Right Hooker Week: 1990 Audi 500SE

No, it’s not a typo. And no, it’s not an Audi 5000.

The Audi 500SE won’t be a model that is familiar to pretty much anyone on these pages. But in an interesting side note of history you do know, Audi tried to bring its large sedans to Africa in the late 1980s. After the banning of Group B and the cancellation of Group S, Audi took to Group A with both normally aspirated Coupe Quattros and turbocharged Audi 200s. The 200 was successful at the hands of Hannu Mikkola, winning Rally Safari in 1987. 1988 saw the introduction of the 200 quattro Trans Am to U.S. shores, but few remember that those cars were then used in South Africa in the 1989 Wesbank Modifieds Championship. They would continue on in 1990 and 1991 before being replaced by a rebody of the 90 IMSA GTO car in an S4 chassis – a car which was just on display at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

But without much need for quattro and without the smaller model range on sale, Audi’s showroom was filled with a rebrand of the Type 44. Produced in Uitenhage, South Africa, it was dubbed the 500SE, and it was available with either turbocharging or a normally aspirated motor. Unlike Europe (and later, the U.S.) the model designations did not change with forced induction. The specification was a bit strange, too; like the 1987 Audi 5000S quattro, the 500SE wore the larger brakes and wheels of the turbocharged model even when it did not have one. But unlike those cars, it also wore the upscale dual-chamber 200 headlights. Models like this particular 1990 were powered by the 2.3 liter NF motor that saw duty post 1987 in the late-5000 and early-100 front-drivers and quattros. They wore the later Type 44 updates like the smooth dash, too.…

Deja Vu All Over Again: 1986 Audi Coupe GT

Edit 10/8/2017 – This car is back up again on a new auction with the vinyl removed and/or replaced. The seller removed their ~$5,000 asking price but the car has gone through several reserve auctions and not cleared $3,000.

Do you ever see a car and think it looks awfully familiar? Probably like a lot of you, I scan listings nearly every day, and every day provides a wealth of new examples of rare cars that encourages a lot of what we do here at GCFSB. But, once in a while, one pops up that sticks out like a sore thumb.

Now, being the chief (and only) Audi Coupe GT enthusiast in the world at GCFSB, I’m obviously prone to remembering these cars. Sure enough, with so few hitting the market these days I tend to remember every single example I’ve written up – meaning, basically every single example which comes to market – sorry about that.

But this one is particularly interesting. I immediately recognized the Team Dynamics wheels that this 1986 was wearing, but the two-tone paint color was off. Not many Oceanic Blue Metallic Coupe GTs are still kicking around, but at least the sides of this one were the neat and oh-so-80s-electric hue. But closer investigation of some of the details in the description revealed what I thought; this was the same GT I knew from the early 2000s. Originally, the car was Graphite Metallic with black leather – a rare combination on an infrequently seen car – and had been upgraded to participate in track events in Pennsylvania with a cage, a hotter NG motor, rear discs and upgraded suspension, those great looking Team Dynamics wheels and a few other odds and ends. Later it turned up on the West Coast with a notorious flipper of Audis; now with European H1/H4 lights and little else but failing paint, the flipper was looking to make a profit claiming it was one of the best GTs in the country.…

1988 Audi 80 quattro

The Audi 80 quattro was a great replacement for the 4000 quattro in many ways. And, in many ways, it was a complete let down. It was more quiet with better interior materials and better technology. It also had more power with the 2.3 liter inline-5, but additional sound deadening and more technology all meant more weight, so the new 80 quattro felt slower than the 4000 had. That technology meant it wasn’t quite as “cool” as the 4000 had been, either – you could only lock one differential thanks to a new center Torsen unit, and then at 15 m.p.h. the rear diff would unlock electronically. BOOOO, Audi, BOOOO! How am I supposed to channel Hannu Mikkola if your electronic nannies are undoing my sick slide?

Did it matter that the second generation of quattro was probably better in most conditions for the majority of drivers? Not really. It didn’t matter that fundamentally the 80 was a better car, either. The 80 had three strikes against it before it even went on sale here. First was the price; at around $24,000 out the door with a few options, it was considerably more expensive than even the expensive 4000 quattro had been. Second was that it was no longer top fiddle; the 90 quattro was the upscale model, meaning that if you wanted body-color bumpers, for example, you needed to pony up even more for the “nicer” model. Heck the 4000 had body-color bumpers in 1985 for less money. What was Audi thinking? And to top it off, there was the whole 60 minutes fiasco.

