Monthly Archives: November 2011

Get one while the Gettin’ is Good: 2006 Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG Wagon

I think I may have mentioned that we here at TotallyThatStupid are closet station wagon geeks. In fact, it is mentioned at least here, here, and here. Station Wagons (or “Estate Cars”, if you please) represent the best of both worlds in terms of practical motoring: the stance of a sedan with the utility of a truck. What I want, though, is a Super Wagon!

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Ingostadt’s Ür-Super Sedan: 1993 Audi S4

Inspired by the Mercedes-AMG Hammer, in the late 1980s German luxury carmakers made it part a priority to develop super-sedans in a race for power that continues to this day. The original manufacturer-developed cars were the BMW E28 M5 and the Audi 200 Turbo Quattro. They were quick machines, but rough around the edges – a little too hard for many drivers. The Audi S4 was part of the better-developed second generation of these family-oriented supercars and competed with the BMW E34 M5 and the Mercedes 500E. Both the BMW and the Audi were available with manual transmissions, while the Mercedes was not. The S6, however, had a further distinct advantage: all wheel drive. Find this clean example here on AudiFans in Portland, Oregon with a reasonable 144,000 miles for $7,000.

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Bang for your Buck: 2001 Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG

Mercedes-Benz has a long and storied history of building super-fast sedans going back to the 300SEL 6.3 of the late 1960s, wherein rogue engineer Erich Waxenberger took the monstrous 6.3 liter M100 V8 from the 600-series limos and dropped it into the mid-sized W109 300SEL – a car that previously had seen nothing larger than a 2.8 liter inline-6. The result was a brick of a car that performed extraordinarily well even by today’s standards with 0-60 times below 7 seconds and a top speed nearing 140mph. Famed tuners AMG (for Aufrecht and Melcher, the founders, and Großaspach, Aufrecht’s birthplace) took the 6.3 and built a bored-out killer widebody version and campaigned it throughout the late-sixites and early 1970s with great success.

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1983 Porsche 944: Disposable Sports Car #5

If you were a teen with raging hormones in the 1980s, then surely you remember Sixteen Candles – Long Duk Dong, Samantha’s undies, and most importantly Jake’s 1983 Porsche 944 (and his dad’s Rolls Corniche). That year the Porsche 944 was introduced in the US as a replacement for the lackluster 924, sporting fat fender flares and a 2.5 liter watercooled inline-4 designed by Porsche (basically half of a 928 motor) in place of the 924’s 2.0 liter Audi-sourced motor. Add to it the rear-mounted transaxle, and the result was a very well-balanced car – Car and Driver calling it the “best handling production car in the world” for example – and one that was powerful enough to be handfuls of fun on all types of roads. Road tests of the day placed 944 performance in the mid-8 seconds 0-60mph and nearing 140mph on the top end.

These days many 944s, especially early ones, have fallen into states of disrepair due to basic ambivalent neglect on the part of their owners. This example for $2500 on craigslist in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia may have some needs here and there, but appears mechanically solid and even has functioning AC. If top-down driving isn’t necessarily your bag there are very few, if any, cheaper ways to get behind the wheel of a Porsche – but it is a Porsche through and through.

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Fleet Update: Bonding with the 1993 MX-5 Miata

I have owned the 1993 Miata for exactly a week, and I am pleased to report that so far is so good with it – that is to say there have been no surprises so far, knock on wood. The unseasonably warm weather has made it especially easy to get some seat time in the Miata as God intended: with the top down. I’ve logged about 300 miles in the last five days, which is definitely some good car-driver bonding time.

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Minis for Breakfast: 1978 Autobianchi Abarth A112

Before the VW GTI and the Alfasud, the Autobianchi A112 and the Mini Cooper were the cars that really launched the “hot hatch” category. Add the genius of Carlo Abarth, and the cute little Fiat 127-based runabout – reportedly the last car that Sr. Abarth was personally involved in developing – started to snarl. Find this 31,000 km Series IV 1978 example here on Mobile.de for €7,900 in Viterbo, Italy.
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