Roll the Dice: 1990 Audi V8 quattro

We’re going from one of the best 200 20V quattros out there to the more typical comparison point for an early 90s Audi – a project. I won’t bore you with all the details of what made the V8 quattro unique because I did so back in August when we looked at a very clean and tidy ’90 in Indigo Blue Metallic. Sufficed to say, they’re neat cars that all too often are parted out rather than going through the laborious task of keeping them afloat.

So here we have a ’90 V8 quattro. Like the majority, it is a 4-speed automatic in Pearlescent White Metallic. Generally speaking, I mentioned in my last few V8 posts that the cars to have are the rare 5-speed manuals, the less often seen 4.2, or the absolute best 3.6 you can find. But there are a few reasons to be interested in this particular one – let me tell you why:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Audi V8 quattro on eBay

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1991 Audi V8 quattro 5-speed

Update 8/8/18: An interesting follow-up to the clean V8 quattro I posted the other day, this 1991 V8 5-speed has returned in a no reserve auction format with a $5,500 opening price – down $1,000 from May.

Back to big Audis! The early 1990s were, as I’ve described in the past two posts, a period of change for the Ingolstadt firm as they closed down production on the Type 44 to introduce its new replacement, the C4. That led to a dizzying assortment of models from the one chassis. There was the aforementioned 100 and 100 quattro. You could move up to two turbocharged models, too – the 200 Turbo gave you 165 horsepower through the front wheels, and the new-and-only-for-91 in the U.S. was 200 20V quattro. Europe and the rest of the world got even more options; production lasted right up through 2006 in parts of China, where they even made a crazy long-wheel base 4-door convertible version of the Hongqi.

But the top of the heap for the U.S. market was a derivative of the Type 44, the D11 chassis. Of course, that was Audi’s foray into the top-tier luxury market with its new all-aluminum 32 valve double-overhead cam V8. Body revisions to the front and rear along with flared fenders made the V8 quattro seem like a completely different car to the slab-sided 100. V8s had, and have, serious presence. Big news, too, was that for the first time Audi was able to match its all-wheel drive quattro setup with a new 4-speed automatic transmission.

For die-hard Audi faithful, though, for a short while you could still opt to row-your-own with the 240 horsepower 3.6 liter V8 singing to your right foot. These manual V8 quattros are legendary because of their rarity and that they are the only car Audi brought to market with twin Torsen differentials. The combination of a more rearward weight bias, big and instant torque from the V8 and those clever diffs made for one of the best driving experiences in a big sedan from Audi:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Audi V8 quattro on Grand Rapids Craigslist

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1990 Audi V8 quattro

When it came to the late 1980s, Audi’s monopoly on the all-wheel drive market was coming to an end. Not only were new turbocharged pocket-rockets being born seemingly every day, but Mercedes-Benz had introduced their new “4Matic” designed by Steyr-Daimler-Puch. While you could make a pretty convincing argument that Audi’s design was superior in extreme conditions, there was at least one aspect of the Mercedes-Benz that trumped Ingolstadt’s design – you could get an automatic.

Now, to most enthusiasts that probably sounds like a bad idea. But when it came to selling car – especially expensive luxury cars – the overwhelming majority of buyers wanted the car to do most of the heavy lifting. Audi’s response was the next generation of quattro drivetrains; like Steyr’s system, with a series of clutches in the center differential that helped to transfer power and allowed the car to be mated to an automatic transmission. That transmission – the ZF 4HP24A – was a derivative of the 4HP24, the same automatic found in the V12-equipped BMW 750 and 850s. Like the Mercedes-Benz, Audi employed Bosch ABS and a locking rear differential. But unlike other Audis with their manual- or electronic-locking rear differential, the V8 quattro used a Torsen rear differential with helical gears which would automatically split torque in up to a 3:1 ratio to the wheel with grip.

