1991 Audi V8 quattro 5-speed

Back to big Audis! The early 1990s were, as I’ve described in the past two posts, a period of change for the Ingolstadt firm as they closed down production on the Type 44 to introduce its new replacement, the C4. That led to a dizzying assortment of models from the one chassis. There was the aforementioned 100 and 100 quattro. You could move up to two turbocharged models, too – the 200 Turbo gave you 165 horsepower through the front wheels, and the new-and-only-for-91 in the U.S. was 200 20V quattro. Europe and the rest of the world got even more options; production lasted right up through 2006 in parts of China, where they even made a crazy long-wheel base 4-door convertible version of the Hongqi.

But the top of the heap for the U.S. market was a derivative of the Type 44, the D11 chassis. Of course, that was Audi’s foray into the top-tier luxury market with its new all-aluminum 32 valve double-overhead cam V8. Body revisions to the front and rear along with flared fenders made the V8 quattro seem like a completely different car to the slab-sided 100. V8s had, and have, serious presence. Big news, too, was that for the first time Audi was able to match its all-wheel drive quattro setup with a new 4-speed automatic transmission.

For die-hard Audi faithful, though, for a short while you could still opt to row-your-own with the 240 horsepower 3.6 liter V8 singing to your right foot. These manual V8 quattros are legendary because of their rarity and that they are the only car Audi brought to market with twin Torsen differentials. The combination of a more rearward weight bias, big and instant torque from the V8 and those clever diffs made for one of the best driving experiences in a big sedan from Audi:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Audi V8 quattro on Grand Rapids Craigslist

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1990 Audi V8 quattro

Weather. It’s today’s weather that makes me instantly think back to my V8 quattro. Here in New England this morning I emerged from my weather-proof cocoon hidden carefully under several layers of blankets to reveal the foot-plus of powdery snow, blowing fiercely with a sustained 35 mph wind, and a temperature hovering around 9. Maybe for you folks in Minnesota that’s a nice Spring day, but I think it’s just brutal. Yet when it occurs, I instantly think back to the car I had that made me relish those conditions. It was my ’93 V8 quattro, without hesitation.

When the mercury dipped below freezing and the roads were covered in snow, that car was simply a monster. Audis certainly have a reputation for being good in the snow, it’s true. But here’s a hint – I’ve owned a lot and driven even more, and they’re not all great in the white stuff (ducks). They’re also very tire-dependent, perhaps moreso than other cars. Because with all-seasons on an Audi, you’ll have no problem going fast in deep snow, but you’ll have quite a few problems turning and more problems stopping.

But I had snow tires on my V8. Tiny little A4 steel wheels overshadowed by the widened flares with tires that look fit for…well, an basic B5 A4 rather than a large executive. When that white stuff fell – look out. It was unstoppable, but not in the bad way I just mentioned. And unlike the terminal understeer some of my other Audis suffered from (I’m looking at you, 200!), all you had to do in the V8 if the nose wasn’t heading where you wanted to was to give it a boot-full of throttle. A tremendous roar would emerge as the 4-cam all-aluminum V8 sprung to life, the multi-plate center differential channeled power towards the back, and the Torsen rear diff limited the slip of the unladen tire. The result? Sideways. Totally awesome, controllable drifts at nearly any angle you wanted for as long as you wanted. I drove through a blizzard, seat heaters set at “just so”, automatic climate control dialed in to 70 with the exterior temp suggesting it was Saskatchewan I was in rather than Southern Massachusetts. The V8 ate the miles up leisurely. It was the most comfortable I’ve felt in a very bad driving environment, and I’ve driven through a few in some pretty good cars.

Then there’s the ‘whether’. It’s more than whether or not you live in a climate where my scenario will play out for you. It’s more than whether or not this car is worth purchasing. It’s whether or not you’ll be able to find parts. It’s whether or not all of the items work. Heck, with a V8 quattro, sometimes it’s whether or not it’ll feel like starting. And when it does, it’s whether or not it’ll feel like shifting, too.

Whether be damned, these cars still capture my imagination every single time I see one.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Audi V8 quattro on eBay

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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.

Being a V8 quattro owner isn’t particularly rewarding. No one has any idea that your car even existed – sometimes, not even Audi dealers. And it will break. Often. When (not if) it does, it will certainly be very expensive to fix. But like an Alfa, occasionally it all works and suddenly you have the greatest car ever conceived. It’s comfortable, quiet, sporty, refined, simple in ergonomics but has everything you need. The steering is sublime for a 90s Audi. The brakes were fantastic. The transmission was a big step forward in design for Audi from the venerable 3-speed. It had a great radio, greater seat heaters and one-touch power windows. It was cutting edge.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Audi V8 quattro on eBay

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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

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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

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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. See, that fluid loss resulted in a buildup of oil gunk. Where does the oil gunk build up, you ask? On the throttle. This normally isn’t a problem, unless once in a while you opened the throttle. Then, it became a problem, as the throttle wouldn’t close. Again, not a problem so much on a 4000 quattro with all 115 stampeding horses, but in the ’93 V8 quattro, there were 2.5 times that amount – 276 horsepower with even more torque launching my 3,900 pound missile down route 195. Leaks presented themselves in other odd ways, too – like, for example, when I got a self-imposed flat tire at a winter driving school. Out came the tools to jack the car up, no problem. However, when I went to retrieve the spare, a sad sight awaited me – the trunk had leaked into the spare tire well apparently, resulting in the space saver spare being thoroughly embedded in 10 inches of tire well shaped ice cube. In story generation alone, the V8 quattro was by far the Professor Emeritus of my car history. Thirdly, no one knew what it was when you went to get a part. Allow me to present a theoretical trip to the parts counter – even at an Audi dealer…

Parts Guy: Hi, what kind of car?
Me: Audi
PG: What model?
Me: V8
PG: No, not what engine, what model.
Me: V8
PG: They made a model named V8?
Me: Yes
PG: (turns to other Parts Guy) You ever hear of an Audi V8?
OPG: He probably means A8.
Me: No, the A8 is the model that replaced the V8.
(both look confused)
PG: Okay, what year?
Me: 1993
PG: Audi made cars in 1993?
Me: Yes. Not many.
PG: Okay, the computer tells me that your car doesn’t exist.
Me: It’s outside. Would you like to see it?
PG: No, maybe I can cross reference the part. What do you need?
Me: The transmission control unit.
PG: ………………
PG: ……….. (turns to other PG and looks confused)
Other PG: Ah, you should probably just go to the dealer.

Fourth, when eventually you convinced someone who supplied parts for your non-existent car that it really was real, inevitably the part would be expensive. Really, really expensive. And, on backorder, or no longer available. It made repairs length and always have at least one comma in the price estimate. That estimate was almost always below what it actually cost to get it running again, and when it did run again, inevitably there would be something still wrong that would need to be fixed on the next trip to the mechanic.

Yet, more than any car I’ve previously owned, it’s the one I’d want back.

It was that good. So when one of the 72 5-speed cars pops up for sale, it’s always time to take notice. The officially imported 5-speed cars were all 3.6 PT engine cars, meaning a bit less motivation than the later 4.2 motor. However, they’re lighter and they’re the only Torsen center/Torsen rear differential car Audi brought to the U.S.. This is a rare opportunity to own one of the few remaining:

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

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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

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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

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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:

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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

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