While visually most people would have a hard time telling a 1991 and 1992 V8 quattro apart, there were a bunch of little changes throughout the model if you were paying attention. The easiest change to spot was the BBS RG forged wheels that carried over from the 1991 model. At 15 x 7.5″ with a 35mm offset, they filled out the widened arches nicely. The more pragmatic change was in badging; after two years of no model designation (one with nearly identical looking but very different cars underneath for sale), the company finally decided other people besides the owner should know what they were driving. V8 badges were added to the grill and left rear of the trunk, and a “quattro” badge returned to the right side of the lid. Much less noticeable was a more pronounced exhaust, with twin stainless outlets now emerging straight out instead of the 1990/1 down-turned tips.
Inside there were few changes; minor gauge movement had occurred between 1990 and 1992. Connolly leather seats were now standard (as were nearly all items on the V8), and the wood trim was upgraded. The V8 came standard with the Cold Weather package, sunroof, ABS, and BOSE radio. Gone was the option to row-your-own, as the manual was removed from the U.S. market. However, a light revision to the shift points along with an integral cooler meant that the 4-speed automatic in the ’92-94 models was more robust.
But the big change was under the hood, where a new ABH 4.2 liter all-aluminum V8 met the owner. With 276 horsepower and 295 lb.ft of torque, it was the most powerful Audi you could buy in 1992, and acceleration matched the manual and turbocharged S4. All of this luxury and speed cost; the sticker price was now up to $54,000. On paper, the V8 competed well against the competition from Stuttgart and Munich.
But in the recession of the early 1990s, coupled with the legacy of Audi’s scandals and rocky introduction to the super-luxury market meant the V8 was a slow seller. Despite upgrades, the ’92-’94 sold especially slowly; in total, only 518 4.2 models were sold in the U.S. compared to nearly 3,500 3.6 models. ’92 was the best seller with about half of those – 270 – moving here. Few remain in the condition of this Cyclamen Red Mica example though!
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?
For many people, the third generation Audi Coupe wasn’t quite the match for the car that it replaced. Launched in 1988, even Audi would seem to agree; it continued to produced the original Quattro through 1991, alongside its seeming replacement. While the looks of that replacement – the 20V turbocharged S2 – were considerably more sedate than the Quattro, it was nonetheless a handsome car. Though the iconic flares and chunky styling was replaced by a more rounded look, there were many advantages to the newer cars. First off, they were considerably safer with a stiffer structure and passive safety systems to protect drivers and passengers (anyone else remember the seatbelt pretensioning “PROCON-10” system?). Additionally, the smoother styling meant the car was much quieter at speed than the Quattro ever had been. The drivetrain was nearly identical to the end of run “RR” Quattros, right down to the new Torsen differential in the rear with electronic lock. And unlike its predecessor, and though few people remember, there were three versions of the S2 available; the oft-emulated Coupe, the highly desirable Avant, and the quite rare sedan of which only around 300 were produced. But as this is Coupe Week, we’re taking a look at one of the 2-door variants, of course!
Another day, another story about an Audi I owned. This time I’ll evoke memories of the “dragon wagon” – my 1989 Audi 200 Turbo Quattro Avant. It seemed like a great idea at the time; I saw an advertisement for an “Audi Quattro Wagon” that was sitting in a field in New Hampshire. When I arrived with trailer to pick it up, it turned over and even ran briefly with ether but wouldn’t move. The seller wasn’t the original owner. He had picked the car up from an auction and didn’t know why it wouldn’t run or move. Over the next few months it sat in my friend’s driveway as I slowly diagnosed the problems. It was remarkably clean, and I was able to figure out that the original owner had cared for the car reasonably well – but it obviously hit a point where the repairs and condition exceeded the then-owner’s threshold for tolerance and they donated the vehicle to a charity. That probably should have told me something then, but I pushed on, first diagnosing the run condition (fuel pressure regulator leaking and bad) and then figuring out why it wouldn’t move – the clutch was completely gone.
I tried with a friend to replace the clutch without a lift, but sufficed to say, it’s a repair on Audis that is fairly involved and eventually I gave up, choosing instead to pay a mechanic to replace it. While there, it turned out the car also needed brakes (no surprise) but it ran remarkably well considering where it came from. I then used the “dragon” for the next few years at work. The odometer didn’t work, making it easier to pile miles on – which I did. So did I pile on repairs, and like my V8 ownership the “dragon” seemed destined to provide me with countless stories. It almost ran over my co-worker (without anyone driving it). Then there was the time the voltage regulator went out and I had to alternate switching on and off every electrical item in the car to avoid toasting the battery. That’s difficult in a car where half the electrical items no longer work. There was the time a friend had to rescue me in central Connecticut after the car spewed the contents of the oil pan – twice – all over Route 84 when one of the oil cooler hoses let go. I referred to it as the hard way to do an oil change. And no story of the “dragon” would be complete without the story of my now wife driving me home from the hospital; me mostly naked after having crashed my bike into a tree at pretty high speed with some resulting broken bones. The entire ride home my poor wife apologized as she tried to come to grips with the idiosyncrasies of driving the Audi, of which there were many. Finally, after one last trip to pick her up from work a few months later where the brakes locked on I had enough; I retired the Audi and sold it to my uncle as a parts car, as he had a 1988 5000CS Quattro Avant with somewhere near 500,000 miles on it. Obviously, he needed the car more than me.
But I was wrong! The car returned to life a year later; I was contacted about an ad I placed selling the car, and after helping to broker a deal with my uncle and the new owner, the “dragon” moved on and was reborn. I saw it a few times in my travels – the new owner turned up the boost and fitted large wheels and Euro lights and it certainly looked the part. The travels of the Audi were a reminder of many things – the longevity of these well built cars, the complexity of keeping a cutting edge 1980s car running, and the devotion of the Audi fan base. Here’s my suggestion though – don’t find one in a field, buy this one instead:
A few weeks ago, we saw a nearly perfect low mile 1997 S6 quattro. I say nearly perfect, because it was in England and right hand drive. Well, today, we’ve got another one thanks to some searching by our reader John. This one appears to be in similar shape from what can be seen, and is another of the great rare color combinations we didn’t get much of in the U.S.. Finished in Cyclamen Pearl with S6+ wheels and that great two-tone Recaro interior, this right driver 1997 sure looks awesome to me: