• Our Top 5 Picks from the 2019 TECHNO-CLASSICA ESSEN

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Not long ago we featured a Top Gear video showing presenter Chris Harris really enjoying himself among rows of ‘youngtimer’ classics bound for auction. Well, I tracked that specific auction down and picked my top 5 cars out of all 103 set to go under the hammer between April 11 - 12 at an RM Auctions event held during the Techno-Classica Essen 2019.

It really was hard to pick, because pretty much any of those cars could classify as a keeper. And, not only are they interesting and rare, but each and every car is in perfect condition - some of these cars will sell for well north of $100,000. Most models are from the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, but some are also either older than that or from the early 2000s.

1979 Mercedes-Benz 500 TE AMG

Our Top 5 Picks from the 2019 TECHNO-CLASSICA ESSEN
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This has to be one of the original European hot wagons before it became a thing: the stunning 1979 Mercedes-Benz 500 TE AMG based on the W123 load lugger. Allegedly one of two examples ever officially created in the days before Mercedes incorporated AMG as its in-house performance arm. When this baby was created, the two companies had not merged yet.

So, not only is this car believed to be one of two ever, but it’s also utterly and undeniably cool with its practical wagon body with visible AMG touches like the flared wheel arches, rims, and the obligatory black paint job.

This particular car also has a very light-colored tan interior that makes for a great contrast against the very dark exterior.

Our Top 5 Picks from the 2019 TECHNO-CLASSICA ESSEN
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Under its hood, AMG shoehorned an M117, 5.0-liter V-8 that had to be modified in order to be squeezed into the car’s engine bay - it was the power plant for Mercedes’ S-Class model of the era. In its basic state of tune, the engine makes 265 horsepower, but AMG may have fettled with it to increase its output.

1984 Mercedes-Benz 500 SEC AMG 5.4 ‘Wide Body’

Our Top 5 Picks from the 2019 TECHNO-CLASSICA ESSEN
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Have you ever seen a meaner looking coupe than the Mercedes-Benz 500 SEC AMG 5.4 ‘Wide body’? I know I haven’t with its long, low stance, timeless squared design with quintessentially Mercedes styling cues, squared off box wheel arch flares, and all-black look.

It’s such a tasty automotive treat from the 1980s and one that would probably make you ignore many other cars if it happened to be part of your collection.

Sure, Mercedes interiors from the mid-1980s don’t look particularly hot nowadays, but at least they are, for the most part, sturdy and well built, and the materials are hard-wearing too. Plus, this particular model actually had one of the better Mercedes interiors of the era, and it still feels fairly posh and luxurious to sit in today. It also had some nice extra sporty touches inside.

Our Top 5 Picks from the 2019 TECHNO-CLASSICA ESSEN
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But its butch look would be nothing without some suitable performance numbers, and this AMG-modified 500 SEC is pretty impressive in that respect too. The engine was a bored out version of Mercedes’ 5.0-liter V-8 that originally powered the car, now with a displacement of 5.4-liters. This increased power from 231 horsepower in the standard engine to a much more respectable 310 horses and 457 Nm / 337 pound-feet of torque.

1986 BMW Alpina B7 Turbo/1

Our Top 5 Picks from the 2019 TECHNO-CLASSICA ESSEN
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This car would only be half as cool without the awesome Alpina body graphics - the 1986 BMW Alpina B7 Turbo/1. It may have been based on the BMW E28 528i or 535i, but in Alpina guise, it was instantly cooler (and no, not just because of the cool livery).

Power comes courtesy of a 3.5-liter, straight-six that’s been turbocharged to make an impressive 320 horsepower and 520 Nm / 383 pound-feet of torque.

The gearbox is a dogleg, five-speed manual, the car’s suspension is lowered and stiffened, plus it has better brakes too - the latter of which it needed in order to reign in the extra performance.

Our Top 5 Picks from the 2019 TECHNO-CLASSICA ESSEN
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The car’s sprint time to 100 km/h or 62 mph is around 6.2 seconds, and its top speed is in excess of 258 km/h or 160 mph - this car was about as fast as most supercars of its day, and probably about as quick off the line too. Nowadays, you may notice it for the body graphics, but there’s a lot more going on under its skin.

1984 Nissan 300ZX Turbo 50th Anniversary

Our Top 5 Picks from the 2019 TECHNO-CLASSICA ESSEN
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There are few cars whose look epitomizes the 1980s like the 1984 Nissan 300ZX Turbo (internally designated Z31) 50th-Anniversary model. It truly embodies the spirit of the era in its styling and design, plus it also comes with a lot of cool gadgets to get that pub conversation going.

For instance, it came with three-way adaptive dampers, buttons on the steering wheel, and a fully digital dash too.

The special, 50th-anniversary model was made specifically for the U.S. and Canada, and at the time, it came with all the options available for the car - you could only specify if you wanted either a manual or automatic transmission. Powering it is a turbocharged 3.0-liter, V-6 with 240 horses - enough to bestow it with decent acceleration, but apparently, its strong point was its handling.

Our Top 5 Picks from the 2019 TECHNO-CLASSICA ESSEN
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Compared to the 280ZX it replaced, the 300ZX had fully-independent suspension on all four corners and, in conjunction with the adaptive dampers, it drove very well over varying road conditions, even some bumpier roads. Now it may be left in the dust by new cars with much more power, but for its day this was nearly as fast as some Ferraris and Lambos. In this anniversary guise, it looked just about as flashy as those names too.

2010 BMW M5

Our Top 5 Picks from the 2019 TECHNO-CLASSICA ESSEN
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The newest car on this list thoroughly deserves its place among this selection of oldies - the excellent 2010 BMW E60 M5, a car made even better if you got it with the six-speed manual gearbox. However, said gearbox was inexplicably never offered in Europe, but it was offered as an option to North American buyers. This was a truly baffling decision at the time since manual transmissions were (and still are) considerably more popular among Europeans.

But, while it may be the gearbox that makes this particular example rare and special, its engine never drew any criticism from anybody.

The 500+ horsepower 5.0-liter V-10 gives the car an engine note somewhere in between a Porsche Carrera GT and a Ferrari F430 (closer to the former) which made any prod of the gas a joyous experience and any acceleration run a thrilling one.

Our Top 5 Picks from the 2019 TECHNO-CLASSICA ESSEN
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It also handled very well too, feeling more agile and nimble around the bends than any M5 that followed. As they got heavier and heavier, and now with the standard all-wheel drive, driving the latest model is really quite a different experience. This is one of the last non-turbo super sedans and, even if it’s not perfect (check out Jeremy Clarkson’s period review of it on Top Gear), it’s very lovable and highly desirable for any enthusiast.

Source: RM Auctions

Andrei Nedelea
Andrei Nedelea
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