1995 Audi S6

Update 9/9/18: After being listed as sold at $12,200, this S6 was relisted again with no reserve, ending 9/18/18.

Update 8/27/18: This S6 has been relisted with no change in mileage and again at no reserve.

Update 8/22/18: A second listing was generated for this car, apparently by the previous owner, who claims it had 125K when he sold it and the current seller has forged documentation on the car. This clearly got the attention of eBay, as both listings were pulled. The last bid I saw was $12,200, indicating strong interest in clean examples of the chassis.

Back in the 1990s, the latest release of top-tier executive sedans out of Germany still got me pretty excited. Each generation introduced a bit more power, much more refinement, exciting designs and unorthodox technology. While today even fairly basic economy cars have nearly 200 horsepower, crossing that threshold in the age of grunge actually meant quite a lot. It moved you into a new performance category of sporting automobiles, and the war which was waged between BMW, Mercedes-Benz and relative new comer Audi was at its most compelling during this time. If you wanted race-car pedigree and a high-strung personality, you bought the M5. Now in its second generation and with over 300 horsepower on tap, though larger and more refined it was still the defacto driver’s car bar setter. If you wanted the velvet hammer, you jumped into Mercedes-Benz’s 500E. Topping the power charts for these sedans, it also offered enough torque to reproduce the carrier-launch scenes from Top Gun. And then there was the Audi.

Audi went about things completely differently. It, too, had a race-bred engine, albeit an unconventional one. Still sporting a cast-iron inline-5 levered all the way to the very front of the car longitudinally, drive was transmitted through a 5-speed manual only like the M5, but of course drive was executed by all four wheels. Displacing only 2.2 liters – less than half of the Benz’s power plant – the Audi approached the competition as a serious underdog. But a KKK turbocharger and electronic fuel injection meant 227 horsepower and a wide torque band maxing at 258 lb.ft. Yes, it was down on power to the others, but on the move, over changing terrain and especially in real-world situations, the Audi was just as fast as the beefier competition.

But sales were slow in the early 1990s for Audi, and it didn’t trade many of these expensive sedans. But their extreme competence, stout build quality and ability to easily take on modifications – allowing them to outpace their countrymen – have made these sedans legendary. With a strong fan base, you’d expect a lot of pristine examples out there. But coming across a sleeper like this ’95 happens fairly infrequently:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 Audi S6 on eBay

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1995.5 Audi S6 Avant

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:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995.5 Audi S6 Avant on eBay

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Double Take: 2003 Audi S6 Avant

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?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Audi S6 Avant on eBay

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Roll the Dice: 2002 Audi S6 Avant

Typically, our ‘Roll the Dice’ features have been cars that are a bit of a gamble; little history is disclosed, there are no photos to show the car’s condition or no description, something’s odd about the example, it’s got a million miles…you get the point. Today’s S6 Avant is a bit of a different gamble, though.

To be fair, jumping in to any 15-odd year old German car today is somewhat of a leap into the unknown. You’re entering territory where the complicated electronics begin to fail, oil seeps from every joint of the motor and rattles permeate the body structure. Often, you’re left chasing the ghosts of deferred maintenance. Add up the number of things that could potentially go wrong on an older car and then cross reference the part costs, and you’ll quickly see the problem.

So what does that look like when we consider today’s S6 Avant? Well, if the seller is to be believed, in the past year they’ve spent $14,079 fixing this Audi. The last nice S6 Avant that I looked at sold for $13,000. You don’t have to be a math wiz to figure out that’s a bad deal. And that last nice S6 Avant was in much better condition than today’s model with only 50,000 miles on the clock.

So if you’re getting in to today’s car, you’re rolling the dice a bit that the $14,000 “invested” in this one has resolved all the problems. But there are positives, because the seller has opted for a no reserve auction format, and…oh yeah, it’s supercharged.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Audi S6 Avant on eBay

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Dial “S” for “Sedan”: 2002 Audi S6

Audi’s interesting sales plan of S-cars in the early 2000s was, for U.S. fans, both good and disappointing at the same time. Mega models like the RS4 continued to be withheld from this side of the Atlantic just as the S2, RS2 and S6 Plus had been. The new generation of V8 powered S cars had yet to arrive, too; movies teased us of the slithering, nitrous oxide-boosted battering ram S8, and though the C5 chassis now sported the V8 in 2000, we had yet to see the S6.

But there were bright points. The B5 S4 was available as a sedan or Avant here, for the first time, in 2001 the flagship S8 arrived and after a wait until 2002, the S6 arrived in Avant form. And, only in Avant form, and only in automatic. You could complain about that for sure, but then the introduction at long last of an RS model – the twin-turbocharged RS6 – assuaged the loss of the regular S6 sedan for nearly everyone.

Once in a while, though, a S6 sedan pops up on this side of the Atlantic:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Audi S6 on eBay

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1997 Audi S6 Plus

Update 2/12/18: A year after we originally featured it, this ultra-rare S6 Plus is back with 1,000 more miles for $500 less. It’s still a steep price for one of these super-S models, but it’s pretty hard to find them at all, never mind like this.

Audi’s sleeper sedan squared up against some seriously stiff competition in the early 1990s, and to be frank, though it was innovative it came up a bit short in the power department. In turbocharged 20 valve form, the 2.2 liter inline-5 cranked out 227 horsepower and 258 lb.ft of torque. That was impressive by 1980s standards, but in the early 90s you needed to carry a bigger stick. BMW’s E34 M5 brought nearly 100 horsepower more to the party at 311 with the revised 3.6 (and yes, it had more torque than the AAN, too), but Mercedes-Benz really crashed the party with the E500, whose M119 held a full 100 horsepower and 100 lb.ft of torque advantage over the Audi. You could be as clever as you wanted, but a 50% power disadvantage was a bridge too far to cross for the legendary 5 pot no matter how many wheels were driven.

The writing was on the wall, and Audi decided to offer an upgraded V8 model alongside the S4 in the rest of the world. Starting in October 1992, you could select the same ABH 276 horsepower 32V 4.2 liter all-aluminum V8 in the S4. The switch to S6 saw the introduction of the revised AEC, which gained 10 horsepower for the 1995 model year and would continue to be the standard V8 in the S6 until production ended. But the big new was the 1996 introduction from Audi’s skunkworks quattro GmbH of the Plus model.

The Plus upped the ante quite a bit with the reworked AHK V8. Though it displaced the same 4.2 liters and had the same 32 valves, the breathed on motor had 322 horsepower and 302 lb.ft of torque. Power was matched with upgraded suspension, brakes, wheels and some small “Plus” badge details – this was still the decade of stealthy performance, after all. Few who look at this model would see anything other than a C4 sitting on slightly larger wheels. But for those in the know, this was one of the most potent super sedans (and wagons!) of the 1990s:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1997 Audi S6 Plus on eBay

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Feature Listing: 1995.5 Audi S6 Avant

It’s often difficult for a second act to follow a legend, and that’s just what the C4 S4 had to do when it launched for U.S. customers in 1992. The Type 44 was already a fan favorite before the 20V version appeared here briefly for the 1991 model year, with wider flared track, bigger brakes, and more power. To answer fans, Audi introduced an even more potent version with the S4; even bigger wheels, lower suspension, and a few more horses were encased in a thoroughly modern shape, yet one that was easily recognizable to fans of the brand. With a reputation for smooth power delivery and still the market cornered on all-wheel drive performance luxury vehicles, Audi’s new S4 sold out almost immediately in a period when the European makes had difficulty moving their expensive wares.

But the Type 44 still held one advantage over its replacement; an optional fifth door. While the Avant version of the new 100 was available immediately, there was no range-topping S4 wagon brought here. That was finally remedied with the relaunch of the now renamed S6 Avant for 1995. With smoothed out bumpers, revised passenger mirror, rolling changes such as new Speedline Avus 6-spoke wheels replaced the Fuchs that the S4 wore, and headrests became closed. There were more changes with the ‘95.5’ model; the infrared remote locking became radio frequency and the B-pillar receiver disappeared; so, too, did the option to lock the rear differential yourself, as Audi opted to work in an electronic differential lock utilizing the ABS speed sensors rather than a physically locking rear end.

These were really only minor changes to the recipe, which at its roots remained a fan fantasy. The traditional inline-5 that had hung out of the nose of the high-end Audis was still there, with its dual-cam head augmented by electronic fuel injection and electronic boost control. The turbo spun up quickly and had an overboost function, giving drivers 227 horsepower and 258 lb.ft of torque to be mastered solely by a manual transmission with Torsen center differential. Form-fitting electric sport seats kept front passengers firmly planted in place through the prodigious grip generated by the meaty 225 section tires. Combined with the prodigious space the Avant offered families and the ability of these cars to eat up highway miles with aplomb regardless of weather, not to mention the incredible tuning potential of the AAN 20V turbo, they’ve become highly sought steeds with a very limited pool of around 300 originally imported:

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2002 Audi S6 Avant

Back to wagons!

One of the more captivating baffling options in the used performance wagon market must surely be the C5 Audi. Despite the reputation for 100% metaphysical certitude that they’ll fail – probably catastrophically, they’re fan favorites. Often as a retort to internet commentaries that they’re not reliable, actual owners will chime in, demanding respect and steadfastly assuring the audience that the Allroad’s reputation is undeserved.

‘It’s been 100% reliable!’ they’ll insist.

Of course, the recipe to actually make it reliable involves major reworking of the engine and suspension. And, sometimes the electronics, too. On top of that, it turns out that various people’s definition of ‘reliable’ varies greatly – especially for Audi owners. Basically, to be deemed ‘unreliable’, an Audi must first assassinate a major public figure, then make a Star Wars reboot featuring only Jar-Jar Binks, then kneel during the National Anthem (easy to do, as most have failed suspension on at least one corner), and finally when you turn the key the engine does the action sequence out of a Michael Bay Transformer movie. If, and only if, those conditions are met will fanatics finally fail to reply to the assertion that the Allroad just isn’t a reliable car.

But, it’s cool. And so you probably want one, even though you know it’ll bankrupt you. So the smart way to buy an Allroad is to not buy an Allroad:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Audi S6 Avant on eBay

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2006 Audi A6 Avant S6 Conversion

Why not kick off the New Year with a few fantastic wagons? Sounds like a good idea to me!

A few years ago, I looked at a pretty tempting bit of forbidden fruit – a C6 Audi S6 Avant. Loaded up with enough tech to employ half of Palo Alto, the C6 moved the concept of the C5 S6 Avant a few notches ahead. The jump from C4 to C5 was 113 horsepower strong, and the next generation nearly matched that. With 95 more horses to net 435, the new C6 had one more gear, more space and even more luxury than the car it replaced. But thanks to very slow sales of the prior generation in the U.S. market, it never came here. Although they’re at least twelve years old now, that means we’re still a solid teenager away from seeing an easily legal import here.

Or are we?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2006 Audi A6 Avant S6 Conversion of Seattle Craigslist

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2002 Audi S6 Avant

Just the other day on one of the internet chat groups I probably spend far too much time looking at, someone posed the question “Should I buy an Allroad?”

There are two camps of thought on the Allroad. On the one side is the group of individuals, many of whom still own them, for which Audi’s light-off-roader is the best vehicle ever designed. Quickly in speaking with them you realize few of them remain stock, which points towards the cause of the other side of the story.

For those who aren’t fully in love with the Allroad, they’re one of the least reliable, most unnecessarily complicated Audis ever built. And from a company that likes unnecessarily complicated designs, that’s saying something. The electrics fail. The suspensions fail. The turbos (count ’em, two!) fail. Look, I’m a huge Audi fan, but I can acknowledge that you have to really, really want an Allroad to buy into the kind of maintenance you need to perform to keep it going. My mechanic bought my parent’s 6-speed example, and now he’s afraid to drive it because every time he does it breaks. All he talks about is how expensive it is to fix. An ex-Master Audi mechanic. Think about that.

What was interesting to me as this discussion quickly devolved into “It’s the best car ever! (but here’s the laundry list of how to make it the best car ever…)” versus “You can’t afford to own one, because you have to own three so that at any given time one is theoretically working” was that no one brought up the S6. To me, the S6 is the perfect solution for wanting an Allroad. It looks better. It’s got a nicer interior. It’s got more power, and exactly zero turbos that blow. And it’s got an all-steel suspension that doesn’t fail. But as S6 Avants were quite expensive at $60,000 in 2002 after gas guzzler tax but without options, it (as the other expensive wagons in period) sold slowly. Only around 1,200 were imported over the brief two year period, compared to exactly 3.2 million Allroads if I calculate correctly based on the number that turn up at sleazy second-hand dealers in the greater Providence area. They wander the streets of Rhode Island, three wheels in the air and one on the ground, a winky Xenon vibrating up and down as the bumpstops are tested to the extreme. So let’s look at one of the nicest alternatives to the certain suspension failure:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Audi S6 Avant on eBay

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