PORSCHE 911 GT3 RS (7)

The follow-up to this car showed you can never underestimate Porsche’s capacity for improving a five-star sportscar.

Three years on from our car, the uprated, second-generation RS managed to extract 331kW from its normally aspirated 3.8-litre flat-six. With its six-speed manual gearbox, acceleration from 0–100 km/h dropped to 4.0 seconds flat and top speed rose to 310km/h.For the first time, the RS received a wider track at the front as well as the rear....

The follow-up to this car showed you can never underestimate Porsche’s capacity for improving a five-star sportscar.

NISSAN 350Z TRACK (6)

Zed-car legend began with a game-changing car no one was expecting from a Japanese maker.

The 1970 240Z is rightly regarded as one of the most important sports-GT cars of the twentieth century. Seemingly out of nowhere came a potent, fast and extremely capable coupe with a timeless design penned by Albrecht Goertz (who had earlier designed the BMW 507). Costing just over US$3500 at launch, it revolutionised the market for such cars in...

Zed-car legend began with a game-changing car no one was expecting from a Japanese maker.

AUDI TT COUPE (4)

Two decades after its debut, the TT compares favourably with modern metal in all but a few areas.

Surprised by how much we’ve enjoyed the Mk1 manual TT, we tracked down another couple advertised for sale, admittedly with mileages well into six figures and for which Audi dealer servicing was a distant memory.Our car stood proud due to its superior colour (silver metallic suits the iconic design much better than red or black), the...

Two decades after its debut, the TT compares favourably with modern metal in all but a few areas.

MAZDA MX-5 (3)

Appeal is less about the raw performance, equipment or image, more about purity and effectiveness of original design.

When the settled summer weather kicks in, the MX-5 is the faithful, affordable, easy-on-the-eye nugget of fun that you can’t wait to jump in and enjoy for the sake of it.Not that the NA-series roadster should be classed as a fair-weather friend. At close to 30 years of age, the hood design is good enough to fend off the elements when the...

Appeal is less about the raw performance, equipment or image, more about purity and effectiveness of original design.

AUDI RS6 SALOON (3)

Another week, another new car, this time an ominously cool V8 Lexus that muscles up beside the RS6.

A Matte-Grey Lexus GS-F with a delicious 5.0-litre V8 has come and gone, but not before it was parked parallel to the Atlas Grey Audi for a quick comparo. The RS6 pre-dates not just the GS-F but also the decade-old Lexus F brand by several years. The two cars’ straight-line performance is not too dissimilar. Both are startlingly quick for...

Another week, another new car, this time an ominously cool V8 Lexus that muscles up beside the RS6.

MERCEDES 300E-24V (8)

Good provenance counts for a lot. It certainly adds to the appeal of our pristine Mercedes middleweight.

We’re not alone in coveting low-owner, low-mileage cars whose careful ownership is reflected inside and out, as well as in the service book.Some of the Keepers have never served as anyone’s sole means of transport. The 350Z and 300E-24 have always been used selectively and their near-new condition has been maintained from one year to...

Good provenance counts for a lot. It certainly adds to the appeal of our pristine Mercedes middleweight.

PORSCHE 911 GT3 RS (6)

It’s not easy explaining the significance of this car in the water-cooled era, let alone how it slots into 55 years of 911 history.

We wouldn’t blame you for being a bit mystified by the various codes applied to 911 generations. They are numerous, they’re not in a numerical sequence, and the codes for Boxsters and Caymans have now crept in to Porsche parlance to further confuse things. What’s more, mid-life updates within recent 911 production cycles mean that...

It’s not easy explaining the significance of this car in the water-cooled era, let alone how it slots into 55 years of 911 history.

FERRARI 308 GTB (3)

The junior Ferrari commands plenty of attention on the road. It also demands concentration behind the wheel.

Describing the 308 GTB as an affordable entry-level Ferrari no longer does a good car justice. As the V8 cars’ lineage has grown, so too has the significance of the slim-hipped 308. It introduces a classic slice of Maranello and some mid-engined magic to our growing fleet of Keepers. Once inside, the smooth leather seats insist that you...

