Almost everyone would agree that classic cars are truly special. They represent objects of desire for a lot of enthusiasts, and with good reason. Actually, there are several good reasons, but they can all be summarized into one big reason; they simply don’t make cars like that anymore. Even if some of them were quite bad, they have shot up in value dramatically.
Some of the coolest classic cars came out of Germany. The AMGs, the M3s, and M5s, and all the ones everyone’s familiar with. But, they weren’t the only cool classics to come out of Germany, as the country also developed some truly fabulous “normal” cars that would make for great daily drivers nowadays.
10 BMW E30
Everyone knows that the E30 M3 has already reached legendary status in the world of cars. This has led, rather inevitably, to the E30 M3 becoming somewhat unaffordable for a lot of people. However, a pretty compelling solution is to just buy a regular E30 and turn it into a fantastic daily.
Even very nicely kept E30s can be found for very cheap prices, and ratty examples can be found for basically pocket change. There’s plenty of aftermarket support, and a variety of engines can fit under the hood, even the latest of BMW’s inline-sixes, given the right handiwork. If it’s modified properly, you can’t really stop staring at it.
9 Audi S2
During the 90s, Audi took their performance car plan to the next level, with the release of the RS2 Avant. Before that, however, there was the S2. This rakish performance coupe, also available in wagon form, is the first in Audi’s long-running S line of cars.
Based on the Audi 80 platform, the S2 also featured Audi’s brilliant turbocharged inline 5, displacing 2.2-liters and developing 230 hp. Unlike the RS2, the S2 was not co-developed with Porsche, but it featured the familiar makings of an Audi performance car, with the I5 sending its power to all four wheels combined with the familiar styling cues.
8 Volkswagen Type 3 (Squareback)
When it comes to old, air-cooled VWs, most people either think of the Beetle or the Bus. Very few people seem to remember the other air-cooled Volkswagen sold around the same time, the Type 3.
The Type 3 was sold in several different body styles, including this Variant shooting brake version, which became known stateside as the Squareback. Imagine all the cool factor of the VW Beetle, but crammed into an awesome, practical shooting brake format. There’s also some aftermarket support, as well as plenty of engine swap opportunities and interchangeability with parts.
7 BMW 5 Series (E34)
Launched in 1987 and sold until 1996, the E34 was the third generation of BMW’s iconic premium sedan. While BMW nowadays seems to focus mostly on how controversial their cars can possibly be, things used to be different 35 years ago.
The E34 is often considered to be a BMW in its purest form. It didn’t feature all that much in the way of electronic components, meaning there was less to go wrong. It was also absolutely beautiful, yet very simplistic inside and out. A variety of engines were available, including a meaty 4.0-liter V8 with 282 hp, and of course, the 335 hp M5.
6 Mercedes-Benz 190E/190D
Back in the 1980s, Mercedes-Benz was also a very different company. They had already established themselves as a luxury automaker, but their approach was quite different when compared to today. Nowadays, their cars from this era are mostly known for being indestructible, but there’s more to it than that.
The 190E 2.3 and 2.5-16V were some pretty great performance sedans. Even though they only made around 200 hp in their most powerful form, they were great fun to drive and available with manual transmissions. Meanwhile, the diesel models can do half a million miles or more with no sweat, as long as it’s regularly serviced.
5 Audi RS2 Avant
Just about every fast wagon out there owes its existence to the Audi RS2 Avant, the car that quite literally invented the segment. Based on the Audi 80, the RS2 Avant was built in collaboration with Porsche, and it was Audi’s first major breakthrough in the performance car department.
Under the hood was the legendary 2.22 liter inline 5, helped along by a big turbocharger, sending all 315 hp to all four wheels through Audi’s Quattro AWD system. A 6-speed manual transmission was the only transmission option, and it really was a great car to drive. It’s a shame that they’re getting pretty expensive nowadays.
4 Audi V8
If you want a fast Audi with a curious history that definitely won’t break the bank, then this curious and underrated Stuttgart-born luxury sedan could do the trick. Launched in the late 1980s, the aptly named Audi V8 was the brand’s flagship model.
It was the first-ever Audi to use a V8 engine, a 3.6-liter unit which later became a 4.2. Quattro was standard, and it was the first Audi to combine Quattro with an automatic transmission, though amazingly enough, a manual was offered as well. Even though this was a luxury car first and foremost, it did surprisingly well at the DTM championships.
3 Volkswagen Passat VR6 (B3)
The 90s were an interesting time for the VW Group. As well as the acquisition of some other European brands like Lamborghini and Škoda, VW itself was working hard to put their newfangled VR6 engine into just about every single one of their models, including the Passat.
It was broadly the same unit that was found under the hood of the Corrado at the time, displacing 2.8 liters and putting out a respectable 175 hp. Naturally, it was available with a manual transmission, as well as the Syncro part-time AWD system. This has the potential of being a great sleeper wagon, as the VR6 is known to take quite a beating when it comes to mods.
2 Volkswagen Bus
When it comes to classic VWs, the Type 2, also known as the Bus or the Kombi, is basically unmatched. It just oozes cool from every angle, and with the right amount of tooling and in decent condition, it’s a fantastic daily driver.
Sure, it’s not very fast, not even by 1960s standards. But, engine swap options are aplenty, including the soon-to-be-popular electric motor swap. There’s also tons and tons of aftermarket support, including period-correct restomod parts, meaning you can make your Bus the coolest one on the block.
1 Mercedes-Benz S-Class (W126)
Launched in 1979 and produced all the way until 1991, the W126 generation Mercedes S-Class is a prime example of a luxury car without compromise. It was built to the highest possible standard, and it became synonymous with world leaders and dictators pretty soon.
No matter which one you go for, they are all great cars. The S-Class won’t blow your mind in the corners, as it’s set up for comfort. The very 80s luxury features and comfortable driving experience should more than make up for that, as should the famous reliability record. A diesel-powered W126 can crack a million miles without even breaking a sweat.
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