Audi’s priorities in the mid 1990s in regards to the U.S. market shifted, as they concentrated their efforts on reestablishing any semblance of market share with what would prove to be the very successful A4. The A4 itself was evolutionary rather than revolutionary, as it incorporated most of its technology from the existing platforms. Similarly, Audi backed away from its venerable turbocharged inline-5 platform; a new V6 had become the go-to option choice in both B4 and C4 platforms in 1992. It was far from sporty, but the combination of moderate V6 power, updated looks with the 1995 refresh of the chassis and legendary build quality resulted in what I consider the most Mercedes-Benz like car Audi built. THe A6 2.8 quattro was luxurious in a Spartan way; just enough power options, but not tech-heavy. It was quiet, comfortable, handsome and capable in a time when it still held the monopoly on all-wheel drive wagons – remember, this was the time when the widespread popularity of SUVs was still a generation away. You could even squeeze seven passengers in to a A6 thanks to the optional rear bench seat. They became vogue with the ski-set, and as a result few appear in the condition of today’s example:
All posts tagged Quattro
In 2008, if you had a lot of money to spend and wanted a powerful convertible with seats for four, chances are you bought an M3. But if you wanted to stand out a bit, the RS4 Cabriolet offered an interesting alternative, with ownership of one of these cars putting you in a very exclusive club. Available only for the 2008 model year, Audi imported a mere 300 examples to the US and they were priced accordingly: an astounding $85,000 when new. For your money you got loud and aggressive, wide-boy styling, grippy all wheel drive, a six speed manual gearbox and a power soft-top to fold away so that you could hear the burble produced by the wonderful 420 hp 4.2 liter V-8. True, they were not as composed as the extraordinary RS4 sedan, but if you were in the market for a convertible you probably didn’t mind, since all convertibles are by nature compromised versions of their solid-roof counterparts.
These days, there are usually one or two RS4 cabriolets on the market at any given time and, owing to the god of depreciation, they can be had for around half their original asking price.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 Audi RS4 Cabriolet on eBay
If the end of the the Group B era was the RS200 I wrote up yesterday, the signature car of the rule set still has to be the Audi Quattro. There’s been a renaissance of the history of the Quattro; like the E30 M3, it wasn’t quite as successful at any given moment as fans of each tend to claim. The Quattro was far from dominant in World Rally – but it was evocative, as the close battles with Lancia, Peugeot and Ford produced the legendary sounds, sights and sensations that still send chills up the spines of anyone who sees these cars in person. The noise of the Quattro alone is legendary and the off-road soundtrack to the 1980s. I’d like to think I capture a little bit of that every time I start up my Coupe GT, but though it sounds really neat it’s nothing compared to the raucous screams of the last E1 cars. It was what made the Quattro the legend that it is. Although the WRC cars were a different breed than the road-going luxury versions, still they were simply put the fastest way to cover ground in any weather in the early 1980s. It helped that they were quite good looking, too, in their own chunky way:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1983 Audi Quattro on eBay
Far less famous than its wide-hipped brother and mostly unknown to most U.S. customers, the B2 Audi Coupe was available with quattro all-wheel drive in other markets. It shared nearly all components with the sibling 4000 (90) quattro, including 4×108 wheel pattern and 256mm front brakes – items that were also on the U.S. spec front-drive GT. So, one would assume it would be pretty easy to “swap in a quattro”, as the internet posts usually start. Of course, those individuals who start the posts best be wearing flame-retardant clothing, as they are immediately inundated with responses that kindly (or not so) explain the difficulties inherent in this project. You see, everything aft of the firewall on the all-wheel drive floorplan is different than the two wheel drive units; indeed, as I’ve pointed out previously, even the two wheel drive floorpans were different between automatics and manuals. That means to recreate a rest of the world Coupe quattro, you need the floorpan from a 4000 quattro mated to a body of a Coupe GT. This, of course, makes no sense financially as the countless hours involved eliminate all but the DIYers – and even a fair chunk of those with the talent give up on the project. Yet, it apparently didn’t stop the builder of this rally car, who not only swapped the body, but went one step further and dropped in a turbocharged motor and the brakes and wheels from the big-brother Type 44 chassis. The result is a budget Ur-Quattro rally replica without the flare of the original…or, at least, it was a few years ago before it was parked:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1984 Audi Coupe GT on eBay
I see B6 platform A4s all the time in DC, often driven by young people in their mid to late twenties. I tend to assume that many of them are hand-me-downs from wealthy parents who live in the affluent suburbs. When equipped with all-wheel drive, these cars make for competent year-round daily drivers ideal for the mid-Atlantic climate, and they still give off that expensive, German vibe even though by now they are relatively inexpensive to buy. But while the overall design remains attractive, I think the standard models can look a bit plain. If, like me, you prefer the sportier looks of the S4, but don’t want to deal with the possibility of the $8k timing chain job that afflicts the 4.2 V8 motor, the next best thing is a regular A4 equipped with the Ultrasport package. Available as a factory option, this added S4-style door blades, revised front and rear bumpers, sports suspension and 18″ multispoke “celebration” RS4-style wheels. So equipped, the ordinary looking A4 is instantly transformed into a sportier, more aggressively styled car. The USP package was available on both sedan and wagon models, and for today’s post I’ve written up one of each.