The junior Ferrari commands plenty of attention on the road. It also demands concentration behind the wheel.

NISSAN 350Z TRACK (5)

Long layoffs simply don’t faze the 350Z. Faultless dependability only adds to its enduring appeal.

The 350Z always returns to the road free of niggles and with energy to burn. That’s what you’d hope for with a robustly-engineered modern that has been pampered rather than pounded. If there’s one frustration for those who like fettling, it’s that, beyond the strictly routine, there never seems to be anything to attend to or...

Long layoffs simply don’t faze the 350Z. Faultless dependability only adds to its enduring appeal.

AUDI TT COUPE (3)

Our TT continues to impress. So much so, it seems incongruous that this car dignifies the bargain end of the sports coupe market.

Our NZ-new, full-historied example speaks volumes of the quality of Audi design and construction, and the value of consistent dealer network servicing. It’s been so thorough (eg. three cambelt/ water pump replacements within 70,000km, and fresh brake fluid and wiper inserts every second visit) that it feels fresh to drive and about as good as...

Our TT continues to impress. So much so, it seems incongruous that this car dignifies the bargain end of the sports coupe market.

FORD MUSTANG GT (3)

The swaggering Mustang is a proper, barrel-chested muscle car that makes no apologies for being a big unit.

In our book, a muscle car deserves a muscular motor. Admittedly, Ford’s 2.3-litre turbo doesn’t compromise too much on performance, and it drinks considerably less juice, but we weren’t prepared to forego the traditional V8 thunder.The 5.0-litre belts out more than 300kW and flares up nicely with a throttle stab. But...

The swaggering Mustang is a proper, barrel-chested muscle car that makes no apologies for being a big unit.

MERCEDES-BENZ 230SL (3)

Unique, dish-shaped hardtop is a sophisticated design that is integral to 230SL’s ultra-desirable image.

The 230SL’s distinctive Pagoda roof was designed at the same time as the car. It’s heavy (removal is a two-person task), is double-skinned and features a tall glasshouse for great visbility. On the safety front, the roof adds much to structural integrity and complements the safety crumple zones that appeared in a sports car for the...

Unique, dish-shaped hardtop is a sophisticated design that is integral to 230SL’s ultra-desirable image.

MERCEDES 300E-24V (7)

Parking a new C200 saloon in the Garage alongside our W124 has proven rather revealing.

The C200, priced from $73,900, sits on standard 18-inch alloys, illuminates the road with LED headlights and features an all-digital instrument panel with a 10.25in screen for the media display. Niceties include a Nappa leather steering wheel that puts cruise-control at your fingertips and has thumb pads for the control of various screen functions....

Parking a new C200 saloon in the Garage alongside our W124 has proven rather revealing.

PORSCHE 911 GT3 RS (5)

The GT3 RS represents the highest stage of 911 development before moving into a fully-fledged racing car.

Porsche describes the GT3 RS models as road-going athletes in racing suits. Compared with a GT3, the RS offers slightly more power, lower weight, shorter transmission ratios as well as body and suspension elements upgraded to an even higher standard.Our car’s 25kg weight saving over a 997 GT3 is achieved by lighter components such as its...

The GT3 RS represents the highest stage of 911 development before moving into a fully-fledged racing car.

NISSAN 350Z TRACK (4)

Enduring design appeal is as important as driving dynamics for ensuring a Zed car’s collectability.

The man who oversaw 350Z styling was recently retired design chief, Shiro Nakamura. He was also responsible for the GT-R, Qashqai and Leaf, so left behind quite a design legacy. His facelift for the 350Z occurred late in the model’s life and meant our car’s interior benefited from better materials and some classy detailing. The front...

Enduring design appeal is as important as driving dynamics for ensuring a Zed car’s collectability.

AUDI TT COUPE (2)

The TT is unexciting underneath but the manual shift and meaty steering ensure driver engagement.

What is exciting about the TT is the cool, minimalist cabin. Combined with the Bauhaus exterior design, it gave Audi a late-90s game-changer in the coupe category, taking attention off cars like Chris Bangle’s polarising Fiat Coupe.Subsequent TTs have enjoyed evolutionary design so this Mk1 still looks pretty fresh in its late teens. At this...

The TT is unexciting underneath but the manual shift and meaty steering ensure driver engagement.

MERCEDES 300E-24V (6)

They might be separated by three decades but our 300E has much in common with a new C-Class.

The Garage has housed a series of high-end Merc models recently (see New Cars). But the new C200 is the car that best lends itself to comparison with the Merc saloon on our Keeper fleet.To bring you up to speed, the C-Class has undergone a major mid-life refresh after four years on sale. Every second part has either been replaced or updated....

They might be separated by three decades but our 300E has much in common with a new C-Class.

PORSCHE 911 GT3 RS (4)

It was bred to perform at nine-tenths and above for longer than most drivers can endure.

All RS or RennSport 911s are made with extreme performance in mind, performance levels that can’t sensibly be explored on the road. Circling a race track is this car’s raison d’etre. In this environment, what really comes to the fore is the incredible strength of the engine and the depth of its vocal range, the precision of the...

It was bred to perform at nine-tenths and above for longer than most drivers can endure.

AUDI TT COUPE

If you think original is usually best, you'll find this Mk1 Audi TT ticks all the right boxes. It still triggers head-turns, too.

The original Audi TT has been on our radar (and that of a few far-sighted collectors) for some time now. Twenty years on from the start of production, the Mk1’s design still looks startlingly fresh and owners of very good examples report enduring driver appeal matched by a strong day-to-day feelgood factor.As with any car that was created...

If you think original is usually best, you'll find this Mk1 Audi TT ticks all the right boxes. It still triggers head-turns, too.

BMW 745i (2)

Now bargain luxury, the 745i shows that owners of these cars are not always battling to prioritise repairs.

Back in 2002, our 745i represented a much more serious stab at high-end luxury than previous Sevens had managed. The looks were suitably ambitious, you might say, and the years have not softened the confronting nature of a front end with curiously shaped eyes and a pinched kidney grille. The stepped rear end has fared better; to most eyes the rear...

Now bargain luxury, the 745i shows that owners of these cars are not always battling to prioritise repairs.

MERCEDES 300E-24V (5)

Marque experts have strong opinions about which engines and transmissions are ideally matched in certain models.

Should you take on a quartet of carbs in an early 308 GTB or go for fuel injection on a later Quattrovalvole? Do you restrict your 350Z search to manual cars and target later examples with the heavily revised V6? Is a V8 really the default choice for the modern Mustang and should you give further thought (or any thought?) to a manual gearbox? You...

Marque experts have strong opinions about which engines and transmissions are ideally matched in certain models.

BMW M325i (2)

Comparisons with the E30 M3, the world’s best touring car, were inevitable but not all that meaningful.

An E30 M3 might look similar but the hand-built homologation special was designed to satisfy Group A motorsport rules. So it seats you on the left and makes you grapple with a dogleg gearbox. Not only are there an awful lot of bespoke components but the M3 has an overall lightness that results in unrivalled steering response and agility. The M325i...

Comparisons with the E30 M3, the world’s best touring car, were inevitable but not all that meaningful.

YOUR KEEPER VERDICTS

John in Invercargill finds more hits than misses in our growing fleet of Keepers, and a couple of firm favourites.

MERCEDES 230SL: “And they say German cars have no emotion. This is the classic little black cocktail dress for the garage. All you need if stuck for a car to make an entrance at any swanky party, polo match, luxury holiday resort.” MAZDA MX-5 NA: “MX-5s should have been sold by Nike as sportswear. Although, to be slightly...

John in Invercargill finds more hits than misses in our growing fleet of Keepers, and a couple of firm favourites.

