1990 Audi V8 quattro

If there is one German car that is an honorary Alfa Romeo, it’s got to be the V8 quattro.

From the dated underpinnings of the Type 44 chassis, Audi emerged in 1988 with an all-new 4-cam aluminum engine that could be mated to an automatic transmission. While today most enthusiasts decry the death of the manual, it was still a luxury that people paid dearly for at other points in automotive history, and the technical achievement necessary to combine the two was not unsubstantial. It benefited from a new generation of quattro models, which instead of utilizing manual differential locks had a Torsen unit in the center to automatically split power. But the V8, equipped with the automatic, couldn’t use that Torsen in the middle, instead relying on a multi-clutch differential. Instead, the Torsen unit was moved to the rear of the car. Coupled with a more rearward weight bias with the shorter V8 and the gutsy torque on offer throughout the rev range, though much of the car was borrowed from the rest of the lineup it took on an entirely different character. That was matched with new, updated bodywork outside and a wider stance with flared arches. The effect? Magical. And, complicated.

The results of both were that the V8s developed a unique fanbase separate from most of the other models. The Phantoms of the Four-Ringed Opera, these cars have long-lived in the shadows, myths that are only seen rarely, cars no average mortal would consider owning. The social pariahs who do own them are even more strange, lurking in the dark corners of the internet muttering “NLA” to themselves while figuring out creative ways to keep their coveted creations running, mostly though cannibalization of others. It seems Audi managed to pull off the unfathomable achievement of creating a whole new and unique set of VAG problems specific to the V8.…

1987 Audi 5000CS Turbo

The gulf between North American and European market performance was wide in all manufactures in the 1980s, but no where did it feel more vast than with the Audi products. That was especially true with the turbocharged variants of the large chassis. In European guise, the Type 200 5T developed 170 horsepower even without an intercooler, while the U.S. 5000 Turbo managed only 130 from the 2.1 liter inline-5. That was a 24% drop in performance, and it didn’t get much better with the Type 44 replacement. Though displacement later grew to 2.2 liters in the MC1 and 2 codes, power output never exceeded 162 horsepower. That meant that the 1987 Audi 5000CS Turbo (and the turbocharged quattro model) produced only about 81% of its European equivalent’s power output.

Despite that, the 5000 was a great sedan. It was quite, comfortable, and more modern-feeling than its contemporaries. It was also good enough for notorious BMW-friendly Car and Driver to add it to their 10-Best list – even without the trademark all-wheel drive. With weight fairly far in excess of 3,000 lbs, the luxury sedan wasn’t a rocket off the line, but on the roll it was a competent and quiet cruiser. Audi claimed the automatic-equipped Turbo model would hit 60 mph in 8.7 seconds and flat out would do 130 mph – numbers that were barely better than its normally aspirated smaller brother Coupe and 4000S front-drive models (themselves not particularly notable for being quick!). But thanks to some notoriety in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and great press (ahem – well, for a bit anyways!), these Audis sold fairly well. For example, compared to the 4000 quattro and Coupe GT models, the 5000 Turbo was traded in much greater numbers despite its high price. In 1987, Audi sold just shy of 2,000 Coupe GT models and nearly 3,000 4000CS quattros.…

Right Hooker Week: 1983 Audi 200 Turbo

After yesterday’s South African 500SE, this 200 Turbo is an interesting counterpoint for several reasons. First, if the age is correct, it’s from the very beginning of Type 44 production. In fact, it wasn’t until September 1983 that the turbocharged variant of the new Type 44 – the 200 – was available for the marketplace. So this car represents the beginning of the run compared to yesterday’s run-ending 500SE.

What’s amazing to me is how little change there was in that period. Outside of the interior refresh, a slightly different exterior color and some small details, the 1983 and 1990 model years could pass for contemporaries. Try that in other model ranges today! Of course, one other reason this car is interesting is the turbo. This would be an early 2.1 liter unit, rated nominally at 182 horsepower – a healthy bit more power than the late NF motor (130 horsepower). What’s unusual in this case is that it’s mated to a 5-speed manual transmission. Of course, these were the days before the quattro drive setup moved into other models outside of the halo Quattro, so you’re stuck with a front-driver only.

Oh, and one more oddity? Well, it’s being sold in the U.K., but it’s left hand drive.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1983 Audi 200 Turbo on eBay.co.uk

Right Hooker Week: 1990 Audi 500SE

No, it’s not a typo. And no, it’s not an Audi 5000.

The Audi 500SE won’t be a model that is familiar to pretty much anyone on these pages. But in an interesting side note of history you do know, Audi tried to bring its large sedans to Africa in the late 1980s. After the banning of Group B and the cancellation of Group S, Audi took to Group A with both normally aspirated Coupe Quattros and turbocharged Audi 200s. The 200 was successful at the hands of Hannu Mikkola, winning Rally Safari in 1987. 1988 saw the introduction of the 200 quattro Trans Am to U.S. shores, but few remember that those cars were then used in South Africa in the 1989 Wesbank Modifieds Championship. They would continue on in 1990 and 1991 before being replaced by a rebody of the 90 IMSA GTO car in an S4 chassis – a car which was just on display at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

But without much need for quattro and without the smaller model range on sale, Audi’s showroom was filled with a rebrand of the Type 44. Produced in Uitenhage, South Africa, it was dubbed the 500SE, and it was available with either turbocharging or a normally aspirated motor. Unlike Europe (and later, the U.S.) the model designations did not change with forced induction. The specification was a bit strange, too; like the 1987 Audi 5000S quattro, the 500SE wore the larger brakes and wheels of the turbocharged model even when it did not have one. But unlike those cars, it also wore the upscale dual-chamber 200 headlights. Models like this particular 1990 were powered by the 2.3 liter NF motor that saw duty post 1987 in the late-5000 and early-100 front-drivers and quattros. They wore the later Type 44 updates like the smooth dash, too.…

1987 Treser Audi Super 5000

Ruf. Alpina. AMG. Treser.

Wait. Treser?

Yes, Walter Treser, creator of the most outrageous Audis in the 1980s probably deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the most famous tuning firms in the 1980s. After all, it was Walter who helped to create the Audi Quattro in the first place – but he didn’t stop there. Far from it! He built the first 250 horsepower Audi, the first convertible modern Audi, the first off-road inspired model to wear four rings. He also pre-dated Audi’s Avant in turbocharger form and stuck a huge chunk in the middle to create the first long wheel base out of Ingolstadt to compete with the Mercedes-Benz SEL. And when he was done with all of that, shortly before he folded to economic pressures in the early 1990s, Treser’s firm made a crazy mid-engine aluminum roadster, too. For a brief rundown of his more famous models, check out the article I wrote about them!

Despite the innovative technology and designs, finding Treser models in the U.S. today is very rare. Heck, finding just parts for a Treser is very rare. So when a whole Superpfeile model comes up for sale we should take notice!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Treser Audi Super 5000 on eBay

1993 Audi V8 quattro

Edit 7/28/2017: This ’93 has reappeared with the same plates (so I presume the same seller) from December 2015 in a no reserve auction. It no longer has black wheels but only a few more miles on the clock. Finding clean late model V8s is pretty rare and this one generally looks nice! Cleverly the seller stuck in the listing that the car’s odometer is broken, though you have to look. The original ask price was $5,000, so it will be interesting to see where the strong bidding ends.

Sometimes it’s something small on a car you’re looking at that brings up a great memory. In the case of this 1993 V8 quattro, if my emotions weren’t already stirred by the sight of another late 4.2 model like my beloved and maligned example from a decade ago, it was the wheels that really did it for me. You see, for a few winters I ran A4-spec 15×6 steel wheels with Michelin Artic Alpins on my Ragusa Green monster. Already small, the A4 offset is higher than the V8s, leaving the impression – especially head on – that the car was floating. The awesome flares that were the signature of the V8 hung out in mid air, the antithesis of today’s trend of fitting the widest wheel as close to the fender as possible. But the result in the snow was undeniable. The V8 on skinny rubber was virtually unstoppable, hugely controllable and a riot to drive. Pulling in from runs at a Tim O’Neils rally school, the rumbling eight would erupt in clouds of smoke, as if Vesuvius was on the verge of claiming Pompeii. Crowds would gather to look in wonder and slight bemusement at the smelly, crusty and leaking old Audi which so thoroughly trounced the newer models around the circuit.…

1985 Audi 5000S Avant

It’s hard to believe that only eleven years separate the genesis of the inline-5 Avant wagon design and its culmination with the 1995 Audi S6. Audi’s groundbreaking aerodynamic design for the C3/Type 44 looked from the start as if it were intended to be a wagon; a sleek, modern design with flush windows and a sweeping D-pillar. It would be two years until Audi’s quattro drivetrain would debut in the large package, which left you with the sole option of front-wheel drive for 1984 and 1985. Audi also opted to leave the KKK turbocharger out of the package until all four wheels could deal with it, as well – so basically this car was a luxurious 4-door Coupe GT for the first two model years. Thankfully, though you were only allowed about 110 horsepower, Audi allowed drivers to opt for a manual transmission even in front-wheel drive form:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 Audi 5000S Avant on eBay

1990 Audi V8 quattro 4.2

Both the 525i and GTI I’ve written up this week have followed a common trend; take lower spec model and kick it up a notch with bigger brother power. Today is no different, as once again we look at a car featuring an upgraded power unit swap. However, this is certainly the most stealthy of the trio. The V8 quattro was an impressive car upon its launch in 1988; sure, it was an updated version of an already generation-old car on the verge of being replaced, but the massive amount of updates to the Type 44 meant than the V8 quattro got its own model designation – D11. Nearly everything in the V8 was touched, from the interior materials to the exterior styling, and of course with some celebration Audi launched both its all-aluminum 3.6 liter, 32V 4 cam eight cylinder simultaneously with its 4-speed automatic hooked up to quattro all-wheel drive. The result was a unique luxury car at the time; no one else offered this packaged, and with 240 horsepower on tap the D11 proved a great cruiser. But there were of course teething pains; Audi forecast the length of timing belt service too long on the PT-code engine, and many suffered failures. This was rectified with the larger displacement 4.2 motor in 1992; shorter intervals were met with nearly 40 horsepower more, making the later cars really the ones to grab. Of course, Audi sold many, many more 3.6s than it did later 4.2 models – to the tune of almost 7:1. Many of the early cars were discarded because of low residuals when expensive repairs popped up, but this Pearlescent White Metallic one was saved from that fate by a fortuitous heart transplant:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Audi V8 quattro 4.2 on eBay

“Gentleman’s Express” – 1993 Audi V8 quattro 5-speed

Though we’ve had a nice string of older Audis, it’s been a while since we’ve looked at a V8 quattro – but today’s is pretty special. First off, it’s one of the later 4.2 models. These cars were upgraded with a transmission cooler to help solve the early model automatic transmission failures. That, of course, meant all U.S. bound 4.2s were automatics from the factory. While that may sound like a downer, the 4-speed auto wasn’t a bad transmission and linked to the 276 horsepower, all-aluminum 4 cam V8 in front, motivation was never really an issue. Dynamically, these V8 quattros were also much better on the fly than the nose-heavy inline-5s, too. Not only was the engine a bit farther back, but the Torsen differential in the rear helped to give these cars a better power distribution. Of course, the cream of the crop were the 3.6 5-speed manuals – the only Torsen center, Torsen rear differential car Audi ever produced. Mate one with a 4.2 in a perfect color combination, sprinkle in some sport seats, and you have one pretty desirable package:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1993 Audi V8 quattro on Boulder Craiglist

1991 Audi 200 20V quattro Avant

Although the Type 44 chassis would live on in the D11 V8 quattro until 1994 (albeit heavily revised), for many the pinnacle of the chassis was the 1991 model year. It was then that finally the U.S. market received the power that Europeans had enjoyed in the chassis for so long. Audi used its Group B, Sport Quattro and IMSA experience to create a four valve head for their road cars. It was utilized in many chassis in slightly different configurations; the U.S. market 200 and early S models received the 3B, while the Quattro had a slightly upgraded RR motor. With mild revisions, this motor was again offered in AAN configuration for the 1992 model year, while Europeans had the ABY. The final development was the RS2’s ADU, but all of these motors shared the same inline-5, 20V turbo construction – and all are very highly sought. For U.S. customers, though, since the S2 and RS2 models were never offered along with the late 20V Quattros, it doesn’t get much better if you like the older cars than the 1991 200, and then again doesn’t get much better in 200s than a clean Avant:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Audi 200 20V quattro Avant on eBay