Following up on the A8 3.7 front-driver oddity I posted last week, today I’m going to look at a few of the cars that put Audi back on the map. 1996 was the year Audi brought the brand-new A4 model in to replace the aging B4 90. So successful was the A4, and so ubiquitous in the small German executive market today that you’d assume the early examples were far more prolific than they were, in reality.
Still, the A4 is credited with saving the company, at the very least for the U.S. market share. Is it true? Take this into consideration; Audi sold 18,960 A4s from the launch in late 1995 until the end of 1996. Doesn’t sound like much, does it? Toyota, after all sells about 400,000 Camrys every year for the last half-decade – and that’s in a market that very much no longer values the sedan. But in 1995, Audi sold a total of 18,124 cars including those early A4s. Go back a year, and the number was substantially lower; 12,575. Entering into the 2000 model year, Audi crested 100,000 A4s sold in the U.S. market. The proof was in the pudding. By the time the new C5 A6 launched, Audi’s sales had crested 65,000 units a year and they haven’t looked back. 1994’s sale figures represented 0.08 of the marketplace; today, Audi sells a still modest but sustainable 1.3%.
But while Audi and “quattro” are synonymous, like the A8 I looked at, a fair chunk of the early A4s avoided the extra cost of all-wheel drive and came configured as FronTrak models. About 7,000 of those nearly 19,000 1996 A4s were so ordered. The prolific nature of these cars, coupled with typical low Audi residual value, has meant that they’re hard to find in clean condition.…
I will fully admit that I was pretty disappointed when I saw that this 1997 Porsche 911 Carrera S was equipped with Tiptronic S rather than a manual transmission. It looked so promising as I made my way through the initial photos, especially once I realized it wasn’t black, but rather a very attractive dark metallic green (specifically Forest Green Metallic). The color combination was right, the condition of the paint looked phenomenal, and the interior looked clean and in really nice shape. And then the gear shift lever stuck out like a sore thumb. Oh well. I still think this 911 is worth featuring and investigating further, in part because I don’t really see the C2S very often with an automatic (more on that below), but also because there may be buyers specifically on the look out for such a combination. Whether by preference or necessity not everyone wants a manual transmission so here we are and this one really is beautiful.
Model: 911 Carrera S
Engine: 3.6 liter flat-6
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Mileage: 60,155 mi
Price: Reserve Auction
For sale is my beautiful and well-loved 1997 Carrera C2S with Tiptronic S transmission. It’s an ultra rare wide-body 993 finished in special-ordered Forest Green over Cashmere interior. It has a clean MD title and clean CarFax. Non-smoker. Always garaged. No accident. The car has 60k documented miles. I am the 4th owner. This C2S shows extremely well. I shudder to even call this a driver. It is a very clean car from the inside out. It was never abused, no rain, and absolutely no salty roads as evidenced by the corrosion/rust free undercarriage.
Link for additional photos:
The interior is easily 9/10.
I didn’t entirely intend for this post to run the day after my discussion of automatic- vs. manual-equipped 928s, but it just so happens to have worked out that way. Yet my interest here remains along similar lines and the way we (or perhaps I?) tend to ignore automatic 911s. Granted, with the 911 we’re dealing with a different world than the 928. A manual 928GTS is a rare thing, while an automatic 911 is a rare thing. Also, while the automatic actually may be preferred by 928 owners, with the 911 that’s not the case. But there are owners for whom an automatic does hold appeal so we can’t just totally ignore them. This particular 911, a Slate Gray Metallic 1998 Porsche 911 Carrera S with 17,373 miles on it, makes for an interesting test of the market and the ways in which we ignore certain cars:
I don’t usually go out of my way to feature a 911 with Tiptronic, but for whatever reason this 993 really got my attention and more or less seems like just the sort of air-cooled 911 one might look for if a Tiptronic actually was desired. The 993 itself has always struck me as a particularly elegant design within the air cooled world. Some of the more aggressive edges of earlier 911s have been smoothed and the curves accentuated. The color combination of this particular 993 further enhances that elegant look. Add to that the very fact that this is a Cabriolet and I think you have the recipe for a 911 cruiser where an automatic might be preferred. Here we have a Forest Green Metallic 1998 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet, located in Nashville, with Red leather interior and 58,279 miles on it.
