2003 Audi RS6

RS61

For me, the great appeal of the early ’00s era super sedans has always been their relatively restrained styling. Unlike contemporary offerings from M, AMG and quattro GmbH, which are nakedly aggressive and loud, the cars from this period don’t look too different from the underlying models on which they were based. The RS6 is a good example. The C5 platform A6 underpinning the car typifies Audi styling of the time: good looking and functional but a bit staid. I’d be willing to admit that some of the Bauhaus-esque curves and lines give it a little edginess, especially when when viewed from the rear quarter panel, but you have to squint hard to see them. Indeed, Regular Car Review Guy has a bit about the styling of the A4 of the same era being “the future by way of the past,” and I think that the same could equally be said about the A6. This conservatism continues into the RS6, but the deeper front spoiler, flared fenders, 18″ wheels and double exhaust make for a far more muscular look and hint at the extraordinary power that lies beneath. While enthusiasts will know what it is, most other people will mistake it for an ordinary executive saloon. And that’s a good thing. There’s something seriously cool about a car that blends into the crowd, but is nonetheless capable of cracking nearly 200 MPH on the autobahn.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Audi RS6 on eBay

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2002 Audi S8

In many ways, to me the D2 S8 is the last of the great 1980s Audis. But wait, you say – it wasn’t built in the 1980s. It may have shared little design with the original Quattro other than the drivetrain layout and the Vier Ringe on the grill, but at its heart the S8 was the culmination of the mission of the original car – to cover ground at high speed in a luxurious 4-seater regardless of the weather conditions. Now, truth told newer Audis are bigger, badder and faster. Some even look better, though not many in my eyes. They have more technology, power and luxury than ever. So, it would be natural to say that they, too, accomplish the mission of the Quattro – and they do. But, the essence of what was Audi somehow was lost along the way. The D2 S8 didn’t sell in great numbers, but that wasn’t because it was the most expensive option and it certainly wasn’t because it was unattractive or slow. Perhaps it lacked the raw driver connection of cars like the contemporary E39 M5 and the physical grunt of the AMG E55 and S55 models. But as an all around package, the S8 is surely one of the best Audis produced. It’s quick, driver oriented, supremely comfortable, all-weather capable and even (dare I say) reliable relative to other VAG packages. It’s not so tech-heavy that it feels outdated the moment you step in the cabin; rather, it feels like the most up-to-date version of the C4 chassis and that’s generally a good thing. It sounds great, too, thanks to the silky smooth V8 under the hood. The only downside is that with low residuals, locating a really nice one any day of the week is not nearly as easy as finding a clean M5:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Audi S8 on Boulder Craigslist

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Two For T: 2001 and 2002 Audi TT 225 quattros

I’ll get this out of the way off the bat; not everyone likes the Audi TT, and yes, it’s not really a sports car. But excusing that it’s not a 911 although it’s similarly shaped, is it really that much of a pretender? Tight body curves that were really avant garde in the late 1990s reveal a beautifully crafted interior with lots of special details to let you know you were in a premium product. Under the hood, in its most potent form the 1.8T was quite capable as well, with 225 horsepower resulting in mid-6 sec 0-60 runs in stock form and punchy delivery. And while the Haldex-driven but “quattro” branded all-wheel drive wasn’t as slick as Audi’s other all-wheel drive systems, it works just fine in most conditions. So let’s take a look at two nice examples of these budget sports coupes:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Audi TT 225 quattro on eBay

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2001 Audi RS4

Although Audi had launched the idea of the super wagon with the RS2, by the late 1990s they didn’t have anything near as impressive. Sure, the S4 Avant was quick, but with 250 horsepower it was substantially less powerful than the 315 horsepower RS2 and the 322 horsepower S6 Plus. Something needed to be done to live up to the reputation of quattro GmbH, and that something involved Cosworth. Taking the basic twin turbocharged V6 from the B5 S4, Cosworth Technologies thoroughly rebuilt the motor. Now dubbed the ASJ (later AZR), the power went up 50% to 375 horsepower with an equally impressive 325 lb.ft of torque. To match the performance of the motor, quattro GmbH introduced new bodywork that channeled some of the trends set by the RS2; larger vents on the front bumper, wider sills, and larger brakes and wheels. The result was a package that lived up to the “RS” moniker with sub 5-second 0-60 runs, a 160 m.p.h. top speed, but also the brakes and grip to compete with contemporary sports cars. It may not have had the mystique of the RS2 without the name Porsche, but it was a package that was just as desirable then as it is today:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Audi RS4 on eBay

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Ultrasport Version 3.0: 2002 Audi A4 3.0 quattro Avant v. 2005 Audi A4 3.0 quattro Avant Ultrasport

A few weeks ago in my “Avant-off” article, I asked if the premium for the Titanium Package S-Line cars was justified. But comparing a B6 to a B7 can be tough, since there are a fair amount of differences in styling and performance. To equal the playing field more, today I have two nearly identical cars. In this case, it’s a normal A4 3.0 quattro Avant 6-speed against a very similar Ultrasport model. Just like the Titanium package, the Ultrasport package was mostly for looks; you got the Sport Package 1BE suspension, 18″ “Celebration” RS4-style wheels with summer high performance tires, perforated leather 3-spoke steering wheel and shift knob, aluminum interior trim and a quattro GmbH body kit. It was a $3,000 option on top of your already pricey A4 in 2004 and 2005, and came in 1.8T or 3.0 V6 configurations in either sedan or Avant. They’re relatively hard to find, so let’s look at the theoretical premium the package commands today:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Audi A4 3.0 quattro Avant on Worcester Craigslist

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2004 Audi A4 1.8T quattro Ultrasport

As with the BMW E46 ZHP package, Audi introduced the “Ultrasport” package in the 2004 B6 chassis. Effectively, this was as close to an S4 as you could get without actually buying a S4. You had to select the Sport Package to upgrade to the Ultrasport obviously, so the 1BE suspension upgrades, sway and stress bars carried over. However, the Ultrasport package upped the ante with 18″ quattro GmbH “Celebration” RS4 style wheels, front and rear bumpers also designed by quattro GmbH, door blades borrowed from the S4, a special perforated leather 3-spoke steering wheel and aluminum interior trim. While for many the more desirable package is the Avant – and that’s what we usually feature, the Ultrasport was also available in sedan form in either 3.0 V6 or 1.8T configuration:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 Audi A4 1.8T quattro Ultrasport on Providence Craigslist

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2003 Audi S8

There are some car listings that just make me sad, and this S8 is one of them. I fear that I may be missing the bus on getting just the right S8, because while the prices continue the gentle depreciation slide they’ve been on over the past decade, that means that they’re ending up in less-than-careful hands. In many of the cars I’ve owned, I’ve wished that I was maybe one or two owners closer to the original sale, because I’ve spent so much effort trying to undo what the previous owner did or repair things they left undone. A simple oil leak can easily turn into a multi-thousand dollar repair in some cases if left unattended, and when you’re talking about an expensive, complicated car like the S8, there can be multitudes of possibilities for where you can run into trouble. But even excusing that mechanicals on a 12 year old car get old and need to be replaced, then there’s the physical wear – generally, the second and third owners of cars seem to care much less for their condition than the original owners did. Let’s take a look at the cost of ownership on this 2003 S8, and why I’m sad:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Audi S8 on eBay

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Wagon Week: 2001 Audi RS4 with 3,300 Miles

If yesterday’s pristine S4 DTM Edition with low miles got you excited, then this is probably the type of car that you’d really like to see. Normally when we’ve done Wagon Weeks, I’ve written up some of the more notable fast Audi wagons; the RS2 and the S6 Plus, for example. But today I wanted to visit a few we don’t spend so much time on – hence the S6 Avant duo from earlier. What we have here, though, is even that much more special; what is probably the best condition, most original and lowest mile Audi RS4 outside of Audi’s possession. The RS4 was an instant hit, with quattro GmbH combining forces with Cosworth to tune the engine of the B5 up to a then-staggering 375 horsepower. With beefed up bodywork covering massive wheels and tires and run through a 6-speed manual transmission, the RS4 was good to its Sport Quattro and RS2 heritage, running to 60 m.p.h. in a smashing 4.9 seconds and easily bouncing off its self-imposed 155 m.p.h. limiter. As with the RS2 and the Sport Quattro, the limited run RS4 has been the subject of many replicas, but finding a mint condition original example reminds us of how perfect the formula was:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Audi RS4 on Classic Driver

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Twin Turbo Terrors – Audi RS6 Roundup

The other day I wrote up two M5s, questioning whether the E34 was a smart decision when the E39 offered more performance and luxury at a lower price point. That’s not the end of the story, though, because the car that created a sensation and helped to once again redefine the category has dropped to historic lows in value. The Audi RS6 wasn’t the first car to offer a V8 in the mid-sized luxury segment, but as with the original Quattro they upped the game by offering not only a V8, but twin turbochargers and all-wheel drive to the mix. The result was a hunkered down Autobahn warrior with 450 horsepower on tap. It was immediately the top dog, and being turbocharged it was capable of even more outrageous levels of power. As with its AMG and M counterparts, it was also quite expensive as the newest piece of kit in 2003; at nearly $90,000, not many could afford the super sedan. But now a little over a decade on, the Audi RS6 has predictably gone through a few generations of ownership and has dropped substantially in value. In part, that’s because the Audis of this generation have some known faults and keeping the twin-turbocharged V8 running in top condition can be an expensive proposition. But if you want to go fast and have one seriously menacing luxury car on the road, it’s hard to argue that anything can do it better for less money today:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Audi RS6 on eBay

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2001 Audi A4 1.8T quattro Sport

Audi loves to do things outside of the norm, and one of the odd things that they seem to do is to upgrade a car and then immediately discontinue it. Why they do this is beyond my level of comprehension, but it means that if you know what you’re looking for you can get a slightly more special version of the car you’re after. These half year models, known as the “.5″s, aren’t always the same – nor are they always well documented. The first I can think of is the 1987.5 Coupe GT; also dubbed the “Special Build”, it featured some serious upgrades including a larger 2.3 liter inline-5, 4-wheel disc brakes and a few trim differences from other GTs. Arguably, they’re the most highly sought after GTs with only a few hundred still kicking around. The same goes for the 1995.5 S6; minor trim and some mechanical changes, such as the change from a mechanical locking rear differential to the newer electronic system Audi would use in newer cars. But it didn’t end there, as in 2001 Audi upgraded the outgoing B5 A4 to 2001.5 specs. The changes were subtle; the A4 already had a refreshed front and rear lights in 1999, so you had to look underneath to find the reinforced front strut housings and changed ECUs. While the S4 didn’t exhibit any exterior differences, though, the A4 Sport package was different. Launched in 1999, the Sport package A4s initially had Ronal made “Swing” 7 spoke wheels that were replaced in 2001 by Speedline-made 7 spoke wheels that had a more square design and a center lug cover. But the 2001.5 models gained the “Celebration Package” as well, featuring 17″ wheels for the first time on the regular A4. It was, for all intents and purposes, the beginning of what would become the “Ultrasport” package on the B6 A4 in 2002. The “Celebration” wheels, as on the A6 2.7T and S8, mimic the RS4 design and became a signature wheel for the early 2000s Audis:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Audi A4 1.8T Sport on eBay

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