Every year for the past decade I’ve headed towards the colder climates to enjoy some time exploring the limits of winter driving in schools put on by the Audi Club. Held on frozen lakes or in specific dedicated facilities, these schools allow you to do what’s simply not safe or legal on the regular roads; to get the car out of shape and beyond the limit of grip and learn to get back under control. Predictably every year there’s a crop of the newest and greatest from Audi, Subaru and even BMW. But around the ice, the best performers are still the old ladies; Audi 4000, 80 and 90 quattros comprise a small minority but generally blow right by all the “faster” cars once the grip declines. But while examples of the early quattros are never particularly expensive compared to new cars, finding the right one to buy and turn into a “winter beater” is a bit harder since they’re few and far between. So when this complete and solid but slightly weathered 1990 80 quattro turned up, my thoughts immediately turned towards the ice:
All posts tagged Quattro
The Audi 4000 quattro was like a Sherpa to thousands of European car enthusiasts; a steadfast winter standby with slick styling and Rally-bred sure-footedness. On paper, looking back today the 4000 was probably a bit dull; nearly 2,900 lbs of brick-on-brick design with a measly 115 horsepower motivation. But numbers don’t tell the whole story of the B2 Audi, because in any configuration it’s a great handling car. The quattro, however, had some special features that would have been headline items for any sports sedan until very recently; four wheel independent suspension with a large front sway bar and four wheel disc brakes. Couple that with the first all-wheel drive system fitted to a small car, sprinkle some luxury items in and cut the price of the exotic Quattro in half, and it didn’t matter that it wasn’t particularly fast. What the 4000 quattro was, though, was one solid all-around performer. The subtle changes from the front-drive sedan resulted in a car that felt more grown-up and refined, yet still pushed you to do silly Hoonigan things. 4000 quattro owners that I’ve talked to almost always have the same proud story; the time that they managed to get their 4000 quattro stuck. Normally, that would be a cause for embarrassment, but such was the grip of the plow-through-anything small sedan that it became a badge of honor when you outdid the car’s twin-locking differentials. The secret, of course, was just to make sure all four wheels were in the air! But because of this type of sillyness inducing competence amongst dropping residual value and a second or third tier of ownership that didn’t always repair or maintain the cars, few are left in good condition. However, I managed to scratch together a trio of three-quarters of the U.S. bound production years, all in the fetching shade of Tornado Red. We’ll start with the end of the run:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Audi 4000CS quattro on eBay
The four-door coupe segment was a styling trend that caught everyone by surprise. Mercedes-Benz went on a limb in 2004 with their E-class based CLS “coupe”, a four-door luxury sedan with smaller side windows and a swept back look that gave drivers the impression of something a bit more intimate than your usual E320. Positioned higher up in the range than their C-class based CLK two-door coupe, this new model went on to be a success, spawning competitors such as Volkswagen, BMW and most recently, Audi, to follow suit.
After setting eyes on the second generation Brabus CLS that Carter featured for Tuner Tuesday, I just can’t help but feel underwhelmed when comparing it to the original CLS. Even without the Brabus touches, the second iteration of this car gets a bit fussy at times and like many Mercedes-Benz products these days, doesn’t come off as a whole. I was bantering with Andy over at flussig magazine just the other day about just how few of the new Mercedes-Benzes strike my fancy, the only two seemingly the good old G-Wagen and the new AMG GT.
Audi seems to have stepped in where Mercedes-Benz left off with the original CLS. Their new A7 is quite a visual stunner, and even better in person. My mother even remarked how much she likes the design and she’s never been an easy one to please. Now enter the RS7. Audi’s over the top performance version of this new five-door fastback. With a V8 pumping out over 500 horsepower hooking up to all four wheels via Quattro, you know you’ll have a good time. This one for sale in Los Angeles has just over 1,000 miles on the clock and affords a small discount over MSRP.