1991 Audi V8 quattro 5-speed

Back to big Audis! The early 1990s were, as I’ve described in the past two posts, a period of change for the Ingolstadt firm as they closed down production on the Type 44 to introduce its new replacement, the C4. That led to a dizzying assortment of models from the one chassis. There was the aforementioned 100 and 100 quattro. You could move up to two turbocharged models, too – the 200 Turbo gave you 165 horsepower through the front wheels, and the new-and-only-for-91 in the U.S. was 200 20V quattro. Europe and the rest of the world got even more options; production lasted right up through 2006 in parts of China, where they even made a crazy long-wheel base 4-door convertible version of the Hongqi.

But the top of the heap for the U.S. market was a derivative of the Type 44, the D11 chassis. Of course, that was Audi’s foray into the top-tier luxury market with its new all-aluminum 32 valve double-overhead cam V8. Body revisions to the front and rear along with flared fenders made the V8 quattro seem like a completely different car to the slab-sided 100. V8s had, and have, serious presence. Big news, too, was that for the first time Audi was able to match its all-wheel drive quattro setup with a new 4-speed automatic transmission.

For die-hard Audi faithful, though, for a short while you could still opt to row-your-own with the 240 horsepower 3.6 liter V8 singing to your right foot. These manual V8 quattros are legendary because of their rarity and that they are the only car Audi brought to market with twin Torsen differentials. The combination of a more rearward weight bias, big and instant torque from the V8 and those clever diffs made for one of the best driving experiences in a big sedan from Audi:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Audi V8 quattro on Grand Rapids Craigslist

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1990 Audi V8 quattro

Weather. It’s today’s weather that makes me instantly think back to my V8 quattro. Here in New England this morning I emerged from my weather-proof cocoon hidden carefully under several layers of blankets to reveal the foot-plus of powdery snow, blowing fiercely with a sustained 35 mph wind, and a temperature hovering around 9. Maybe for you folks in Minnesota that’s a nice Spring day, but I think it’s just brutal. Yet when it occurs, I instantly think back to the car I had that made me relish those conditions. It was my ’93 V8 quattro, without hesitation.

When the mercury dipped below freezing and the roads were covered in snow, that car was simply a monster. Audis certainly have a reputation for being good in the snow, it’s true. But here’s a hint – I’ve owned a lot and driven even more, and they’re not all great in the white stuff (ducks). They’re also very tire-dependent, perhaps moreso than other cars. Because with all-seasons on an Audi, you’ll have no problem going fast in deep snow, but you’ll have quite a few problems turning and more problems stopping.

But I had snow tires on my V8. Tiny little A4 steel wheels overshadowed by the widened flares with tires that look fit for…well, an basic B5 A4 rather than a large executive. When that white stuff fell – look out. It was unstoppable, but not in the bad way I just mentioned. And unlike the terminal understeer some of my other Audis suffered from (I’m looking at you, 200!), all you had to do in the V8 if the nose wasn’t heading where you wanted to was to give it a boot-full of throttle. A tremendous roar would emerge as the 4-cam all-aluminum V8 sprung to life, the multi-plate center differential channeled power towards the back, and the Torsen rear diff limited the slip of the unladen tire. The result? Sideways. Totally awesome, controllable drifts at nearly any angle you wanted for as long as you wanted. I drove through a blizzard, seat heaters set at “just so”, automatic climate control dialed in to 70 with the exterior temp suggesting it was Saskatchewan I was in rather than Southern Massachusetts. The V8 ate the miles up leisurely. It was the most comfortable I’ve felt in a very bad driving environment, and I’ve driven through a few in some pretty good cars.

Then there’s the ‘whether’. It’s more than whether or not you live in a climate where my scenario will play out for you. It’s more than whether or not this car is worth purchasing. It’s whether or not you’ll be able to find parts. It’s whether or not all of the items work. Heck, with a V8 quattro, sometimes it’s whether or not it’ll feel like starting. And when it does, it’s whether or not it’ll feel like shifting, too.

Whether be damned, these cars still capture my imagination every single time I see one.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Audi V8 quattro on eBay

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1990 Audi V8 quattro

I have a fun ongoing exchange with our reader John; we send each other pretty much every V8 quattro that comes to the market in the U.S., usually accompanied by some brutally honest and laughable one-liner. Considering the number of V8 quattros imported – less than 4000 – and that they were both expensive and a DTM star, they would have been coveted like the rest of the Audi lineup. Yet, many have fallen into extreme disrepair or neglect, leaving precious few left running today and making good ones a rare find. For example, recently John sent me a pretty worn Pearlesant White ’93 model with the line: ” ‘cheap’ and haven’t seen it before, but that’s about it”. I responded that I’d done the “cheap” V8 route before, and that were I to do it again I would have been better off spending three times as much to get a maintained example. The V8 is truly a car that could bankrupt you trying to restore a poor one to original condition. However, if you find a reasonable example that’s well priced, is it a better proposition?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Audi V8 quattro on eBay

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Hidden Pearls Double Take: 1991 Audi V8 3.6 quattro 5-speed and 1994 V8 4.2 quattro

Like the closest counterparts, the BMW M3/M5 and the Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3 16v/500E, the Audi V8 quattro has long enjoyed a cult following. Unlike those other cars, though, finding a decent V8 quattro these days is quite tough. First, not many were imported – a few thousand may sound like a lot, but it’s less than the total number of E30 M3s imported, for example, by a long shot. By the time they got to their last production year, only a few hundred of the super-sedans were imported. Second, because they’re complicated, older cars that lost a lot of their value in the 1990s, many fell into states of disrepair. Over its short life, the Audi V8 underwent numerous changes; from the introductory options of automatic or manual, the 3.6 liter quad-cam all-aluminum V8 pumped a respectable 240 horsepower but by the end of the run the automatic-only 4.2 liter displacement bump resulted in nearly 280 horsepower. Sure, that’s small potatoes today, but outside of the limited Sport Quattro, these were the most powerful production Audis made before 1995. Today we’ll take a look at two of the more desirable models for different reasons – a 3.6 5-speed and a late 4.2 model, both Pearlesant White with Grey Connolly leather

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Audi V8 3.6 quattro 5-speed on Craigslist

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A V8 for every production year – 1990-1994 Audi V8 Quattros

I’m not going to hide my love of the Audi V8 quattro. It was one of the most challenging cars I have ever owned, but it was also the one that I find myself still looking at and wanting in spite of the many repairs and several headaches. I’ve like the V8 quattro since it first came out; a hunkered down, V8 engined, heavily modified 200 quattro, it managed to feel almost nothing like the C3 chassis it was based on. Audi seemed to agree, renaming the V8 “D11”, effectively creating a new chassis class despite the nearly identical dimensions to the 200 that ran alongside the V8. Recently I wrote up a first year 4.2 V8 quattro that was in great shape, evoking memories of both my ownership and the DTM series that Audi dominated with the slightly portly but very powerful V8 quattro. Today, I’ve decided to round up all of the model years; we’ll cover 1990-1994 V8s that are currently for sale. Let’s start where it all began:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Audi V8 Quattro on Portland Craiglist

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