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#TBT: E36 M3, Boxster, and TT | Once exclusive, now budget buys? | Articles

#TBT: E36 M3, Boxster, and TT | Once exclusive, now budget buys? | Articles

[Editor’s Note: This article originally ran in the April 2004 issue of Grassroots Motorsports. Prices have been left as they appeared in print.]

Have you ever wished you could buy that high-performance German sports car of your dreams for pennies on the dollar? Ever thought that the same $20,000 that will buy you a new Kia would also get you a real …

Audi TT

The Audi TT concept was first shown at the 1995 Frankfurt Auto Show. The retro concept car made a huge impression on the public. Its Freeman Thomas design evoked images of prewar Auto Union racers, while its TT nameplate gave a nod to the Tourist Trophy race on the Isle of Man. Assembled in Hungary, the TT employs a combination of parts-bin engineering, a corporate 1.8T engine and Audi A3/Volkswagen A4 platform, and inspired design elements and high-quality materials to create a world-class automobile that is more than “just a VW.”

The TT was first offered for sale in the United States in May 1999, as a part of the 2000 model year. Priced at just over $30,000, it was available initially in only a 180-horsepower front-wheel-drive form. The 20-valve, 1.8-liter turbocharged engine was blessed with a flat torque curve, peaking at 173 lb.-ft. at a mere 1950 rpm. Maximum horsepower was achieved at 5500 rpm. These numbers yielded a respectable zero-to-60 figure hovering near 7.2 seconds in contemporary road tests.

Suspension revisions abounded. From the ultrastiff unibody to revised spring, shock and anti-roll bar rates, the TT was unique. It featured revised front steering knuckles and hubs, and these yielded more caster for improved handling. Later in 2000, Audi offered the all-wheel-drive quattro option. Unlike the Audi A4, the TT chassis has an East-West engine layout, rather than an Audi-like North-South configuration. The quattro system for the TT uses parts from the European 4Motion Volkswagen Golfs and Jettas.

For 2001, a 225 horsepower version with a larger turbocharger, two intercoolers and a host of other changes was also made available. A convertible version was released as well, offering one thing that the coupe lacked, headroom.

BMW M3

The E36-chassis M3 was announced in 1992 at the Paris Auto Show as a…

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