If you want to understand why Ruf managed to achieve its own status as a manufacturer in Germany, it can at least partly be explained by considering the R Turbo. Not satisfied with Porsche’s own twin-turbocharged variant of the 996, Ruf made their own. They completely disassembled the 3.6 liter flat-6, reworked a fair amount of the internals including the Variocam system and turbochargers, then revised the electronics by remapping the Bosch ECU. Then they fit this upgraded engine, in keeping with their history, into the narrow-body of the normal 911 Carrera. In order to do this, it required utilizing both GT2 and GT3 parts to make the package come together. You could opt for different states of tune starting with 520 horsepower – some 100 more than the standard Turbo, making the R Turbo one of the fastest cars on the planet. Take a look at the speedometer, for example, which sweeps well past 200 m.p.h.. Yes, the R Turbo could get there, too – with a reported 217 m.p.h. terminal velocity. 0-60 was achieved in under 4 seconds and in between, very little could stay with the thin Ruf. To deal with all of this speed, of course Ruf fit their own suspension coupled with bespoke Speedline wheels and some pretty giant Brembo brakes. On top of all that, you could select new R Turbo as a Cabriolet – something Porsche themselves wouldn’t offer until 2004. And as they always have, the modifications Ruf made were as seamless as the factory bits with accompanying reliability. It made for one quite special package:
When Audi launched the A4 Avant with the B5 series, it was a bit of a trump card for the small wagon enthusiast. True, the Volkswagen Passat had been available in 5-door form for a few generations, and it VR6 form it was quite entertaining. However, quality of the pre-B5 chassis Passats wasn’t the best, and all-wheel drive had only been available with the Quantum for a few short years in the late 1980s. Audi had offered its unique large Avant platform in both 5000/200 and S6 form, but they were pretty expensive relative to the small cars the company offered. The A4 Avant continued on for through the B7 chassis we saw yesterday; a serious improvement in looks over the rather plain looking B6. When the B8 launched, initially I thought “There goes Audi again, following the formula of making everything bigger”. The B8 was a LOT bigger than the original A4 had been; in fact, park one next to an original A6, and the B8 A4 is dimensionally it was only slightly smaller. There was one key difference, though. Sure, the A4 had been stretched in every direction – but most importantly, you’d find that the wheel base was now the best part of a foot longer than the early Audi platforms. Visually that shortened the notoriously long overhangs of the Audis and offered more legroom to the occupants. Anyone who has ever been in the back of a B5 A4 would certainly appreciate that. Amazingly, too, the new A4 was lighter, and thanks to revised suspension geometry, new and more advanced computers and a torque-laden 2.0 turbo motor, it felt and drove considerably better than any of the previous generations had, too. It even looked really good in my mind. It was an instant success as previous generations had been, making one wonder even more why it went away:
The Violet Blue Porsche 968 Tiptronic we featured last month is back up for sale, with a price reduction of $1,500. Maybe this automatic 968 might find some love a second time around?
The below post originally appeared on our site March 4, 2015:
Audi’s flirtation with chopped top mid-range sedans has always been an interesting one. Starting with the B4 series, Audi combined the front-drive 90 platform with parts of the Coupe platform to create the handsome and understated Cabriolet model. While not much of a performance machine, it was a good looking and reasonably sensible choice for a luxury 4-seat German convertible. It was not particularly sporty though; while Europe saw a range of engines, the U.S. received only front drive 4-speed automatic V6 models. The B4 model long outlived the rest of its siblings, soldiering on until 1998 when it was seemingly replaced by the TT model. The Roadster model wouldn’t be available until 2001, but the promise of an all-new convertible that was much sportier seemed logical. However, Audi returned to the 4-seat drop top market in 2003 with the A4 based Cabriolet model. Based initially on the B6 platform, it then seemed natural that Audi would finally offer a performance variant to compete against the popular M3 convertible; however, unlike the B3/B4 platform which had a Coupe model, there was no A4 based Coupe. To solve this problem, Audi’s skunkworks quattro GmbH undertook modifying the platform to create the 2006 S4 cabriolet.
Now, on the surface, this was a bit strange. Beyond the question of why you need a really fast convertible, you now had the question of why you needed an all-wheel drive convertible. But the Audi offered great looks, a stunning soundtrack and some trick interiors and flashy exterior colors to really help set the S4 apart. But many of the S4s were coupled with automatic transmissions; coupled with the chain problems the V8 heart is now known for, if you want a B7 cabriolet is it now smarter to consider the less flashy models?
In the world of post A4 Audis, you’d be forgiven for thinking you went back to the old Westerns with tumbleweeds rolling across the screen when it comes to color selection. There are several different shades of grey or silver, a few whites, some blacks, and then occasionally a blue will pop up. Some really daring folks chose bright red or dark green, but unless you get into a “S” model, you’re not likely to see an unusual color. That’s unfortunate, because Audi actually offered you many very cool options in the B5 A4 throughout its run. However, if you lament the cool colors went away, it should be no surprise; very, very few people bought them. And given the A4s propensity for being discarded, they’re in most cases even more sparse than when new. Yet these special color cars tended to be bought by people who took good care of them, and usually come to market in fairly pristine shape – so I bet you can guess why this A4 is here today. A non sport package V6 tiptronic wouldn’t usually make the list, but a lower mile India Red Pearl Effect with Ecru/Onyx interior in very good overall condition? You bet:
The 964 brought with it numerous changes and innovations and marked the end of the classic 911. The Carrera 4 was first introduced, the body underwent its fist significant redesign in 15 years, and the general feel of the car took on a new level of refinement with such items as ABS, power steering, and climate control all available. There was one other technical innovation: Porsche introduced its Tiptronic transmission as an available option on the 911. While these days almost every manufacturer offers an automatic that allows some freedom to select the gears, back in 1991 this was a rare bird that would further serve to expand the Porsche audience. Though, we should note, Porsche themselves had begun offering a similar sort of system, the Sportomatic, way back in the late ’60s, well before anyone else seemed to even consider such a thing. These sorts of transmissions were the wave of the future and, love them or hate them, Porsche was at the forefront of this technology. Here we have a Tiptronic-equipped Cobalt Blue 1991 Porsche 911 Carrera 2 with 39,970 miles.