In 1989, Audi was in a state of crisis in the U.S.. The 60 Minutes farce had caused them serious market share from the European import scene. Audi had always been a bit fringe with its expensive and seemingly underpowered turbocharged all-wheel drive executive sedans. Aside from that, the major competition had stepped up their game; BMW launched the quite attractive and popular E32 the year before, and upstarts Infinity from Nissan with their Q45 and Lexus from Toyota with what would become the standard – the LS400 – were entering the marketplace. While the BMW remained with its standard inline-6 rear-drive configuration in most E32s sold, the Japanese duo upped the game with powerful quad-cam aluminum V8s under the hood. In the case of the Lexus, Toyota steered towards refinement with adequate power – Nissan, on the other hand, pushed the performance level with a reported 280 horsepower cap on the 4.5 liter VH54DE engine which today many report as underrated by at least 30 horsepower. Audi had its work cutout to claw back market share against these new cars, and to answer it released an updated version of the venerable Type 44/C3 chassis. Now, truth told the Audi 100 (5000 U.S.) really was the basis for the design of most of the large executive sedans that followed – but five years after its introduction, being the first was no longer enough. Audi upped the game by introducing what effectively was two Volkswagen 16Vs mated to each other in the same way that the 944 engine was effectively half of a 928 V8. The new V8 was all-aluminum and featured double-overhead cams. It was small – twice the displacement of the Volkswagen 16V engine at the time at 3.6 liters, but produced about the same power as the 4.0 liter Lexus motor. New too was the transmission in the now named “V8 quattro”, with a 4-speed automatic gearbox coupled to all four wheels through a rear Torsen differential and a multi-plate clutch center differential. The automatic was necessary to compete with the crowd that was buying these large executive sedans, as was the upgraded interior with a new dashboard, more sound deadening and more electronics. Of course, if you still wanted to shift gears yourself, Audi offered what many consider to be one of the best on-the-fly all-wheel drive setups ever to make it to the road; the 5-speed V8 quattro featured a center and rear Torsen differential. Less than 100 made it to U.S. shores in 3.6 form only, making these complicated executive sedans sought out by Audi enthusiasts across the country:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Audi V8 quattro 5-speed on motorgeek
Model: V8 quattro
Engine: 3.6 liter V8
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 170,000 mi
1991 Audi V8 with Factory 5 Speed in very good condition! 3.6 V8, 170K miles, no rust as it has only seen one new england winter. CAC exhaust, Bilstein inserts w/ H&R lowering springs, ABT Chip, can’t remember what the rear lights are(treser?) but they are not spray painted. Did the T-belt at 152K, New clutch 5K miles ago, New center bearing and drivers ebrake cable 10K miles ago. Heat and A/C work, radio does not and the drivers door lock tumbler needs to be replaced. Asking $6,500.00 OBO. Thanks.
For most V8 enthusiasts, this car ticks the right boxes. Condition appears to be good overall and importantly the timing belt has been replaced. That timing belt job used to be considered the worst Audi repair job out there, but more recent models have made the multi-thousand dollar job seem almost trivial in comparison. Nevertheless, it’s nice to have it done. Additionally, having the clutch and center bearings done saves the future owner some substantial cost and headaches in the future. It’s typical for the Audi Bose radio to not work and requires complete replacement of the head unit and speakers, since Bose amplified their sound at the speakers rather than at the head unit – so unless you like listening through headphones, you’ll want to plan a radio replacement. Of course, you could just blip the throttle on the sonorous V8, aided by the good-sounding and no longer available European CAC exhaust. With a lower suspension and some big 3-piece Ronal wheels, this car looks purposeful though I’d probably have preferred the original BBS RZ wheels for a stealthy look, and the signature tail of the V8 – with all-red taillights – also looks better to me than the current smoked lenses. Of course, generally those are easy fixes – harder will be sourcing a replacement steering wheel in good shape unless you swap in a S6 unit, as well as the many V8-specific trim pieces that are getting older these days. There isn’t a tremendous amount of aftermarket support, so you’ll be looking for used parts quite a bit. That means you’ll have to really want a V8 5-speed at the $6,500 asking price, since that amount would get you a faster C4 S6, D2 A8, or B5 S4. But there’s something magical about the combination of the 5-speed and the Audi V8 that is still compelling, and it remains the cheapest of the three DTM legends that’s out there. Comparatively, you could buy this car and completely restore it and still have a car that cost less than most entry-level E30 M3s. Plus, it would be faster – and even more importantly to the folks that like them, not a BMW or a Mercedes-Benz. People that like V8 quattros like doing things differently even than the mainstream old Audi enthusiasts, and that’s what makes them very special.
Thanks to our reader John for the great spot!