Per Schroeder
Per Schroeder PowerDork
8/25/08 1:37 p.m.

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 European performance car? This isn’t some Internet scam or late-night infomercial; GRM will show you how it’s done.

The truth is that the used-car market is flush with bargains that offer good performance for the dollar, even if the cars themselves weren’t solid investments for their original owners.

Let’s face it, not many cars are good investments. They’re subject to wear, environmental damage and accidents. Except in rare instances, a car will never make its original owner any money. If you’re like us, you’re loathe to waste money on anything, our beloved cars included.

Buying a new BMW, Porsche or Audi is a significant financial commitment these days; you can easily sink upward of 50 large on that Teutonic sportster. What happens as soon as you drive the car off the lot? It depreciates just like day-old bread. Simply put, people pay a lot of money for that new car smell.

Looking down the road, that new car can see everything from ham-fisted drivers to snow and salted roads. While some cars are babied from birth, many are “rode hard and put away wet.” The trick is to find a car that has been treated with respect.

We like the high-revving offerings from the Far East, and we have been known to enjoy a dose of good ol’ American tire-smoking torque, but for day-in day-out performance, it’s hard to argue against the appeal of a modern German car.

But which one offers the best bang for the devalued buck? In the last 10 years, there have been three German sports cars that have really tickled our fancy: the über-stylish Audi TT, the always-cool BMW M3 and the Porsche-on-a-budget Boxster.

The Audi TT is an ironic mixture of cutting-edge industrial design and retro-influenced styling. While its chassis has the pedestrian origins of a VW Golf, the tuning and attention to detail have created a car that is more than the sum of its parts.

The BMW M3, based upon the E36-chassis 3 Series, is one of the ultimate tuner cars. BMW’s M group has taken a well-designed sports sedan and tweaked just about every system and part imaginable to create a supercar for day-to-day living. It does zero to 60 in less than six seconds, while having room for a baby seat and a week’s worth of groceries.

Since its introduction, the Porsche Boxster has consistently outsold its more expensive brother, the 911, thanks in no small part to its very concept: a budget Porsche, one for the rest of us. While Boxsters weren’t exactly cheap when new, they did offer the cachet and that oh-so-beautiful flat-six snarl that is the essence of Porsche, all while being no slouch in the performance department.

We brought an example of each of these cars together for a comparison test here in Central Florida. We found a 2000 Audi TT, a 1996 BMW M3 and a 1998 Porsche Boxster, all of them completely stock, or nearly so. While some of them were cleaner than others, they each represent what you can find on the used-car market. These cars are a spectacular value for the dollar, now that they’ve been depreciating for a few years.

Which one earned a place in our own garage? Read on and find out.

Read the rest of the story

Amazin
Amazin None
4/11/09 7:28 p.m.

As the owner of the above Boxster then and now thought I should confirm that it really was the tires as Per said in the article. On Yok Neova's this car won the S03 class ( showroom stock '97 to '04 986 Boxsters) on the Lowe's MS infield course at the 2008 PCA Parade autocross by a good margin. I am thinking of selling it. Let me know if interested.

Amazin

Sparetire
Sparetire New Reader
4/27/10 4:38 p.m.

If the stock tire was a 225/45/17, and the newbies are 245/45/17, why the need to change the speedo? The diamters are identical, which is great because it retains a lot of the OEM geometry and avoids hassles.

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