Update 10/3/18: This 5000S sold at $1,325
Back in May I took a look at a 1985 Audi 5000S. As I said at the time, the 5000S was just about as undesirable as an Audi got from that period for me. Most were boring color combinations with a boring 3-speed automatic and boring performance as a result. But, importantly, they existed. And without them, Audi probably wouldn’t have for our market.
Sure it would be exciting to look at a 1985 Quattro. But they only sold 73 of those. The 4000 quattro? 4,897 left dealerships. The GT? 3,586 were sold. In fact, if you combine all other Audis sold in 1985, you still come up short to the number of non-Turbo 5000s that left dealers. At nearly 40,000 spoken for, this car here represents the bulk of Audi sales and the bread-and-butter of the company’s appeal in the 80s. In fact, 1985 Type 44 sales were the most prolific of any Audi chassis from 1970 through 2000 in the U.S.. That was why the 60 Minutes sham had such impact on the company. By 1988, the number of Type 44s sold here was down to 10,000 from nearly 50,000 high point of 1985.
But in 1985 the “unintended acceleration” wasn’t yet a new item and these were still selling like the proverbial hotcake. So let’s take a look at this claimed low-mileage example and see if we can see some appeal today:
Update 6/28/18: The best part of a year after originally being listed, this reasonably clean 1985 Audi Coupe GT is back in a reserve auction format. Since the Buy It Now was $4,950 last September, we can guess the reserve is probably at or over $4,000. The Coupe GT market has moved forward since last year, so will it sell this time?
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:
I’m certain there’s a sect of the readership that gets pretty sick of me droning on about the Audi Coupe GT. I’ll acknowledge a very large soft spot for this relatively unloved Audi oddity. But it’s Father’s Day, and so as a treat to myself I’d like to look at another. And, I think you’d like to look at it too.
As we write up cars constantly, for me there’s always a point of thinking ‘Right! That’s it. There can’t be another clean original one out there!’ Because, at some point that certainly must be true. How many completely original, low mile and low ownership examples can there be out there. Who, for 33 years, would care for a car so much that basically everyone else gave up on when it was five years old?
Yet occasionally they turn up, and here’s a prime example. According to the seller, this 1985 GT has turned just 67,000 miles and he picked it up when GTs were still on dealer lots. Alpine White with the unique blue tweed interior and matching blue dashboard, he obviously loved the B2 as much as I do:
Let’s go back to the beginning of Type 44 production today and take a look at this Audi 5000S. To me, this car represents just about the least appealing model in the lineup for 1985. No turbo, no quattro, automatic, Kalahari Beige Metallic – it really doesn’t get more yawn than this. “But it’s a ‘S’ model“, you say. Ah, but continuing on the theme of Audi’s unconventional naming strategy in the U.S., there was cleverly no non-S model for a few years – everyone got a participation trophy.
As it turns out, there were a lot of ‘everyone’. The new 5000, which started selling in the U.S. in 1984, was a massive success for Audi. In fact, it was far and away the most successful model they sold in the 1980s. And while we love to see turbos and quattro and manuals, it was specifically this car – gold Audi 5000S front-drive automatics – that sold in droves. Audi sold 48,057 5000s in 1985, for example. Only about 20% were Turbos. And the quattro model didn’t launch until very late in the year. Even when it did, they similarly never accounted for more than 20% of sales of the Type 44.
Still, ~40,000 doesn’t sound like a bit number. But consider Audi sold a total of 26,000 other cars between the Coupe, Quattro and all 4000s the same year. And the 5000’s proliferation wasn’t just over one model year. From 1984 to 1988, Audi sold 171,494 Type 44s in the U.S. and was really only limited by the November 1986 airing of the 60 Minutes debacle. This ’85 is representative of how a majority were delivered, but is not indicative of the condition of most today:
Audi’s attention to detail in 1986 was…well, poor. Contrary to the never-wrong-Internet’s common belief structure and commentary every time an 80s Audi appears on a site, this had nothing to do with the quality of the cars they built. They were, in fact, very nice cars, and they have generally withstood the test of time as well as their countrymen and better in aggregate than the majority of 1980s cars.
So what was their problem with detail work? Well, notoriously Audis from the 1980s stood a good chance of being in some unusual specification which didn’t conform to what Audi claimed was available. Let’s take this 1986 Audi Coupe GT for example. According to Audi’s literature, if you bought the Commemorative Design 2-door in 1986, you got a special electronic digital dashboard with accompanying “Audi Electronic” oil temperature/voltmeter in place of the typical VDO 3-gauge center dash readout.
Except that wasn’t the only way to get the electronic dash. Because even though it apparently wasn’t an option you could select, Audi must have had a surplus or stock in ColecoVision, because they installed a bunch of these dashboards in a random selection of 1986 and some early 1987s. I know, because I have one of them. Here’s another, and this one only has 28,000 miles:
The lineup of unlikely VAG survivors continues today with this second generation Volkswagen Passat, of course badged the “Quantum” for the U.S. market. This model replaced the lovely and popular Dasher model which had been available in several configurations. Briefly, the new B2 continued that and if you’ve ever seen a 1982 Quantum 2-door hatchback in person in the U.S., you might be alone. The model was dropped quickly, though continuing on was the Variant (VW-speak for wagon) model. And because the underpinnings were shared with the B2 Audi, things started to get pretty interesting for the upscale VW. And, confusing.
Volkswagen was happy to tout the Quantum as the sole “German engineered Grand Touring car sold in America that was available as both a sedan and station wagon and came equipped with a 5-cylinder, fuel injected engine, front-wheel drive, power assisted rack and pinion steering, four-wheel independent suspension AND cruise control”. You don’t say, VW? Seriously, I think they could have left a few modifiers off that description and it still would have been true. The weird part is that the upscale Volkswagen actually tread on the toes of its even more upscale competition – the Audi 4000. Though early 4000s had the 5-cylinder available as an option, when it came to the mid-80s Audi saved the inline-5 only for the quattro models and Coupe GT/5000 front drivers. The 4000 grabbed the engine from the GTI, instead. But you could still get a 5-cylinder Quantum, and you could get a wagon version. Heck, you could even get a Syncro version of it, but only as a wagon!
Here’s where things get even more confusing. The 5-cylinder is usually associated with the moniker “GL5” – the upscale sedan with alloy wheels. And indeed the base Quantum Wagon in 1985 came with the 1.8. But in 1986, you could get a base Wagon with the 2.2 liter inline-5, and I believe the wagon was never officially badged the “GL5”. Weird? That’s VW.
If yesterday’s 76,000 mile Audi Coupe GT was impressive, today’s example is close to unbelievable. Yet here it is – a 1986 model with a scant 3,390 miles showing on the odometer. You’re probably used to seeing very low mile Porsche 911 models, and occasionally we see similar time capsule Mercedes-Benz or BMWs – but nearly never an Audi. Once again, it would be simple to default to the ‘broken odometer’ argument, but the evidence does seem to mount that this might be a fully original example. Welcome, then, to what is as close to a museum-quality example of a Coupe GT as might exist in the U.S.:
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:
Like the 1984 Audi 4000S quattro, the 1984 Audi Coupe GT was a bit of an odd bird in the U.S. market. The GT was a light revision of the earlier Coupe; the major difference that was noticeable immediately was the Quattro-inspired 14″ Ronal R8 wheel design and raised spoiler shared with its bigger brother. Coupled with the deep chin spoiler and 4-quad headlight design, the Coupe GT introduced in mid-1983 looked like a fitting tribute to the turbocharged halo model.
Power now came from a 2.1 liter inline-5 (code WE) which cranked out 100 horsepower. Matching its European “5S” counterpart, the U.S. spec GT got an overdrive 5-speed manual with a 4.90 final drive; it helped economy slightly, though the slab front end certainly didn’t. But the new close(r) ratio box over the early economy-minded 5 speed helped acceleration little. Despite the lightweight 2,500 lb curbweight, Audi claimed the GT could hit 60 in a little over 10 seconds and it was out of fizz at about 109 mph. Despite this rather tame performance for a ‘Grand Tourer’, the GT’s numbers were on par with the GTI and better than the Scirocco. Plus, the longitudinal engine layout with equal length driveshafts coupled with a longer wheel base made them quite fun to drive.
But what was really unique about these cars was that they were an intermediary; the end of the Type 81 Coupes before the Type 85 Coupe GTs launched with heavy revision and more power (along with bigger brakes) for 1985. So while the later Coupes were basically a front-drive quattro, the 83-84 Coupe GT was like a 5-cylinder powered VW in some ways. They retained the smaller 4×100 mm bolt circle on the hubs with 239mm (9.4″) front disc brakes and rear drums, which is a blessing for wheel and brake upgrades should you want to go that route.
But on an example like this ’84, I hope someone keeps it stock!
Edit 7/2/2017: This car has dropped to a $3,000 Buy It Now
The 1987 Audi Coupe GT is an interesting bird. Well, to be more precise, 1986 and 1987 Audi Coupes were a mixed bag and there are always little details that are interesting to see. In 1986, Audi offered the Commemorative Design model Coupe GT, which offered no performance upgrades but was a neat looker with unique red leather interiors. One of the other items the GT had which the 4000CS quattro Commemorative Design didn’t was a digital dashboard. The lower center panel, which normally had three VDO gauges, instead held a VDO electronic display with only oil temperature and a voltmeter. There was no oil pressure gauge. Where the normal dash held analog gauges, instead the Commemorative Design had a three pane electronic display. On the left was a increasing scale tachometer with a lower section readout for the (standard on electronic dash) trip computer. The center display held the speedometer and the odometer only. Below were the standard array of warning lights. On the right, the display had a fuel reading up top, temperature gauge up amidship and a clock below. The trip computer’s toggle functions allowed you to swap the dash readout between U.S. and Metric settings – always fun to surprise passengers when you announced you were cruising at “130” and comment on how quiet the car was. Using the dimmer switch, you could also engage “Night Mode”, which would drop all but the speedometer display off the dash. Should a warning light appear or the fuel level get too low, the car would automatically revert to the full dash.
Was it a gimmick? Sure, but it was the 80s, and it was pretty damn cool at the time. Of course, it wasn’t as cool as the full talking dash available on European Quattros, but we take what we can get, right?
The interesting part came in that the “digidash” was supposedly limited to the CD models. It was not. There was a strange allocation of ’86s which also were built with the dash. In 1987, you had to get the later “Special Build” Coupe GT to get the digital, and slightly different colored, experience, right? No again, as randomly some early 87s had the 86 digital dashboard, too. This Tornado Red example is one of those latter examples: