With the news that in a short twenty-three years Britain plans on no longer having internal combustion engines for sale, I was struck with the idea of a theme week. We haven’t done one in a while, but what about looking at some of the cars that are available in England that won’t be welcome there soon, but would be right at home in my driveway? Sure, they’ll mostly be right hand drive, but I’ve done it before and for the price of some of these cars I’d be happy to offer them sanctuary when they’re no longer register-able in Great Britain.
With that in mind, I’ll start with what is likely top of my list – the Audi S2 Avant. I know, I know – most enthusiasts pine over the much more legendary, quicker and more rare RS2. But there are a few reasons for me to like the S2 even more. When I lived in England, there was a Cyclamen example that parked near my flat. I ran by it often, and even had a few daydreams as training miles passed under foot that I’d be rowing through the gears. So, it is with a bit of nostalgia that I view them every time. Next, I like the look more. The gaping guppy look of the RS2 became signature for the RS models moving forward, but the S2 is very handsome in a classic Audi way without being as shouty. But most of all, it’s the price. While RS2s are still treading in the $40-$100,000 range for decent examples, a very nice S2 Avant can be had for only a fraction of that amount:
While some may feel that my foray into BMW ownership has swayed me to the dark side of German motoring, I still have a very large soft spot for the classic inline-5 powered Audis. And one of the most outstanding deals, until very recently, was the S2 range. Oft copied in the United States as it was never offered, the S2 was available in frequently seen Coupe and far less found sedan and Avant variations. The last is best known in its ultimate development as the Porsche-built RS2, but even the standard S2 range was nothing short of impressive. With 220 horsepower available from the 3B and later ABY turbocharged dual-cam inline-5s driven through all four wheels, they weren’t the fastest off the line but could hang with their countrymen easily on the fly. As they near legal importation status, prices have started to rise slightly – but they’re still quite affordable compared to many other contemporary limited-run performance options. This ’96 is a great example:
One of the most popular tuning swaps in the Audi world until quite recently was to slot a 3B/AAN turbocharged 20V motor into a B3 coupe. The “Ersatz” (replacement) S2 required a fair amount of custom engineering, but you got a sleeper package that was capable of some serious performance that the U.S. bound Coupe quattro with its normally aspirated 7A 20V inline-5 lacked. For an effectively an entire generation these custom turbocharged examples have held a special place in the market, worth more than generally every other Audi from the period, but that’s changing. Now it’s 2016 and the market has awoken to the original Quattro; really pristine examples have shot through the roof in terms of pricing. But the bigger thorn in the side for custom-made S2s is that the real factory built S2s are now importable to the U.S.. While that’s not the easiest road to travel, if you search around you can find some real budget examples of the real-deal original S2 for much less than the asking price of U.S. bound replica cars. While this 1993 is still a few years from legal importation, it certainly gets me thinking about what could be:
While in the U.S. the S6 Avant got all of the Audi accolades in 1995, in Europe several fast Audi wagons had been offered for some time. First of the new 20 valve turbo generation was the 200 Avant, just like in the U.S.; after that, though, the lines diverged. With the start of the C4, Audi offered the S4 in two configurations, sedan which was shared with the U.S. market, and Avant form which never came here. Additionally, there were two engine configurations; you could also get the 4.2 V8 and a 6-speed manual in your S4. When it came to the renamed S6, Audi upped those options with the addition of an automatic and the hotter “S6 Plus” version of the V8 wagon. But there was also another wagon available; the B4 based S2 Avant. The S2 came in three variants; the Coupe which many are familiar with, the quite rare sedan version, and the slightly less familiar Avant which didn’t come to the U.S.. I say slightly less familiar, because the S2 Avant was the notable base for one of the greatest wagons the world has ever seen – the iconic Porsche-built RS2. The RS2 was a fitting replacement for the equally iconic Sport Quattro, but the RS2 offered better road manners, more versatility and if anything was a bit quicker overall. It should be no surprise that, like the Sport Quattro, the limited run RS2 spawned a series of imitators who mimicked everything from the motor to the outside styling:
For many people, the third generation Audi Coupe wasn’t quite the match for the car that it replaced. Launched in 1988, even Audi would seem to agree; it continued to produced the original Quattro through 1991, alongside its seeming replacement. While the looks of that replacement – the 20V turbocharged S2 – were considerably more sedate than the Quattro, it was nonetheless a handsome car. Though the iconic flares and chunky styling was replaced by a more rounded look, there were many advantages to the newer cars. First off, they were considerably safer with a stiffer structure and passive safety systems to protect drivers and passengers (anyone else remember the seatbelt pretensioning “PROCON-10” system?). Additionally, the smoother styling meant the car was much quieter at speed than the Quattro ever had been. The drivetrain was nearly identical to the end of run “RR” Quattros, right down to the new Torsen differential in the rear with electronic lock. And unlike its predecessor, and though few people remember, there were three versions of the S2 available; the oft-emulated Coupe, the highly desirable Avant, and the quite rare sedan of which only around 300 were produced. But as this is Coupe Week, we’re taking a look at one of the 2-door variants, of course!
Most of my 10K posts have been a balance between finding examples of cars that just squeak under the 10K limit (sometimes, a little liberally) but aren’t complete wrecks. Typically, they’re examples of cars that you just don’t often think of as being cheap or don’t typically see fitting into a budget. But, it’s always a bit of a compromise – seldom are they exactly the cars that I’d buy. More often than not, when it comes to these comparisons I’d spend a little bit extra to get a better example of the car I wrote up than the budget one. Any number of enthusiasts will tell you why; a higher priced but better maintained car is almost always a more sound investment than a lower priced, questionable history example. There are, however, some cars that fall in general well below our self-imposed 10K cap. Most notably, when comparing packages and what one gets for a moderate investment, it’s hard to argue with the early 1990s Audis. Though Audis reputation was, in many ways, in the toilet at this point of history, arguably this is when they reached their zenith of design, performance and build quality. Certainly, newer Audis are more quiet, faster and have gorgeous interiors – however, they also have a reputation for being overly complicated, expensive to fix and often on the IR list with dashboards lit up as if we were a few months closer to Christmas.
But in the mid to late 1980s, Audi spent millions of dollars developing their turbo technology and the inline-5 motor into a world-beating engine. They raced several different race series with this flexible platform, dominating with their quattro technology. Simultaneously, Audi developed two new chassis to hold the 20V power plant – the B3/4 90 chassis and the C4 100 both would receive versions of the 20V Turbo, along with the last run of Quattros in the form of the RR.…
I recently wrote up a few quattro GmbH specials that didn’t come to the U.S.. While over the past few years Audi enthusiasts here have spent countless hours and dollars recreating one of those cars, the RS4, from U.S. spec S4 sedans and avants. But rewind a decade and it was this car that many were trying to reproduce – the Audi S2. As crashed or heavily used 200 20V and S4s came up for sale, the reality of creating a S2 on U.S. shores became a possibility. Most utilized the popular Coupe Quattro chassis; a few enterprising individuals built S2 sedans – rare even in Europe. But despite being one of the most popular wagons of all time, the S2 Avant was seldom chosen because the small wagon was never brought to the U.S., meaning you’d have to not only import the chassis but then convert it. Of course, an easier way would just be to buy a whole factory S2, a possibility now that prices have dropped though we’re still a few years from these being legal on our shores. Today I have two examples to dream about:
Engine: 2.2 liter turbocharged inline-5
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Mileage: 225,000 km (139,808 mi)
Price: E. 5,499 ($7,591.37 today)
Dual airbag model
Missing front bumper
OK tires – they were replaced 3/2012 and can still be driven a season
Service book available
More information only via phone
E-mails will not be answered
No payment by installments possible.
The vehicle will be completed in the next few days so the price will go up.
There’s a lot to like about this S2; Europa Blue Mica is one of the prettiest colors of this generation of Audi, the Avus alloys are perfectly suited to the design, and it has quattro-script cloth seats.…