1990 Audi V8 quattro

When it came to the late 1980s, Audi’s monopoly on the all-wheel drive market was coming to an end. Not only were new turbocharged pocket-rockets being born seemingly every day, but Mercedes-Benz had introduced their new “4Matic” designed by Steyr-Daimler-Puch. While you could make a pretty convincing argument that Audi’s design was superior in extreme conditions, there was at least one aspect of the Mercedes-Benz that trumped Ingolstadt’s design – you could get an automatic.

Now, to most enthusiasts that probably sounds like a bad idea. But when it came to selling car – especially expensive luxury cars – the overwhelming majority of buyers wanted the car to do most of the heavy lifting. Audi’s response was the next generation of quattro drivetrains; like Steyr’s system, with a series of clutches in the center differential that helped to transfer power and allowed the car to be mated to an automatic transmission. That transmission – the ZF 4HP24A – was a derivative of the 4HP24, the same automatic found in the V12-equipped BMW 750 and 850s. Like the Mercedes-Benz, Audi employed Bosch ABS and a locking rear differential. But unlike other Audis with their manual- or electronic-locking rear differential, the V8 quattro used a Torsen rear differential with helical gears which would automatically split torque in up to a 3:1 ratio to the wheel with grip.

But the V8 quattro wasn’t only about its unique new form of all-wheel drive. The moniker obviously indicated there had been a change in motivation, too, and indeed the V8 launched a new all-aluminum 4 cam, 32 valve V8 displacing 3.6 liters dubbed the PT. Rated at 240 horsepower and 254 lb.ft of torque, it was the most powerful Audi for sale in the late 1980s and brought the brand to a luxury level it had previously not competed at. In the U.S., these mega-Audis were met with mixed success. The 1990 launch of the V8 resulted in reasonably good sales; Audi sold 2,823 between late 1989 and the end of 1990 which represented over 10% of their yearly sales. Consider that the legendary Quattro never even broke 1% of Audi’s annual sales here; in its most successful year Quattros comprised .62% of the overall sales for the company.

But it was downhill – sharply – from there, as Audi nearly left the U.S. market and top-flight executives hit a notoriously bad sales patch. That meant that in total only 3,868 V8 quattros were sold in the U.S. This might be one of the best ’90s left:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Audi V8 quattro on eBay

Continue reading

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

Continue reading

1990 Audi V8 quattro

If there is one German car that is an honorary Alfa Romeo, it’s got to be the V8 quattro.

From the dated underpinnings of the Type 44 chassis, Audi emerged in 1988 with an all-new 4-cam aluminum engine that could be mated to an automatic transmission. While today most enthusiasts decry the death of the manual, it was still a luxury that people paid dearly for at other points in automotive history, and the technical achievement necessary to combine the two was not unsubstantial. It benefited from a new generation of quattro models, which instead of utilizing manual differential locks had a Torsen unit in the center to automatically split power. But the V8, equipped with the automatic, couldn’t use that Torsen in the middle, instead relying on a multi-clutch differential. Instead, the Torsen unit was moved to the rear of the car. Coupled with a more rearward weight bias with the shorter V8 and the gutsy torque on offer throughout the rev range, though much of the car was borrowed from the rest of the lineup it took on an entirely different character. That was matched with new, updated bodywork outside and a wider stance with flared arches. The effect? Magical. And, complicated.

The results of both were that the V8s developed a unique fanbase separate from most of the other models. The Phantoms of the Four-Ringed Opera, these cars have long-lived in the shadows, myths that are only seen rarely, cars no average mortal would consider owning. The social pariahs who do own them are even more strange, lurking in the dark corners of the internet muttering “NLA” to themselves while figuring out creative ways to keep their coveted creations running, mostly though cannibalization of others. It seems Audi managed to pull off the unfathomable achievement of creating a whole new and unique set of VAG problems specific to the V8.

Being a V8 quattro owner isn’t particularly rewarding. No one has any idea that your car even existed – sometimes, not even Audi dealers. And it will break. Often. When (not if) it does, it will certainly be very expensive to fix. But like an Alfa, occasionally it all works and suddenly you have the greatest car ever conceived. It’s comfortable, quiet, sporty, refined, simple in ergonomics but has everything you need. The steering is sublime for a 90s Audi. The brakes were fantastic. The transmission was a big step forward in design for Audi from the venerable 3-speed. It had a great radio, greater seat heaters and one-touch power windows. It was cutting edge.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Audi V8 quattro on eBay

Continue reading

1993 Audi V8 quattro

Edit 7/28/2017: This ’93 has reappeared with the same plates (so I presume the same seller) from December 2015 in a no reserve auction. It no longer has black wheels but only a few more miles on the clock. Finding clean late model V8s is pretty rare and this one generally looks nice! Cleverly the seller stuck in the listing that the car’s odometer is broken, though you have to look. The original ask price was $5,000, so it will be interesting to see where the strong bidding ends.

Sometimes it’s something small on a car you’re looking at that brings up a great memory. In the case of this 1993 V8 quattro, if my emotions weren’t already stirred by the sight of another late 4.2 model like my beloved and maligned example from a decade ago, it was the wheels that really did it for me. You see, for a few winters I ran A4-spec 15×6 steel wheels with Michelin Artic Alpins on my Ragusa Green monster. Already small, the A4 offset is higher than the V8s, leaving the impression – especially head on – that the car was floating. The awesome flares that were the signature of the V8 hung out in mid air, the antithesis of today’s trend of fitting the widest wheel as close to the fender as possible. But the result in the snow was undeniable. The V8 on skinny rubber was virtually unstoppable, hugely controllable and a riot to drive. Pulling in from runs at a Tim O’Neils rally school, the rumbling eight would erupt in clouds of smoke, as if Vesuvius was on the verge of claiming Pompeii. Crowds would gather to look in wonder and slight bemusement at the smelly, crusty and leaking old Audi which so thoroughly trounced the newer models around the circuit. Even though that car brought me plenty of heartbreak and emptied my wallet on multiple occasions, memories like that keep the legacy of my V8 ownership a positive one that still brings smiles to my face:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1993 Audi V8 quattro on Oregon Craigslist

Continue reading

1990 Audi V8 quattro 4.2

Both the 525i and GTI I’ve written up this week have followed a common trend; take lower spec model and kick it up a notch with bigger brother power. Today is no different, as once again we look at a car featuring an upgraded power unit swap. However, this is certainly the most stealthy of the trio. The V8 quattro was an impressive car upon its launch in 1988; sure, it was an updated version of an already generation-old car on the verge of being replaced, but the massive amount of updates to the Type 44 meant than the V8 quattro got its own model designation – D11. Nearly everything in the V8 was touched, from the interior materials to the exterior styling, and of course with some celebration Audi launched both its all-aluminum 3.6 liter, 32V 4 cam eight cylinder simultaneously with its 4-speed automatic hooked up to quattro all-wheel drive. The result was a unique luxury car at the time; no one else offered this packaged, and with 240 horsepower on tap the D11 proved a great cruiser. But there were of course teething pains; Audi forecast the length of timing belt service too long on the PT-code engine, and many suffered failures. This was rectified with the larger displacement 4.2 motor in 1992; shorter intervals were met with nearly 40 horsepower more, making the later cars really the ones to grab. Of course, Audi sold many, many more 3.6s than it did later 4.2 models – to the tune of almost 7:1. Many of the early cars were discarded because of low residuals when expensive repairs popped up, but this Pearlescent White Metallic one was saved from that fate by a fortuitous heart transplant:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Audi V8 quattro 4.2 on eBay

Continue reading

Double Take: 1991 Audi V8 quattro

You know when you watch a horror film and the protagonist sees a door ajar with a strange light, noise or smell emanating from behind it? Despite the obvious warning signs and 100% metaphysical certitude of impending doom, they creep towards their demise as if unable to escape fate. As a viewer, I’m often baffled by their behavior.

But then I think about the V8 quattro.

There is nothing – and I mean nothing – that makes the V8 quattro a sensible choice for a car. Parts are hard to find, they seem needlessly complicated, and the reality is that now some 26 years old and vintage, the cutting edge of technology for 1991 is pretty easily outpaced by a Honda Civic. There are prettier, more significant, faster and more economical Audis, if you have the itch.

But like the open door, I’m always drawn to looking at them. So, cue the scary music and dim the lights, because we’ve got a twofer of 3.6 quattro action coming at you!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Audi V8 quattro on Central New Jersey Craigslist

Continue reading

“Gentleman’s Express” – 1993 Audi V8 quattro 5-speed

Though we’ve had a nice string of older Audis, it’s been a while since we’ve looked at a V8 quattro – but today’s is pretty special. First off, it’s one of the later 4.2 models. These cars were upgraded with a transmission cooler to help solve the early model automatic transmission failures. That, of course, meant all U.S. bound 4.2s were automatics from the factory. While that may sound like a downer, the 4-speed auto wasn’t a bad transmission and linked to the 276 horsepower, all-aluminum 4 cam V8 in front, motivation was never really an issue. Dynamically, these V8 quattros were also much better on the fly than the nose-heavy inline-5s, too. Not only was the engine a bit farther back, but the Torsen differential in the rear helped to give these cars a better power distribution. Of course, the cream of the crop were the 3.6 5-speed manuals – the only Torsen center, Torsen rear differential car Audi ever produced. Mate one with a 4.2 in a perfect color combination, sprinkle in some sport seats, and you have one pretty desirable package:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1993 Audi V8 quattro on Boulder Craiglist

Continue reading

1991 Audi V8 quattro 5-speed

I’ve had the good fortune to own some pretty interesting cars in my lifetime, but one of the most complex automotive relationships I had was with my late 1993 V8 quattro. It was a car that I had lusted after since they were effectively new. There was just something about the shape, the way it sat and the mystique. Coming from a 4000 quattro, in many ways the step up to a V8 was the ultimate out of the box Audi in the early 1990s. It drove like the 4000 in the tight bits, but was so much better on the highway. Plus, it had what the 4000 lacked – power, thanks to the 4 cam all-aluminum V8. Even the automatic didn’t bother me all that much overall. But, at the same time as I enjoyed automotive bliss in the theoretical ownership of this V8 quattro, the reality of day-to-day ownership was quite different. If Alfa Romeo built a German car, it would be the V8 quattro. First, it was hugely complicated. There were computers controlling everything, and in the great manner in which Audi and Volkswagen developed their late 1980s computer technology, it worked great until it didn’t, at which point the car would be thoroughly incapacitated. One day, during a rain storm, the “convenience controller” failed, opening all of the windows AND the sunroof and not allowing me to close them. Needless to say, it was less than convenient. Second, it hemorrhaged fluids. We’re not talking a little bit, either – full on “Oh, I’m sorry, did you want me to keep that $20 a liter worth of hydraulic fluid IN me?” hemorrhaging. Oil, coolant, transmission fluid…you name it, if you could put it in, it would instantly come out. It tried to kill me, too. Not just once, either. See, that fluid loss resulted in a buildup of oil gunk. Where does the oil gunk build up, you ask? On the throttle. This normally isn’t a problem, unless once in a while you opened the throttle. Then, it became a problem, as the throttle wouldn’t close. Again, not a problem so much on a 4000 quattro with all 115 stampeding horses, but in the ’93 V8 quattro, there were 2.5 times that amount – 276 horsepower with even more torque launching my 3,900 pound missile down route 195. Leaks presented themselves in other odd ways, too – like, for example, when I got a self-imposed flat tire at a winter driving school. Out came the tools to jack the car up, no problem. However, when I went to retrieve the spare, a sad sight awaited me – the trunk had leaked into the spare tire well apparently, resulting in the space saver spare being thoroughly embedded in 10 inches of tire well shaped ice cube. In story generation alone, the V8 quattro was by far the Professor Emeritus of my car history. Thirdly, no one knew what it was when you went to get a part. Allow me to present a theoretical trip to the parts counter – even at an Audi dealer…

Parts Guy: Hi, what kind of car?
Me: Audi
PG: What model?
Me: V8
PG: No, not what engine, what model.
Me: V8
PG: They made a model named V8?
Me: Yes
PG: (turns to other Parts Guy) You ever hear of an Audi V8?
OPG: He probably means A8.
Me: No, the A8 is the model that replaced the V8.
(both look confused)
PG: Okay, what year?
Me: 1993
PG: Audi made cars in 1993?
Me: Yes. Not many.
PG: Okay, the computer tells me that your car doesn’t exist.
Me: It’s outside. Would you like to see it?
PG: No, maybe I can cross reference the part. What do you need?
Me: The transmission control unit.
PG: ………………
PG: ……….. (turns to other PG and looks confused)
Other PG: Ah, you should probably just go to the dealer.

Fourth, when eventually you convinced someone who supplied parts for your non-existent car that it really was real, inevitably the part would be expensive. Really, really expensive. And, on backorder, or no longer available. It made repairs length and always have at least one comma in the price estimate. That estimate was almost always below what it actually cost to get it running again, and when it did run again, inevitably there would be something still wrong that would need to be fixed on the next trip to the mechanic.

Yet, more than any car I’ve previously owned, it’s the one I’d want back.

It was that good. So when one of the 72 5-speed cars pops up for sale, it’s always time to take notice. The officially imported 5-speed cars were all 3.6 PT engine cars, meaning a bit less motivation than the later 4.2 motor. However, they’re lighter and they’re the only Torsen center/Torsen rear differential car Audi brought to the U.S.. This is a rare opportunity to own one of the few remaining:

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

Continue reading

1991 Audi V8 quattro 5-speed – REVISIT

If last week’s ’93 V8 quattro wasn’t rare enough for you, I’m kicking it up a notch today. Back in March, a rare bird in the German car world popped up – one of the original 5-speed V8 quattros came up for sale, and unlike most it was in excellent condition. However, with 181,000 miles on the clock and an asking price which was semi-astounding at $17,500, it was no real surprise that it didn’t sell. Fast forward to today, and that lovely example is back up on the block with a massively cut asking price to $10,499. That’s still very strong money for a D11, but all things considered if you want an original 5-speed V8 quattro in good condition, there just aren’t many options for you. I think it’s still unlikely to find a buyer this round, but my guess is it’s getting close and there are a bunch of V8 quattro fans biting their lips right now…

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

The below post originally appeared on our site March 27, 2015:

Continue reading

1993 Audi V8 quattro

Much as the Quattro set the trend for performance turbocharged all-wheel drive coupes in the 1980s, Audi launched another trend-setter in 1988. The V8 quattro was not an all-new design; it borrowed heavily from the Type 44 200 chassis, but several revisions completely redefined the character of Audi’s flagship. First was the motor, an all-aluminum quad cam V8 coded PT displaced 3.6 liters initially. If you thought it was effectively two Volkswagen 16V motors sandwiched together, you thought correctly – Audi mimicked what Porsche had done with the 944/928 motor designs. With 240 horsepower, the new V8 offered about a 20% boost in power over the 10V turbo motors that were in the European 200s. But the real innovation wasn’t the motor – it was the automatic transmission. Combining a multi-plate clutch center differential and an all-new Torsen rear differential, the V8 quattro drove decidedly quite differently than the inline-5 variants. Weight, while not down thanks to a host of luxury items, was moved backwards and the V8 was more balanced and less prone to understeer than the turbos were. Additionally, the torque was near instant. But by 1991, the gap between the now 20V variant of the 200 and the V8 was so narrow that Audi upped the displacement. The new ABH V8 upped the power to 276 horsepower and 296 lb.ft of torque. Outside, subtle changes helped to distinguish the luxury variant after Audi’s brief foray into absolutely no badging from 1990-1991. Now with small “V8” monikers front and rear, along with a small “quattro” script, the performance was quite a bit improved over the earlier car. Additionally, there were small changes to the 4.2 model – such as some new colors, a transmission cooler and a mildly revised cockpit featuring the updated climate control. But outside remained effectively unchanged, as the 4.2 wore the same forged BBS RG wheels that the 1991 3.6 V8s had. What was always a bit special was the presentation of the V8 quattro – low, hunkered down and widened over the normal slab-sided 200, the headlights and hood treatment hinted at the revised Audi design language that would carry through to the mid-2000s. Plus, the V8 quattro sported some awesome flares to pull it all together. If you like cars such as the 500E and 540i, you can thank the V8 quattro for establishing the benchmark for them. Yet considered over-complicated and prone to mechanical failure, few of these pioneering luxury Autobahn cruisers survive in the U.S. today:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1993 Audi V8 quattro on New Hampshire Craigslist

Continue reading