1999 Audi A4 2.8 quattro

1999 Audi A4 2.8 quattro

Emerging from the sales slump brought on by the recession and actual fake news, Audi solidified its position in the small executive luxury market with its brand new A4 model in 1996. While in truth the car heavily borrowed from the evolution of the B3/4 series and started life with the same flaccid 12 valve V6 that had replaced the sonorous 7A inline-5 for 1993, the A4 was exactly the model Audi needed to redefine its image.

And redefine it did, going from near zero to hero in just a year’s time.

Car and Driver immediately named the A4 one of its “10 Best” cars, a position it would repeat in 1997 and 1998. Okay, maybe it wasn’t the perennial favorite as the BMW 3-series was for the magazine, but still, that it was mentioned in the same breath was impressive. New sheetmetal was smooth and tight, full of great angles and well-placed curves. The bumper covers were finally integrated well again – something the U.S. specification B4 had inexplicably failed miserably at. Inside was evolution rather than revolution, but the cabin looked and felt upscale and modern. And the market responded to this instant hit; consider, in 1994 Audi sold 12,575 cars in total. In 1996, some 15,288 of just the A4 models were sold. That was before the many variations and improvements Audi rolled out in the B5, too.

Seemingly every year new changes offered refreshment and redesign to the A4. In late 1995 and 1996, you could only get one specification – the 2.8 either with or without quattro. But ’97 saw the introduction of the 1.8T, while ’98 gave us the Avant and more potent 30V V6. Okay, it didn’t pack a knockout punch, but new wheels and a sport package, along with a subtle refresh to the tail lights, gave the model a more sporty look:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1999 Audi A4 2.8 quattro on eBay

1996 Audi A6 quattro Avant with 30,000 Miles

1996 Audi A6 quattro Avant with 30,000 Miles

Audi’s priorities in the mid 1990s in regards to the U.S. market shifted, as they concentrated their efforts on reestablishing any semblance of market share with what would prove to be the very successful A4. The A4 itself was evolutionary rather than revolutionary, as it incorporated most of its technology from the existing platforms. Similarly, Audi backed away from its venerable turbocharged inline-5 platform; a new V6 had become the go-to option choice in both B4 and C4 platforms in 1992. It was far from sporty, but the combination of moderate V6 power, updated looks with the 1995 refresh of the chassis and legendary build quality resulted in what I consider the most Mercedes-Benz like car Audi built. THe A6 2.8 quattro was luxurious in a Spartan way; just enough power options, but not tech-heavy. It was quiet, comfortable, handsome and capable in a time when it still held the monopoly on all-wheel drive wagons – remember, this was the time when the widespread popularity of SUVs was still a generation away. You could even squeeze seven passengers in to a A6 thanks to the optional rear bench seat. They became vogue with the ski-set, and as a result few appear in the condition of today’s example:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1996 Audi A6 quattro Avant on eBay

Drop-top Double Take: 1996 and 1997 Audi Cabriolets

Drop-top Double Take: 1996 and 1997 Audi Cabriolets

Every semester at the culmination of my teaching experience with the college students who have selected my course rather innocently, I let them in on my super-secret double agent identity as your author here. Having suffered through a few too many of my lectures already, most treat the news with about the same amount of enthusiasm and interest as they do when I tell them about the Sudanese Kush Pharaohs – which is to say, none (seriously, it’s a very interesting topic. Egypt basically denies they existed!). But occasionally I get a student who is much more interested in my double-life than in my lecture notes. One such student passed through was perhaps as unexpected to me as I was to him. He nonchalantly aced the class with seeming little difficulty, but upon seeing my announcement regarding German Cars For Sale Blog, he excitedly emailed me about his shared love of Audis. He revealed that he owned a ’97 Cabriolet, which proves two things: first, smart people buy Audis, and second, Audis turn up where you least expect them. And the Cabriolet might be the least expected Audi Audi made – coming from a manufacturer renowned for turbocharged inline-5, manual all-wheel drive coupes, sedans and wagons came a front-wheel drive, automatic only (in the U.S.) V6 2-door convertible. Expensive, a bit slow and soft compared to the competition, the Cabriolet sold slowly with only around 1,000 units moved per a year during its availability here with a total of 5,439 imported through 1998. I think a fair amount of fans view the B4 Cabriolet as the least interesting of the Audi lineup in the 1990s, but to me it’s always been a very pretty and underrated car. In particular, the rear 3/4 view is very attractive and the shape changed little with its progeny.…

2000 Audi A4 2.8 quattro Avant

2000 Audi A4 2.8 quattro Avant

If yesterday’s mellow yellow 323Ci wasn’t the sunshine you’d like to see, how about something a bit more brilliant in design and presentation? I have to say the fascination with BMW wagons and their ensuing high prices sometimes perplexes me, as Audi offered a sporty, manual, all-wheel drive Avant that is great looking, reliable and long-lived and will make you feel pretty special. That’s especially so when it’s optioned in one of the more rare shades available on the B5; in this case, LY1B Brilliant Yellow. I’m sure there will be claims that, like Pelican Blue and Tropical Green, these Easter colors make the jelly bean shaped A4 a bit too festive, but personally I love the look of this Avant:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 Audi A4 2.8 quattro Avant on eBay

