1990 Audi V8 quattro

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 driving my ’93 4.2, 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 lengthy 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. And that was 15 years ago!

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

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Audi V8 quattro on eBay


Year: 1990
Model: V8 quattro
VIN: WAUKE5448LN000188
Engine: 3.6 liter V8
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Mileage: 101,970 mi
Location: Bridgeport, Connecticut
Price: $5,900 Buy It Now

BECAUSE LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO DRIVE A BORING CAR!!

The Classic Car Gallery
2316 Fairfield Ave.
Bridgeport, CT 06605
203-446-4172

1990 Audi V8 Quattro “Up to date on all services, new tires, new rebuilt transmission”

VIN WAUKE5448LN000188

The Audi V8 Quattro was designed as Audi’s top of the line flagship car in the early 1990’s. Only 1,600 units were produced for the US-market and incorporated exclusive luxury features as standard equipment, including heated leather SPORT seating, automatic climate control, and Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive system. These specialty cars were rare and expensive.

The car on offer here is an excellent 1990 Audi V8 Quattro. The car shows 101,970 miles from new and is powered by a 32-valve 3.6 liter all-aluminum quad cam V8 and mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission.

The cosmetics of the car bely the age and mileage of the car. The Pearl White Metallic paint, one of the few available options when new, is in excellent condition. The body has a clear bra on the hood, wheel wells, and door handles. Panel fit has uniform gaps and flush shutlines as per the factory. It is being sold on clear Connecticut registration; the car has a branded title history.

The well-equipped leather interior features walnut trim, driver’s side airbags, automatic climate control, heated front and rear seats, mirrors, wiper washers, and power door locks. It is stock with the exception of a modern JVC Stereo with Bluetooth. The gauges, HVAC controls and electronic accessories operate as designed; the cruise control does not work.

Power is provided by its original 3.6 liter all-aluminum 4 -cam V8 that produces 247 horsepower and is paired with a 4-speed ZF automatic transmission. The transmission is equipped with Sport, Economy, and Manual modes, the car can be adapted to all situations. Very advanced for its time, the car featured all wheel drive using a multi-plate clutch center differential and Torsen front & rear differentials; the V8 sedan provided a driving experience unlike any other car of the period.

The car has been recent collector owned, is well-maintained, and just received a timing belt and water pump replacement in 2018 (less then 200 miles ago). Other notable repairs include a rebuilt transmission within the last few thousand miles along with new tires.

The car runs and drives as well as it looks; the engine starts easily and has good power and torque. The rebuilt transmission shifts as designed and the car is a joy to drive. Buy with confidence, as this car has been enthusiast owned, is up to date on maintenance and needs nothing except an enthusiastic new owner. Feel free to call 203-446-4172 or Email

Because there were so few V8 quattros, each model year is a bit unique. The roughly 2,800 sold in 1990 carried the 15″ x 7.5″ ‘Aero’ wheels, and if you ordered the expensive Pearlescent White Metallic paint like this one has they were color-matched. This one also has the sport seats, which is ultra cool since most pack the Comfort Seat option. The radio has been replaced which isn’t much of a surprise since the Bose speaker amplifiers had a way of…well, ‘not working’ is the nice way to say it, since they’d catch on fire occasionally too…and the head unit wouldn’t work with conventional speakers. But the big problems if you’re considering a V8 quattro at all, and specifically the 3.6, are the engine and the transmission. The V8 needed punctual timing service, which has just been done here, and the transmission was weak due to overheating (the 4.2 gained a cooler which seems to help them) but it’s also been gone through. The last question mark is the ’90-’91 specific ‘UFO’ floating front brakes, which work stupendously on the Autobahn and horribly in American traffic. The good news here is that if they haven’t been changed, a swap to later C4 S4/S6 front suspension and brakes is straightforward and should be easy to source parts for. Otherwise, this car looks like a really good example throughout.

Is it worth $5,900 today? Great question. That’s relatively strong money for a V8 quattro. And, indeed, for this particular chassis, since it has an branded title and we know it sold in 2016 on Bring a Trailer for $3,000. That auction, admittedly, did not have the headliner fixed (no note is made of it here), the transmission rebuilt or a fresh timing belt change. And you’d be right to estimate those three items at more than $3,000 value. With only 7,000 more miles since 2016 but a few big lifts completed, just not having to deal with the headaches of fixing them might be worth the extra $2,900 ask. So, while it seems a bit steep at first, I think in this case it’s probably justified.

You know why? Because as this dealer says, “LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO DRIVE A BORING CAR!!

Life will never be boring with a V8 quattro in your driveway.

-Carter

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16 Comments

  1. I was looking forward to how your analogy was going to unfold. The answer lies in the last sentence. A good fun write up as usual! I would add that further we get down the road with tech and automobiles, the more the V8 stands out in my memory somehow.

  2. Doh! I was replying to the email, not the actual post. The last sentence I referenced being in the email: “Yet, more than any car I’ve previously owned, it’s the one I’d want back.”

    And upon looking more closely, this is a pretty nice example indeed. I would agree about the sport seats, they are my favorite car seats of all time.

  3. “Buy with confidence” – This sounds like someone who’s never owned or sold an old, used Audi/VW/M-B. 🙂

  4. It’s totally worth it, as a very nice specimen. All the rest are in junkyards.

    As far as owning this beast, just mimic Auntie Mame here once she sees the horse and begins to walk toward him.

  5. In all seriousness, any V8 Quattro makes my 1993 Volvo 240 look like a Model T Ford in comparison.

  6. Remember this car in bring a trailer. Wish a 4.2 would show up in this condition. Haven’t seen a 4.2 with under 100k miles in years.

  7. Carter,

    I agree with your theoretical parts counter assessment!

    In the early 00’s I tried to get some coupe specific parts for my ’91 Jetta coupe from the VW dealer and was told “there’s no such thing as a 2 door Jetta.” *sigh*

  8. Audi/VW Heritage Center consists of a dial tone the states “the parts you are attempting to buy are no longer available, good bye.”

    Really makes owning these cars impossible if you cant even purchase NOS consumables.

  9. Always wanted one. But I was always just a bit afraid. Had a 200 Turbo Quattro and it mostly worked…

  10. Still recall seeing one for the first time, sitting locked on the floor of an auto show. Stone gray, and looking great….all while being completely untouchable from a budgetary standpoint. Tis a shame they were so problematic / unreliable, but I still love what they represented…Audi trying to claw its way to respectability by showcasing strong (although less than bulletproof) technology after the unintended acceleration debacle. I wish i had the time and energy required to own one of these now – best of luck to whomever takes the plunge.

  11. I feel the need to reply, again. The reason being that I drove my 1990 V8 past 200k miles and I would not call it unreliable. At about 60k the car began to require a little more attention than I would have liked, but it was not unreliable. I think the car was originally delivered with a timing belt service interval of 120k miles, which was revised multiple times over the life of the car. I also think that the limited number that were available led to additional challenges for the service departments. I did not have the sort of electrical issues that Carter reports entertainingly. I will admit that I was a little bit concerned about the ZF slush box, but it did not let me down. Leaks did appear toward the end of my time with the car, but that wasn’t entirely surprising IMHO. After all, this was a high RPM double overhead cam V8 engine. The V8 was also not a bad “deal” when considering the aggressive buy back pricing that was being offered in the wake of the poor reporting done by 60 minutes. These cars came with real wool carpets BTW….. The V8 was actually pretty special in my opinion, and it provided me with more than 15 years of grins. Sorry to bore you all, but I had to offer a counter point.

  12. @Early8Q Owner feedback is always interesting to read on these rare ones. Thanks for sharing.
    @JasonM22 well said. I always wanted to find a manual but could never pull the trigger on the few I came across.

  13. Great comments all around, and thanks for the counter-point @Early8Q. There’s actually one of these beasts that an older woman down the road from me daily drives! I pause and stare every time I see it.

  14. 20 years after selling mine, it’s the only car I still want again.

    In fact, it was a google search for a V8 quattro that lead me to discover this site many years ago.

    June of 1995 I had a great month, and decided to buy a new-to-me car. Went looking for a 3 series, and ended up stopped dead in my tracks when I laid eyes on a pearlescent white 1990 V8Q with color matched wheels, and a light grey interior (I believe they were the comfort seats, all I know is the window sticker stated “Connolly Leather”.

    For 5 years, I drove that car Monday-Thursday in sleek tailored suits to business meetings, and Friday-Sunday to the local ski resort where I worked as an instructor (it’s one of the best things in life, and another thing I miss badly).

    I’ve never experienced a vehicle that was more enjoyable, versatile, adaptable, and all around competent as that car. It was the Goldilocks car. Not too much, not too little, it was *just right*.

    Every Friday, I’d pick up two friends, hit Highway 2, get out past the last town, set the cruise control at 90 or 100, and just drive. It didn’t matter if it was raining, snowing, sunny, whatever–that car handled everything with such aplomb. Only one other car ever came close, and it’s another legend–a guy who regularly passed us, always with a courtesy wave, as he bombed past us in a maroon metallic 95’ish 911 turbo that was gloriously covered in road grime, but also apparently a very competent machine.

    Of course, the ridiculously expensive maintenance wasn’t fun, but I didn’t really care. $120 oil changes (1995 money) was well worth it for the pleasure and fun of driving such a machine. The timing service was expensive, and I recall something with the valves also being several thousand dollars, but it was always and only regular services and maintenance. I didn’t have any strange failures (other than a Bose speaker failure, which was replaced with a junkyard sourced OEM replacement).

    God, what a car.

    Thank you for posting this. They’re an incredibly wonderful dose of nostalgia, every time you guys find one of these neat machines.

  15. Great comment @goodtoseayou, thanks for sharing!

  16. Scott in Wisconsin

    I figured I’d jump in this pool as well as a previous owner of (3) of the mighty V8Qs. I bought my first one, a 1990 with 95K on the clock and a receipt for $4200 for all new heads in the glove box (guess what that was from?). I had just started my own business in 2002 when I bought this car – it was 12 years old by that time. I drove it for several years, up to 225K when I sold it in order to upgrade to an A8. Loved the A8 for all of it’s modern systems and look over the old angular V8Q. That original V8Q however flawlessly brought me through multiple northern winters – snowstorms hundreds of miles from home and all. I would consider it to be totally reliable during my ownership. TB service ($800K with parts by a local “on the side” Audi tech). After the A8, I went back to a 1993 V8Q – just something about that old car – didn’t have a very long time to enjoy the 4.2 power before my wife was involved in a major accident including a massive front impact in the V8Q – she walked away totally unscathed. Years later my high school age son needed a set of good wheel – enter a 1991 3.6 car. That lasted several years til he decided to upgrade to something newer. In all, I never saw ANY issues with these cars – and we put the miles on them! Sure – some fluid leaks here and there – but never any showstoppers thank goodness. Today I would really like to find a clean 92 or 93 which I can drive on occasion (such as snowstorms). Its interesting how the current M-B design trend (not to mention so many others) have gone back to angular/multi-flat plane design aspects. It seems like the old boxy V8Q wouldn’t seem so out of place anymore. I presently have a D2 S8, which is awesome in every way – but like I and others have said, there is just something about these old V8Qs that sets them apart – inside and out. I’m selling my S8 (it’s an extra) in hopes of finding the unicorn V8Q.. I’ll be on the hunt – would love to hear of any “finds” out there.

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