10K Friday: Gimmie Five – Audi 5-pot-off

Today’s 10K Friday is something a bit unique; instead of a normal comparison between similarly valued cars, I’m going to chart the development of the venerable Audi inline-5. While, due to a dearth of examples, we won’t go back to the very early days of the I5 in the U.S., I’ve rounded up some of the more notable configurations that the engine appeared in the U.S.. Since, save some exceptions like the legendary Quattro and RS2, nearly every used Audi with this motor fits the under $10,000 limit (or comes close to it), that gives us the opportunity to see Audi’s continual technical changes to the inline-5. Though not as memorable as BMW’s inline-6 or Porsche’s flat-6, this motor was extremely important to the company nonetheless and was a character-defining attribute of Audis for nearly 20 years. So, let’s see how they kept it relevant from the 1970s into the 1990s:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Audi 4000CS quattro on Craigslist

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1990 Audi 200 Quattro Avant

We all have our favorite marque of choice here at GCFSB, and if one person is the resident Volkswagen/Audi fan, it’s Carter. He’s owned many of these cars over the years and knows them inside out. I’ve owned a few Volkswagens, but the Audi has always been that elusive car in my garage. One of the Audis I’ve admired over the years was a car from their dark days in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The C3 Avant. This 1990 200 Quattro Avant isn’t the much prized 20V model from the end of the production run, but with Quattro and a 5-speed manual, you could still have fun with this car.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Audi 200 Quattro Avant on eBay

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It’s Hip To Be Square: 1986 Audi Coupe GT and 1987 Audi 5000CS Quattro

There are probably a few out there reading this who will remember Huey Lewis and the News, or perhaps you’re a fan of Christian Bale and his performance in American Psycho which prominently featured a notoriously catchy song by the band, “It’s Hip to be Square”. While the song itself was a relative hit, for me it’s Bale’s character’s critique of the band that is particularly poignant when considering Audis from the 1980s:

“You like Huey Lewis and the News? Their early work was a little too new wave for my taste, but when Sports came out in ’83, I think they really came into their own, commercially and artistically. The whole album has a clear, crisp sound, and a new sheen of consummate professionalism that really gives the songs a big boost. He’s been compared to Elvis Costello, but I think Huey has a far more bitter, cynical sense of humor. I think their undisputed masterpiece is “Hip to Be Square,” a song so catchy, most people probably don’t listen to the lyrics. But they should, because it’s not just about the pleasures of conformity, and the importance of trends, it’s also a personal statement about the band itself!”

Audi reinvented itself in the 1980s; with crisp, clean new designs that stood apart from their countrymen. They were boxy but aerodynamic, clean and economical – yet at the same time, they were really noticeable, looked expensive and have stood the test of time. Yet few people partook in these 1980s Audis compared to some more period marques. If Mercedes-Benz was the sign that you had made it to opulent wealth and still made good decisions, BMW was the sign that – well, you’d just made it to wealth. But Audis, though quite dear in price, were always a bit different; outsiders in their own land. Whilst everyone else took tried and true paths, Audi forged ahead through unusual means – small displacement, turbocharged motors feeding locking differentials and all-wheel drive, for example. Every model seemed to be a statement within itself that the company was different, and few embody that ethos quite as well as the 5000CS quattro and Coupe GT:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Audi 5000CS Quattro on Craigslist

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10K Friday “80s Classic” Edition: 924 Turbo v. 5000CS Quattro Avant v. Golf Rallye v. 535i v. 300CE

One thing I really love about writing up these 10K posts is a odd combinations pricing allows me to come up with. For today’s post, I decided to do something a little different. Instead of maximizing the budget, I decided to look at it from the perspective of what was a classic 1980s car that you could buy and maintain well under $10,000. Obviously, if you’re willing to shill out much more, there are countless classics you can jump in to turn-key; but under $10,000 means with almost certainty that the car you’ll be getting in to today will be at least in part a bit of a project. Is there anything wrong with that? No, I think there’s an inherent appeal to trying to save and resuscitate a car that was in part neglected or just needs attention. Certainly I’ve tried to do that several times with 1980s cars – with mixed results. Today, I grabbed one classic from the 1980s (give or take, we’ll see…) from each of the major manufacturers – which is the one you’d like to save?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1980 Porsche 924 Turbo on eBay

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1991 Audi 200 20V Quattro Avant

Earlier this week, I wrote up dueling 5-cylinder automatic wagons in the “beige-off” between the 1986 Quantum Wagon and 1987 Audi 5000S Avant. The net result of that write up, effectively, was that if you really want to dive into the ownership pool of one of these wagons, most would prefer the more desirable versions of the car. For the Quantum, that meant the Syncro version, and unsurprisingly for the Audi that meant turbocharging and quattro all-wheel drive. In both cases, that raises the complexity factor a few notches – but there are still examples of these long-lived wagons making their owners happy today. I spent a few years with a 200 Avant, and loved many aspects of it; however, I came away saying there was only one way I’d get into an older Audi Avant again – if it was one of the limited run, 3B 20V equipped 1991 examples. Outwardly, you had to be a sharp eye to spot the differences. Some of them were quite subtle; for example, there were no badges outside of the front and rear rings and a subtle “quattro” grill badge on the ’91 200, unlike the previously badged 10V examples. From the roof down, there were no differences other than that until you got to the fenders, which were subtly but notably flared. The wheels were still BBS mesh wheels as they had been in 1989 and 1990, and though they were still 15″ in diameter, they were now 7.5″ wide instead of 6″. Those larger wheels also hid a new brake system dubbed “UFOs” by enthusiasts; the floating rotor design that was engineered to haul the heavy Audi down from triple digit speeds. And triple digit speeds it was now quite capable of, with a healthy 50 horsepower boost over previous 200s thanks to 10 more valves and electronic fuel injection in the new “3B” 20 valve turbocharged inline-5. Mated only to a manual transmission, less than 200 of these coveted Audis were imported at a time when they were both expensive and Audi was nearly on the outs with the American market:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Audi 200 20V quattro Avant on Craigslist New York

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Beige-off: 1986 Volkswagen Quantum Wagon v. 1987 Audi 5000S Avant

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?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Audi 5000S Avant on eBay

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Wagon Week: 1991 Audi 200 20V Turbo Quattro Avant and 1995 S6 Avant

What would “Wagon Week” be without some fast Audi wagons? Starting in the mid-1980s, Audi cornered the market with its turbocharged all-wheel drive fastback “Avants” – starting with the 5000CS Turbo Quattro. The 5000 was replaced by the 200 in 1989, resulting in effectively the same car – now with BBS wheels and a revised interior and lacking the manual differential locks, but otherwise primarily unchanged. There was a minor revision in 1990 – the engine code changed from MC-1 to MC-2; the cam was slightly different and the engine ran higher initial compression and a lighter flywheel in order to drop boost for quicker response – but ultimately, it wasn’t a major change. The big change came in 1991 with the release of the heavily revised double overhead cam version of the venerable inline-5. Dubbed the 3B, it gained about 50 horsepower over the standard 200 turbo. The 20V version also sported “UFO” floating brakes, upgraded suspension, 7.5″ BBS wheels instead of 6″ and some subtle flares. As I mentioned previously, the 200 20V was perhaps the ultimate “Q-Ship” – it had no external badges, so you had to know those flares and wider BBS wheels in order to differentiate it. The 200 20V was a one-year model, replaced in 1992 by the again heavily revised S4 with another revision of the 20V turbocharged engine. We didn’t receive the initial C4 Avant version of the S4, though it was available in Europe in both turbocharged and V8 form. Audi finally corrected the problem in 1995 by releasing the S6 Avant; again revised with temporary overboost providing a bit more power through the AAN version of the inline-5 and with freshened bumpers, the limited run S6 Avant has become just as much a legend as the 200 20V version – if not more so. Our reader John spotted the two good looking examples found here:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 Audi S6 Avant on Craigslist

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10K Friday: A44ordable Audis – 5000CS quattro Avant v. 5000S quattro v. V8 quattro v. 100 quattro

The Type 44 Audi was an impressive advance for German automobiles, a huge leap forward for Audi in a new marketplace – but also nearly the cause of its demise. It was an aerodynamic, futuristic sedan when both BMW and Mercedes-Benz seemed to be producing cars stuck in the 1970s. It was the blueprint for most modern luxury sedans from not only German companies, but many of the advances were copied by the Japanese, Italians and Americans for their large sedans. Yet, by 1990 Audi nearly pulled out of the American market thanks to some creative journalism from 60 Minutes, who in their effort to prove Audi was at fault for some unintended acceleration cases nearly killed off the company entirely. In part as a result of their efforts, it’s become quite rare to find clean examples of them today – but it’s also because they were such good, long-lived and solidly built machines that few have lower miles today. While I recent featured a few 20V turbocharged examples in the 20V Turbo comparison, today we’ll look at a few of the lesser appreciated examples, starting with a clean 5000CS quattro Avant in Canada:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Audi 5000CS Quattro Avant on Hemmings

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10K Friday 20V Turbo Edition: S6 v. 200 20V v. S2 v. S2 Avant v. S4 v. 200 20V Avant

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. Both of these chassis were painstakingly designed to not only take on the competition from Munich and Stuttgart, but indeed to best them. This was a time when Audi was alone at offering all-wheel drive turbocharged performance sedans, coupes and wagons in the luxury market – something we’ve since come to associate with most major manufacturers. Despite the innovation, good looks, notorious long-lived reliability and performance potential of these cars, though, most of them remain the most affordable of their contemporaries. I’ve lined up a group of most of the 20V applications here – which would be your choice? Let’s start with the S6:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 Audi S6 on audifans

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1991 Audi 200 20V Quattro Avant

If I’m completely honest, this was not the car that was originally slated for this spot. Rather, it was a excellent condition black 1991 200 20V quattro Avant – a rare specimen in any event given the less than 200 that made it here originally, but in near mint condition they’re especially rare. Alas, it was not to be; that car sold, and in it’s place I managed to find…another 1991 200 20V quattro Avant. Perhaps I should play the lottery, since best guestimates place only around 100 of these Audi super-wagons on the road today. This example is presented in the more common Pearlesant White Metallic that was the calling card of Audi in the late 80s/early 90s, but inside we find black sport seats – a nice treat on the 200s and substantially more comfortable than the “comfort” seats I had in my 1989 200. The rest…well, the rest reads a bit like a normal 23 year old Audi does these days…

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Audi 200 20V quattro Avant on eBay

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