1998 Audi A4 2.8 quattro

1998 Audi A4 2.8 quattro

By 1996 and the launch of the new B5 chassis A4 model, Audi had decidedly lost the sport from its U.S. model lineup. There were only three models available from the brand in that year, and with the demise of the S6 all featured the venerable if relatively underpowered and underwhelming 12 valve V6. For the new A4, there was no “Sport” model – a little surprising considering the lengths that Audi went through to race the sedan in Touring Car competitions, where it was very successful. The Sport package, which had debuted in the B3 90 20V sedan and continued in the B4 V6 model for 1995, was reintroduced into the B5 model for the U.S. market in 1997 with the launch of the 1.8T 20V turbo model. As it had with previous generations, that included slightly more distinct wheels and Jacquard than the standard model, but the 1.8T at that point still only produced 150 horsepower and lugging the all-wheel drive A4 around meant the early 1.8Ts were anything but quick. With mid 8-second runs to 60 m.p.h., they weren’t much faster than the 4000 quattro had been a decade earlier. However changes and added sport came in 1998 to the A4 run when Audi moved the 5 valve technology into the V6 motor. Now in AHA 30 valve form, the output of the V6 bumped roughly 20 horsepower and 20 lb. ft or torque up and was a closer match to the European competition, and acceleration and especially highway feel were finally befitting a “sport” designation. Audi also gave these sport models the same 3-spoke sport steering wheel the 1.8T model had received, as well as introducing a new wheel design. The 7-spoke “Swing” wheels would begin the differentiation between the sport equipped models and the standard A4s and while they were the same 16″ size as the non-sport wheels, the design somehow looked considerably more special.…

Motorsports Monday: 2000 Audi A4 2.8 quattro

Motorsports Monday: 2000 Audi A4 2.8 quattro

They have a reputation for being a bit heavy, underpowered and prone to understeer – all things that make track enthusiasts cringe. But let’s not forget that the B5 Audi A4 carried on a proud tradition of successful touring cars; it was entered into nearly every series and notably won a few championships – the ’95 and ’96 Italian Superturismo Championship and the ’96 British Touring Car Championship, besting the popular favorites BMW and Alfa-Romeo. Such was the continued dominance of the quattro drive system that in every successive championship the Audis were entered in, they were eventually banned from the series. But the resurgence of Audi to the forefront of Touring Cars proved to be a boost for sales of the popular B5 chassis, making it an instant favorite amongst fans who traveled to the track. While Audi changed priorities in the later ’90s from the BTCC and ITC, there were nonetheless several teams who ran examples of the A4, notably in the “World Challenge” sanctioned by SCCA. With liveries inspired by the classic A4 Super Touring, the more production-based A4 World Challenge gained mostly safety equipment and competed in the lower “Touring” class against the likes of the Acura Integra and BMW 325i, while after 2001 the S4 was introduced to run with the big boys. While not nearly as fast or special as the STW A4s which carry unique Audi Sport chassis numbers, an example of these lesser A4s captures the look at a fraction of the price:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 Audi A4 2.8 quattro on eBay

Wagon Week: 2000 Volkswagen Passat 2.8 GLX 4Motion Variant

Wagon Week: 2000 Volkswagen Passat 2.8 GLX 4Motion Variant

While “Wagon Week” is one of our favorite features, I’ve tried to look at cars this go around that are slightly different than the normal candidates we examine. As such, while typically I look at the infamous W8 version of the Passat and it’s headline grabbing, innovative engine or the lighter weight 1.8T 5-speed, my preferred configuration, this time we’re looking at what was a popular platform – the GLX 4Motion. Equipped with a silky smooth 30V V6, as it was with the B2 generation underneath the B5 Passat was effectively an Audi A4 and shared the same all-wheel drive technology with updated 4-link suspension. That gave the Passat a refined and capable drivetrain and composed suspension setup that made it feel more upscale than the B3 and B4 generation had been. For enthusiasts, unfortunately if you wanted the all-wheel drive option coupled to a manual, you’d need to select an Audi over the more budget-friendly Passat or wait until the introduction of the 1.8T 4Motion later in the B5.5 model run. But many selected the package none-the-less, a capable and competent upscale cruiser that punched north of its price point and was a value luxury car:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 Volkswagen Passat 2.8 GLX 4Motion Variant on eBay

1995 Audi 90 quattro

1995 Audi 90 quattro

The good week for Audis continues with another car that’s frankly rare to find in reasonable condition anymore; the B4 Audi 90 quattro. The 90 was a bit long in the tooth in 1995 and slated for replacement by the updated A4. However, squint a bit and you realize that outside of the reshaped bumper covers the A4 shared many design cues with the B4 Audi. It’s a handsome car, and like the ’95 A6 I wrote up the other day it’s extremely competent. The V6 was coupled to the venerable but updated quattro all-wheel drive via a 5-speed manual transmission. While not the fastest car out there, the B4 focused on more luxury at a time when all of the major manufacturers seems to be backing away from sport just a bit. You won’t confuse this car with an M3, but that said it’s a fair bit more quiet, refined and quicker than a 4000 quattro. However, the car was a veritable sales flop compared to the 4000 – Audi only sold about 3,330 of the B4 90 quattros in the U.S. in total, compared to the nearly 16,000 4000 quattros sold. Rare? You bet:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 Audi 90 quattro on eBay