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.…

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

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.…

Entwicklung 80: 1990 Audi 80 Quattro V8

It was really neat to see the interestingly optioned pre-production Audi 90S V6 last week, but more from a curiosity standpoint. As many noted, what’s the market on a front drive pre-production Audi 90 with 200 miles? It would take a very special and specific fan to be interested in that chassis. The same can’t be said of today’s example. When it came to tuning up the Type 89 quattros, Audi offered a few options; the DOHC 7A motor with 164 horsepower came to the U.S., but European markets also got the stellar S2 in 20V Turbo form. Though both were most common in Coupe quattro form, sedans and even for European customers Avants later were available with the legendary turbocharged mill. However, let’s not forget that technically the 20V Turbo wasn’t the top of the heap in 1989, since Audi had just launched the revolutionary quad-cam all-aluminum 3.6 V8. That motor was the signature mill of the eponymous V8 quattro. Out of the box, the V8 was the most powerful Audi on offer, but the engine package would only be available initially in the D11 chassis, but in 4.2 form it would later be offered in the C4 S4/S6 as well. The first small chassis Audi with a V8 wouldn’t be until the B6 S4, right? Well, wrong, because a few generations prior Audi apparently toyed with the idea in some development 80s:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Audi 80 Quattro V8 on autoscout24.com

Honorable Mention Roundup

Time for another Honorable Mention Roundup, and we’re sporting some great 1990s style with one throwback to the 80s in this edition. With lovely coupes from Volkswagen, Porsche and BMW, two Audi sedans round out the lineup. Which is the one you’d like to grab for this holiday season? Thank you again to our readers who sent in suggestions, we always appreciate them!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 BMW M635CSi at Bonhams Auctions

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:

1990 Audi V8 quattro

I have a fun ongoing exchange with our reader John; we send each other pretty much every V8 quattro that comes to the market in the U.S., usually accompanied by some brutally honest and laughable one-liner. Considering the number of V8 quattros imported – less than 4000 – and that they were both expensive and a DTM star, they would have been coveted like the rest of the Audi lineup. Yet, many have fallen into extreme disrepair or neglect, leaving precious few left running today and making good ones a rare find. For example, recently John sent me a pretty worn Pearlesant White ’93 model with the line: ” ‘cheap’ and haven’t seen it before, but that’s about it”. I responded that I’d done the “cheap” V8 route before, and that were I to do it again I would have been better off spending three times as much to get a maintained example. The V8 is truly a car that could bankrupt you trying to restore a poor one to original condition. However, if you find a reasonable example that’s well priced, is it a better proposition?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Audi V8 quattro on eBay

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

1991 Audi V8 quattro 5-speed

In 1989, Audi was in a state of crisis in the U.S.. The 60 Minutes farce had caused them serious market share from the European import scene. Audi had always been a bit fringe with its expensive and seemingly underpowered turbocharged all-wheel drive executive sedans. Aside from that, the major competition had stepped up their game; BMW launched the quite attractive and popular E32 the year before, and upstarts Infinity from Nissan with their Q45 and Lexus from Toyota with what would become the standard – the LS400 – were entering the marketplace. While the BMW remained with its standard inline-6 rear-drive configuration in most E32s sold, the Japanese duo upped the game with powerful quad-cam aluminum V8s under the hood. In the case of the Lexus, Toyota steered towards refinement with adequate power – Nissan, on the other hand, pushed the performance level with a reported 280 horsepower cap on the 4.5 liter VH54DE engine which today many report as underrated by at least 30 horsepower. Audi had its work cutout to claw back market share against these new cars, and to answer it released an updated version of the venerable Type 44/C3 chassis. Now, truth told the Audi 100 (5000 U.S.) really was the basis for the design of most of the large executive sedans that followed – but five years after its introduction, being the first was no longer enough. Audi upped the game by introducing what effectively was two Volkswagen 16Vs mated to each other in the same way that the 944 engine was effectively half of a 928 V8. The new V8 was all-aluminum and featured double-overhead cams. It was small – twice the displacement of the Volkswagen 16V engine at the time at 3.6 liters, but produced about the same power as the 4.0 liter Lexus motor.…