Mercedes-Benz C55 AMG Front View

10 Modern German Cars That Make Great Projects

Germany is known for making some pretty epic cars. From the gorgeous Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing to the rally-ready Audi Quattro and finally, the current monster which is the BMW M5 CS. Luckily for most motoring enthusiasts – who cannot afford six-figure cars – Germany also made less expensive vehicles which were just as cool.



The golden era of German automotive manufacturing was the late 1980s to the early 2000s, when most cars were completely over-engineered and just worked properly. These cars were and still are fantastic options for anyone who wants a good car without too many maintenance issues. Granted, usually when something went wrong, it would be catastrophic, but that is why these more modern vehicles are perfect for projects. Many owners have turned their Mercedes-Benz 230Es into AMG-inspired brutes, or straight-piped their VW Passat W8s, resulting in sounds coming from the exhaust which normally wouldn’t. Project cars are fun objects which – in many cases – do not have a clear end goal in mind, meaning they can be whatever the owner wants them to be.

So, fancy turning a Porsche 944 into a rally car? Go right ahead! And thanks to the German engineering which went into it, the car can probably survive the ordeal. With that, here are ten modern German performance cars which would make great projects – whatever they may be.

Related: Here’s Why The Third-Gen Mercedes-Benz C-Class Is A Diamond In The Rough

10 Mercedes-Benz C32 AMG

With the introduction of the Mercedes-Benz W203 C-Class, Mercedes took the success of the Previous generation’s C43 AMG, and created a rival to the BMW E46 M3. Unlike the M3, the C32 AMG was fitted with a supercharged 3.2-liter V6, which produced 350 hp and 332 lb.ft of torque.

Mercedes being Mercedes, the only transmission choice was a 5-speed automatic, but luckily it was their own brilliant 5G-Tronic – the one which could handle up to 1,000 hp. The C32 may not be a proper V8-powered AMG, but it still had enough grunt to keep up with and overtake sports sedans in its class. The C32 AMG is now available for surprisingly little money and has a host of tuning parts – with some owners boosting power to over 500 hp.

9 VW Passat W8

The VW Passat may not be the first car when one thinks of an 8-cylinder family sedan, but that is exactly what it was. VW was busy sorting out the kinks in their new Bugatti Veyron hypercar, but they needed real-world durability testing, so they sold the Passat with what is essentially half of the Veyron’s 8.0-liter W16.

The Passat W8 had a 4.0-liter engine which produced 270 hp and sent it to all four wheels via either a 6-speed manual or a 5-speed automatic. Surprisingly, the Passat W8 didn’t sell all that well, but has now become quite a desired car, still offering all the practicality of a Passat, but with 8-cylinder noises coming from the exhaust.

8 Porsche 911 996

The Porsche 911 996-generation is considered to be the turning point for the Porsche brand. It was the first water-cooled 911 model and almost all of it was completely redesigned – sharing little with the previous generation. The 996 was also the first of the Porches to share building techniques and parts with the Boxster, cutting down production costs and alleviating much of the financial strain the brand was feeling.

The 996 911 proved successful and was the dawn of a new era for the German automaker. The 996 is currently among the cheapest of the 911 generations to buy used, making it perfect for a project. Some people have even swapped out the flat-6 engine – due to damage or lack of maintenance – for a V8, turning the 996 into a wannabe RUF.

Related: This Is How Much A 2003 Porsche 911 Costs Today

7 BMW 330i E46

The BMW E46 3-Series is one of the best compact sedans ever made. From the level of engineering which went into it, to the performance of the engines and even the fuel economy. The top-of-the-range model – the M3 – is the most desired version, but has become quite expensive over the last couple of years.

Luckily, BMW produced the 330i – both in sedan and coupe form – which is much easier to get hold of. The 3.0-liter straight-six is still properly BMW, producing 225 hp and makes a harmonious inline-6 sound. The 330i is available with either a manual or automatic transmission, sending power to the rear wheels only. It makes for a great project thanks to the relative ease to work with.

6 Audi S4 B8

The Audi A4 B8 was one of the best A4 generations produced – bar the Multitronic transmission. The A4 had great engines and performance. While the RS4 had a great V8, the S4 had to make do with a V6. Luckily, Audi supercharged the engine and added their Quattro system, turning the S4 into a family-friendly rocket.

The S4 produced 330 hp and 325 lb.ft of torque – more than the RS4 – but was noticeably slower. Luckily, many people have done a simple ECU remap, which results in the S4 being pretty much as fast as the RS4 – but much less expensive to purchase and run. Perfect for a project.

Related: 5 Reasons Why We Would Buy A Kia Stinger (5 Reasons Why We Would Rather Have An Audi S4)

5 VW Golf R32

The VW Golf is one of the most popular cars on the planet. It is currently in its eighth generation and while the driving experience is better than ever, the livability factor has decreased a bit. With the fourth generation, VW decided to try their hand at creating the best Golf they could. The result was the Golf R32.

It was fitted with the 3.2-liter VR6 engine, producing 238 hp and 236 lb.ft of torque, sending all of the rampaging German horses to all four wheels via either a 6-speed manual or VW’s then new DSG dual-clutch transmission. The Golf R32 is a great car which sounds amazing and is a fantastic option when looking for a project.

4 BMW X5 4.4i

The original BMW X5 was the first iteration of the SUV as we know it today – accentuating the ‘sports’ aspect. The X5 was available with a base straight-6, or two versions of a V8. The mid-spec model was the 4.4i, which had the same V8 out of the 7-Series – producing around 300 hp.

The X5 is a good example of an SUV which feels more at home in the city or on the pavement, rather than going offroad. That being said, the X5 can be modified to become an almost unstoppable off-roading beast, able to climb mountains and ford valleys.

3 Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG

The Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG is a bit different from the X5. The ML was the X5’s main competitor and so to steal some sales away from the X5M, Mercedes stuffed the glorious 6.2-liter V8 in the ML, creating one of the coolest super SUVs out there.

The ML63 AMG produced 510 hp and 465 lb.ft of torque, being sent to all four corners via a 7-speed automatic transmission. The ML63 AMG can now be bought for a surprisingly little amount of money, allowing the new owner to blast down the Autobahn and embarrass the wannabe racer in their Golf GTI.


2 BMW 540i

The E39 BMW 5-Series was considered to be one of the best generations of the model. It was available with a series of engines, from an inline-4 diesel all the way to a 4.9-liter V8 in the M5. The top-specification before the M-car was the 540i – a sort of M-lite.

The 540i was not only the most powerful of the ‘normal’ 5-Series models, but it was also the most luxurious and most well-equipped. The engine was the 4.4-liter V8 from the 740i and the transmission was either a 6-speed manual or a 5-speed automatic. The 540i makes for a great alternative to the M5 for a lot less money.

Related: Here’s What We Love About The 2000 BMW E39 540i

1 Audi S6 C6

The Audi S6 is not all that popular of a car as the normal A6 and top-spec RS6 dominates the sales. As such, the S6 is a bit left out. What many people probably don’t know, is that the C6 Audi RS6 wasn’t the only model with a V10. While the RS6 had a ludicrously powerful twin-turbo 5.0-liter, the lesser S6 had a 5.2-liter – the same engine used in the R8 V10.

The S6 produced 430 hp and 400 lb.ft of torque – a bit less than the RS6’s 572 hp and 480 lb.ft – but still impressive. The S6 could do the 0-60 mph sprint in just 5.1 seconds, impressive for a full-size luxury sedan. The S6 is a great alternative to the expensive RS6 and its competitors – especially when it is a project car with a custom exhaust. The S6 is an excellent example of a modern German car which would make a great project.

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