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.…

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.…

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

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

“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

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.…

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:

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.…

10K Friday Pearls of Wisdom: Audi Pearlescent White Metallic-off

For the best part of two decades, Audi’s signature color was one of its most expensive options. On some models, in fact, Pearlescent White Metallic was the only optional extra you could select. From the original Quattro to the top tier S8, Audi bathed its most expensive models in the multi-stage dynamic paint color. As with most used older Audis, they’re all fairly affordable and offer – generally each in their own way – good value for the initial investment they represent. If you want to maximize the amount of German car you get for your money, look no further. Today I’ve arranged to look at a series of them, ranging from nearly the beginning to the end of the run. Which is your favorite and why?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Audi 200 quattro on Craigslist

1991 Audi V8 quattro 5-speed

Up through 1995, Audi really liked to do things differently. Since then, they have perhaps become a bit more mainstream – but there are plenty of examples of their unconventional engineering before then. It was even a bit of a joke, with some enthusiasts lovingly (or not so much) using the Audi name for the acronym “Always Unusual Designs Incorporated”. One of my favorite unusual Audi stories, though, must by the development of the Audi V8 race car. Audi looked at what Mercedes-Benz and BMW did in the DTM and said “Sure, we can do that. But, we’ll use our full sized luxury-oriented car”. Then, to add insult to injury, they left the wood trim in the race cars as a reminder that this was their top-tier car. And, of course, you’d assume it would lose to the self-proclaimed most successful race car ever made, the E30 M3. But, it didn’t. It won the championship in both 1990 and 1991. Ever since then, I’ve had a bit of a love affair with the Audi V8 quattro, if for no other reason than it was not the normal choice. Rare to see even when new and quite expensive, nearly all of the 3,868 imported were automatics – a new and important development for bringing Audi to a larger market. But for 72 of those cars, the experience was quite different:

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