I love a really well-kept Mercedes-Benz W116. Maybe because I own one, but I can’t be alone in feeling this way. These cars feel as solid as anything when everything is sorted and won’t cost you a ton of money to buy and maintain one. All the gas-powered W116s are fine cars and the first ever production turbo diesel car to go on sale in the United States in 1978, the 300SD, was a gem as well. I have a hard time justifying ever selling my 300SD because for the money, nothing can replace it equally and frankly, there is nothing wrong it. So when I see these W116 300SDs come up for sale now and then I always take a closer look to see how other owners treat theirs. Today’s 1979 model for sale in Oregon has me envious and jealous thanks to a few OEM upgrades.
While usually our ‘Double Take’ features look at one model, today I’m going to look at two cars that share a brand, and idea, and a price point. Both of these Audis represent a huge leap forward from their predecessors; versus the front-drive Type 81, the Type 85 B2 was much more modern-feeling, refined and introduced all-wheel drive to the mass market (excusing its bigger brother, and twice as expensive and exotically flared Quattro brethren, of which only 664 sold here) and the C4 S4 introduced the U.S. market to S-cars and merged the 200 20V’s setup with a modern body and more sporty interior along with even a bit more power. Both are legendary in the 4-ringed circles for their longevity. Both have cadres of fans who seek each model out. And both are hard to find in good condition.
So here we go, Alice – red or green pill? For your $6,000 investment, which of these inline-5 all-wheel drive legends would be your choice?
Edit: After selling last year on Bring A Trailer for $5,050 after we featured it in April, the current owner of the 1985 Audi 4000S quattro with some nice modifications has decided it’s too nice for a winter beater. It’s back up on eBay with a $5,000 opening bid and reserve auction format with few changes since we saw it last year, but it’s still one of the better ones out there for sale.
If you like yesterday’s Audi 4000S quattro, finding a later example is likely to be more fruitful for you. About of the roughly 16,500 4000 quattros imported into the United States, roughly three quarters of them – about 12,000 – were the updated 1985-1987 model years. Changes to the package were mostly visual. Outside refreshed bumper covers with integrated turn signals and reflectors smoothed out the look far before BMW caught on to the idea in the 3-series. Aerodynamic headlights replaced the sealed-beam quad-headlight arrangement and a sloped grill eased the transition. In the rear the trunklid dove down to the trim line and held an entirely revised set of lights. Rocker panel covers made the 4000 appear a bit lower than the ’84 model had, though the ride height was unchanged. And a rolling change to flush fitting covers on the Ronal R8 wheels subtly changed the look to more aerodynamic. Inside, electric rear windows replaced the manual roll-up variety, and new door cards with pulls now matched the revamped dashboard. The gauges also changed, as did the locking differential panel. But mechanically under it all, few changes were seen to the workhorse. While numerically speaking you’re more likely to find a later car than the ’84 only style, if one car we cover better epitomizes the axiom “ridden hard and put away wet”, I’m not sure what it could be.…
The 1985 Audi Coupe GT debuted the aerodynamic B2 refinements in the 2-door version of the Type 85. Just like the 4000CS quattro I looked at the other day, smooth bumper covers front and rear were met with wide molding and new rocker covers. DOT-required 9004 halogen lights replaced the upright quad-rectangle arrangement on 1984 models, and the new grill sloped to meet stainless trim which surrounded the car. Inside was met with a revised dashboard with new softer-touch plastics, a leather covered steering wheel and few other changes. Mechanically, just as with the 84-85 4000 quattro, there were very few alterations between pre-facelift GT and the ’85. The same KX 110 horsepower inline-5 and 5-speed manual (3-speed automatic available) drove the car, but the ’85 up wore the same 4×108 hubs and brakes (in front, at least) as the quattro.
As with the 4000 line, most of the manual bits available in early B2s disappeared, and in you bought a late model it probably came standard with power locks, mirrors and windows. Most GTs also came equipped with a sunroof (manual and pop-out) and the rear wiper. Today’s example follows that convention minus the rear wiper. The package proved to generally be considered more than the sum of its parts, and in 1985 Car and Driver tested eight GT cars and proclaimed the Audi Coupe GT the best package available, beating ‘sports cars’ like the Supra, Mustang, and Camaro. One of the 3,586 sold in 1985, this Alpine White example reminds of a more simple time when you could drive a car at 10/10ths and still remain (mostly) at legal speeds:
An interesting counter-point to the very low mileage Canadian ’86 4000S quattro is today’s same year, but U.S. market, 4000CS quattro. Mechanically, there was nothing separating these cars, and indeed even from a trim perspective little was different. Branded the “CS” after 1986 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the automobile, the only real change was the full-time addition of flush centers to the Ronal R8 wheels (it was done haphazardly on some of the ’85 models) and the addition of the mandatory third brake light. However, unlike the Canadian edition car we looked at the other day, U.S. model 4000 quattros all came with the signature polyurethane spoiler painted in the body color.
Options were few on the 4000CS quattro; most came fully loaded with all power accessories and power venting and sliding sunroof. You could opt for a trip computer and heated seats, as well opting for a leather interior. This car, at least from the appearance, has none of those options. However, what you do get is a shining example of the breed in a very unique and not often seen color of Oceanic Blue Metallic:
Last week’s “Right Hooker” week passed a bit too quickly to allow me to fully explore all of the unique options available to European customers. For example, one car I really hoped to feature was to locate an original Golf Syncro. Starting in 1986, Volkswagen partnered with Steyr-Damiler-Puch and made a unique alternative to corporate partner Audi’s quattro drivetrain utilizing a viscous center differential. Puch was also responsible for design and manufacturing of the T3 Vanagon Syncro, which used a different viscous coupling system because of the rear-drive platform and nature of the Vanagon. In addition to the transmission of power forwards, the T3 also offered a rear differential lock while both center and front were viscous.