FERRARI 308 GTB (2)

Of course the 308 is a joy to house, drive or even clean. What surprises most is its mechanical strength and dependability.

Rosso corsa paintwork with crema leather. This classic combination is so well suited to a mid-engined Ferrari that some consider it the default choice. There’s a lot to drink in with the svelte, low-slung shape that initially raised purists’ eyebrows but now seems to be universally admired – especially in that red. Just examining...

Of course the 308 is a joy to house, drive or even clean. What surprises most is its mechanical strength and dependability.

MERCEDES-BENZ 230SL (2)

Of all the Sport Leicht models, the Pagoda SL could be the prettiest due to the simplicity of its compact design.

The Pagoda SL is regarded as a highpoint in Mercedes design of the 1960s. With a nickname inspired by the shape of the concaved hardtop, it’s an understated beauty that’s a bit too broad to be called petite but athletic enough to be considered sporty. Pricey when new, these cars now cost a bomb as many good, keen owners invest in...

Of all the Sport Leicht models, the Pagoda SL could be the prettiest due to the simplicity of its compact design.

NISSAN 350Z TRACK (3)

Our Nissan might be a bit on the portly side but the brawn of its big V6 does well to disguise the fact.

There’s no polite way of saying this: like our Keeper Mustang, the Zed’s BMI is getting up there. There’s not much we can do about it and there wasn't much Nissan could do about it, as the follow-up 370Z nudged 1500kg. What brings the bulk into the spotlight is a blast in a contemporary Japanese sports coupe, like Toyota’s...

Our Nissan might be a bit on the portly side but the brawn of its big V6 does well to disguise the fact.

AUDI RS6 SALOON (2)

A 15-year-old RS6 can easily slip under the radar. But this one has bombastic performance that exceeds expectations.

Supercar straight-line performance, outstanding poise and grip, great practicality. These are not attributes you’d normally associate with a 15 year-old four-door. Do some research and you’ll find standard C5 RS6s delivered 330kW while the later RS6 Plus offered another 19kW and powered its way to a 280km/h top speed. In either form,...

A 15-year-old RS6 can easily slip under the radar. But this one has bombastic performance that exceeds expectations.

MERCEDES 300E-24V (4)

Sportline doesn’t have the aura of an ‘M’ or ‘RS’ badge but it strengthens this Merc’s claim to modern classic status.

Our 'keepers' are mostly highly original, standard-spec, NZ-new cars. Four have higher states of sporting tune. The RS tweaks for the 911 GT3 turn it into a scalpel-sharp track star that also works brilliantly on most Kiwi roads. The RS6 and M325i absolutely devour flowing roads, the Audi trading engagement for pulverising pace and the BMW doing...

Sportline doesn’t have the aura of an ‘M’ or ‘RS’ badge but it strengthens this Merc’s claim to modern classic status.

MAZDA MX-5 (2)

The MX-5 resulted from Mazda’s single-minded determination to make a car that majored on fun.

Within a decade, the MX-5 had become the biggest selling sports car of all time. Driving a top example of an original car makes it easy to understand why. It’s a precise instrument that is an engaging way of getting from A to B, and the bigger the distance between the two points, the better. You can put this down to refinement that exceeds...

The MX-5 resulted from Mazda’s single-minded determination to make a car that majored on fun.

PORSCHE 911 GT3 RS (3)

This special 911 is best described as a race car for the road, such is its purity of purpose.

The GT3 RS is not a particularly old car but it comes from an era when a manual gearbox and hydraulic steering were deemed essential components of the RS experience. They are central to the strength of the car-driver-tarmac connection it forges so well. This ethos is supported by a restrained interior that’s free of distractions but...

This special 911 is best described as a race car for the road, such is its purity of purpose.

FORD MUSTANG GT (2)

The galloping pony took a big stride forward for 2016. We’re convinced of this car’s enduring appeal.

The general view is that the current generation Mustang has a handsome shape, a great stance and attractive detailing. The Fastback, in particular, looks nicely proportioned from any angle so you can appreciate its instant popularity. Our three-year-old still attracts plenty of admirers and it’s not just wistful baby-boomers who sit up and...

