,000 miles. Since there were only five imported in that color combination, the odds of there being another seem improbably low. Then there was the ’01 in Melange I looked at back in 2016. With 54,000 miles on the clock it looked near perfect. Well, here’s another Melange Metallic 2001 with 55,600 miles:
The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG had the nearly impossible task of being the spiritual successor of the legendary 300SL Gullwing. I say ‘nearly impossible’ because if one car could measure up to the 300SL nearly 50 years later, the SLS AMG somehow managed. Jeremy Clarkson raved about SLS AMG calling it “the greatest car in the world” at the time and that ”this is the thinking man’s supercar”. I agree completely. The team at AMG managed to make a beautifully contoured car with Gullwing doors and somehow engineered it to get to 60 mph in the mid-three second range and top out at 200 mph. All of this is possible in a car so comfortable and easy to live with that you could use it as a daily driver. It was the ultimate grand tourer with doors to die for. Granted, if you were the kind of person to buy a SLS you almost certainly had other vehicles in your fleet and that seems to be the case with today’s car. This 2011 painted in the sleek Obsidain Black checks in with just 4,500 miles and looks every bit the part. The even better news, once you swing open those doors, the car only looks better.
You’ll be hard pressed to find a more perfect representation of late-1980s and early-1990s Mercedes-Benz than the W124 500E/E500. Mercedes did everything in their power to make the best sports sedan possible and then simply said ”Here you go” to the keen Mercedes buyers who yearned for something as special as the W124.036. No crazy marketing, no limited edition plaque in the center console, no neon colors, just an understated brute of a machine the .036 was and still is. In 1994, the United States market saw the ”E” jump to the front of the line to become the E500 and the front fascia become refreshed with new headlights and a new grille. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think any less of the pre-facelift 500Es, but the 1994 (and handful of 1995s not in North America) looks nearly perfect in my eyes. Not too small, not too large, just the right size. The interior was much of the same story with an array of buttons and switches laid out in just a way that isn’t overwhelming or cluttered. Under the hood was the mighty M119 that made just the right amount of power for this car for its everyday uses. Add all this up and you have classic the day the rolled out ofÂ Sindelfingen. (Side note, I love this photo with them inÂ Zuffenhausen next to 964s.)
When you sit down and do the car math on the E500, it adds up to something that no other Mercedes can boast with its low production, Porsche DNA, hand-built status and more than respectable performance numbers. Naturally, this has kept these cars cared for and now as we are into the 25th birthday for some .036s, their prices remain very healthy. This 1994 E500 comes to us from Denver, Colorado with just over 60,000 on the odometer and my favorite wheels of all time, AMG Monoblocks. Yes, I’m biased because I have a set of these wheels, but you aren’t going to find many people that disagree with me when I say that Monoblocks look right at home on E500s. The extra chunky spokes compliment the entire body of the E500 that not many wheels can pulled off.