Perfect Timing: 2005 S4 Avant

We usually try to give plenty of time for readership to check out the auctions we link to. However, if you click on the link below you’ll find there’s only a few hours before this auction will end. Why am I writing it up?

Well, it should be pretty obvious. I like yellow cars, I like wagons, and I like Audis. Three checks there! This is a rare package, and I like rare, too. And before you start chattering about the BBK’s propensity to eat timing chain guides, this one’s already been upgraded. So it must have a million miles? No, they’re in check, too, at 112,000. Best of all, the seller is offering the car in a no reserve auction format and for some reason, bids aren’t outrageous yet.

If you want a big, bad and bold manual wagon, ACT NOW!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2005 Audi S4 Avant on eBay

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Feature Listing: 2015 Audi S4

Just the other day, an old car friend of mine contacted our group of enthusiasts with an interesting challenge. He currently owns a Nissan 370Z, and while he really likes the car he’s got a family and needs something a bit more practical. So he queried the group; what car should he get in the $40,000 range that was special, fast, had 4-doors and a manual transmission?

Several thoughts came to mind, and I’m sure that everyone’s head is already spinning like mine did. While immediately several went to BMW M products like the E39 M5, I had an alternate suggestion which also considered where my friend lives – New Hampshire. ‘What about the Audi S4?’ I suggested. He admitted had hadn’t thought of one, in part because he previously owned a S4 – in his case a B5 – and didn’t love the driving experience.

Well, since the S4 has come a long way since the 1990s in power, technology, size and driving experience. And what has emerged is a very impressive all-arounder which flies under the radar. The supercharged V6 in the B8 gave a healthy 333 horsepower an Russian steppe-flat torque curve with 325 lb.ft available from 3,000 rpms straight through 5,250. This power could be channeled through two increasing rare options to find in electronics-heavy cars – a manual gearbox and a sport differential. Okay, 333 horsepower doesn’t sound outlandish in today’s world. But as with fast Audis of the past, the B8 and 8.5 made efficient use of that power and putting it down on the ground, making them capable of 4.4 second 0-60 sprints and a 13 second quarter-mile. This is a car which punches above its weight class, capable of embarrassing unsuspecting muscle cars.

Yet it retains its luxury-oriented character and go-anywhere all-wheel drive options, along with the practicality of offering 4-doors. And like ‘Q-Ships’ from the past, outside of a few extra exhaust ports and slightly flashier badging, most people would be hard-pressed to differentiate this serious performance package from the normal A4 wrapper. But that doesn’t mean that this car has to be boring, and you could select a few beautiful exterior colors such as this Volcano Red Metallic example:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2015 Audi S4 on Audizine

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1987 Porsche 928S4

Truth be told this wasn’t the 928 I originally intended to post. It was going to be this 928 GTS 5-speed also for sale at Parkhaus. Those obviously are highly sought after cars. But as I continued looking about I then came across this very similar looking 1987 Porsche 928S4 and the price difference simply became too much for me to continue with the GTS. The GTS certainly is quite nice, but for 100 grand less you could have this one. That’s a lot of money saved!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Porsche 928S4 on eBay

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2001 Audi S4 Avant

Perhaps one reason that the S6 Avant didn’t really take of on U.S. shores was because of the shoes it had to fill. Enthusiasts had enjoyed the B5 S4 in Avant form for a few years, and consequently as a popular model when the B6 launched it was almost sure to make a return, almost certain to have more power, and almost certain to be available in a manual. Those premonitions came true, and so if you were willing to wait two years between the B5 and B6 S4 Avant production you were rewarded with the 4.2 liter V8 mated to a manual and even more sporty feel. For lovers of fast Audi wagons, the S4 was the answer to the things that the S6 wasn’t.

But as time has gone on, the “OMG it’s got a V8 and a manual!!!” shine of the B6 has waned slightly as long-term problems have reared their heads with the powertrain. Like the Allroad and S6, those problems are probably overstated by the “‘Exaggernet’, but they nonetheless exist. So while the B5 to B6 represented a huge jump in power, there are quite a few fans of the older generation still. That grunt deficit is easily overcome with the twin-turbocharged V6, as well, thanks to clever tuning potential. Like the B6, you could of course have the B5 with a manual. And, in some wild colors:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Audi S4 Avant on eBay

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Corvette Connection: 2001 Audi S4

Update 1/29/2018: The asking price on this S4 has dropped from $13,995 to $12,995.
The B5 S4. On paper, it’s a car that I should like a lot. Coming from the modest 4000 quattro, Audi produced what should have been a monster on paper; a 2.7 liter twin-turbocharged V6 rated at over twice the power of the old inline-5s mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. 6-spoke “Avus” wheels carried on the late 90s design in 17″ form, with deeper but still subdued body additions and more grills hinting at the better performance of this A4-based creation. Twin polished exhaust tips, Xenon headlights, deeply bolstered sport seats and plenty of technology also came along from the ride, too.

But for me the B5 S4 sedan was never super exciting. Perhaps that was because it was instantly popular. What I remember annoying me more, though, was that it really seemed like Audi could have produced stronger performance. After all, it generated only a few more horsepower than the last favorite – at launch, the already out-of-production E36 M3 was the match for the performance of the S4 due to its lighter weight. And that was in turned-down U.S. spec! More sharply notable was the launch at the same time of the S8, and the S4 was some 90 horsepower down on that model. Yet get behind the wheel of one, and suddenly it wasn’t a lack of grunt you were noticing. It was how well the package pulled together. It rode well, it had a glut of usable torque thanks to the small twin turbos’ ability to spin up so quickly, and the fit and finish inside was leagues better than the E36 was. And while you could stick snow snows on an E36 and make it through winter just fine, as a year-round commuter car the S4 made a lot more sense while simultaneously being a much better sleeper. It was a ‘Q-Ship’; admittedly, not the biggest or fastest one out there, but certainly an undercover speed agent.

Those in the know noticed, and although today’s example has sprouted wings and is decidedly not as understated as it left the factory, when you see the name of the original owner you’ll understand why…

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Audi S4 on eBay

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Unicorn Patrol: 2006 Audi S4 Avant

I’ve previously made fun to the term “Unicorn” as it relates to selling…well, pretty much any of the cars we feature on these pages. Truth told, as special as you think your car is, it’s really just one of probably a fairly large number of cars just like it out in the wild. Yet that doesn’t stop the P.T. Barnum’s of the used-car market from touting how unusual it is to see their particular circus attraction. In fact, many times it seems to be considered the main selling point:

Salesman: Now that you’ve selected all your other options, I’m going to tell you about one final “dealer special” option we can offer you – but it’s only for select, and discerning customers!
Rich Plebian: Uh, okay, what is it?
S: It’s the not offered to public “Unicorn” option
RP: “Unicorn”? Like, horned mythological beast?
S: Yes, exactly. The Unicorn Package is option code 785.
RP: Okay, what does it get me?
S: You get to tell everyone how unique your mass-produced car is.
RP: Wait, it gives me special powers?
S: No, you just get to say that your car is more special than the other cars that are exactly like it.
RP: Well, people have always told me how special I am, so sign me up!

So here we are again. In the sales pitch for this 2006 Audi S4 Avant, “Unicorns are real” appears. The question is – is this really something you never see, and is it the horned mythological beast you’ve been looking for?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2006 Audi S4 Avant on eBay

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Quattro Conundrum: 1987 Audi 4000CS quattro or 1993 Audi S4

While usually our ‘Double Take’ features look at one model, today I’m going to look at two cars that share a brand, and idea, and a price point. Both of these Audis represent a huge leap forward from their predecessors; versus the front-drive Type 81, the Type 85 B2 was much more modern-feeling, refined and introduced all-wheel drive to the mass market (excusing its bigger brother, and twice as expensive and exotically flared Quattro brethren, of which only 664 sold here) and the C4 S4 introduced the U.S. market to S-cars and merged the 200 20V’s setup with a modern body and more sporty interior along with even a bit more power. Both are legendary in the 4-ringed circles for their longevity. Both have cadres of fans who seek each model out. And both are hard to find in good condition.

So here we go, Alice – red or green pill? For your $6,000 investment, which of these inline-5 all-wheel drive legends would be your choice?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Audi 4000CS quattro on eBay

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Feature Listing: 1991 Audi 200 20V quattro Avant

1991 was a great year for Audi and Volkswagen enthusiasts in America, robust with performance options all around. Fans of normally aspirated motors had multiple double-cam choices; the 16V twins from Volkswagen with the GTI/GLIs, each with heavily bolstered Recaros and awesome BBS wheels. Going slightly less boy racer and more upscale yielded the equally impressive 20V inline-5 duo from Audi, with the Coupe Quattro and 90 20V quattro. They weren’t as quick off the line, but they were certainly well built, solid performing luxury vehicles. Of course, the big daddy of normal aspiration in the lineup was the V8 quattro. Still at 3.6 liters and 240 horsepower for 1991, it was also available with a manual transmission and was in the midst of a winning streak in the DTM series, usurping power from the E30 M3 and 190E 2.5-16 in monumental style.

If forced induction was more your choice for speed, there were plenty of options there, as well. 1991 featured a slightly revised Corrado, now also with BBS wheels and the 1.8 liter G-lader supercharged motor. Audi offered you a luxury cruiser still in the 200 Turbo, as well. But the big news was finally the release of the 20V Turbo motor into the lineup. Long featured in the Sport Quattro, then RR Quattro in Europe and later S2, in America Audi brought the 3B turbocharged inline-5 package in the 200. As an added bonus, it was available in both sedan form and the innovative Avant wagon. Producing 217 horsepower and a bit more torque, the Audi was capable of 0-60 runs in the mid-6 second range if you were quick with your shifts. But this wasn’t a bracket racer – the 200 was a luxury car through and through, with a well-appointed cabin full of the things you’d expect – Zebrano wood trim, electric powered and heated leather seats front and rear, and a high-quality Bose stereo. Unusual for a luxury car of the time, but underscoring the German’s feelings towards driving, were the number of driver-oriented items. The dash was full of gauges, and unlike the V8 and 200 Turbo, the 20V was manual-only. Next to the shift lever was the manual rear differential lock, though as with all the second generation quattro drivetrains, the electronic lock disengaged at 15 m.p.h. automatically. The center differential was a Torsen unit capable of varying power as well. And the brakes were unconventional floating-rotor designs, intended to help haul the heavy 200 down from triple-digit Autobahn speed with ease. Unlike the normal 200, the fenders on the 20V were flared slightly to accommodate BBS forged wheels, 15×7.5″ all around and shared with the V8 quattro. It sounded like a recipe for success, and was a well regarded car when new even if the unconventional manual/turbo-5 setup lacked some grunt compared to the V8s of the day.

Yet this was still the fallout period of both the recession of the 1990s and Audi’s fall from grace in the U.S. market, so the 200 was a slow seller. On top of that, the C3 was at the very end of its life cycle, replaced mid-1991 with the C4 chassis. As a result, very few of the 200 20V quattros were built; Audi claims 4,767 sedans and a scant 1,616 Avants were produced with the 3B motor. Of those, only about 900 sedans made it to America. But the number you care about? Well, this 1991 200 20V quattro Avant is one of the 149 originally imported here.

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Ending Soon – What We’re Watching

I’ve got my eye on another interesting and diverse set of affordable no reserve auctions this week. Take a look and feel free to chime in where you think cars will end! Let’s get things rolling with this BMW E28 with only a few hours remaining:

Click for Details: 1987 BMW 535is

This 1987 BMW 535is is definitely on the driver-quality side rather than a show piece; but all the important bones are there and the rust-free claim is worth its weight in 1980s Bavarian metal, anyway. Overall, though there are some obvious needs, for a 200,000 mile car it looks reasonably tidy and so far bidding is only at $2,500.

Click for Details: 2002 Volkswagen Jetta TDi Wagon

In an era of Volkswagen production that saw a sharp upswing in quality and performance, who would have guessed that the second most desirable model in the used market (outside of the R, obviously) is a Jetta Wagon with the diesel motor? Unlike its bigger brother Passat TDi Variant, the Jetta could be had with a 5-speed manual and they’ve developed a cult following. This one ticks the right boxes with lower miles, what appears to be good condition and the ALH/5-speed manual combination in a wagon, so bids are nearly at $7,000 with a few hours to go on the no reserve auction.

Click for Details: 1997 BMW M3 Sedan

After yesterday’s polarizing M3 Lightweight, we’re back to normal series production (and lower prices) with this still desirable M3 Sedan. In -3/4/5 configuration, these have quickly become the preferred weapon of choice for the practical E36 lover. In Artic Silver with Dove interior, this one isn’t stock, but with under 100,000 miles and in good condition, it looks like a solid investment at under $9,000 at time of writing.

Click for Details: 2000 Audi S4

An interesting, and more potent, counterpoint to the M3/4/5 is the Audi S4. With two turbos and two more wheels driven, the driving dynamics might not be quite as sublime in the B5, but they’re still nice places to be in on a drive and pretty shocking with the amount of performance that can be massaged out of the V6. With Alcantara sport seats and a 6-speed manual in mostly original configuration and under 110,000 miles, this one looks like a good sleeper in nice shape. But without the ///Markup, the current bid is only an outlandishly low $2,100.

Click for Details: 1990 Volkswagen Transporter Double Cab (Doka) Syncro

Like the earlier Samba, utter the words “Transporter”, “Doka”, and “Syncro” in a sentence and you get VW fanboys all wobbly in the knees. But unlike most auctions which have accompanying astronomical asking prices, the seller of this 1990 is taking a risk by offering it at no reserve. Condition is great and the options tick the right boxes, but unlike the S4 this auction isn’t likely to be overlooked. Bidding, with four days left, is already over $12,000; still, less than a third of the ask on a similar example I recently saw.

Click for Details: 2001 Mercedes-Benz 500SL

An interesting counter-point to Andrew’s 1993 Mercedes-Benz 600SL, the more affordable and easier to live with 500SL variant of the R129 is no stranger to the used market. This one has not many more miles and the condition looks good with a clean history, plus it has some great looking AMG wheels. Truth told, I like the pre-refresh, more angular look of the early R129s, but this one is tidy and currently yours for only a bit over $7,000.

-Carter

Ending Soon: What We’re Watching

Last week’s What We’re Watching post seemed to be a hit, so I’ve lined up another group of auctions. This time, they’re all affordable no reserve classics (or soon to be?). Care to wager on what each will sell at? Let’s start with a 5-speed Euro Porsche 928.

Click for Details: 1981 Porsche 928

It’s far from perfect, but here’s a 1981 Porsche 928 5-speed in Euro trim. The BBS wheels might look more at home on an early E39 540i, the paint is tired and the engine hasn’t run in some time (and what the heck is up with that shifter surround???) but hey, at time of writing the whole package can you yours for $3,000. Certainly it’s worth at least that in parts?

Click for Details: 1960 Volkswagen Bus

I said “affordable”, right? Well, with VIN tags of 23 Window Sambas selling for upwards of $11,000, this no reserve auction on a lovely restored ’60 seems like a deal. The color combination and condition are spot on, and it will be interesting to see where it ends.

Click for Details: 1993 BMW 740iL

Back to great values, and this 1993 BMW 740iL seems ready to please. It’s got lower mileage, the great E32 shape, a nice color combination and very good overall condition. Usually the big money has been reserved for the follow-up E38, so I think someone will get a great deal on this very nice ’93.

Click for Details: 1988 BMW M5

There’s been a lot of speculation on the 80s BMW M market, so seeing a no reserve auction on an M5 is both rare and offers us the chance to litmus test the market. Usually the cars that come up in no reserve format aren’t the nicest ones out there, but this one generally looks great. It’s a southern, claimed rust-free example with disclosed maintenance in mostly original condition. At time of writing, bidding is only at $15,000, so there’s still plenty of value with two days to go.

Click for Details: 2008 BMW 328i Coupe

A little more modern, but this 2008 BMW 328i Coupe offers you a lot of style for a budget-minded commuter. This one avoids higher pricing by forgoing the manual, sport options and X-drive, but at the end of the day it’s still a nice color combination, a pretty design and a reliable option that’s affordable to run. Bidding is only at $5,000 with a few days to go on the no reserve auction.

Click for Details: 2005 Audi S4

Debate still rages over which generation of S4 was “best”, but the appeal of the 3rd generation model is understandable. You got a 340 horsepower V8, available with a 6-speed manual, and great form-fitting Recaro seats. In fact the whole package is quite attractive, but the big drawback is the BBK 4.2 is known to suffer chain problems. This one is claimed to have a lot of chain noise, but it’s otherwise in great shape and appears ready to undertake the engine-out service. While it’s not for the faint of heart (or wallet), the bidding on this car is only around $3,000 – perhaps making the endeavor worth it for a mechanically inclined individual.

Click for Details: 2006 Audi A8L

Rather have your Audi turn-key? Here’s a D3 Audi A8L that’s come to market in a no reserve format. Again the color is black outside, but matched with a lovely nougat-colored interior. Miles are higher and these A8s certainly aren’t the most simple car on the block, but they also offer you a lot of car for the money. Current bidding is below $5,000, making the luxury liner a compelling option.

-Carter