2004 Volkswagen Phaeton

The Phaeton is a very perplexing car. It was established as a plan to produce a no-expense spared, world-beating luxury car – and, in many ways at the time, it was world beating. It offered similar luxury and performance to the established German standards – Mercedes-Benz’s S-Class and BMW’s 7-series, but also challenged stable-mate Audi’s A8. Yet it was available on a more Volkswagen budget – at least, in theory. That’s because if you walked into a Volkswagen dealer in the mid 2000s and wanted a basically optioned model, you’d be out about $75,000. For reference, that’s about three times what my expensive-for-the-category Passat cost in 2002. And the big problem with that was how the Phaeton looked, because a bulk of the population wouldn’t be able to tell the two apart.

But that wasn’t the point about the Phaeton. Nor was it that you could get the lighter, aluminum version of what appeared to be the same car from more upscale Audi that would arguably attract much more attention for not much more money. And it was this exact confusion that befuddled the market; why would you ever pay $75,000 for a Volkswagen? The trick came in realizing what you were getting, which actually shared little architecture with the Audi corporate partner. Park a Phaeton next to an A8 and you’d swear they were just about the same car with light badging changes, but you couldn’t be more wrong.

Although the model shared components with the D3 A8, it also shared much more architecture with other side of VAG’s portfolio – the Bentley Flying Spur and Continental. This meant a steel chassis rather than the aluminum space frame, and that meant more weight – a lot more weight. To mitigate this, Volkswagen upped the power slightly over the A8’s V8 to 335 and dropped its axle ratio to 3.65:1.…

2003 Audi S6 Avant 6-speed

It’s with some confusion that I write this post. There are several reasons for that, but it boils down to really two things; I keep seeing this car, and I don’t understand why it’s for sale. In general, S6 Avants aren’t really often seen. I don’t think that anyone who knows C5 Audis would consider Aqua Blue Pearl Effect to be a particularly common color. Find one with the Alcantara Recaro seats and it’s likely down to single digits. And to narrow that down even further, 6-speed converted S6 Avants pop up from time to time, yet generally aren’t often seen. But combine all of those things and there only has to be one, right? Well, wrong – as there appear to have been no less than two identical 6-speed converted Aqua Blue Pearl Effect 2003 S6 Avants for sale on the West Coast over the past two years. And what is even more confusing is that they keep coming up for sale. The first one appeared in January 2014 and was stock with 95,000 miles and on offer for just below $16,000. It was back in March 2015, now with 105,000 miles and on offer for $500 less. So in September when a nearly identical one popped up for $16,500, you’d presume it was the same, right? Well, wrong – this one has more miles and is highly modified. But at its base is the same Aqua Blue Pearl Effect with Alcantara and a 6-speed swap. As strange as that is, what perplexes me even more every time one of these or their S8 cousins come up for sale, though, is why anyone would go through all the trouble of the manual conversion only to sell the car shortly after:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Audi S6 Avant 6-speed on eBay

2003 Audi S6 Avant

I stopped by my long-time mechanic’s just the other day to discuss some suspension repairs to the Subaru. This particular mechanic – Duarte de Costa at D&F Motorsports in Providence, Rhode Island – has been serving our family now for the best part of twenty years. He even came to my wedding. As our editor Paul said, “That’s when you know you’re into a guy deep!” To be honest, I wasn’t surprised that there was a family car there – Duarte bought my parent’s Allroad when they had enough of the repairs. But also on the lift was my father’s 1989 Porsche 944 Turbo with a headgasket failure. Parked sadly underneath it, though, was the Allroad, complete with collapsed suspension once again. By my count, it’s the fifth time in ten years that the suspension has had to be serviced. But it’s not alone; drive around Providence and you’ll see any number of Allroads bouncing around on blown airbags. It’s become so rare to see a nice one around here, you almost forget that they’re really pretty good looking cars. What’s inescapable for many, though, are the expensive repairs to keep the twin-turbocharged V6 and the active air suspension going. What’s the solution for a good looking Allroad then? Ditch both of those things and get the even more potent S6 Avant:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Audi S6 Avant on eBay