Clone Wars Fast Wagon-off: Audi S6 Avant v. BMW “M5” Touring

We’re all fans of fast wagons here at GCFSB; Andrew’s owned a S4 Avant 6-speed and I’m on my third sporty 5 door. There’s something wonderful about these versatile vehicles; they’re the automotive equivalent of having your cake and eating it too. You can literally throw everything including the kitchen sink at them, go blasting down back roads with lurid 4-wheel drifts, or simply tote the family along in smart style. It’s not that having a wagon makes you smug, in my mind, it’s that those who have opted for that route simply are a higher evolution of thought. It’s the difference between the Australopithecus SUV market and the Homo Sapiens; sure, “Sport Utilities” may be the rage now, but the reality is many are just heavily disguised wagons or are doomed to extinction in the near future. But for right now, it seems the other way around in the U.S.; though some are on the horizon, fast wagons are currently hard to come by and that makes us look towards the past for some evolutionary inspiration. Since we love looking at older cars anyway, that’s not a bad thing – so let’s consider these two utility vehicles that are actually sporty:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 BMW “M5” Touring on eBay

2003 Audi A6 2.7T Quattro

In the late 1990, Volkswagen began the long push to become the segment leader for mid-sized sedans. The B5 Passat was a leap forward over the slow selling and somewhat cantankerous B4 Passat, catching their Japanese competition off-guard. The styling was smooth and almost Bauhaus-like. The Audi A6 that would arrive on the scene in 1997 echoed a lot of the new Passat’s attractive lines wrapped into a more luxurious package. A number of C5 A6s were available, from the garden variety 2.8 to a fire-breathing RS6 with it’s biturbo V8. This 2.7T Quattro splits the middle in terms of performance, with the 2.7 liter biturbo V6 mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox. This one has had a host of maintenance and comes with an upgraded RS4 clutch.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Audi A6 2.7T Quattro on eBay

2002 Audi S6

$_57 (6)
Much like its E39 5-series competitor, the C5 Audi brethren were clean with simple designs and plenty of modern amenities without overcomplication, and came with performance variants that were true wolves in sheeps’ clothing. The S6 Avant wasn’t quite up to the M5’s monster benchmark (leaving those duties to the rare, sedan-only RS6), but it was still a full-sized family wagon packing a silky V8 with 340hp. Today’s example is in nice shape and looks just a touch more aggressive with adjustable Bilstein coilovers. There are surprisingly few blemishes after 132k miles and, other than the typical Audi dead pixels in the screens, it’s hard to find any major faults with this car.

Click for details: 2002 Audi S6 on eBay

10K Friday Colorful Carriers: Vibrant Wagon-off

Did someone say fast 5-doors? Amen! The bells on the Church of the Heavenly 5 Doors are ringing this Friday, and I’ve rounded up a unique quartet of very fast and very colorful wagons to consider, each around or below $10,000. We’ve got 5 turbos, 25 cylinders and 1,200 horsepower worth of people carriers here – which is the winner for you?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Audi S4 Avant on Denver Craigslist

Double Take: 2001 Audi A6 4.2 quattro

For the C5 chassis, there was a major change in that the popular S6 sedan was discontinued in the United States. In its place, you got to choose from a few options; if you had to have a S6, Audi would oblige but only in wagon form in 2002/2003 with the S6 Avant. If you had to have a S sedan, your option was to wait until the 2003 twin turbo RS6 launched and pay a serious premium over a standard A6. But Audi had two spiritual successors to the C4 S6. First, you could get the twin turbocharged 2.7T V6 in the A6 sedan and it could be had with a 6-speed manual. A little heavier than the C4 but with a bit more power, performance was very close to the legendary turbo 5. But few remember that there was a 4.2 V8 option on the C4 S6 in Europe as well, and you could even specify your S6 with (gasp!) an automatic transmission. Audi recreated this package as well in the new C5 A6 4.2 quattro, and to make it a bit more special it was given some S6 details. The 4.2, for example, sported lighter aluminum fenders and hood, along with an aluminum front subframe to match it’s alloy V8. A full 1.4″ longer and with 3.5″ of additional track over the standard A6, the 4.2 also gained the door blades that would later be seen on the S cars. It was the defacto S6 sedan that was never offered, though the 300 horsepower V8 was down on power to the S6 motor and only 2/3s the power of the later twin-turbo RS6. Despite the special aspects the A6 4.2 doesn’t seem to enjoy as much as cult following as either the S6 Avant or the A6 2.7T 6-speed.…

2002 Audi S6 Avant with 6-speed Manual Conversion

Pretty though it may be, it was not the appearance of this Ming Blue Metallic Audi C5 S6 Avant that won me over. I think pretty much all C5s look good, Avant or Sedan, 2.7T or RS6, they’re all visually pleasing in my book. No, the reason I’m writing this car up is because the seller has equipped the car with a 6spd manual transmission. The automatic Audi stuck us with here in the United States probably didn’t seem so bad when it debuted, but in 2015, the 5 speed ZF 5HP24A can go suck an egg. These enthusaist focused machines deserve 3 pedals, shame Audi didn’t feel that Americans did when they sold it new. On the upside, it seems more and more folks out there are stepping up and plunking down the money to make the change to a manual. While it’s not the most expensive procedure in the world, it’s by no means cheap, especially if you do it the right way. It seems this is one of those jobs where no expense was spared, as the parts list below reads like an Audiphile’s Christmas list.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Audi S6 Avant on Audizine

Wagon Week 10K Friday: Audimatic S For The People

It’s been a while since I wrote up a 10K Friday article; they take some time both in determining the thread, finding the car and then writing them all up. Sometimes all it takes is a bit of inspiration though, and Wagon Week was just that for me. While we’ve covered many of the most popular fast and practical wagons this week, again I’m going to do a bit of an unusual comparison to cover some unloved models that are potential deals: automatic Audi S Avants. So, in today’s comparison we have a B5 S4, a B6 S4, a C5 S4 and to compare values a C4 S6 (the only row-your-own here). Which is the right choice for a fast Audi wagon?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Audi S4 Avant on Craigslist

2003 Audi S6 Avant 6-speed

If the Coupe Quattro John sent in earlier wasn’t really the Audi I’d choose to build or buy, the S6 he found certainly was the opposite. Last week I wrote up a clean S6 6-speed converted car. It was lovely in just about every detail, but there were a few niggles that I would have done differently. Enter today’s S6; in 2003-only Aqua Blue Pearl with the optional Alcantara seats, this stunning S6 is just about perfect in my book and just like the silver car features a 6-speed swap:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Audi S6 Avant on Craigslist

2002 Audi S6 Avant 6-speed

The other day it seemed as though I switched sides, abandoning my preferred Audis for the dark star of Mercedes-Benz with the E55 AMG Estate. Don’t get me wrong, I do like the S6 Avant, but perhaps the lack of manual and the mere existence of the hotter and not-for-U.S. market RS6 Avant just takes the edge of the C5 for me. Plus, the transmissions in the Audis are notorious – correctly or incorrectly – for being a bit weak and expensive to replace. The solution? A 6-speed manual converted car, of course! And this particular example even steps up above that single massive advantage with a host of RS6 upgrades as well:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Audi S6 Avant on eBay

Double Take: 2002 Audi S6 Avant

Amongst unappreciated Audis, the C5 S6 seems to be pretty high on the snub list for enthusiasts. Complaints that they were overly complicated and underwhelming were understandable in some regards as the C5 S6 only came in Avant and automatic form to the U.S.. Indeed, at the same time as the S6 was offered, you could get a twin-turbocharged Allroad 6-speed for a bit less money than the S6. Since it was effectively the same car with a manual and height-adjustable suspension, one would wonder why Audi would offer the S6 at all. However, compared to some other Audis of the same vintage, the S6 holds some advantages. To lighten the porky C5 up slightly, the S6 featured some aluminum body bits up front. Unlike the previous turbocharged inline-5, power came from a capable V8 – rated at 340 horsepower, it was effectively the same motor shared with the S8 and nearly 100 horsepower more than the V6. The S6 also got a special and unique version of the Ronal-made Avus wheel at 17″x8″, instead of the 17″x7.5″ on the B5 S4. Inside the S6 was much the same as the rest of the C5 lineup, though sport seats were standard as with the S8. However, for second or third-hand owners, the big advantages to the S6 are the steel suspension in place of the air-controlled suspension the Allroad featured – a complicated system that has proven failure prone. Additionally, the belt-driven V8 doesn’t have the same guide issues of the chain-driven later V8s in the S4 V8. True, you are still subjected to the transmission woes of this generation Audis – but properly cared for, even the weak-spot transmissions can go for some time. Today I have two examples of the S6 Avant; which is the one to buy?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Audi S6 Avant on eBay