Spring is out! We all know what that means in colder places like Berlin – people open up their hearts and their garages, putting fresh plates on their beloved CCs. Time to get a quick walk in over lunch break and see what’s out there. And to make up your mind: Which one will you take for a drive down Kurfürstendamm and onto the A115 “Avus”, the first Autobahn, down to Potsdam?
The Audi A2 was probably the right car – but at the wrong time. Gas prices were low even for German standards when it came out, people wanted to hit that self-imposed 155 mph limit on the Autobahn, and not get whereever they were going using the least amount of fuel. Shame that was, as the A2 was built like a rock, cut from aluminum, featured – not just for its class – remarkably nice interior materials and got as far as 80 miles per gallon of fuel when you opted for the smallest diesel engine.
Ah, the E36 compact! William Stopford really said all about it here. Always brings a flash of nostalgia, as my dad drove a 99 316i compact for a couple of years and let me have some fun with it. And fun could be had, even with the modest power of the M40, as BMW saved some bucks on re-using the E30’s semi-trailing arm rear suspension instead of the E36 more composed multi-link arrangement. Let’s just say it all ended okay, after some repair costs.
I think BMW pulled the small-ish car theme off so much nicer with the E46 compact which now got a more up-to-date multilink rear arrangement and a somewhat better integrated design.
I know the front end is discussed controversely amongst experts still, but I think it was BMW best attempt at updating classic BMW light design to modern times.
All controversy around the E46 compact fades when its predecessor, the first “1er” comes into the picture. The proportions – admittingly underlined by the angle of the photograph – are almost comical. And yet – particularly the 3-door version has something going for it, I feel.
I have recently featured this very Ibiza, but it seemed only apt to include it in this collection, as it is parked on my lunchtime walking route…
…and today, it had brought along its son! Hello there! The Ibiza II was a curios Frankenstein product from the VW parts bin that combined most of a Polo’s chassis with a third generation Golf’s front axle, enabling the Ibiza to feature the 148 hp Golf GTI’s two litre engine!
The true unicorn of this little CC walk. A Lancia Y10! I have not seen one in – 20 years? Marketed in the domestic Italian market as the Autobianchi Y10, it set somewhat of a trend equipping small cars with luxurious interiors. A trend that really took off with new MINI.
I really do have a soft spot for two colour paint schemes.
Maybe the Lancia Y10 was not the first of its kind – lots of interior wood visible even from the outside here. I have a real hardtime identifying this old Mini’s correct model year as it was around for such a long time. Can anyone help out?
Now you haven’t started to read a Berlin CC Post just for obscure Europe-only small cars ( or maybe you have?).
This may be just a lowly Porsche 924 (with an Audi engine! And a VW Beetle’s wheelbase and front suspension!) But boy is that a nice example.
Now who is this strange cousin of a Pontiac Solstice? Right, it’s a second generation Opel GT! I prefer it’s Lotus based predecessor, the Opel Speedster, but it was still nice to see one around!
Speaking of cousins, this one here is a cousin of the E36 compact, as it shared the chassis, including the E30 older semi-trailing arm rear axle. Which made for a fun drive in the M models. This one has some aftermarket M mirrors and some quite nice AC Schitzer wheels, yet the smaller hips and the exhaust point toward one of the four cylinder models. And while it feels like yesterday that Pierce Brosnan looked good in this car, I would argue the E36/7 is now a true BMW classic.
Which is a status no one would challenge when talking about the E30. We have said so much about its rear underpinnings already, it seems only polite to include the whole car in this post. Two exhaust tips here mean six cylinders, it’s a manual, too, so give me one more hub-cap and let’s go to Potsdam!
Speaking of hub-caps – I really like them on cars where you don’t expect them! Makes for a nice contrast I think. Up until ten years ago it was quite usual that even a 525i like this one would wear fancy rims only over the warmer months and keep the winter tires on cheap steal wheels.
Case in point is this 940 wagon. These cars have become very popular in Berlin over the last couple of years, and for a reason. Really nice ones trade for 10k+ now.
If you have a lot of luggage and need to move on a smaller budget, maybe this Renault Laguna Grandtour is your car of choice? As a sucessor to the beautiful Renault 21, it was – like the 21 wagon – called Nevada in France. This is as close as you can get to the spirit of the Eagle Medallion wagon living on!
If you have even more stuff to carry to Potsdam or wherever, maybe this decomissioned firefighter of an IVECO DAILY is the one to get!
It’s really hard to stand out from the crowd of CCs these days, maybe this Alfa 145 Quadrofoglio Verde (Green Cloverleaf) will do the trick? I may have said it before elsewhere, but the Alfa 145/146 is one of the few cars known to me that were offered both with longitudinally and transversely mounted engines! Others that come to mind are the Rover 75, Renault 21 and Mercedes Vito. And while my list is far from complete, Tatra did two fantastic posts of cars offered in both RWD and FWD, with many transitions also invoving a change in the orientation of the engine.
And if you can’t stand out, fit in! (Thogh that may not be true for all of your panels). The civic as a four-door – contrary to the US – was actually quite rare here in Europe where anything compact or smaller needs a hatch to sell.
Of course the exception would prove the rule. This polish-plated Mitsubishi Carisma was marketed as a mid-size car in Europe and was available both as a conventional sedan and as this – rather beautiful, I think – hatch. In Germany, it had the honour of being the second car to the market that featured a direct injection gasoline engine (the first being the Mercedes 300 SL some four decades earlier!). This example features a direct-injected Diesel from Renault.
The Carisma was built in the Netherlands alongside the Volvo S40/V40 at the NedCar factory that produced cars from brands as different as DAF, Smart, Volvo, BMW, Mini and Mitsubishi.
Hub-caps, hatch-back, German built – this VW Polo Coupe ticks all the boxes! And it seems to be screwed together fairly well, withstanding the passage of time so much better than, say,…
….Mercedes’ best design from the nineties. Drive your coke bottle Benz while it lasts!
Thank your for reading, and enjoy (depending on your hemisphere) spring (or fall)!