The galloping pony took a big stride forward for 2016. We’re convinced of this car’s enduring appeal.

MERCEDES 300E-24V (3)

NZ-spec W124s all had an upmarket air about them but not the aura of this special-order Sportline.

The sturdy W124 has a reputation for going the distance that puts an awful lot of modern family cars to shame. It’s often referred to as the last ‘over-engineered’ Mercedes saloon. And it did a decade of big business for Mercedes with 2.2 million units built between 1985 and 1995. A couple of facelifts took place during this...

NZ-spec W124s all had an upmarket air about them but not the aura of this special-order Sportline.

YOUR KEEPER VERDICTS

Martin in New Plymouth assesses the Keeper fleet and starts looking for a barn to begin his own collection.

MAZDA MX-5: “When they first appeared, I struggled with the cuteness of the design. I’d also become accustomed to bigger cars. For me, the NA-series is now as appealing as it’s ever been but not quite as appealing as the latest MX-5.” BMW M325i: “I sometimes wonder how a compressed, squarish, three-box design could...

Martin in New Plymouth assesses the Keeper fleet and starts looking for a barn to begin his own collection.

MERCEDES-BENZ 230SL

The Pagoda charms onlookers with its elegant looks and delights occupants with an equally impressive cabin.

The Pagoda SL is regarded as a highpoint in Mercedes design of the 1960s. It’s an understated beauty that's a bit too broad to be called petite but athletic enough to be considered sporty. Pricey when new, these cars now cost a bomb as many good, keen owners invest in quality restorations. The work done to revive this early 230SL is of the...

The Pagoda charms onlookers with its elegant looks and delights occupants with an equally impressive cabin.

BMW M325i

Our engaging all-rounder entertains with its repetoire of the best E30 attributes. Even mundane trips can become events.

A common thread running through much of the Keeper convoy is ample performance and handling prowess. Both traits are exemplified by the E30 M325i, which has been on collectors’ radars for many years now. It’s a complete package that deserves the attention. The willing straight-six has endless character and, in ‘M’ car...

Our engaging all-rounder entertains with its repetoire of the best E30 attributes. Even mundane trips can become events.

PORSCHE 911 GT3 RS (2)

It’s lauded for precision on road and track, and the Mezger motor’s Le Mans-winning endurance.

The RS badge first appeared on the most iconic of 911s, the 1973 Carrera 2.7 that Porsche built to homologate racing 911s. The GT3 RS models are built by Porsche’s Motorsport department. It exists as a separate entity and production facility and has a long history of turning out some of the very best track weapons to double as road warriors....

It’s lauded for precision on road and track, and the Mezger motor’s Le Mans-winning endurance.

NISSAN 350Z TRACK (2)

It might be a product of the old school rather than a finishing school but the 350Z helped revitalise Nissan.

The 350Z is a good example of how dipping into established sportscar heritage can pay dividends. The forthright design played part in helping Nissan drive out of financial doldrums and into a post-Millenium purple patch.NZ cars that received the 2007 facelift were highly specified. Projector headlights combine with the pronounced power dome for a...

It might be a product of the old school rather than a finishing school but the 350Z helped revitalise Nissan.

BMW 745i

A great car for touring, the 745i rewards over long distances and, in top condition, maintains solid road presence.

The E65 7-Series well and truly brought BMW’s flagship into the 21st century. For starters, there were suddenly more luxury features and more cabin comfort to tackle Mercedes’ high-tech heavyweight, the S-Class. While the big Merc had shed weight, the Seven bulked up, especially in a visual sense, with American designer Chris Bangle...

A great car for touring, the 745i rewards over long distances and, in top condition, maintains solid road presence.

MAZDA MX-5

The MX-5 didn’t just emulate the best small British sportscars, it dramatically improved the recipe.

Pretty, desirable, affordable and engineered to delight driving enthusiasts. No wonder the MX-5 has gone on to be a million-seller since the original NA series plugged a big gap in the car market when it was launched in 1989. This car joined one of the first NZ shipments and was registered in early 1990. What appealed most back then still stands...

The MX-5 didn’t just emulate the best small British sportscars, it dramatically improved the recipe.

MERCEDES-BENZ 300E-24V (2)

Sportline tweaks transform an otherwise conservative saloon built to satisfy a local race ace.

Mercedes sought improved performance without increasing engine capacity when it introduced the 300E-24v cars. It built fewer than 20,000 saloons in three years from late 1989. Extra breathing and variable valve timing lifted output to 172kW at a heady 6300rpm. Power delivery is strong and linear but the engine has a reputation for needing to be...

Sportline tweaks transform an otherwise conservative saloon built to satisfy a local race ace.

FERRARI 308 GTB

With delicate, show-stealing looks, the 308 has a timeless beauty that helped cement the success of mid-engined Ferraris.

The 308 GTB is probably the Keeper that least needs an introduction. It’s hard to believe that Pininfarina’s stunning wedge shape dates from a Paris Show debut way back in 1975. Tucked in above and across the rear axle is an incarnation of Ferrari’s first V8 and ‘308’ represents 8 cylinders of roughly 3.0-litre...

With delicate, show-stealing looks, the 308 has a timeless beauty that helped cement the success of mid-engined Ferraris.

PORSCHE 911 GT3 RS

High-energy RS has evolved massively relative to the regular 911 Carrera on which it is based.

GT3 RS models are pretty rare although production numbers are not limited. Order one and you’ll typically get one. This RS is based on the first generation of the 997 series and has the wide rear haunches and rear track of the Carrera 4S. It’s certainly not a small car like the early 911s but its dimensions make it look and feel more...

High-energy RS has evolved massively relative to the regular 911 Carrera on which it is based.

FORD MUSTANG GT

We played it safe when specifying our 5.0-litre Fastback. Keeping things simple seems to have paid dividends.

The original Mustang is one of the most popular and recognisable American classics. But not too many post-60s ponies (with the exception of a few fearsome returns to form) have had us drooling at the chops.That changed about three years ago. A fresh, forthright design and a big-cube V8 saw us charting a course for the showroom. Because the new...

We played it safe when specifying our 5.0-litre Fastback. Keeping things simple seems to have paid dividends.

NISSAN 350Z TRACK

Last-of-the-line 350Z goes out of its way to entertain but falls a bit short on finesse. We couldn’t care less.

Our late-2007 350Z Track edition is distinguished by a pronounced bulge in the bonnet. The more correct term is power dome, and it’s necessary to accommodate the strut brace above a heavily revised V6 with longer con rods. This VQ35HR engine redlines at 7500rpm and really likes to flex its muscles. It’s well suited to Nissan’s...

Last-of-the-line 350Z goes out of its way to entertain but falls a bit short on finesse. We couldn’t care less.

AUDI RS6 SALOON

Quattro drivetrain and sophisticated suspension make the tuned RS6 a genuine force to be reckoned with.

The C5 RS6 went into bat against the world’s first true modern super-saloons, the M5 and E55 AMG. With stonking V8s, these cars moved into a new league in terms of power and speed. The Audi RS6 joined the party with a couple of aces up its sleeve – quattro AWD and a brace of turbos. Its 4.2-litre V8 was engineered by Cosworth and was...

Quattro drivetrain and sophisticated suspension make the tuned RS6 a genuine force to be reckoned with.

MERCEDES-BENZ 300E-24V

Transformed by Sportline tweaks and smart options, our old-school favourite makes a statement of intent.

First, an admission. Although the curator values originality, the original eight-hole wheels on our high-spec W124 are stored in the back of the Garage. On this car, bigger alloys are more in keeping with the purposeful and appealing Sportline packages applied inside and out. It also sits lower on Sportline suspension and, if the arches were more...

Transformed by Sportline tweaks and smart options, our old-school favourite makes a statement of intent.