Earlier today I wrote up a brace of Audi S4s – undoubtedly, one of the best performance values going in classic German motoring today. However, if you move forward a generation, there’s a similar stunning value in the S4’s big brother – the Audi A8. Available in three configurations, the D2 chassis pioneered some new technology for Audi – the Aluminum Space Frame which stiffened the structure and kept weight down. The A8 was also completely new outside; while it’s easy to point towards it as looking like a big A4, the reality is the opposite – the Audi space frame concept car actually predated the B5 A4 chassis and the first iterations of the D2 were near exact copies of the show car. First available in front drive 3.7 V8 configuration and 4.2 quattro, the D2 A8 was initially offered only in short wheel base before 2000. Styling was revised in 2000, which also saw the U.S. introduction of both the sport-oriented S8 model (2001) and ultra-luxury oriented A8L. Equipped with special wheels and fully optioned out, these cars were anything but subtle – commanding serious presence on the road. But that weighty look didn’t necessarily translate to physical weight; despite the long wheel base and luxury bias, the A8L hit the scales only around a hundred pounds heavier than the C4 S4/S6. There were a few other minor details that separated the L from the regular A8 outside of the longer wheel base, too – a larger gas tank and upgraded brakes kept the performance in line with the normal A8. Coupled with the 40 valve V8 4.2 engine pumping 310 horsepower, this meant that the A8L was no slouch even though only equipped with the ZF-made 5-speed tiptronic. In a straight drag race, the A8L would actually give a stock C4 S4/S6 a run for its money. But a drag car the A8L was not; it’s about luxury motoring, and the A8L excels there in droves as well. Despite the impressive package, these cars are available for very little money today – and when they’re presented like this example, it’s a compelling opportunity to get into one of the prettiest German luxury cars ever made for only a fraction of the original purchase price:
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While the Type 44 turbo quattro paved the way for the C4 platform, the brand new 100 and S4 were a real revolution for Audi. It needed it, too – Audi was in dire straights in the early 1990s and was nearly pulled from the American market all together. Audi needed a major update to its top of the line-ranging 100, which in 1991 effectively was still the same car with minor updates from 1984. Of course, Audi wasn’t going to completely walk away from the Type 44 and the crown jewel of performance, the 200 20V turbo quattro. So, in 1992 the “brand new” S4 was launched. Underneath it shared many parts with its sibling V8 quattro and the earlier 200 20V. Even inside it didn’t look much different from the concurrent V8 model. But step outside and an entirely new aerodynamic body cloaked the extremely capable motor and drivetrain. That motor – now with some minor updates that allowed for slightly more power than the 200 had enjoyed – would quickly become legendary for not only reliability but for specific power output; 400 horsepower is almost commonplace amongst modified versions; 500 horsepower isn’t unusual and above 1,000 isn’t unheard of. Despite the extreme tuning potential, go anywhere chassis and incredibly good build quality, these sedans are still a remarkable bargain in the classic German motoring market. While normally in a 10K Friday post I’d compare different models, today I’ve got four different examples of the same car to take a look at – which is the best bargain?
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1993 Audi S4 on eBay
About a week ago, Paul sent me a link to Daily Turismo which was reviewing this very Audi Coupe GT. In the comments were the all too predictable Audi stereotypes; nothing electric will work, it’s overpriced, not worth getting unless its a quattro, I didn’t maintain mine well and so it was unreliable, etc.. The truth about the GT could not be farther from those descriptions; those that have driven them almost always report enjoying the experience, and those that have owned them and have moved on still pontificate how great of a car they are. To me, it’s cars like this that exactly underscore what’s wrong with the e30 market – here’s a very nicely styled, classic GT car. It’s well balanced and fun to drive. For the purists, it’s a 5-speed and has a race-bred soundtrack. They’re notoriously long-lived, with many (including this author’s) well in excess of 200,000 miles. There simply isn’t much electronic equipment to break on them. Yet, even a shining example such as this can be had for only $2,500:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Audi Coupe GT on Craigslist
What would “Wagon Week” be without some fast Audi wagons? Starting in the mid-1980s, Audi cornered the market with its turbocharged all-wheel drive fastback “Avants” – starting with the 5000CS Turbo Quattro. The 5000 was replaced by the 200 in 1989, resulting in effectively the same car – now with BBS wheels and a revised interior and lacking the manual differential locks, but otherwise primarily unchanged. There was a minor revision in 1990 – the engine code changed from MC-1 to MC-2; the cam was slightly different and the engine ran higher initial compression and a lighter flywheel in order to drop boost for quicker response – but ultimately, it wasn’t a major change. The big change came in 1991 with the release of the heavily revised double overhead cam version of the venerable inline-5. Dubbed the 3B, it gained about 50 horsepower over the standard 200 turbo. The 20V version also sported “UFO” floating brakes, upgraded suspension, 7.5″ BBS wheels instead of 6″ and some subtle flares. As I mentioned previously, the 200 20V was perhaps the ultimate “Q-Ship” – it had no external badges, so you had to know those flares and wider BBS wheels in order to differentiate it. The 200 20V was a one-year model, replaced in 1992 by the again heavily revised S4 with another revision of the 20V turbocharged engine. We didn’t receive the initial C4 Avant version of the S4, though it was available in Europe in both turbocharged and V8 form. Audi finally corrected the problem in 1995 by releasing the S6 Avant; again revised with temporary overboost providing a bit more power through the AAN version of the inline-5 and with freshened bumpers, the limited run S6 Avant has become just as much a legend as the 200 20V version – if not more so. Our reader John spotted the two good looking examples found here: