Yesterday we took a look at the great C4 Audi S6. Although the turbocharged sedan was down on power to the M5 and 500E, it made up for its deficits with clever all-wheel drive power delivery which made it as fast on the fly and on back roads. But, of course, the real trump card for the C4 over its competition was that it was the sole wagon offered in the class. If the S6 is sought by fans of the chassis, the S6 Avant achieves near God-like status and knee-trembling reactions among the faithful. That means that even a higher-mile, less than pristine example usually will pull similar numbers to a better-condition sedan historically:
Update 8/8/18: An interesting follow-up to the clean V8 quattro I posted the other day, this 1991 V8 5-speed has returned in a no reserve auction format with a $5,500 opening price – down $1,000 from May.
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:
When it came to the late 1980s, Audi’s monopoly on the all-wheel drive market was coming to an end. Not only were new turbocharged pocket-rockets being born seemingly every day, but Mercedes-Benz had introduced their new “4Matic” designed by Steyr-Daimler-Puch. While you could make a pretty convincing argument that Audi’s design was superior in extreme conditions, there was at least one aspect of the Mercedes-Benz that trumped Ingolstadt’s design – you could get an automatic.
Now, to most enthusiasts that probably sounds like a bad idea. But when it came to selling car – especially expensive luxury cars – the overwhelming majority of buyers wanted the car to do most of the heavy lifting. Audi’s response was the next generation of quattro drivetrains; like Steyr’s system, with a series of clutches in the center differential that helped to transfer power and allowed the car to be mated to an automatic transmission. That transmission – the ZF 4HP24A – was a derivative of the 4HP24, the same automatic found in the V12-equipped BMW 750 and 850s. Like the Mercedes-Benz, Audi employed Bosch ABS and a locking rear differential. But unlike other Audis with their manual- or electronic-locking rear differential, the V8 quattro used a Torsen rear differential with helical gears which would automatically split torque in up to a 3:1 ratio to the wheel with grip.
But the V8 quattro wasn’t only about its unique new form of all-wheel drive. The moniker obviously indicated there had been a change in motivation, too, and indeed the V8 launched a new all-aluminum 4 cam, 32 valve V8 displacing 3.6 liters dubbed the PT. Rated at 240 horsepower and 254 lb.ft of torque, it was the most powerful Audi for sale in the late 1980s and brought the brand to a luxury level it had previously not competed at. In the U.S., these mega-Audis were met with mixed success. The 1990 launch of the V8 resulted in reasonably good sales; Audi sold 2,823 between late 1989 and the end of 1990 which represented over 10% of their yearly sales. Consider that the legendary Quattro never even broke 1% of Audi’s annual sales here; in its most successful year Quattros comprised .62% of the overall sales for the company.
But it was downhill – sharply – from there, as Audi nearly left the U.S. market and top-flight executives hit a notoriously bad sales patch. That meant that in total only 3,868 V8 quattros were sold in the U.S. This might be one of the best ’90s left:
There was a point where it was very hard to find a clean Mk.1 GTI anymore, and consequently the values on them rose sharply and quickly. Predictably, the moment that occurred a bunch of really nice examples popped up for sale and have continued to emerge as the car has finally been recognized as a classic. Now, couple that scenario with the racing pedigree of the Quattro and sprinkle in a dash of ///Mania into the mix and you’ve got a recipe for some very expensive cars.
With only 664 originally imported to the U.S. and a fair amount dead, balled up in rally stages or repatriated to the Fatherland, the remaining cars that do emerge generally fall into two categories: well maintained examples that fetch high dollars, or needy chassis for the project-minded enthusiasts. Although today’s car looks quite clean at first glance, it’s not a perfect example. Yet it does sport some very rare (and very polarizing) period Treser bits, a great set of Fuchs wheels and is awesome Helios Blue Metallic. At $25,000 – the lowest price we’ve seen on a recent Quattro auction, is this a deal or a dud?
I’ll be honest. There are only two reasons I’m looking at these 2003 Audi S6 Avants – their colors. Seemingly 90% of the S6 Avants that came to the United States were Silver, Silverer, or Black. As a result, it’s somewhat of a celebration to look at the more inspired tones. And there were a few; you could, for example, opt for Amulet Red, a striking deep crimson. You could get Audi’s signature Pearlescent White Metallic, one of the few extra-cost options on the S6. Or you could go with one of today’s two tones: LY5X Aqua Blue Pearl Effect or LZ6X Goodwood Green Pearl Effect.
Both are pretty stunning colors in their own right, but in each case here the transform the S6 Avant to another level of desirability. And in both cases here, the condition is outstanding and well documented; both sellers claim theirs to be one of the best in the U.S., and both are probably right. So which is the one to get?
There are quite a few collector cars out there that we talk about often. In most cases, instead of being ahead of the trendsetters, enthusiasts are left lamenting how cars that are now worth capital could once be bought for pennies. Name the classic that you grew up with, and for the most part really nice examples will be priced out of the reach of many. Because of this, often those that can afford these classics at top-dollar wouldn’t dream of daily driving them.
But there are still bastions of hope for those who want a special car that can be driven daily but will be quite unique and in good shape, yet remain within a reasonable budget. Sound too good to be true? These twin 1995 S6s spooling up their AAN 20V turbocharged inline-5s beg to differ:
Update 7/15/17: Due to lack of payment, this Coupe Quattro has been relisted, again with a no reserve auction format.
Time to consider another Audi icon – the Coupe Quattro. Of course, it was quite hard to follow the original act, but in Europe alongside the RR Quattro 20V was the all-new B3 generation S2. Performance was about par between them, but they had intensely different character. The new car was safer, more quiet, more round, and a lot more practical. For while the original Quattro had always looked like it had a hatchback, it was the successor that actually had one.
Of course, in the U.S. we didn’t receive the S2. The Coupe Quattro made due with a thoroughly upgraded 2.3 liter DOHC 20V motor – the 7A. Deep in the middle of the recession and not fully recovered from Audi’s 60 Minutes debacle, the very expensive Coupe Quattro sold slowly. A total of approximately 1,700 of them were imported at over $30,000 each. Considering the cost, the performance was rather soft; the heavy Coupe sported only 164 horsepower and though it was smooth and reasonably quick on the highway, off the line performance was lackluster at best. Still, though the internet fora would have you believe otherwise, performance between the U.S. spec Coupe and original Quattro was pretty similar.
Options on the Coupe were limited to the Cold Weather package, 8-way power seats and Pearlescent White Metallic paint – all seen here on this ’91. ’91s also had the upgraded glass moonroof rather than the early steel panel, though they lost the infamous “Bag of Snakes” tubular header early models carried. ’91s also gained rear sway bars and are the rarest of the bunch, with only 364 sold in the model year and a further 58 traded as leftovers. Like the original, finding a good one is key – and difficult:
Twenty years ago, the Audi TTS would have been a very exciting proposition. Built on the universally praised MQB platform, the third generation 8S TT is lighter than the original, better balanced, and more powerful. With close to 300 horsepower and 280 lb.ft of torque from the 2.0 TSFI turbocharged inline-4, it’s a Golf R in a slinky dinner dress. Equipped with the impressive dual-clutch 6-speed S-Tronic transmission and launch control, the results are hard to argue with: 0-60 in 4.2 seconds and a quarter mile in 12.8 at 108 mph. Unthinkable for anything but the most exotic exotics a few generations ago, this is all wrapped up in a reasonably affordable and attractive package that is usable year-round and has few drawbacks.
But the TTS falls into a no man’s land today. It’s $10,000 more expensive than the base TT – already quite an impressive car. It’s also more expensive than the more practical Golf R on which it is based. A lot more expensive. But more troubling, with a few options like today’s it is also dearer than a base Porsche 718 Cayman. And while it soundly out-drags the base Cayman, which would you rather impress friends in?
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’:
Update 6/23/18: After failing to sell last summer for $17,500, the seller of this pristine low mileage TT has increased the asking price to $18,000. With only 400 miles on the clock since last year, will it be a sale this time around?
This 2004 Audi TT 225 quattro represents an interesting comparison point to Rob’s Talbot Yellow 911SC from last night. First, the color – Imola Yellow bares a striking resemblance to the infrequently seen 911 shade, but like the tone on the 911 it wasn’t often selected on these TTs. It obviously has a similar overall shape to the 911, too. If you’re reading this, you’re probably not likely to be able to squint and see how alike they are, but to most non-car people, if you parked them side-by-side, they’d likely claim they were much more than distant cousins. I’d wager that most would probably prefer the TT, too – after all, it looks modern and new, still, unlike that ‘old Beetle’ design.
That a clean first generation TT still looks new some 13 years later is rather miraculous. Perhaps it points to a change in car designs; less revolution, more evolution. Consider for a moment that the TT concept (which went into production largely unchanged) toured the car show circuit in 1995 – only 6 years after the move to the 964 model by Porsche. Of course, it’s easy to see why Audi would only evolve the design of the TT. It was a hit off the bat, as pretty much everyone liked the snappy performance, the unique looks, the economic practicality of a 2+2 hatchback, the available all-wheel drive. So park a 2004 TT next to a 2014 TT, and though the design moved into a new decade, it didn’t change direction.
Because the TT has been ubiquitous over the past nearly twenty years in the marketplace, it’s often taken for granted that you can get one pretty much any time you want. News flash: you can get an air-cooled 911 of any variant, an E30 M3, a Bugatti EB110 – whatever – anytime you want, too. The difference? You and I can afford the TT.