The E30 Touring influx continues to flow, helping pull prices down and increasing the variety of available models. Having the fastest possible option is always a nice idea, but there is something extremely appealing about having a base model workhorse that wasn’t originally available here. This 318i won’t be a racer, but it will be useful! It’s right-hand drive, which immediately makes me think of using it as a small-town mail or newspaper delivery vehicle. With even US-spec E30s going for more money all the time, does rarity and a funny steering position rationalize dropping almost $10k on a base model?
All posts tagged Wagon
Pretty though it may be, it was not the appearance of this Ming Blue Metallic Audi C5 S6 Avant that won me over. I think pretty much all C5s look good, Avant or Sedan, 2.7T or RS6, they’re all visually pleasing in my book. No, the reason I’m writing this car up is because the seller has equipped the car with a 6spd manual transmission. The automatic Audi stuck us with here in the United States probably didn’t seem so bad when it debuted, but in 2015, the 5 speed ZF 5HP24A can go suck an egg. These enthusaist focused machines deserve 3 pedals, shame Audi didn’t feel that Americans did when they sold it new. On the upside, it seems more and more folks out there are stepping up and plunking down the money to make the change to a manual. While it’s not the most expensive procedure in the world, it’s by no means cheap, especially if you do it the right way. It seems this is one of those jobs where no expense was spared, as the parts list below reads like an Audiphile’s Christmas list.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Audi S6 Avant on Audizine
If you asked a random person on the street which was more rare, an E91 wagon with a manual transmission or an Audi R8, I guarantee you that the majority of folks would say the R8. They would of course be wrong because an average of 1,500 wagons came to the U.S. annually with a estimated maximum of 5% being manuals. That lumps this example in with rare gated manuals like Ferrari F430s or Aston Martins. Of course most people look at this car and just see another AWD wagon suited for life in a mountain town. In my opinion, that is a big part of the appeal and though it’s not nearly as powerful as an Audi S4, I think these M-Sport package cars are equally as special. I have yet to get a chance to drive on with a manual but I know how well they handle and as someone who owned a B7 S4 Avant, I have to say the BMW was more enjoyable for spirited driving. Sure, you don’t get the V8 wail like you do with the S4 or an AMG wagon but the venerable 3.0L I-6 can sing a pleasing song with the right upgrades, particularly an M-Sport exhaust and headers.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2009 BMW 328i X-Drive Touring on Craigslist
In 1999, if you wanted a small German performance car capable of carrying several adults, you had a few options. First, you could select the BMW M3 – the benchmark for performance in the category, the E36 was nearing the end of it’s life cycle and the sedan had been dropped for the last model year. There was no M3 Touring model available, so if you wanted a wagon you needed to move over to the folks from Ingolstadt; Audi’s second generation S4. While unlike the M3 you couldn’t opt for a convertible, importantly if you wanted to carry your 2.2 children and dog in style they had the Avant available. While BMW’s neutered U.S. spec M3 made it by with only 240 horsepower, Audi’s twin turbocharged V6 offered less displacement but waves of torque and 250 horsepower. Those were the days when a 10 horsepower jump over your competition was a pretty big deal. So, you can imagine the shock when Mercedes-Benz introduced it’s new take on the small executive performance market with the introduction of the V8-engined C43 AMG. While the C36’s inline-6 had a 26 horsepower advantage over its nearest rival, the C43 broke through the 300 horsepower mark with the M113, with 306 horsepower, but staggeringly also 302 lb.ft of torque. That’s a lot, even by today’s standard, and it was not only available in sedan form, but also in Touring form. Though the Tourings never made it to these shores, one has popped up on eBay and is for sale in the Great White North:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1999 Mercedes-Benz C43 AMG Estate on eBay
In yesterday’s S4 post, I covered many of the special items that made the ’92 model unique for the U.S. market; in fact, I said that in many ways it was the most highly sought of the C4 models. Well, that probably was a bit of overstatement in at least one regard, because while it may be true for sedans for many the Avant model from 1995 was much more special. 1994 to 1995 saw some major changes for the C4; the most obvious being the model designation change from S4 (1991-1994) to S6 (1995-1997). European models had some additional drivetrain options that weren’t available in the U.S., and indeed the Avant had previously been available in S4 form, but the 2.2 liter turbocharged inline-5 carried over largely unchanged into 1995. The big news was the addition of the Avant to the U.S. lineup; at the time, as expensive as an Audi got here. There was also the obvious external refresh; smooth body-colored bumpers and wider side trims eliminated the rubberized black moldings. The hood and lights were lightly re-sculpted too, along with the change (rolling, for some models) from the Fuchs-made 5-spoke alloys to the Speedline-made 6-spoke Avus wheels which would be the signature S-wheel for the next decade. Gone were two staples of the Audi lineup from the 1980s – Procon 10, the seatbelt pre-tensioning safety system Audi highly marketed in the late 1990s disappeared with little fanfare, but also, perhaps more strikingly, S cars would no longer be branded with “quattro” badges – a change that would carry on nearly until today’s models, where models like the RS7 re-introduced it in the grill. Inside minor changes were introduced; a revised dashboard, shift knob, along with the introduction of the most notable change (once again, rolling) to a 3-spoke sport steering wheel. It was a tremendous amount of minor changes that in sum resulted in a slightly different feel for the S6; slightly more polished and grown up, carrying the new design language for Audi that would remain for the next decade. Audi wasn’t done, though, because in “1995.5” Audi once again changed several items on the then-still-new S6. This included a major change moving forward – the elimination of driver control of the rear differential, a hallmark of Audis since the introduction of the original Quattro. Audi opted for an “electronic differential lock”, which in reality was a system which utilized the ABS system to detect wheelspin and apply the brakes. This major change resulted in some minor interior tweaks, such as moving the cigarette lighter, and there were additional revisions to the radio. The transmission’s traditional weak first gear was also addressed, as well as adding infrared locking and some other minor trim changes. All of these changes – some of them running changes – give the limited production S6s, and especially the Avants, a bit of a bespoke feel. With numbers produced only in the hundreds, these are special and coveted cars that are very capable – and highly sought: