You’d be forgiven for thinking, based solely on my 1980s Audi coverage, that there was only one front drive model available during those times – the Coupe GT. True enough, the 2-door is my favorite of the front drive Audis from that time, but in fact Audi produced many two wheel drive cars right up to the 2000s. Few remember, for example, that there was a front drive A8 available briefly with a smaller 3.7 motor. A few generations earlier, though, and it was a different large Audi that was initially available in front drive only – the 5000, before it was a quattro, was powered only by the leading wheels. Indeed, even its famous appearance in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was, while a Turbo model, still front drive only. And while it’s been the quattro versions of both the Coupe and 4000 that were more popularly remembered, both the 5000S and 4000S enjoyed a popular base and were good cars in their own right. Today we have two of these forgotten and forlorn Audis to take a look at:
One of the unintentionally funny quotes from Stephen King’s Pet Semetery was the haunting warning from the crusty old Jud Crandall; “Sometimes, dead is better“. Now, I know what you’re thinking – “What, Carter? You’re the biggest Audi/Volkswagen fanboy who writes in complete sentences on a daily basis! And now you want to suggest that these two classic VAG wagons shouldn’t have been buried in the Micmac Indian burial grounds?” Well, I wouldn’t go that far but it does seem that 1980s Audi and Volkswagen products of this ilk are resurrected from the underworld because we see them so infrequently. And for enthusiasts, inevitably they’re not quite the cars we wish had been saved. As a result, besides both being beige in color, these two wagons are completely beige in their totality. Neither was a top-spec car originally though they were both fairly expensive – the Volkswagen stickered at around $14,000 in 1986 without options, while the Audi was the best part of $22,000 base price in 1987. Both come with the long lived but rather forgettable KX-code 110 horsepower inline-5 engine, and both original buyers opted to pay an astonishing $1,000 extra (from memory, it’s been a while) for the dull-witted 3-speed automatic. And then, if that wasn’t enough, both buyers selected their respective marques’ beige tones in a celebration of their mediocrity. Yet here we are, nearly 30 years later, smiling just a bit to see both in overall very good shape. Who wins the “race to watch the paint dry” competition?
If you think that the early BMW 7 series – the E23 chassis – is a rare sight these days, they’re downright common compared to C2/Type 43 Audis. The first “5000”, in the rest of the world this was the Audi 100 and 200 in turbocharged form. The C2/Type 43 replaced the innovative but not particularly reliable or quick 100 and was a major step towards building the modern Audi. It introduced not only the familiar inline-5 to the large family sedan, but also turbocharging and even diesel motors to Audi’s lineup. However, the platform never saw the introduction of the quattro all-wheel drive platform – all of the Type 43s were front drive, and a fair amount were automatic. By 1983, the writing was on the wall – Audi had its new C3 platform full of more innovation and trumped aerodynamics – parked next to the C2, you could see the resemblance but the new car looked downright futuristic compared to the box on box design of the C2. Though the best part of a million of these sedans were produced, they’re one of the rarest Audis to see stateside these days – depreciation, rust and time have taken their toll. Properly cared for, though, they’re still a nice looking large sedan and a treat to see – especially in this condition:
When it comes to memorable Audis from the 1980s, the 5000 undeservedly gets little attention. That’s especially true when you back out the turbo and quattro versions of Audi’s flagship sedan. But in many ways it was the success of the large Audi sedans that allowed for the more exotic Quattro development – and the 5000 was a revolutionary success. Compared with what was on offer from rivals Mercedes-Benz and BMW at the time, the 5000 was downright futuristic and more modern in every way. It was an aerodynamic marvel, quiet and capable of returning excellent fuel economy. It was also hugely practical, too – especially when configured in hatchback Avant spec. Though the sloping rear glass dropped storage space a bit, it wasn’t much – and it’s amazing what can fit inside of these cars. Indeed, I used my 200 Avant to bring a complete 7A inline-5 home; the hatch actually assisted this since we could get the engine hoist over the car – something that would be impossible in most wagons. Still, most enthusiasts want the turbocharged quattro version, leaving the few front drivers that remain throwbacks to a time when a 120 horsepower large wagon was a reasonable option:
There seems to be a lot of mint condition Audis from the 1980s coming out of the woodwork. This clean 5000S for sale in California may not be as drool worthy as the 4000S Quattro we posted last week, but this is just one of those cars you never see well preserved. Sure, it’s an automatic and might have an air of anonymity with the metallic brown paintwork, but it builds a bridge between where Audi was in the 1970s and where it was about to go during the rest of the 1980s.
Engine: 2.1 liter inline-5
Transmission: 3-speed automatic
Mileage: 57,436 miles
Price: No reserve auction
Stunning 1983 Audi 5000S already a classic European car, amazing low mileage 57k one owner California. This is a one owner California car with 57,000 original miles. This Audi is in excellent condition all the way around and was the last year offered in this body. It is fully loaded with every option available including sunroof and air conditioning beautifull cloth seats. Beautiful paint and gorgeous color. Runs and drives like a new car. Ice cold air conditioning. The car needs nothing and is ready to be enjoyed now. No Reserve auction. It will sell to high bidder. Original pink slip from original owner, repair manual, tool kit and accesories also included. Don’t miss the chance to own this classic car, it’s ready To be taken to any car show or just enjoy driving it. I will post extra pictures of exterior and engine area soon, Thanks for looking at my ad.
To be honest, the bidding on this 5000S is much stronger than I would have first suspected. Someone must really want this car. It seems there’s international interest in this vehicle so that could always be driving the frenzy. The automatic transmission is the major detriment here, as they hampered performance much more than the self-shifting gearboxes of today. So few C2 5000 models exist in this kind of condition that it is hard to place a value on it. I’d guess the best ones might reach around $4,000 to $5,000, so with this car, we’ll probably reach new heights.