While the Audi Coupe is no stranger to these pages due to some ridiculous bias by a certain author (ahem), we rarely get the treat of looking at the first half of B2 production. But before it became the “Coupe GT” I so adore, the 2-door basis for the Quattro was simply referred to as the Audi Coupe.
Europeans got a choice of several engines, but in the United States options were limited to one: the WE 2.1 liter inline-5, rated at 100 horsepower. Mated to a wide-ratio 5-speed with economy in mind, these cars were decidedly not as sporty as the later KX- and especially NG-equipped GTs. Brakes were smaller, too – with 4x100mm bolt pattern wheels on the early models sharing duty with some Volkswagens. But the Coupe had a whiff of class that the VWs didn’t manage, and its upscale construction – when well maintained – meant these cars have serious staying power.
Early models, while numerically superior to late GTs, are harder to come across. Audi sold some 4,236 1982s – the Type 85 Coupe’s most successful sales year in the U.S.. However, ’81-’83 GTs are the least frequently seen on the open market here, so this one from Canada looks to be prime to import:
In the long list of Audis I don’t really consider particularly appealing, the U.S.C2 is pretty high on the leader board. A design befuddled by Federally-mandated bumpers, perhaps its redeeming quality is that it introduced us to the characteristic inline-5 thrum that would hold over until the end of C4 production. Of course, what really made all of those cars sing was forced induction, and so within the C2 range, the model that ostensibly is the most desirable is the Turbo. And it was, when in ‘5T’ Euro 200 form. However, the U.S. cars were turned down, weighed down, and solely opted with a 3-speed automatic. Interest in this post has, at this point, waned nearly as much as the surviving examples have.
There was also a diesel, and a turbo diesel, version the C2. While they make frozen molasses heading uphill look brisk, they’ve at least got the diesel clique going for them. That leaves the normally aspirated Audi 5000S third in desirability in my ranking for a chassis I wouldn’t intentionally seek out. Not high praise, and this is coming from a pretty strong defender of the ringed corner of our world. But you could get a 5-speed manual, at least. This car doesn’t have that going for it, either, alas.
But am I glad someone saved one from being scrapped? Yeah, I sure am!
Boy, it’s been a bit too long since we looked at a Volkswagen Van. In fact it’s been over a year since I last looked at a Vanagon. For shame! Because while I often lament the lack of good 1980s Volkswagens to consider for these pages, there are predictably two models you can find at any time. One is the Cabriolet.
Okay, admit it. While you tell your Corvette-owning friends that the Cabriolet was a travesty you’d never be seen in, they’re actually kind of neat and certainly have their place. After all, what other cheap manual German convertible can you buy….a Boxster?
The other model that’s ubiquitous with 80s search parameters is the T3. They occupy an interesting subculture within the German automobile ownership community. And once in a while, one pops up that I really take notice of:
After yesterday’s South African 500SE, this 200 Turbo is an interesting counterpoint for several reasons. First, if the age is correct, it’s from the very beginning of Type 44 production. In fact, it wasn’t until September 1983 that the turbocharged variant of the new Type 44 – the 200 – was available for the marketplace. So this car represents the beginning of the run compared to yesterday’s run-ending 500SE.
What’s amazing to me is how little change there was in that period. Outside of the interior refresh, a slightly different exterior color and some small details, the 1983 and 1990 model years could pass for contemporaries. Try that in other model ranges today! Of course, one other reason this car is interesting is the turbo. This would be an early 2.1 liter unit, rated nominally at 182 horsepower – a healthy bit more power than the late NF motor (130 horsepower). What’s unusual in this case is that it’s mated to a 5-speed manual transmission. Of course, these were the days before the quattro drive setup moved into other models outside of the halo Quattro, so you’re stuck with a front-driver only.
Oh, and one more oddity? Well, it’s being sold in the U.K., but it’s left hand drive.
Unlike the Porsche 924, the Audi Quattro had no special editions. Outside of the homologation version of the Sport Quattro, there were no gimmicks, no limited models, and very few options. It was a take-it-or-leave-it design. You got a turbocharged inline-5 in front, a 5-speed manual gearbox in the middle, twin locking differentials center and rear, and it only came in Coupe form; no sedan, no four door, no popping rear windows, no convertible, targa or cabriolet. With a high-dollar price tag for its development, perhaps the Quattro would have been a greater market success if it had been available in more options, but the result was that they sold fairly slowly. In 1983, the model year of this particular example, Audi managed to shift only 240 of its $40,000 halo cars in the U.S.. Today, that makes them significantly more collectable than the 924, especially when they’re presented like this car:
For as long as I can remember, the Quattro community has been a tight-knit group. Unlike many other Johnny-come-lately brands, models or trim packages, the Quattro bred life-long devoted fans. To them, it was the be-all, end-all, and they have religiously kept track of every single of the 664 originally imported that they can find. Some have been lost along the way or brought back to the homeland, but the seller here – one of that devoted Quattro community – has begun to restore this one to former glory:
Anthony Bourdain has been pretty successful with his show Parts Unknown, in addition to the many other reasons he’s been an award winning chef and writer. In that show, he’s always on the lookout for new and rarely heard of cuisine from around world. And, for the most part even though I’m not a ‘foody’, I find his presentation, travels, and quick summaries of far reaching historical periods pretty enjoyable. He is, for lack of a better comparison, the Jeremy Clarkson of food critics – at least, a bit. In one memorable-to-me episode, he set out to find this magical, amazing and hereto unheard of cocoa plant. But he wasn’t going just to taste this new and interesting food; he was going to secure rights to harvest the plant and to profit. And, frankly, he couldn’t have seemed less interested or involved in any step of the process. He complained, whined, and lackadaisically mused about the chocolate he’d later offer for $18 a bar throughout the episode, ignoring the cultural and economic aspects of the lives the people of Peru – where the bar’s magical ingredients come from. I was left feeling at the end of the episode that it was less an investigation of the process, and much more an advertisement for the overpriced consumerism he was going to attach his name to. Why wouldn’t you pay $18 for a chocolate bar – he’s Anthony Bourdain and he obviously knows more than you, so ante up!
The point of this is story that I’m left feeling that many of the inflated markets are doing just what Bourdain did; cashing in on a name and a reputation coupled with a market surge. One classic you can get into without all of the market hoopla, though, is pretty much any classic Audi outside of the Quattro – for now:
At the first Audi Club track event I went to, I excitedly hurried my 4000CS quattro through the hills of Northwest Connecticut to Lime Rock Park. The year was 1997, and while I had been heading to the track for many years this was my first foray to an Audi event. Back in ’97, old Audis were pretty uncommon – hard to fathom considering how scarce they are today. So going to an all-Audi event promised to be a special collection of audacious Audis, and I was certainly not disappointed. There were no less than ten Quattros in attendance, and may have even been more – I struggle a bit to remember, but a fair chunk of the instructor core had them and even a few students showed up with the legendary cars. It was a bit like those nature shows of Ridley Sea Turtles arriving on Mexican beaches once a year to lay eggs; a baffling display of the entire world’s population arriving in one spot at one time when for the rest of the year they’re spread around the world’s oceans. Quattros, especially large numbers of Quattros, are like that. Let’s put some figures into perspective – E30 M3s are rare, right? Sure, only around 5,000 made it to the U.S. with a pretty good amount still
being sold on eBay today being driven as they should. 190E 16V owners enjoy pointing out that their cars are much more endangered, as just shy of 2,000 made the Atlantic crossing. Low residuals mean a lower percentage of those original 1,953 still are dog-legging around. E24 M6, E28 M5, E34 M5? Sure, all very low production cars. But the Quattro? 664 came here, and how many are left today is a good question. I’d estimate the number of Quattros remaining alive and in good condition to likely be less than 2/3rds of the original 664 – figure maybe 400 are still around and serviceable. Think about the last time you saw an E30 M3 cruising along down the road (it doesn’t count if you own one or were at a show)? You’re at least ten times less likely to happen across a Quattro. Finally, they’re starting to be appreciated for their special nature, but they’re certainly still critically endangered in the U.S.:
Way back in time, before the proliferation of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook – indeed, before the Internet really got off its feet at all, dreams were made not with by-the-minute browser refreshes eagerly anticipating the next clever comment or picture of someone eating an avocado. If you weren’t actually traveling the automotive scene, you were totally reliant on your monthly delivery of new automobile magazines. In high school, I had at one point four different subscriptions and poured over the details of every single car that graced the pages of what was my Bible. But it was in the mid 1990s that I stumbled across a magazine that really spoke to me much more than the BMW-loving Car and Driver or the fairly vanilla Automobile; I found a copy of European Car. It was a complete revelation to me, to see the cars that not only I dreamt about but could actually afford parts for. Nearly as good, if not perhaps better, than the feature articles were the advertisements. The “Dr. Feelgood”s of the European tuner scene, companies like Techtonics Tuning and Total Audi Performance spoke to my specific needs in ways that the mainstream magazines couldn’t. And within those advertisements, one particular company became something of a legend among a small group of friends who all shared the enthusiasm for Volkswagens. That company was AutoBahn Designs, better known as ABD Racing – and what they had created was an absolute monster. In the days before the ubiquitous VR-swap for VWs, dropping a 16V into the nose of your car was about as hot as you could get. But ABD took that recipe to the next level with a custom-built 2.1 16V with massive compression and side-draft carburetors. But it was really what they put it in that set them apart, as ABD chose a Caddy for the massive build. The result, stripped out, painted up and dominating the import drag scene, still gives me goose bumps when I see it all these years later:
The same dealer who brought us the cool 2002tii Touring and M3 convertible has another European-specification treat that they’re taunting us with. This time it’s an original Audi Quattro, bucking the trend of these cars heading back to Europe. An early 1982 example, it’s painted Alpine White like the factory rally cars were and features the early WR 2.1 liter inline-5 turbochanged motor and 6″ Ronals. Unlike U.S. spec cars, European models got the full-fat 200 horsepower, bringing performance more in line with equal priced contemporaries from Porsche. There are some other neat things to see – for example, it’s a non-sunroof example – fairly rare among a group of cars that’s already quite dear, and of course sports the better looking European bumpers with integrated headlight washers and foglights. With only 85,000 miles on the clock and in mostly original condition, does this one check the right box(flare)?