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Highlights: 2015 Legends of the Autobahn at Pebble Beach

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 8/16/2015 Jason Cammisa

Monterey’s car week stuffed full of fabulously expensive and glamorous machines. They’re wonderful to look at, smell, and listen to. Especially the ‘listen to’ part, as they wind their way through the curvy, hilly roads of Pebble Beach.

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Ferraris, Bugattis, Paganis. They’re a dime a dozen here this week. Porsches? Come on – the 911 is the official Pebble Beach Pinto. The Carmel Camry. The Monterey Malibu. They’re thicker on the ground here than muscular, hairy, jumping spiders. Of which there are millions.

Legends of the Autobahn separated from Porsche last year, and now it’s a celebration of German cars with their engines in the front. The show itself is a bit disorganized, with three different clubs (the BMW Car Club of America, Mercedes-Benz Club of America, and Audi Club North America) each making their own classes and judging rules.

Oh, and Volkswagen is nowhere to be found.

But as a spectator, the show is incredible. Rare, awesome, and just plain German stuff that you won’t see elsewhere. Here are some random highlights from the 2015 Legends of the Autobahn.

The BMW E9

Imagine a field literally lined with E9-chassis BMWs. Some in full CSL regalia, some without. All stunningly gorgeous. This particular car caught our eye not just because of the beautiful color and paint. Not because of the old BMW Motorsport roundel. Not because of the 38 CSi badge on the grille. Nope, it was the headlight wipers that made us stop and stare.

The W110 Kombi

Close your eyes and picture the slowest blue finned wagon in the world. It’ll look like this Mercedes 200D. It’s also one of the coolest. We have to apologize for the crappy photos — we simply couldn’t get close to this wagon all day, thanks to the crowds it drew. Gorgeous wheels, a gorgeous body, a gorgeous interior, and those blue-and-chrome hub caps, this old diesel was a crowd favorite for sure.

The Gullwing

Do not adjust the color temperature of your display. This 300SL Gullwing is actually that purple. It’s one of only two R198 Gullwings reportedly made in this Silver Violet color, and the eye-searing blue interior complements it perfectly. When asked if the owner has had the 300SL for a long time, he smiled and said “no.” It’s only been decades. I, too, would hope to have this car forever.

The E30 Touring

This 325i is shown in its original Lazurblau (Azure Blue) metallic paint, and appears mostly stock until you notice the full Spec E30 suspension. The owner is a crazyperson. Tracks it on occasion, even. And though it won third place in the BMW Concours class, its license plate says it’s dirty. I think that’s more a reflection of its owner. He stinks. (Or so I’ve been told. I’m that guy.)

BMW E31 8 Series Rear Three Quarter© Provided by MotorTrend BMW E31 8 Series Rear Three Quarter

The E31 in red.

When was the last time you saw a Calypso red BMW 8-series? Never? Yeah, how about two parked next to each other outside the show? One 850i, one 840i with a Supersprint exhaust with pornographically proportioned exhaust tips. Parked next to a red one. With three more parked behind them. My word, that many 8-series in one place? One might think they’re poised to become the next Porsche 911 at Monterey. (The world would be a much prettier place. And mechanics would be millionaires.)

BMW E46 M3 GTR Front Three Quarter© Provided by MotorTrend BMW E46 M3 GTR Front Three Quarter

The E46 M3 GTR

The real first V-8 M3. The E46-chassis M3 GTR was built as a road-legal homologation to take the M3 racing (like the E30 M3 was) – but rule changes rendered it illegal in racing before its P60 4.0-liter V-8 engine ever put its 444 hp onto the track. BMW built three of them before the program was cancelled, and shoved them in its warehouse. The fully street-legal car was detuned to 380 hp but you haven’t lived until you hear this angry beast idle. What a shame that BMW didn’t sell the cars it built — because then we’d have a chance of actually driving it. But kudos for the company for dragging it out of the museum’s basement all the way to Monterey. Just seeing the car was a treat.

The E21 Hartge

Yeah, it’s an E21, the unloved redheaded stepchild of the 3-series history. Uhh, do you see that Alpina badge? The stickers? And that interior? Oh my god that interior. Those 2.3-liter M20 straight-sixes were as smooth as they were angry. This is the ultimate E21.

BMW E36 M3 Lightweight Front Three Quarter© Provided by MotorTrend BMW E36 M3 Lightweight Front Three Quarter

The E36 M3 Lightweight

Remember the E36 M3 Lightweight? Probably not, because BMW only sold something like 120 of them. Ostensibly a homologation model, it was stripped of some 200 lb of content – and the checkered-flag stickers look as awesome today as they did in 1995. This one sees regular track use, according to its owner. Not so you’d notice it from its near-perfect condition.

The R107 to have.

If you want a R107 Mercedes SL, the brutal 560SL is the one to get, if only because of all the improvements made to the roadster during its long production run. The 5.5-liter monster under the hood doesn’t hurt, either. This Desert Taupe 560SL still wears its enormous US bumpers and quad-round headlights, but it’s a color we’ve never seen before — and it’s breathtaking. Mercifully, it was spared of the hideous chrome job that most west-coast dealers felt the need to apply to the wheels. But it’s rare proof that a US-spec R107 can look beautiful.

Audi Quattro Front Three Quarter© Provided by MotorTrend Audi Quattro Front Three Quarter

The Everything Audi.

Umm, hello, it’s an Ur-Quattro. There are no words.

The S-Class

This hearing-aid beige 300SD Turbo has 7957 miles on the odometer, which means it’s probably used no more than 12 gallons of diesel fuel. Efficient, fast as hell (if you drop it off a cliff) and more elegant than almost any S-Class since, this 35-year-old Mercedes oozes luxury. And smells like a Freightliner. We’ll take two.

BMW E9 Chassis Group© Provided by MotorTrend BMW E9 Chassis Group
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