2001 Audi S4 Avant

It seems appropriate to follow yesterday’s S8 with this model. In just a few years, 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 295 lb.ft of torque, you had an all-weather 155 mph warrior. And, it was available as an Avant:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Audi S4 Avant on quattroworld.com

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1995 Mercedes-Benz E320 Estate

Last week I took a look at a rather haggard 1999 Mercedes-Benz E320 Estate in my never-ending quest for a daily driver when the snow starts flying. Reaction to this car was mixed and it ended up selling for $1,757. A fair price for the condition. In the comments on the S210 one of our readers (Thanks, Doug) pointed out that a really nice W124 Estate would be a much better option compared to the W210. Naturally, I took a look at the car and I can’t say I disagree. This 1995 E320 Estate up for sale in Virginia isn’t painted in the most desirable color and even has the love them or leave them chrome wheels, but I’m totally smitten for it.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 Mercedes-Benz E320 Estate on eBay

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1999 Mercedes-Benz E320 4Matic Estate

Update 11/16/18: This E320 Estate sold for $1,757.

Winter is mere weeks away and I’m still on the hunt for a new-to-me winter vehicle to battle the snow and ice. My current winter beater, a 1997 Land Rover Discovery that I’ve had for the past 13 years, is on life support. Both front fender wells are rusting away at an alarming pace, the 4.0 liter V8 that has been around since the mid-1960s (!) is sounding awfully crunchy and I swear it gets around 11 mpg. I told myself I was going to buy something reliable to replace it, so I started hunting for a Toyota Land Cruiser/Lexus LX470/GX470 only soon to find out that you can’t buy one for $2,200 like you can Land Rovers. They aren’t all that plentiful on the used market thanks to people taking them to their graves. Well, the time is ticking and I might have to consider options. One of those options is a Mercedes-Benz W210 4Matic because I might as well stick to what I know. Even better, an E320 4Matic Estate would fit the bit quite nicely with the extra cargo space and no one would confuse it with my E55 if I bought one in silver. Well, wouldn’t you know this 1999 popped up for sale that would fit my needs quite well. The only problem is that it is 2,600 miles away. Such is life.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1999 Mercedes-Benz E320 4Matic Estate on eBay

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USP Tax: 2004 Audi A4 1.8T quattro Avant Ultrasport

A few of us sat baffled several months ago as we watched auction results come in. The model in question was the E46 330i – in particular, the “ZHP” performance package. The ZHP was basically halfway between the regular Sport package and the M3, utilizing unique body bits and wheels, a slightly hotter motor, and the transmission borrowed from its bigger brother. Your only option for a 4-door performance 3-series in this generation, not many bought the over-$40,000 price tag. What’s interesting is that while these cars were sold alongside the M3 for far less money when new, today they can actually command a premium over the real-deal M.

Case in point – a 33,000 mile Coupe traded for $26,000 earlier this year, and it wasn’t alone. It’s been labeled the “ZHP tax”. There are reasons why a proper ZHP brings M3 money, mind you – they’re cheaper to run and they’re quite a bit more rare than the M, especially in good shape. And BMW wasn’t alone offering them.

Audi, too, had a “Diet S4”. Dubbed the Ultrasport Package, for $3,000 it included RS-inspired “Celebration” 18″ wheels with summer tires, the lowered 1BE suspension that was part of the normal Sport package, a unique quattro GmbH/Votex body kit, and a nicely wrapped leather steering wheel and shift knob. It also limited your interior option to black, and a fair chunk of them appear in Light Silver Metallic – also a popular choice on the S4. Unlike the 330i, the USP A4’s engine choices weren’t upgraded, but you did at least have two – the AWM 1.8T rated at 170 horsepower, or the AVK 3.0 30V V6 good for 220 horsepower. Both were available with choice of 6-speed manual (*5-speed for the FWD models) or automatic, and the basic 1.8T model was about $10,000 less than the 330i. While there was no convertible/coupe USP to compare to the 330i, Audi maintained its trump card on sporty wagons. Just like the ZHP, today the USP A4s command a strong premium in the used market, especially as Avants:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 Audi A4 1.8T quattro Avant Ultrasport on eBay

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2001 BMW 325xi Touring

Although my recent experience with a BMW wagon wasn’t the most endearing of my automotive life, I have to admit I still keep an ear to the street every time an interesting one comes up. If nothing else, the promise of what BMW offered in their wagons was compelling – at least, until very recently. That’s because in addition to the 5-doors from the 3- and 5-series appearing on these shores in the E34, E39 and E46 generation, so too came all-wheel drive. “BUT, AUDI!” the internet insists. And right they’d be. Except that as the 2000s drew to a close, so too did the performance versions of Audi’s Avants – and with it went the manual option. So if you wanted to row-your-own, you had to turn to BMW to get what we see here – an all-weather faithful 5-door companion. While the “M” versions of the wagons didn’t come this way, what we did get was what you see here – the option to have the classic inline-6 mated to a manual transmission with near perfect weight distribution. Equip the package with the Sport option, and you got some nice alloy wheels and fantastic seats too. Even 17 years later and with a not insignificant amount of miles accrued, this is a package which stirs the soul:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 BMW 325xi Touring on Santa Barbara Craigslist

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Feature Listing: 1986 Volkswagen Quantum GL Syncro Wagon with 43,000 Miles

In the mid-1980s, Volkswagen aimed its market sights upwards and tried to gain more traction in a niche market by offering…well, more traction. Starting in 1986, Volkswagen partnered with Steyr-Damiler-Puch and made a unique alternative to corporate partner Audi’s quattro drivetrain utilizing a viscous center differential. Puch was also responsible for design and manufacturing of the T3 Vanagon Syncro, which used a different viscous coupling system because of the rear-drive platform and nature of the Vanagon. In addition to the transmission of power forwards, the T3 also offered a rear differential lock while both center and front were viscous.

