I’m certain there’s a sect of the readership that gets pretty sick of me droning on about the Audi Coupe GT. I’ll acknowledge a very large soft spot for this relatively unloved Audi oddity. But it’s Father’s Day, and so as a treat to myself I’d like to look at another. And, I think you’d like to look at it too.
As we write up cars constantly, for me there’s always a point of thinking ‘Right! That’s it. There can’t be another clean original one out there!’ Because, at some point that certainly must be true. How many completely original, low mile and low ownership examples can there be out there. Who, for 33 years, would care for a car so much that basically everyone else gave up on when it was five years old?
Yet occasionally they turn up, and here’s a prime example. According to the seller, this 1985 GT has turned just 67,000 miles and he picked it up when GTs were still on dealer lots. Alpine White with the unique blue tweed interior and matching blue dashboard, he obviously loved the B2 as much as I do:
Let’s go back to the beginning of Type 44 production today and take a look at this Audi 5000S. To me, this car represents just about the least appealing model in the lineup for 1985. No turbo, no quattro, automatic, Kalahari Beige Metallic – it really doesn’t get more yawn than this. “But it’s a ‘S’ model“, you say. Ah, but continuing on the theme of Audi’s unconventional naming strategy in the U.S., there was cleverly no non-S model for a few years – everyone got a participation trophy.
As it turns out, there were a lot of ‘everyone’. The new 5000, which started selling in the U.S. in 1984, was a massive success for Audi. In fact, it was far and away the most successful model they sold in the 1980s. And while we love to see turbos and quattro and manuals, it was specifically this car – gold Audi 5000S front-drive automatics – that sold in droves. Audi sold 48,057 5000s in 1985, for example. Only about 20% were Turbos. And the quattro model didn’t launch until very late in the year. Even when it did, they similarly never accounted for more than 20% of sales of the Type 44.
Still, ~40,000 doesn’t sound like a bit number. But consider Audi sold a total of 26,000 other cars between the Coupe, Quattro and all 4000s the same year. And the 5000’s proliferation wasn’t just over one model year. From 1984 to 1988, Audi sold 171,494 Type 44s in the U.S. and was really only limited by the November 1986 airing of the 60 Minutes debacle. This ’85 is representative of how a majority were delivered, but is not indicative of the condition of most today:
Today’s Audi 4000 quattro is a great example of what yesterday’s GTI 16V seller was claiming – a true survivor, in completely unrestored form. Unlike the GTI, though, this Canadian-market 1986 4000S quattro is also completely stock and original, too. Nearly as much a legend in its own right, while the performance of the 4000 was no match for the twin-cam hot hatch (at least, in the dry…), the package nevertheless possessed its own draw for a similarly devoted group of fans. Also as with the GTI, finding a clean and original Type 85 quattro is very difficult, too. But the low mileage Zermatt Silver Metallic example we have here should do the trick for most!
After two clean 90s, it’s time to look at the much greater appeal of the turbocharged S6 Avant. Imported in even more limited quantities than the 90 quattro 20V, the wagon form of the C4 with AAN turbo power has been legendary since its inception. But with a very limited stock and a chassis known to pile on mileage with aplomb, clean and low mileage examples are few and far between.
So I’ll start off with admitting that this S6 Avant is not perfect; if anything it’s probably far from perfect by most standards. There’s body damage, a replaced hatch, the wrong wheels, a fair chunks of missing paint. It’s got 179,000 miles and is in need of a suspension refresh. It’s 22 years old, too, so you can bet it’s got some Audi idiosyncrasies. And with that, most of the 911 crew just tuned out.
But, and it’s a big but, it’s a S6 Avant. As such, it’s automatically worth investigating if it runs at all. And dig beneath the (admittedly somewhat ruined) exterior, and there’s a fair amount to like here:
Edit 7/2/2017: This car has dropped to a $3,000 Buy It Now
The 1987 Audi Coupe GT is an interesting bird. Well, to be more precise, 1986 and 1987 Audi Coupes were a mixed bag and there are always little details that are interesting to see. In 1986, Audi offered the Commemorative Design model Coupe GT, which offered no performance upgrades but was a neat looker with unique red leather interiors. One of the other items the GT had which the 4000CS quattro Commemorative Design didn’t was a digital dashboard. The lower center panel, which normally had three VDO gauges, instead held a VDO electronic display with only oil temperature and a voltmeter. There was no oil pressure gauge. Where the normal dash held analog gauges, instead the Commemorative Design had a three pane electronic display. On the left was a increasing scale tachometer with a lower section readout for the (standard on electronic dash) trip computer. The center display held the speedometer and the odometer only. Below were the standard array of warning lights. On the right, the display had a fuel reading up top, temperature gauge up amidship and a clock below. The trip computer’s toggle functions allowed you to swap the dash readout between U.S. and Metric settings – always fun to surprise passengers when you announced you were cruising at “130” and comment on how quiet the car was. Using the dimmer switch, you could also engage “Night Mode”, which would drop all but the speedometer display off the dash. Should a warning light appear or the fuel level get too low, the car would automatically revert to the full dash.
Was it a gimmick? Sure, but it was the 80s, and it was pretty damn cool at the time. Of course, it wasn’t as cool as the full talking dash available on European Quattros, but we take what we can get, right?
The interesting part came in that the “digidash” was supposedly limited to the CD models. It was not. There was a strange allocation of ’86s which also were built with the dash. In 1987, you had to get the later “Special Build” Coupe GT to get the digital, and slightly different colored, experience, right? No again, as randomly some early 87s had the 86 digital dashboard, too. This Tornado Red example is one of those latter examples:
It’s hard to believe that only eleven years separate the genesis of the inline-5 Avant wagon design and its culmination with the 1995 Audi S6. Audi’s groundbreaking aerodynamic design for the C3/Type 44 looked from the start as if it were intended to be a wagon; a sleek, modern design with flush windows and a sweeping D-pillar. It would be two years until Audi’s quattro drivetrain would debut in the large package, which left you with the sole option of front-wheel drive for 1984 and 1985. Audi also opted to leave the KKK turbocharger out of the package until all four wheels could deal with it, as well – so basically this car was a luxurious 4-door Coupe GT for the first two model years. Thankfully, though you were only allowed about 110 horsepower, Audi allowed drivers to opt for a manual transmission even in front-wheel drive form:
We’ve gone through a kick of Pearlescent White Metallic Audis over the past few days. And while they’ve all been lovely examples that are well built, well maintained and well presented, they’ve all been missing one thing: a turbo.
You could argue that the value of a $5,000 Audi in pristine condition but without a turbo is still relatively good compared to some other contemporaries. But the immediate counterpoint is the turbocharged variant of the C4; the S4/S6. Even if you accept one in worse condition, the possible longevity of the package coupled with the performance potential on tap simply outweighs other considerations. Sure, these Audis have faults – they all do. The inline-5 models have the same problems as the non-turbo models, but they have no real further drawbacks. And since you can get a pretty decent S4/S6 for about the same asking price as some of the other Audis we look at, those cars are effectively viewed immediately as overpriced in the eyes of the market (rightly, or wrongly).
But what about a really nice S4 or S6? It would have to be in good condition, and pretty close to stock. If it was modified, the add-ons would have to be good quality or ideally factory items. Miles would need to be in check, condition would need to be great, and maintenance up to date. If we’re getting picky, an Avant would be preferable, and if really pedantic, the early ’95s that kept the locking rear differential rather than the later EDL.
Late-model burgundy Vanagons were the first to ever catch my eye, and even as I’ve spent the last several years exploring the many variations and degrees of modification available for this versatile van, it’s still the look I find most appealing. This 1991 model has steel bars instead of the clean fiberglass, body-colored bumpers available at the end of the lifecycle, ostensibly to protect your legs and engine from the natural weak points of the cab-over design. They may not be sleek but they don’t look bad, and it seems practical to protect where this guy has put most of his money – the engine. It doesn’t say how long into its 198k-mile life it received the rebuild, but the engine was redone into 2.2-liter form and apparently all engine parts were specially hardened before assembly. The original interior is in great shape for having covered almost 200k, and the upper bed has only been used once. This no-frills, all-business Westy is available for a reasonable $18,300.
I’ve been part of a broader discussion about values on 1980s Audis over the past few years. In one corner, I’ve suggested that values have been steadily increasing and that very good examples of 1980s Audis – the 4000 quattro, the 5000CS quattro and the Coupe GT – are higher now than they have been since the early 1990s. But have they really been increasing? Hagerty, among others evidence we’ve collected, would seem to say yes. The problem is that few examples of 1980s Audis in really exceptional condition come up for sale. But today is part one in a mini-litmus test of the market on one of my favorite models – the Audi Coupe GT. I’ve suggested that really excellent examples of these cars are currently $6,000 – $8,000. The basis for my argument is twofold; one, it’s so uncommon to come across a really top-condition, low mileage Coupe GT these days, and two – that between no longer available parts and the cost of a proper restoration, you’re better off paying top-dollar for a no-needs example rather than trying to bring a lesser example up to show-ready quality. So, let’s take a look at part one – a reportedly “excellent” Coupe GT:
If yesterday’s low mileage S6 Avant wasn’t enough fast wagon love for you North American fans, I have just the cure. It’s easy to forget that our neighbors in the Great White North have managed to enjoy European model legal status for a full decade more than that U.S. fans; thus, it’s not abnormal to see some wild Euro cars come up for sale. Kijiji is nearly as much of a tease as Ebay.de, and today is no exception as a rare RS Blue 1995 RS2 Avant with lower miles has popped up for sale: