The S4 Avant is no stranger to these pages, offering enthusiasts a “have-your-cake-and-throw-it-squarely-at-that-M3-owner’s-face-too” package which combined functionality and sport in a very discrete wrapper. Well, for the most part they were discrete; most were ordered in shades of gray because a fair amount of people ponying up new were conservative with everything but the money they were paying for this small executive wagon. Lightly optioned, an S4 Avant was north of $50,000 in 2004, a price today that would having you knocking on the A7 and S6’s base price. That sticker shock masks that the B6 and B7 represented a huge price increase over the B5 generation; out the door, the cost on average about 20% – 30% more only 3 years later – but then, they offered a full 90 horsepower advantage over the twin-turbocharged V6 with that awesome 4.2 V8, which of course could still be combined with a 6-speed manual gearbox. Subtle though the exterior colors may be, the performance on tap was anything but.
But some enterprising individuals chose the vivid colors which had become the signature of the model in B5 form. Nogaro Blue Pearl Effect was, of course, the go-to for all things fast Audi since it was originally called RS Blue on the original super Avant RS2. But a nearly equal amount were requested in Imola Yellow, a staggering, retina-burning banana-toned shade that seems initially out of character with a family wagon, yet raises the cool-bus level to 11. Though Nogaro was replaced in the B7 chassis refresh with Sprint Blue Pearl Effect, Imola carried over for the end of the V8s.
Today, I have one of each – so which is your style?
I seem to be stuck on a run of white Audis. I recognize that, and I’d love to correct it. However, one major problem with the Audi market is the number of older examples that still exist and come up for sale is relatively small. And since white was a popular color for multiple models, it seems to be one that pops up for sale more frequently. That’s especially true of the signature Pearlescent White Metallic.
But in this case, I think you’ll forgive me.
That’s because they don’t get a lot more perfect than the physical presentation of this 1995 Audi S6:
With a bit of nostalgia, it’s sad to reminisce about a market segment which has all but eroded from the automotive landscape. In the 1970s and 1980s, small coupes were the rage; they offered sporty looks and a bit of driving fun for the commute, while still being effectively economy cars underneath. But through the 1980s and into the early 1990s, those economy roots were altered in an ever increasing amount of brinkmanship to the point where the lines between a true “sports car” and the “sports coupe” evaporated. Yet the market was still ripe with plenty of options at the beginning of Bill Clinton’s Presidency; the Mazda MX-6 and Ford Probe GT continued to share underpinnings with slightly different style, while the Diamond Star Eagle Talon/Plymouth Lazer/Mitsubishi Eclipse offered technological and performance prowess that really lifted the segment. There was also the Nissan 240SX – not as sporty as the others, but still a popular option. Honda wasn’t left out with its popular Prelude and screaming VTEC motor. There were others, too – even the aging Dodge Daytona IROC R/T offered some 224 horsepower – impressive for the period.
All of them are long gone.
Gone, too, is the Volkswagen Corrado. It didn’t have all-wheel drive or the popular for the period “Turbo” badge stuck everywhere. It was refined, smooth and clean looking. The styling wasn’t exotic or futuristic, and the recipe was simple – especially when it came to the VR6. Quite simply, Volkswagen built the best Mk.2 Volkswagen they could, but compared to the competition in period, that wasn’t quite good enough. Nearly all of the competition had new-for-the-90s styling and chassis, and the VW felt decidedly 80s in comparison. And it was expensive, clearing $23,000 before options in 1993. So even though it was really as good as the 80s VW got, it was a soft seller (as most VWs were). Fast forward to the first of these cars about to be antiques, and suddenly a new light is cast upon the model; it doesn’t look as dated, gimmicky or used up as any of the others, and unsurprisingly has become one of the market stars as a result:
We’ve gone through a kick of Pearlescent White Metallic Audis over the past few days. And while they’ve all been lovely examples that are well built, well maintained and well presented, they’ve all been missing one thing: a turbo.
You could argue that the value of a $5,000 Audi in pristine condition but without a turbo is still relatively good compared to some other contemporaries. But the immediate counterpoint is the turbocharged variant of the C4; the S4/S6. Even if you accept one in worse condition, the possible longevity of the package coupled with the performance potential on tap simply outweighs other considerations. Sure, these Audis have faults – they all do. The inline-5 models have the same problems as the non-turbo models, but they have no real further drawbacks. And since you can get a pretty decent S4/S6 for about the same asking price as some of the other Audis we look at, those cars are effectively viewed immediately as overpriced in the eyes of the market (rightly, or wrongly).
But what about a really nice S4 or S6? It would have to be in good condition, and pretty close to stock. If it was modified, the add-ons would have to be good quality or ideally factory items. Miles would need to be in check, condition would need to be great, and maintenance up to date. If we’re getting picky, an Avant would be preferable, and if really pedantic, the early ’95s that kept the locking rear differential rather than the later EDL.
Just a few weeks ago, I spent a fair amount of time documenting the substantial changes to Audi’s small chassis lineup which accompanied the launch of new nomenclature in the B3 80/90 twins. But while early models like the 1988 90 quattro I wrote up for that article were mechanically identical to the “entry level” 80, changes were on the horizon. In 1990, the 7A-motored, dual-overhead cam 90 quattro 20V and Coupe Quattro replaced the 10V NG powered 90s, which were no longer available in the U.S. market. To accompany their upgraded 165 horsepower mill, the 90s featured an optional sport package which included 15″ Speedline wheels and upgraded brakes (standard, albeit in slightly different offset, on the Coupe).
Soldiering on with the 130 horsepower NG and slightly less flair was the 80. In fact, the 80 outlived the 20V motor in the U.S. into 1992, and was ultimately the last small chassis offering the 5-cylinder until the recent reintroduction in transverse layout in the MQB platform. While power and running gear was unchanged, the 80 received some of the 90’s signature bits from earlier on, including the BBS alloys and painted bumper covers. Like all B3 quattros, they’re exceedingly rare to come across; in the case of the 1992 80 quattro like the one here, a scant 640 made their way to our market.
The internet has again been ablaze with indignant enthusiasts frustrated with VWoA’s decision to cease importation of the 2-door GTI. Of course, the GTI is still available in more practical (and some would say better looking) 4-door configuration, and the decision wasn’t without basis as that model outsold the dual portal example many times over. Nevertheless, there’s always a big conglomerate of fandom that actively shouts about all of the things they can no longer or were never able to have.
Why this is somewhat surprising to me is because if you go back a few decades, we lost something even cooler. The Corrado represented the end of a 20 year reign of really cool 2-door coupe Volkswagens. Go back even farther, and another two decades of Karmann Ghia represented great looks and a sportier platform (in theory) with affordable underpinnings. While there are a few fans who call for the current Scirocco to be imported, nearly as many seem to say “Why?”, when the GTI is available alongside. Perhaps now that the 2-door GTI has been killed off to the U.S. market, more attention will be levied on these slinky coupes? Every Corrado, then, gives us pause to consider an entire market segment that was effectively eliminated in the mid-1990s after being some of the most appealing options in the catalog. They sure went out with a bang, though:
Generally, I try to stay away from regurgitating material. However, once in a while a special car that makes me look back comes along, and today’s 911 Carrera RS Clubsport replica was certainly worthy of such devotion of time. The build was exhaustive and utilized factory parts throughout. The result? Stunning, to say the least! But, of course, since I originally wrote this car up nearly 3 years to the day ago, the air-cooled market has both soared, and for most models, gently cooled. The cars that remain at the top have been extraordinary examples such as the ultra-limited RS, turbo and truly special examples of the early and late air-cooled cars.
Where does a tribute car factor into this? Well, that’s tough to judge. That the car didn’t sell at its original $145,000 asking price is somewhat telling. However, three years on the car is now valued by the same seller at double the original asking price – now, $285,000. Before you punch your computer screen and throw insults vicariously through your keyboard, let’s put that into perspective. The last factory RS Clubsport we looked at stickered nearly $100,000 more than this car. Another, closer visually to the look of this car equipped with the spoilers and Speedline wheels, was asking nearly $300,000 more than this tribute. Still, it’s going to take just the right person who likes the looks but doesn’t care about the authenticity to stomach the mortgage payment for this ’95.
The below post originally appeared on our site December 3, 2013:
Race cars, by definition, don’t lead a pampered life. Often they’re tossed around, crashed, bashed, and driven hard when wet. They are infrequently all-original, as many go through multiple changes in rules (even within a single season) and need to evolve to remain current. Also infrequently do they stay with one owner, changing hands multiple times as the years pass more quickly than laps. Then, a generation on, they’re no longer competitive and shelved in favor of the newest, greatest and latest track weapon. In short, they’re pretty much a collector’s nightmare.
But over the past decade a growing appreciation for vintage motorsport means there is increasing attention focused on ex-factory race models. And, even though the air has cooled slightly on the Porsche market, it’s still at a pretty astronomic level. Put those two factors together with a low production period racer, and even though it’s far from original condition, it’s the recipe for enthusiast’s dreams and an asking price high enough to make small African nation dictator’s son feel jealous.
After the legendary run of turbocharged inline-5 motors ended for U.S. customers in 1995, Audi would not deliver another S6 to these shores until 2002. When it arrived, it came in only one form – the popular Avant package. While many rejoiced that this was at the very least an option, it was still pretty expensive and not everyone loves the fast five doors (crazy though it may seem!). But Audi came very close to offering S performance in the special package which was the A6 4.2 quattro. There were many variants of the C5, and ostensibly the 6-speed manual 2.7T was the “sport” option for the chassis. But the top of the heap 4.2 40V offered you the ART/AWN V8’s torque and 300 horsepower with instant throttle response starting in 2000. Underneath the 4.2 carried a special aluminum subframe. Additionally, the all-aluminum engine was joined by specially flared fenders and hood in aluminum, “door blades” that would later be seen on S models, plus optional 17″ x 8″ Speedline (later changed to forged and polished “Fat Fives”) wheels and upgraded brakes and pads. Suspension was lowered and stiffened with the 1BE sport springs and struts in the optional Sport Package; a 20mm drop was accompanied by 30% stiffer springs, 40% stiffer shocks and larger sway bars. The combination gave a menacing appearance to the C5 that wasn’t really present in the narrow-body 2.7T. Today, the argument over which is the better chassis still rages in multiple fora, and while tuners usually love the twin turbo manual option, many others prefer the velvet hammer 4.2 which really was a defacto S6 sedan Audi never brought here:
Modified cars from the 1980s enjoy are and interesting exercise in dichotomy. Take AMG, for example – add the flares, wide wheels, hunkered down suspension and turned up engine to a W126 and the asking price increases from a standard model by a factor of ten. What is strange about the AMG model, though, is that enthusiasts of the Affalterbach company accept licensed installers as proper original builds. Such is not the case when it comes to tuners like Alpina, Hartge and Ruf; generally speaking, in those cases the only “true” original examples came from the manufacturer’s facilities in Germany. In these cases, examples that are properly sorted and original can be worth double, triple or even quadruple what an identically modified car from a licensed installer in the U.S. would be worth. On top of that, AMG continues to be a bit of an aberration in the tuner realm since most other period modified examples of Porsches, BMWs, and Audis are worth less than a pristine stock example. It’s a bit of a head scratcher, since generally speaking, companies such as Alpina and Ruf put out equally good looking products when compared to AMG, and properly modified were just as luxurious and just as fast. Nevertheless, a tastefully modified example like this period Ruf-modified 1987 Porsche 930 just doesn’t seem to draw the same attention as a AMG 560SEC Widebody 6.0 would, for example. Let’s take a look at what a reported $75,000 in mods got you in the late 1980s: