Tuner Tuesday: 1995.5 Audi S6

If Sunday’s A4 represented the new wave of Audi products, the C4 S6 was the end of the decade and a half dominance of the turbocharged inline-5 in the brand’s marketing. True, it continued on in other parts of the world a bit longer, but the writing was on the wall and the 1995 model year was the last in the American market. There’d be a big gap until the next S model launched in the U.S., which helped to solidify the legendary status of these stealthy super-sedans. Since there was no immediate replacement for half a decade, the S6 maintained its top-trump status among four-ring fans for longer than it probably would have been expected to.

The result of that was that they retained a strong fan base of owners and many more who wished, but could not afford, to grab one. As soon as they were out of warranty (if not before, in some cases), the wick began to be turned up – and those that know the AAN know that there’s a lot of wick there to burn. In recent years, the wave of electronic fuel injection tuning and aftermarket support has not waned but grown for these cars; like German Supra Turbos, they’re the evergreen forced-induction chassis you just never tire of seeing. Today’s example is no exception to the rule, and with 500 horsepower and a host of high-dollar upgrades, it’s ready to embarrass much newer metal.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995.5 Audi S6 on eBay

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1988 Audi 80 quattro

The Audi 80 quattro was a great replacement for the 4000 quattro in many ways. And, in many ways, it was a complete let down. It was more quiet with better interior materials and better technology. It also had more power with the 2.3 liter inline-5, but additional sound deadening and more technology all meant more weight, so the new 80 quattro felt slower than the 4000 had. That technology meant it wasn’t quite as “cool” as the 4000 had been, either – you could only lock one differential thanks to a new center Torsen unit, and then at 15 m.p.h. the rear diff would unlock electronically. BOOOO, Audi, BOOOO! How am I supposed to channel Hannu Mikkola if your electronic nannies are undoing my sick slide?

Did it matter that the second generation of quattro was probably better in most conditions for the majority of drivers? Not really. It didn’t matter that fundamentally the 80 was a better car, either. The 80 had three strikes against it before it even went on sale here. First was the price; at around $24,000 out the door with a few options, it was considerably more expensive than even the expensive 4000 quattro had been. Second was that it was no longer top fiddle; the 90 quattro was the upscale model, meaning that if you wanted body-color bumpers, for example, you needed to pony up even more for the “nicer” model. Heck the 4000 had body-color bumpers in 1985 for less money. What was Audi thinking? And to top it off, there was the whole 60 minutes fiasco.

Those factors combined to doom the B3 here, no matter how good it was. In 1988, with the release of a fresh model, Audi barely managed to outsell the antiquated 4000 quattro. The 80 and 90 quattro combined to sell just 94 more examples than the 1987 4000CS quattro had (3,023 v. 2,929). And, that was their best year here, to boot; each successive year, sales fell – 1,947 in 1989, 1,680 in 1990, 655 in 1991 and only 640 in the last year of the B3, 1992. It’s made finding clean B3s very difficult. Despite that, they often don’t hold much value in the marketplace:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Audi 80 quattro on eBay

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1988 Audi 90 quattro

The B3 was a much needed update to the very old small Audi chassis in the late 1980s. Although the addition of the 4000 quattro was only a few model years old and the Type 85 B2 had undergone a pretty comprehensive update in 1985, the reality was that it was a chassis which had been designed in the mid 1970s and was antiquated compared to the BMW E30 and Mercedes-Benz W201 chassis, both of which it was out of sync with in terms of launch. While both of those cars were in mid-life in 1986, Audi launched its new B3 platform with a heavily revised, updated and aerodynamic replacement for the popular 80 and 90. This was interesting, as the B2 would continue alongside in production for several years – notably in Coupe form – until the new 2-door was prepared.

The U.S. market’s offerings also didn’t mesh with Europe either in nomenclature or trim scale. The 4000 quattro had only come in one form – 4000S in 1984 and 1985, and 4000CS in 1986 and 1987. They were relatively loaded and all powered by the venerable JT inline-5. However, Europeans had enjoyed several different configurations; the basic 80 and more upscale 90, with many different options. Audi would continue the 4000CS in 1987, but in 1988 the new models rolled out, with two options like the Europeans had. As in the Fatherland, a prospective buyer could get the basic 80 quattro or opt for the more luxurious, upscale 90 quattro. Many of the design elements of the U.S. spec 4000s carried over into the 80 – such as the rear urethane flush spoiler and even the standard Ronal R8 alloys. But the 90 came with nicer bits, such body color bumper covers with integrated fog lights, wood trim inside, a more pronounced rear spoiler and BBS alloy wheels. You could also opt, for the first time in the small chassis, for the signature Audi color of Pearlescent White Metallic paint at an addition charge and power seats on the 90 quattro.

Mechanically, the 80 and 90 quattros were twins until 1990, and many of the options – ski sack, sport seats, heated seats, onboard computer – were shared between the two, but the 90 always felt a bit more upscale than the 80. Power came from the NG 2.3 inline-5, generating 130 horsepower and 140 lb.ft of torque; modest, given the near 3,000 lb. curb weight of the B3 – a result of the many luxuries and new protective technologies Audi introduced in the 90. The 80 and 90 beat the 200 to the market in 1988, meaning they were the first to debut the new second generation of all-wheel drive quattro to the U.S. market. It featured a driver-actuated lockable rear differential that automatically deactived at 15 m.p.h., but the center differential was now an automatic Torsen unit. The B3 also brought anti-lock brakes to the small chassis, as well as body galvanization. It was really a huge step up from the antiquated (if much loved) B2, overall:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Audi 90 quattro on eBay

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1988 Audi 80 quattro

While the move from the B2 to B3 chassis brought many changes to the small Audi lineup, it was also very much a case of ‘meet the new boss, same as the old boss’. Some of the features of the 4000 were gone; you could no longer opt to lock the center differential, for example, since the manual locker had been replaced by a more sophisticated Torsen unit. You could still opt to engage a rear differential lock, but electronics overrode that at 15 m.p.h.. That change was indicative of movement in the marketplace and where the B3 was aimed – slightly more upscale from the B2. Interior quality was greater, and production was broken into two categories as it had been in Europe. Selecting the top-range 90 quattro got you nicer BBS wheels, color matched bumpers and mirrors, a sportier raised spoiler, a better leather interior and wood trim. The downscale 80 would channel more of the outgoing 4000, with savory Serret Velour and a more plastic-heavy interior. They even opted to keep the same Ronal R8 wheels as the old model early on, and the subtle rear spoiler was a near copy of the B2. The more basic 80 was closer in performance to the 4000, too – the luxury and safety items of the B3 meant more weight, and the 90 tipped the scales at nearly 3,000 lbs. Mechanically identical, the 80 quattro was about a hundred pounds lighter and anyone who has driven 80s normally aspirated Audis knows that 100 lbs. makes a difference in performance. Motivation for both was the same NG-code inline-5 that was seen in the last Coupe GT Special Build models, meaning 130 horsepower and 140 lb.ft of torque – smoothly adequate, but certainly never overwhelming. As with the 1988 5000S I looked at the other day, these models came to market at a time of crisis for Audi, and consequently few were sold. Audi’s best year of sales for the B3 quattro twins was 1988 when just over 3,000 were sold – only a handful more than the outgoing 1987 4000CS quattro, and rare for a new model. This Stone Gray Metallic example is one of the few that come to market and looks like one of the better ones we’ve seen:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Audi 80 quattro on eBay

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1988 Audi 90 quattro

Looking at the outrageous B5 and B6 S4s from yesterday is a stark reminder of how far the company has come from the rather humble roots of Audi’s small chassis. Sure, the B2 was the basis that launched the new direction for the company in the Quattro, but most B2 cars were modest, relatively underpowered near luxury cars. Park one next to a new A4 and you’ll be amazed at just how large they’ve become; from a 100 inch wheel base, 66 inch width and 176″ overall length, the B2 tipped the scales at a little under 2,400 lbs in 1980. The new A4s have a foot more in between the wheels (and the ends of the bumper, no surprise there), are half a foot wider and are half again as heavy at nearly 3,800 lbs for the sedan. Brakes are now the size wheels once were on even the standard A4s, and horsepower? Well, the lowly 2.0T carries more punch than the original Quattro did in all but 20 valve and Sport form, even in European trim. While cars have gotten better at being cars than they once were, they’ve also become smart phones, offices, relaxation oases and sports arenas. Cars start, drive, and park themselves, tell you how to get places and when you’ll get there, and even will tell Big Brother what you did wrong when you get into a accident. It’s somehow a loss of innocence which makes contemplation of simpler times so appealing, and looking at this 1988 Audi 90 quattro is just that. So let’s pop your copy of “Die Hard” in to your VCR, adjust the tracking and take a glimpse into Audi’s past:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Audi 90 quattro on eBay

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Tuner Tuesday: 2000 Audi S4 RS4-spec

Finding a modified B5 generation Audi S4 isn’t exactly a hard thing. Finding a good one, though, arguably is. The B5 generation brought Audi into a new scene of tunability and off the bat was a hugely popular platform. However, from salvage titles, high mileage, dubious modifications and poor condition to the big one – neglected maintenance – sorting through the plethora of “Stage X” S4s out there can leave one believing there just aren’t many top-tier examples left. But then you set your eyes on this retina-searing Imola Yellow sedan, and your faith in the platform is restored. With 44,650 miles on the clock, it’s one of the lower mileage B5s I’ve seen recently, but what really sets it apart besides the color are the RS4 body modifications. That, and 650 wheel horsepower:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 Audi S4 on eBay

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1992 Audi 80 quattro

For U.S. customers, 1992 rather quietly signaled the end of an era for fans of the small chassis. Starting in the early 1980s, Audi had offered their offbeat 5-cylinder motor in models like the 4000 5+5 and Coupe models, but it was really the rally success of the Quattro that put the 5-pot on the map. But the turbocharged variant was quiet expensive, so fans of Audi’s WRC campaign rejoiced in 1984 when the all-wheel drive platform became much more affordable in 4000 quattro form. In Europe, there were several variants and power plants available in 80 and 90 form, but U.S. customers only got the relatively high-spec 4000S/CS quattro. Audi revised the model lineup with the B3 model run, introducing the lower-spec 80 and the more luxurious (and later, more powerful) 90. When the 90 went to the DOHC 7A 20V inline-5, the 80 remained with the 10V 2.3 liter NG which had first appeared in the Special Build Coupe GT model. Though not hugely powerful and feeling slightly overwhelmed by the 80 quattro’s mass, it was a very smooth and fun to drive package capable of huge odometer readings. The package remained available until 1992, when life of the 80 ended in the U.S. as it was not upgraded to B4 specification. As with all Audis from the period, it sold in small numbers: Audi reported only 640 sold in 1992, with not many more sold in the years before it. As the book closed on the inline-5 with a whimper rather than a bang, it’s relatively infrequent to spot one of these late 80s:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 Audi 80 quattro on eBay

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1991 Audi V8 quattro 5-speed

I’ve had the good fortune to own some pretty interesting cars in my lifetime, but one of the most complex automotive relationships I had was with my late 1993 V8 quattro. It was a car that I had lusted after since they were effectively new. There was just something about the shape, the way it sat and the mystique. Coming from a 4000 quattro, in many ways the step up to a V8 was the ultimate out of the box Audi in the early 1990s. It drove like the 4000 in the tight bits, but was so much better on the highway. Plus, it had what the 4000 lacked – power, thanks to the 4 cam all-aluminum V8. Even the automatic didn’t bother me all that much overall. But, at the same time as I enjoyed automotive bliss in the theoretical ownership of this V8 quattro, the reality of day-to-day ownership was quite different. If Alfa Romeo built a German car, it would be the V8 quattro. First, it was hugely complicated. There were computers controlling everything, and in the great manner in which Audi and Volkswagen developed their late 1980s computer technology, it worked great until it didn’t, at which point the car would be thoroughly incapacitated. One day, during a rain storm, the “convenience controller” failed, opening all of the windows AND the sunroof and not allowing me to close them. Needless to say, it was less than convenient. Second, it hemorrhaged fluids. We’re not talking a little bit, either – full on “Oh, I’m sorry, did you want me to keep that $20 a liter worth of hydraulic fluid IN me?” hemorrhaging. Oil, coolant, transmission fluid…you name it, if you could put it in, it would instantly come out. It tried to kill me, too. Not just once, either. See, that fluid loss resulted in a buildup of oil gunk. Where does the oil gunk build up, you ask? On the throttle. This normally isn’t a problem, unless once in a while you opened the throttle. Then, it became a problem, as the throttle wouldn’t close. Again, not a problem so much on a 4000 quattro with all 115 stampeding horses, but in the ’93 V8 quattro, there were 2.5 times that amount – 276 horsepower with even more torque launching my 3,900 pound missile down route 195. Leaks presented themselves in other odd ways, too – like, for example, when I got a self-imposed flat tire at a winter driving school. Out came the tools to jack the car up, no problem. However, when I went to retrieve the spare, a sad sight awaited me – the trunk had leaked into the spare tire well apparently, resulting in the space saver spare being thoroughly embedded in 10 inches of tire well shaped ice cube. In story generation alone, the V8 quattro was by far the Professor Emeritus of my car history. Thirdly, no one knew what it was when you went to get a part. Allow me to present a theoretical trip to the parts counter – even at an Audi dealer…

Parts Guy: Hi, what kind of car?
Me: Audi
PG: What model?
Me: V8
PG: No, not what engine, what model.
Me: V8
PG: They made a model named V8?
Me: Yes
PG: (turns to other Parts Guy) You ever hear of an Audi V8?
OPG: He probably means A8.
Me: No, the A8 is the model that replaced the V8.
(both look confused)
PG: Okay, what year?
Me: 1993
PG: Audi made cars in 1993?
Me: Yes. Not many.
PG: Okay, the computer tells me that your car doesn’t exist.
Me: It’s outside. Would you like to see it?
PG: No, maybe I can cross reference the part. What do you need?
Me: The transmission control unit.
PG: ………………
PG: ……….. (turns to other PG and looks confused)
Other PG: Ah, you should probably just go to the dealer.

Fourth, when eventually you convinced someone who supplied parts for your non-existent car that it really was real, inevitably the part would be expensive. Really, really expensive. And, on backorder, or no longer available. It made repairs length and always have at least one comma in the price estimate. That estimate was almost always below what it actually cost to get it running again, and when it did run again, inevitably there would be something still wrong that would need to be fixed on the next trip to the mechanic.

Yet, more than any car I’ve previously owned, it’s the one I’d want back.

It was that good. So when one of the 72 5-speed cars pops up for sale, it’s always time to take notice. The officially imported 5-speed cars were all 3.6 PT engine cars, meaning a bit less motivation than the later 4.2 motor. However, they’re lighter and they’re the only Torsen center/Torsen rear differential car Audi brought to the U.S.. This is a rare opportunity to own one of the few remaining:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Audi V8 quattro 5-speed on Burlington Craigslist

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1995.5 Audi S6 Avant

Certain cars have a few known issues or subjective desires when considering their value. Talk about a 500E and the wiring harness comes up. Mention a 996 non-turbo and instantly people start shouting “IMS” even if they don’t know what it means or what it does. And every time I mention anything about an E46 M3 the first question is instantly SMG related. Those are certainly all important and relevant factors in determining the value of their respective models. But when it comes to the S6 Avant, for me the first question when determining value is “Does it run?”. And the answer, which is almost invariably yes, almost certainly affirms the value. As with their 200 20V quattro grandfather I looked at last night, the S6 Avant has a cult following and of the few hundred that were imported most are well used by this point. But they were well built cars that shrug off improbably high mileage such that the expectation when looking at one is that the odometer probably reads north of 200,000. Properly maintained and modified, they are a package without peer:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995.5 Audi S6 Avant on eBay

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1991 Audi 200 quattro

Seeing a clean C3 or D11 Audi these days is always cause for celebration, and draws and interesting comparison to the contemporary M5 I featured yesterday. While if you want to get into one of the BMWs you need to look at a lesser example or one with quite high miles (and the potential for accompanying big-ticket repairs) to get it affordable, when it comes to the Audis the same budget buys you one of the best examples on the market. The early 1990s was, for many, the height of Audi’s build quality and design language, though admittedly part of that mystique is surrounded by their near disappearance from the market. Those that were sold are notoriously long lived, and while 250,000 miles on a S38 is enough to make any wallet shudder at the thought of future repair bills, for the 3B and later AAN motor – indeed, for any of Audi’s offbeat inline-5s – that amount of mileage is almost expected. The result, when you look at a nicely preserved example like today’s 1991 200, is almost to feel like the 162,000 miles covered are low. With some tasteful upgrades and in far above average condition, this 200 – one of only around 1,000 sold here – is a great reminder of why these older Audis have gained such a cult following:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Audi 200 quattro on eBay

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