But in 1986, there was a third option. Because the Volkswagen Quantum (née Passat) shared nearly all of its internal architecture with the B2 Audis, fitment of the quattro setup from the Quattro and 4000S/CS quattro was possible – so Volkswagen did it. As there was no Audi B2 Avant, Volkswagen offered the new Quantum quattro – also badged Syncro – in Wagon form, and only in wagon form. This meant that there was no competition crossover between the 4000 quattro and Quantum Syncro in the U.S. market. The Quantum also continued to run smaller 4x100mm hubs versus the Audi, which allowed it to utilize the same “snowflake” Avus wheels borrowed from the GTI. Pricing was on par with period 4000 quattros, though – base price was $15,645, but equip the Quantum similarly to the standard 4000 with power windows, mirrors, locks and sunroof and you’d quickly crest $17,000 – about $4,000 more dear than a standard GL5. Unlike the 4000, Quantum Syncro Wagons came standard only with power steering, brakes, cruise control and air conditioning. You had to opt-in the power package to get the other items.…
Now that I’ve looked at some cool and not so cool Mercedes from across the pond, I’m back to our regular left-hand drive cars. Fear not for our international readers as I’m not back to the United States just yet. This 1985 300CD from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada gives us the best of what the W123 coupe has to offer. Much like the other prime W123s for sale, this one isn’t coming cheap, but I’d argue that it’s not exactly the worst deal in the world for what you get.
Engine: 3.0 liter 5-cylinder
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Mileage: 91,034 km (56,565 mi)
Price: $14,500 CDN ($11,319 USD)
1985 Mercedes 300CD Turbo Diesel – 91000 KM All Original – Rare Color Combination Dark Grey on Mahogany Leather – Never winter driven – Garage kept – Never rust – Impeccable Kept – Records kept since new – Everything works as new – Nicest one I’ve ever seen – $14,500. Obo
Taking a broad look at this car, this one looks like a real winner. Extremely clean without any issues I can see on the outside, the interior looks even better. The Sienna MB-Tex is relatively rare for any W123 let alone a coupe and I’m glad to see it’s held up great for 56,000 miles. Under the hood, the OM617 looks prime with lots of cadmium plating still fresh. Being a 1985 W123, the last year of the chassis, it benefits greatly from a 2.88 rear differential as opposed to a 3.07. This translates to much better highway miles per gallon figures to the point where owners of prior year W123s seek out 1985 cars to swap in the differential.
At $14,500 CDN ($11,319 USD), it is probably priced on the higher end of the market in general.…
After yesterday’s South African 500SE, this 200 Turbo is an interesting counterpoint for several reasons. First, if the age is correct, it’s from the very beginning of Type 44 production. In fact, it wasn’t until September 1983 that the turbocharged variant of the new Type 44 – the 200 – was available for the marketplace. So this car represents the beginning of the run compared to yesterday’s run-ending 500SE.
What’s amazing to me is how little change there was in that period. Outside of the interior refresh, a slightly different exterior color and some small details, the 1983 and 1990 model years could pass for contemporaries. Try that in other model ranges today! Of course, one other reason this car is interesting is the turbo. This would be an early 2.1 liter unit, rated nominally at 182 horsepower – a healthy bit more power than the late NF motor (130 horsepower). What’s unusual in this case is that it’s mated to a 5-speed manual transmission. Of course, these were the days before the quattro drive setup moved into other models outside of the halo Quattro, so you’re stuck with a front-driver only.
Oh, and one more oddity? Well, it’s being sold in the U.K., but it’s left hand drive.
No, it’s not a typo. And no, it’s not an Audi 5000.
The Audi 500SE won’t be a model that is familiar to pretty much anyone on these pages. But in an interesting side note of history you do know, Audi tried to bring its large sedans to Africa in the late 1980s. After the banning of Group B and the cancellation of Group S, Audi took to Group A with both normally aspirated Coupe Quattros and turbocharged Audi 200s. The 200 was successful at the hands of Hannu Mikkola, winning Rally Safari in 1987. 1988 saw the introduction of the 200 quattro Trans Am to U.S. shores, but few remember that those cars were then used in South Africa in the 1989 Wesbank Modifieds Championship. They would continue on in 1990 and 1991 before being replaced by a rebody of the 90 IMSA GTO car in an S4 chassis – a car which was just on display at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
But without much need for quattro and without the smaller model range on sale, Audi’s showroom was filled with a rebrand of the Type 44. Produced in Uitenhage, South Africa, it was dubbed the 500SE, and it was available with either turbocharging or a normally aspirated motor. Unlike Europe (and later, the U.S.) the model designations did not change with forced induction. The specification was a bit strange, too; like the 1987 Audi 5000S quattro, the 500SE wore the larger brakes and wheels of the turbocharged model even when it did not have one. But unlike those cars, it also wore the upscale dual-chamber 200 headlights. Models like this particular 1990 were powered by the 2.3 liter NF motor that saw duty post 1987 in the late-5000 and early-100 front-drivers and quattros. They wore the later Type 44 updates like the smooth dash, too.…
Within the world of older Audis, it’s often a case of pick your poison. Do you want low miles? Do you want good exterior condition? Do you want good mechanical condition? Do you want a manual? Do you want a desirable model?
Running down the checklist when considering the pool of available candidates, infrequently are you allowed to shout out “BINGO”!
But today (and, as it turns out, tomorrow!) we look at something special for fans of the two-door variety: