1983 Audi Quattro

Update 7/19/18: Bidding hit $35,000 on this Quattro in June but failed to hit reserve. It’s back up with bids currently at $25,000 with two days to go. Will it clear reserve this time?

Quattros have been a hot commodity in the marketplace over the past year, and speculation coupled with their low numbers continues to drive prices up. This is especially true of cars that arrive to market in good to excellent condition with few needs since the pool of those candidates is remarkably small.

How much speculation? Cars that traded in the teens less than five years ago are suddenly – and regularly – hitting close to $50,000. A really pristine example hit $81,400 in January. And, the last time we saw a Quattro is was a desirable ’85 with some good modifications. Bids had rocketed past $35,000 before the auction was pulled because of a private sale.

Pretty much every time a Quattro comes up for sale, it’s worth a look. This one, at least on the surface, looks pretty great – so where does it fall in the market? Welcome to the ‘new norm’:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1983 Audi Quattro on eBay

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1989 Audi 200 quattro

It’s hard for me to believe that it’s been well over a decade since I bid farewell to my Audi 200. It was never meant to be; I had always admired the turbocharged Avants and so when one came up for sale for an incredibly low asking price, I jumped.

Turned out it was more than just me that needed a jump. And it turned out that the 200 needed a lot more than just a jump; the clutch was thoroughly fried, as were the brakes, and the fuel system, and a few other odds and ends. I patched it together and we enjoyed a memorable run of events. Of all my automotive calamity stories, about 50% revolve around both of my big body Audis. The V8 created more hair-raising events (such as the time the throttle stuck wide open and in an effort to stop it I managed to set the brakes on fire), but the 200 wasn’t to be outdone.

There was the time I left the tollbooth on the Mass Pike. The car was running particularly well that day, so I gave it WOT leaving the gate. First to second and the nose was pointed at the sky! Surely, everyone must be saying “WOOOOOOOW!!!“, and it turns out they were because I had blown an oil cooler line and was crop dusting Sturbridge with a thick coat of atomized 10W-40. Another time the voltage regulator died, leaving me to switch various electrical items on and off to balance the charge between 11.5 and 14 volts all the ride home from Cape Cod. It blew several tires while on the road, which admittedly probably wasn’t it’s fault but was exciting nonetheless. I found out that the ABS worked – well – in an ice storm on 95 one time as I passed a braking BMW on the hard shoulder. The coolant lines froze one day – a major feat, since there was theoretically coolant in them. It twice threw alternator belts, leaving me to drive home the length of Rt. 24 at 5am with no lights on. The air conditioner didn’t work. Actually, basically everything electronic didn’t work particularly well if I’m honest. The radio’s blown speakers weren’t enough to overcome the wind noise created by the necessity to have the windows down at all times if the outside temp was over 60. But the kicker? The kicker was that the brake lines collapsed, leaving the calipers to randomly seize partially closed. As a result, you had to go full throttle to maintain 50 mph which, as you read at the beginning of this passage, occasionally presented an explosive problem. I gave up eventually, unable to stomach this car consuming more of my money.

Sound charming? It was. But most of my issues probably would have been remedied if I simply had bought a better example:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Audi 200 quattro on eBay

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1985 Audi Quattro

It is, admittedly, quite hard to lump the importance of one car into the same category with yesterday’s M3. But if there’s a German car from the same period that deserves to be mentioned in the same breath, it’s certainly the Quattro.

True enough, the U.S. version wasn’t really as quick as you’d expect it would be considering the Deitous stature levied upon it by fans of the brand. But if you looked up “game changer” in the dictionary, an image of the Quattro should certainly appear next to it. So advanced was the thinking behind this car that today it’s still the recipe being followed by many manufacturers nearly 40 years later. And those iconic boxflares that the M3 sprouted? That’s right, they appeared here first. While in some ways the re-work of the design sullied Guigiaro’s clean silhouette, the result was monumental and again the basis for all of the important be-flared WRC fighters that came after. The M3 was only one to copy the style; the Celica Alltrac Turbo, the Escort Cosworth, The Lancia Delta Integrale, the Subaru WRX, and the Mistubishi Lancer Evolution are but a few of the turbocharged, all-wheel drive and box-flared cars that would go on to become legendary in their own right. But the one that started it all has finally gotten some recognition over the past few years. Great examples of the Quattro are few and far between, so when they come to market it’s something very special. And this particular Quattro is really exceptional:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 Audi Quattro at Gooding & Co.

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1987 Audi 5000CS Turbo

The gulf between North American and European market performance was wide in all manufactures in the 1980s, but no where did it feel more vast than with the Audi products. That was especially true with the turbocharged variants of the large chassis. In European guise, the Type 200 5T developed 170 horsepower even without an intercooler, while the U.S. 5000 Turbo managed only 130 from the 2.1 liter inline-5. That was a 24% drop in performance, and it didn’t get much better with the Type 44 replacement. Though displacement later grew to 2.2 liters in the MC1 and 2 codes, power output never exceeded 162 horsepower. That meant that the 1987 Audi 5000CS Turbo (and the turbocharged quattro model) produced only about 81% of its European equivalent’s power output.

Despite that, the 5000 was a great sedan. It was quite, comfortable, and more modern-feeling than its contemporaries. It was also good enough for notorious BMW-friendly Car and Driver to add it to their 10-Best list – even without the trademark all-wheel drive. With weight fairly far in excess of 3,000 lbs, the luxury sedan wasn’t a rocket off the line, but on the roll it was a competent and quiet cruiser. Audi claimed the automatic-equipped Turbo model would hit 60 mph in 8.7 seconds and flat out would do 130 mph – numbers that were barely better than its normally aspirated smaller brother Coupe and 4000S front-drive models (themselves not particularly notable for being quick!). But thanks to some notoriety in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and great press (ahem – well, for a bit anyways!), these Audis sold fairly well. For example, compared to the 4000 quattro and Coupe GT models, the 5000 Turbo was traded in much greater numbers despite its high price. In 1987, Audi sold just shy of 2,000 Coupe GT models and nearly 3,000 4000CS quattros. But the Turbo? They sold 6,849 of them. Why are they so rare to see then?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Audi 5000CS Turbo on eBay

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1990 Audi 200 quattro Avant

Although the C3 Audi chassis enjoyed a reasonably long production run of 1984-1991, each year introduced changes that, while evolutionary, were notable and make each specific model year feel a little bit bespoke. The biggest change was the 1986 introduction of Audi’s all-wheel drive system of quattro to the large model range, making three distinct packages you could get the unique drivetrain in the luxury market. In the U.S. market, 1986 5000 quattros came only in “CS” spec and sedan – basically, fully loaded with only heated seats, Fuchs forged wheels and Pearlescent White Metallic paint as options. 1987 opened the options, but not with more gadgetry – the Avant, previously only available in front drive normally aspirated “S” form, joined the quattro lineup full time after being introduced about halfway through the 1986 model run. Alcantara also became a seldom-selected option. 1988 saw a very minor revision to the turbocharged “CS” models with new script badges in the rear and a few more options including heating for the rear seats and Velour interior options, but the big news was a new “5000S quattro” model, which came sans turbo and without the twin-bulb headlights, but shared the big brother turbo brakes and wheels. It was a smart move to drop the price on the quattro models, as the normal run 5000 reported outsold the 5000CS quattro by a measure of 4:1! 1989 was highlighted by a complete model refresh, moving to the European “100/200″ model designations. Accompanying the change were some new colors and minor alterations, such as more upscale-looking 15″x6” BBS wheels (color matched on Pearlescent White Metallic examples, just as the aero and Fuchs wheels had been). But inside an entirely new sweeping dashboard setup would be the standard on big Audis for the next 7 years. Instead of the previously confusing “S/CS” monikers, turbocharged models now wore the 200 badge, while normally aspirated models were 100s. The Alcantara and Velour options disappeared on the 200 models, which came only fully-loaded, and Fuchs were no longer an option. The 100 quattro shared many components with the 80/90 quattros from the same time, including the NG normally aspirated motor instead of the turbocharged MC1. 100s also ran the familiar small-chassis 4×108 bolt pattern with accompanying smaller brakes, but oldly Audi commissioned BBS to make a run of 15″x6″ wheels that matched the look of the 200’s wheels outwardly. Mechanically, otherwise there were few changes to either model, though as with the 80/90 quattros, the option to lock your own differential was now limited to the rear, and then speed limited to 15 m.p.h.. While 1990 saw few changes to the run overall, there was a change in motor in the 200. A rolling change saw the revised (and very short lived) MC2 replace the MC1. Twin knock sensors allowed engineers to run higher compression; coupled with a reground camshaft, lighter mass flywheel and smaller K24 turbo meant that the MC2 could run less boost and spool more quickly for a better driving experience, but ultimately the facts and figures say the power was unchanged. As always, top of the heap was the 200 quattro Avant, and they didn’t get any more expensive than when optioned with the Pearlescent White Metallic paint:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Audi 200 quattro Avant on eBay

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1989 Audi 200 Turbo

So synonymous with the Audi brand is the all-wheel drive moniker “quattro” that you’d be forgiven for assuming that the brand didn’t offer two-wheel drive vehicles in the same vein as Subaru. But before quattro fully gained traction, Audi’s bread and butter was the front-wheel drive market and they produced some great examples. In part, that was because unlike most other modern platforms that copied the Mini’s transverse engine configuration, in the 1980s and forward to the Golf-based Audi built their platforms to accept the rearward heading drive shaft which necessitated a longitudinal engine configuration. While this pushed the engine weight farther forward than most other front-wheel drive packages, it also balanced power delivery and the driving experience in all of the non-quattro Audis in the 80s was remarkably sprite. Models like my favorite Coupe GT have gained a popular following as great drivers, but the large sedans – especially in turbo configuration – are less frequently seen:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Audi 200 Turbo on eBay

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It’s Hip To Be Square: 1986 Audi Coupe GT and 1987 Audi 5000CS Quattro

There are probably a few out there reading this who will remember Huey Lewis and the News, or perhaps you’re a fan of Christian Bale and his performance in American Psycho which prominently featured a notoriously catchy song by the band, “It’s Hip to be Square”. While the song itself was a relative hit, for me it’s Bale’s character’s critique of the band that is particularly poignant when considering Audis from the 1980s:

“You like Huey Lewis and the News? Their early work was a little too new wave for my taste, but when Sports came out in ’83, I think they really came into their own, commercially and artistically. The whole album has a clear, crisp sound, and a new sheen of consummate professionalism that really gives the songs a big boost. He’s been compared to Elvis Costello, but I think Huey has a far more bitter, cynical sense of humor. I think their undisputed masterpiece is “Hip to Be Square,” a song so catchy, most people probably don’t listen to the lyrics. But they should, because it’s not just about the pleasures of conformity, and the importance of trends, it’s also a personal statement about the band itself!”

Audi reinvented itself in the 1980s; with crisp, clean new designs that stood apart from their countrymen. They were boxy but aerodynamic, clean and economical – yet at the same time, they were really noticeable, looked expensive and have stood the test of time. Yet few people partook in these 1980s Audis compared to some more period marques. If Mercedes-Benz was the sign that you had made it to opulent wealth and still made good decisions, BMW was the sign that – well, you’d just made it to wealth. But Audis, though quite dear in price, were always a bit different; outsiders in their own land. Whilst everyone else took tried and true paths, Audi forged ahead through unusual means – small displacement, turbocharged motors feeding locking differentials and all-wheel drive, for example. Every model seemed to be a statement within itself that the company was different, and few embody that ethos quite as well as the 5000CS quattro and Coupe GT:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Audi 5000CS Quattro on Craigslist

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1989 Audi 200 quattro

The Type 44 Audi was a car that was, in many ways, ahead of its time. Aerodynamic and technically advanced, the Audi 100/200/5000 offered automatic climate control, ABS, the normal host of electronics and on board diagnostics you’d expect from a top-flight executive sedan. But what it was best remembered for was a turbocharged motor connected to all four wheels via a manual transmission and all-wheel drive. Early models had twin locking differentials, just like the Quattro and smaller 80/4000/Coupe quattros, but Audi streamlined things in 1989 with the revision to the model line. Sporting new dashboards, new badges, and new BBS wheels, the real change was under the skin where the now worldwide “200” model featured a revised drivetrain. Gone were the twin locking differentials; instead, Audi simplified things for drivers by switched to the Torque-Sensing limited slip center differential, better known as Torsen. In the rear was still a manually locking differential; however, instead of vacuum operation like the early cars, it was now electronic, which allowed Audi to program in a feature which disabled the lock at 25 m.p.h.. While the 200 was a refinement of the early cars, the reality is that most remember it for the last-of-the-run 20V models that introduced the new 3B motor to the legendary platform. But the earlier 10V units in both MC1 and MC2 configuration have proven to be long-lived, well built classics that are rarely seen too:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Audi 200 quattro on Craigslist

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10K Friday: A44ordable Audis – 5000CS quattro Avant v. 5000S quattro v. V8 quattro v. 100 quattro

The Type 44 Audi was an impressive advance for German automobiles, a huge leap forward for Audi in a new marketplace – but also nearly the cause of its demise. It was an aerodynamic, futuristic sedan when both BMW and Mercedes-Benz seemed to be producing cars stuck in the 1970s. It was the blueprint for most modern luxury sedans from not only German companies, but many of the advances were copied by the Japanese, Italians and Americans for their large sedans. Yet, by 1990 Audi nearly pulled out of the American market thanks to some creative journalism from 60 Minutes, who in their effort to prove Audi was at fault for some unintended acceleration cases nearly killed off the company entirely. In part as a result of their efforts, it’s become quite rare to find clean examples of them today – but it’s also because they were such good, long-lived and solidly built machines that few have lower miles today. While I recent featured a few 20V turbocharged examples in the 20V Turbo comparison, today we’ll look at a few of the lesser appreciated examples, starting with a clean 5000CS quattro Avant in Canada:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Audi 5000CS Quattro Avant on Hemmings

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Tuner Tuesday: 1986 Audi 5000CS Quattro

While it’s tempting to throw the design laurels for Audi onto the later 200 20V quattro and S4/S6 models as we often do, it’s important to remember that they were really developments of the original Audi super-sedan, the 5000CS quattro. That model was, itself, a development of the earlier turbocharged version of the large sedan, as seen driven in by the father in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The CS quattro brought together the best elements of Audi’s designs; the revolutionary C3/Type 44 aerodynamic and futuristic design which provided excellent looks and fuel economy, the robust all-wheel drive system with locking differentials as seen in the World Rally Championship-winning Quattro and 4000S/CS quattro, and the turbocharged inline-5 that also powered the Quattro and had previously powered the front-drive sedan. But 60 Minutes managed to do a number on late 1980s Audi products, creating a scenario where Audi was nearly removed from the American market. That meant low residual values, and by many these 5000s were viewed as throw away cars for some time. It’s become rare to find good examples, and while this particular one isn’t showroom-fresh it is a reminder that the 5000 was a neat looking and performing package:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Audi 5000CS Quattro on eBay

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