Those factors combined to doom the B3 here, no matter how good it was. In 1988, with the release of a fresh model, Audi barely managed to outsell the antiquated 4000 quattro. The 80 and 90 quattro combined to sell just 94 more examples than the 1987 4000CS quattro had (3,023 v.…

Roll the Dice? 1987 Audi Coupe GT Special Build

If you pop on to the Audi USA configuration site, it’s easy to shake your head at how expensive it seems the range has gotten. The A3 is the cheapest product you can buy, but at $31,200 without options it’s hard to see how this gussied up Golf is affordable.

Yet, relative to where Audis used to sticker, that price is downright cheap.

Take this 1987.5 Audi Coupe GT Special Build. At the end of the run, Audi sold approximately 850 of these B2/B3 hybrid Coupes to the U.S. market. While things like the suspension and basic body were unchanged, the Special Build got the NG-code 2.3 inline-5 that was seen in the later Type 44/C3 and B3 chassis cars with 130 horsepower. The gearbox was also unique to the Special Build, having beefed up drive shafts (for some unknown reason, as the existing ones were already overbuilt). The Special Build was also the only front drive B2 to carry 4-wheel disc brakes – again, shared with the B3 instead. Inside, the Special Build got a special digital dashboard in a slightly different hue than the ’86 Coupe GTs with digital boards had. The interior fabric was updated to the Savoy Velour (also from the B3) instead of the B2’s Kensington Velour – this was signified by a triple stripe instead of a dual stripe. To help distinguish the limited cars, the exteriors featured a “dipped” look; window surrounds were body color as were mirrors and spoiler, and if you opted for Alpine White (L90E) the Ronal R8s were also painted body color. As with most later GTs, the Special Build came relatively loaded with few options, though most don’t seem to have the rear wiper selected for some reason. Sunroof, leather steering wheel, power windows, power defogging mirrors, cassette stereo and power antenna, cruise control and a trip computer were all standard.…

1992 Audi 80 quattro

Just a few weeks ago, I spent a fair amount of time documenting the substantial changes to Audi’s small chassis lineup which accompanied the launch of new nomenclature in the B3 80/90 twins. But while early models like the 1988 90 quattro I wrote up for that article were mechanically identical to the “entry level” 80, changes were on the horizon. In 1990, the 7A-motored, dual-overhead cam 90 quattro 20V and Coupe Quattro replaced the 10V NG powered 90s, which were no longer available in the U.S. market. To accompany their upgraded 165 horsepower mill, the 90s featured an optional sport package which included 15″ Speedline wheels and upgraded brakes (standard, albeit in slightly different offset, on the Coupe).

Soldiering on with the 130 horsepower NG and slightly less flair was the 80. In fact, the 80 outlived the 20V motor in the U.S. into 1992, and was ultimately the last small chassis offering the 5-cylinder until the recent reintroduction in transverse layout in the MQB platform. While power and running gear was unchanged, the 80 received some of the 90’s signature bits from earlier on, including the BBS alloys and painted bumper covers. Like all B3 quattros, they’re exceedingly rare to come across; in the case of the 1992 80 quattro like the one here, a scant 640 made their way to our market.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 Audi 80 quattro on eBay

1988 Audi 5000S Avant

Were you to buy this Audi 5000S Avant, exactly zero people would run up to you and give you a high five. But more likely than not, as you were at a gas station topping off the ginormous 21 gallon fuel tank, you’d have time to hear at least one snicker accompanied by a “hey, ain’t that the Audi that accelerates by itself?” 60 Minutes, the Donald Trump of high-brow journalism in the 1980s, so thoroughly managed to destroy the reputation of Audi that the brand was nearly extinguished from the U.S. market. Never mind that the owners had hit the wrong pedal because the automatics had a normal sized, normally placed pedal instead of the “EXTRA BIG-ASS” pedal ‘Merican cars gave you at the time. Never mind that 60 Minutes had to rig the on-air segment to demonstrate the Audi’s brakes failing. Never mind dealers would demonstrate – even in the turbo models – that if your foot was to the floor on the brakes, no amount of throttle could overcome them. You could stand there and argue yourself blue in the face, and still the person will walk away laughing about the Audi who acts like Stephen King’s Christine. It probably doesn’t help that it’s Tornado Red, though….

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Audi 5000S Avant on eBay

1987 Audi 5000S quattro

The 1987 and 1988 Audi 5000S quattro was an interesting model. It took the drivetrain, the wheels and brakes shared with the turbocharged CS model (CD in Canada) but married them with the more modest NF 130 horsepower 2.3 liter normally aspirated inline-5. They ran the standard 5000S headlights as well, single bulb 9004s which had about .5 candle power each when new. Seriously, the Amish have more light at night. Inside was not as luxurious as the CS/CD models, either, with manual seats and velour where there would usually be leather. These omissions helped to keep the price in check a bit as the 5000 in CS quattro form had gotten pretty expensive with a sticker price of $34,000 – $35,500 if you wanted the Avant. The lack of turbo and leather dropped these S quattro models to a much more reasonable $27,000. However, the performance of the 5000S quattro was pretty poor, though fuel economy was the same as the turbo models they made a reasonable highway cruiser. Like most Type 44s, they’re infrequently seen these days:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Audi 5000S quattro on eBay

1982 BMW 323i

Feeling blue that all of the affordable classic options are quickly becoming, well, not so affordable? There are still bastions of value if you’re willing to overlook the flash of the big names and instead just focus on a clever, unappreciated car. The E21 might just be the most unappreciated BMW ever brought to the United States, but most of that reputation is thanks to a relatively soft M10 engine allocation and one of the worst applications of federally mandated crash bumpers. Move on up to the M20 and the associated European trim and the story changes quite a bit. Suddenly, you have a 7/8ths scale M635CSi on a very affordable budget:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1982 BMW 323i on eBay

1988 Audi 90 quattro

Looking at the outrageous B5 and B6 S4s from yesterday is a stark reminder of how far the company has come from the rather humble roots of Audi’s small chassis. Sure, the B2 was the basis that launched the new direction for the company in the Quattro, but most B2 cars were modest, relatively underpowered near luxury cars. Park one next to a new A4 and you’ll be amazed at just how large they’ve become; from a 100 inch wheel base, 66 inch width and 176″ overall length, the B2 tipped the scales at a little under 2,400 lbs in 1980. The new A4s have a foot more in between the wheels (and the ends of the bumper, no surprise there), are half a foot wider and are half again as heavy at nearly 3,800 lbs for the sedan. Brakes are now the size wheels once were on even the standard A4s, and horsepower? Well, the lowly 2.0T carries more punch than the original Quattro did in all but 20 valve and Sport form, even in European trim. While cars have gotten better at being cars than they once were, they’ve also become smart phones, offices, relaxation oases and sports arenas. Cars start, drive, and park themselves, tell you how to get places and when you’ll get there, and even will tell Big Brother what you did wrong when you get into a accident. It’s somehow a loss of innocence which makes contemplation of simpler times so appealing, and looking at this 1988 Audi 90 quattro is just that. So let’s pop your copy of “Die Hard” in to your VCR, adjust the tracking and take a glimpse into Audi’s past:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Audi 90 quattro on eBay

Tuner Tuesday: 1984 Alpina C1 2.3/1

The other day I read an article on Petrolicious entitled “Which classic car gets on your nerves?” The photo was of an E30 M3, and it wasn’t far into the article that it became clear that this was a decidedly anti-E30 stance. In many ways, I agree with the author – having a conversation with an E30 enthusiast and trying to convince them that there are other cars (even within the marque) that are much better values or offer more performance per a dollar is akin to attempting to blame mass shootings on assault rifles in the middle of an NRA meeting. Now, to be fair, there are quite a few very reasonable E30 enthusiasts out there and just like it’s not fair to generalize about any group, they’re not all the same and most haven’t been recent bandwagon jumpers. But the rocketing to fame of the E30 and the ascending prices of the lineup have become somewhat laughable; take Paul’s mint, low mileage 318is for $30,000 the other day. Is it a lovely car? Sure, and if I’m honest I agree with Paul that it’s one of the neatest options in the E30 lineup to me – but is it worth the same as a brand new, replete with warranty 228i coupe in your choice of colors? That’s where the wheels start to fall off the bandwagon, because while I can rationalize a lot of automotive things that are pretty ridiculous I find that one hard to stomach. But, if the market has spoken and a 318is is “worth” $30,000, surely a super limited production Alpina C1 2.3/1 is more highly valued?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1984 Alpina C1 2.3/1 on eBay