But in 1986, there was a third option. Because the Volkswagen Quantum (née Passat) shared nearly all of its internal architecture with the B2 Audis, fitment of the quattro setup from the Quattro and 4000S/CS quattro was possible – so Volkswagen did it. As there was no Audi B2 Avant, Volkswagen offered the new Quantum quattro – also badged Syncro – in Wagon form, and only in wagon form. This meant that there was no competition crossover between the 4000 quattro and Quantum Syncro in the U.S. market. The Quantum also continued to run smaller 4x100mm hubs versus the Audi, which allowed it to utilize the same “snowflake” Avus wheels borrowed from the GTI. Pricing was on par with period 4000 quattros, though – base price was $15,645, but equip the Quantum similarly to the standard 4000 with power windows, mirrors, locks and sunroof and you’d quickly crest $17,000 – about $4,000 more dear than a standard GL5. Unlike the 4000, Quantum Syncro Wagons came standard only with power steering, brakes, cruise control and air conditioning. You had to opt-in the power package to get the other items.

That made the Quantum Syncro Wagon very much more expensive than, say, a Subaru GL 4WD Wagon or the Toyota Tercel SR5 4WD Wagon. But both of those cars were part-time 4WD; in order to get a car with similar build quality and seamless drive of all wheels, you’d need to pony up a staggering $30,000 for the Audi 5000CS quattro Avant. Volkswagen only brought over 2,500 1986s, making them a rare treat to see today. But the condition which this particular 1986 appears in is staggering:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: Email seller of 1986 Volkswagen Quantum Syncro Wagon

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2001 Mercedes-Benz E320 Estate

Over the past month I checked out a few W124 Mercedes-Benz Estates and from the looks of it, they are still in pretty high demand judging by their price tags. I can see why as those wagons were and still are some of the best all-encompassing packages you could buy. Some might argue that the W123 Estate was better and I see their points, but the newest one of those is now 33 years-old and lack things like airbags as well as other modern safety features. What is interesting is that the car that replaced the W124 Estate, the W210, kind of flew under the radar when it came to fans of wagons. Whether it be its elongated looks or lack of old school Mercedes feel, people aren’t exactly eager to snatch these things up. It doesn’t mean that they are bad cars or anything, but the passion is just a little lacking compared to the W123 and W124. Today’s car, a 2001 E320 Estate up for bid in Oregon, is painted in the rare Aragonite Blue Metallic and is actually quite nice. Does that mean anyone will be clamoring for it?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Mercedes-Benz E320 Estate on eBay

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Volkswagen Variants on a Theme: 2003 Jetta GLS 1.8T v. 2001 Passat GLS 1.8T

Obviously, this post comes to you from someone who likes Volkswagens – and, in particular, 5-door VWs. I’m not sure exactly what the attraction is for me, but the last two Volkswagens I’ve had – both Passat GLS 1.8T Variants – have been faithful and fun-to-drive companions. Despite their relative popularity (VW sold nearly 110,000 wagons in North America – 20% of production overall), they somehow manage to stand apart from the crowd. And for about ten years VW enthusiasts got to choose not only from the Passat’s fairly robust lineup of wagons which featured everything from luxurious automatic V6 all-wheel drivers to thrifty diesels and outrageous W8s, but there was also the slightly smaller Jetta Wagon as well. Like the Passat, several options were available, from a basic 2.0, the turbo 1.8, the TDI and the crazy VR6 model.

Today I’ve got two examples to consider; in this case, both are front-drive 1.8T 5-speed manual GLSs. Despite what should be a very similar basis, these two take on remarkably different character. Pricing is pretty similar but presentation and mileage are quite different. Which is the one to buy? Let’s start with the Jetta:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Volkswagen Jetta GLS 1.8T Wagon on eBay

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1995 Mercedes-Benz E320 Estate

About a month ago I checked out a 1995 Mercedes-Benz E320 Estate up for sale in California. It was a really clean example in a nice color combination but the asking price of $9,500 gave me a little pause considering the 156,000 miles. I understand that wagons demand a premium and those that want them usually will pony up the cash for the right example. The seller did lower the price by to $8,500 a week later, but still that seemed a little high to me. Today, we have another 1995 E320 Estate from California but this one in checks in with just a little under 60,000 miles and a laundry list of repairs and maintenance. The price? You can probably guess it isn’t going to be cheap.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 Mercedes-Benz E320 Estate on eBay

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1995 Mercedes-Benz E320 Estate

Last week I checked out the ultimate Mercedes-Benz W124 Estate in the E60 AMG. It was everything and more in a wagon that not only laid down impressive power numbers even for today, but shows its longevity with nearly 250,000 miles on the setup. Of course, this all came with a hefty price tag of nearly $75,000. Today, I have a another W124 Estate up for sale in California that is a little tamer in the power and styling department, but surprisingly isn’t as inexpensive as I thought it might be.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 Mercedes-Benz E320 Estate on eBay

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