But the V8 quattro wasn’t only about its unique new form of all-wheel drive. The moniker obviously indicated there had been a change in motivation, too, and indeed the V8 launched a new all-aluminum 4 cam, 32 valve V8 displacing 3.6 liters dubbed the PT. Rated at 240 horsepower and 254 lb.ft of torque, it was the most powerful Audi for sale in the late 1980s and brought the brand to a luxury level it had previously not competed at. In the U.S., these mega-Audis were met with mixed success. The 1990 launch of the V8 resulted in reasonably good sales; Audi sold 2,823 between late 1989 and the end of 1990 which represented over 10% of their yearly sales. Consider that the legendary Quattro never even broke 1% of Audi’s annual sales here; in its most successful year Quattros comprised .62% of the overall sales for the company.

But it was downhill – sharply – from there, as Audi nearly left the U.S. market and top-flight executives hit a notoriously bad sales patch. That meant that in total only 3,868 V8 quattros were sold in the U.S. This might be one of the best ’90s left:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Audi V8 quattro on eBay

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1992 Audi V8 quattro

While visually most people would have a hard time telling a 1991 and 1992 V8 quattro apart, there were a bunch of little changes throughout the model if you were paying attention. The easiest change to spot was the BBS RG forged wheels that carried over from the 1991 model. At 15 x 7.5″ with a 35mm offset, they filled out the widened arches nicely. The more pragmatic change was in badging; after two years of no model designation (one with nearly identical looking but very different cars underneath for sale), the company finally decided other people besides the owner should know what they were driving. V8 badges were added to the grill and left rear of the trunk, and a “quattro” badge returned to the right side of the lid. Much less noticeable was a more pronounced exhaust, with twin stainless outlets now emerging straight out instead of the 1990/1 down-turned tips.

Inside there were few changes; minor gauge movement had occurred between 1990 and 1992. Connolly leather seats were now standard (as were nearly all items on the V8), and the wood trim was upgraded. The V8 came standard with the Cold Weather package, sunroof, ABS, and BOSE radio. Gone was the option to row-your-own, as the manual was removed from the U.S. market. However, a light revision to the shift points along with an integral cooler meant that the 4-speed automatic in the ’92-94 models was more robust.

But the big change was under the hood, where a new ABH 4.2 liter all-aluminum V8 met the owner. With 276 horsepower and 295 lb.ft of torque, it was the most powerful Audi you could buy in 1992, and acceleration matched the manual and turbocharged S4. All of this luxury and speed cost; the sticker price was now up to $54,000. On paper, the V8 competed well against the competition from Stuttgart and Munich.

But in the recession of the early 1990s, coupled with the legacy of Audi’s scandals and rocky introduction to the super-luxury market meant the V8 was a slow seller. Despite upgrades, the ’92-’94 sold especially slowly; in total, only 518 4.2 models were sold in the U.S. compared to nearly 3,500 3.6 models. ’92 was the best seller with about half of those – 270 – moving here. Few remain in the condition of this Cyclamen Red Mica example though!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 Audi V8 quattro on eBay

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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

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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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Honorable Mention Roundup

Time for another Honorable Mention Roundup, and we’re sporting some great 1990s style with one throwback to the 80s in this edition. With lovely coupes from Volkswagen, Porsche and BMW, two Audi sedans round out the lineup. Which is the one you’d like to grab for this holiday season? Thank you again to our readers who sent in suggestions, we always appreciate them!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 BMW M635CSi at Bonhams Auctions

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1991 Audi V8 quattro 5-speed – REVISIT

If last week’s ’93 V8 quattro wasn’t rare enough for you, I’m kicking it up a notch today. Back in March, a rare bird in the German car world popped up – one of the original 5-speed V8 quattros came up for sale, and unlike most it was in excellent condition. However, with 181,000 miles on the clock and an asking price which was semi-astounding at $17,500, it was no real surprise that it didn’t sell. Fast forward to today, and that lovely example is back up on the block with a massively cut asking price to $10,499. That’s still very strong money for a D11, but all things considered if you want an original 5-speed V8 quattro in good condition, there just aren’t many options for you. I think it’s still unlikely to find a buyer this round, but my guess is it’s getting close and there are a bunch of V8 quattro fans biting their lips right now…

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

The below post originally appeared on our site March 27, 2015:

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1993 Audi V8 Lang quattro

While it seems to be a bit odd to consider in light of the proliferation of long-wheel base versions of German luxury cars (especially in the Asian markets), for Audi with the D11 stretching the wheelbase was a complicated proposition. After all, the D11 was a complicated car, combining for the first time all-wheel drive and an automatic transmission. The V8 had already been strengthened over the standard Type 44/C3 base, but increasing the wheelbase necessitated more bracing and a longer center driveshaft to maintain the all-wheel drive system. Of course, the simple solution would just have been to produce the car in front or rear drive only, but Audi’s specialty was the unique all-wheel drive system – so that was maintained in the new Lang version to help differentiate it from the already long-wheel base versions of the S-Class and 7 series:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1993 Audi V8 Lang quattro on Hemmings

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1991 Audi V8 Quattro – REVISIT

The 1991 Audi V8 quattro from last fall is still available from Windy City Motorsports, now with a price lowered to $3,900. While these cars certainly need a healthy dose of maintenance to run reliably, at below $4,000 you’re not likely to find one in better condition for less money. This is certainly a cheaper way to live your DTM dreams than jumping into a 190E 2.3-16 or M3 these days!

The below post originally appeared on our site November 13 and December 22, 2013:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Audi V8 Quattro on eBay

If you read my last V8 quattro post during V8 week, you’d understand the love/hate relationship I have with the V8 Quattro. It’s been nearly a decade on from parting company with my 1994 4.2 V8, and while it’s true we didn’t always have the best relationship it’s the car that I miss the most out of those I’ve owned. Every time that one comes up for sale I ponder how much it would take to get it into nice condition; and then, every once in a while, a nice one pops up! Such was the case with the 1990 I wrote up for V8 week, and while that car was probably overpriced (and is still for sale), today it’s 1991 twin has come up for sale at a more reasonable price. In period correct and perfect Pearlesant Metallic over grey Connolly leather comfort seats – pretty much the only optional extras available on the V8 – today’s example is taunting me:

Year: 1991
Model: V8 Quattro
Engine: 3.6 liter V8
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Mileage: 106,000 mi
Price: $3,900 Buy It Now

Vehicle Overview
We at Windy City Motorsports are very pleased to offer for sale this super clean 1991 Audi V8 Quattro luxury sedan.

***Very Hard To Find

***3.6L V8 Powerplant

***Legendary Audi Quattro All Wheel Drive System

***Rust Free West Coast Car

***Beautiful Pearl White Exterior

***Non-Smoker Gray Leather Cabin

***Original BBS Mesh Wheels

***Eclipse Detachable Face CD Player W/Ipod & USB Inputs

***Heated Leather Seats

***Carfax Certified Vehicle!

*******Free Nationwide Shipping & Rear View Camera System Are Included In The BUY IT NOW Price!

***Facetime Or Tango Users Please Contact Us For A “Virtual Walk-Around”

***Financing Is Available For all Types Of Credit

***Inexpensive Nationwide / Worldwide Delivery Is Our Specialty!

***Rear View Mirror Mounted Back Up Camera System Shown Can Be Installed For Only $299. System Includes Night Vision Camera, Remote, AUX Input For DVD Systems & Much More.

***We sincerely appreciate your interest, and as a trusted eBay award winning seller since 1999, we hope to add you to our quickly growing family of 7,600+ satisfied customers.

Having spent many a day cleaning those original BBS wheels, seeing them in good condition is very refreshing. The BBSs were quite light and a nice upgrade from the original “Aero” wheels 1991 on to 1994. The condition of this car looks to be near perfect, and if you’re interested in a V8 Quattro that’s what you want. As with the last one, you’d want to make sure to check if there are maintenance records – specifically, the timing belt service should have been completed. I see a missing headlight wiper, but that’s not really the end of the world. The early V8s are noted for vacuum leaks and oil leaks, so you’ll want to check for those – and the automatic is fairly trusty but you’d probably want to service that, too. This would be a perfect candidate for a 5 speed swap out of a 200 20V, or go crazy and pop in a 4.2 40V motor out of an A8 and a 01E 6-speed if you want a true sleeper. In stock form, the 3.6 with the automatic is underwhelming around town but fun on the highway. $5,900 may seem like a lot for an older Audi, but finding a V8 in this condition is just about impossible – and I think this one is well worth it!

-Carter