This year marks the tenth anniversary of the introduction of Audi’s supercar-scaring R8. It really was a bit of a leap for the company which typically mastered unsteer-laden sedans to jump into a mid-engine, rear-biased all out sports car, but when they put their mind to it they sure did an impressive job. The design built off existing themes in Audi’s show car history such as the Spyder and Avus concepts of the 90s, but the real foundation work was laid with the twin-turbo Lamborghini V10-powered LeMans quattro show car in 2003. Of course, such a crazy concept would never come to fruition, right?
Fast forward only three years later and the road-ready and newly coined “R8” was brought to the market. Architecture was heavily borrowed from existing models within the company’s umbrella; the basic platform was shared with the Audi-owned Lamborghini Gallardo, while the initial engine came from the RS4 in the form of the 4.2 liter, all-aluminum FSI V8. At 414 horsepower, it might not have given a 599GTB driver much concern, but it surely gave the crew heading into Porsche dealers pause.
From the get-go, journalists swooned over the performance and dynamics of the R8. It was lauded as one of the best packages you could buy – even Clarkson liked it! Even before the mega-V10 model rolled out for 2009’s model year, the 4.2 offered blistering performance in a budget (for the market) package. 0-60 was gone in 4.6 second, the standing quarter in 12.5 and it’d do nearly 190 mph flat-out – at least, that’s what Audi claimed. Car and Driver eclipsed the 60 mark in 4.0 seconds in theirs. At around $120,000 new with some options, the R8 was more dear than any Audi had ever hit market.
But there was something even more odd and unique that this car did, or rather, didn’t do, and it’s one of the main reasons I don’t often write them up. It didn’t fall in value. If you bought a well equipped, V10-engined S8 in 2007, you’d shell out about the same money – $110,000. Today? Less than 20 grand. But the R8 was the first modern Audi not to fall victim to depreciation. Lower mile examples of the early models are still asking over $70,000 – sometimes well over $80,000. So something struck me when I spotted this ’08 – it was cheap. In fact, it was the cheapest R8 I could find on the market. Does that make it a good buy?
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 Audi R8 on eBay
Engine: 4.2 liter V8
Transmission: 7-speed semi-automatic R-Tronic
Mileage: 60,894 mi
Price: $57,495 Buy It Now
**JET BLUE SUPER CAR WITH BLACK LEATHER INTERIOR** PRICED THOUSANDS BELOW MARKET AVERAGE! New Price! Clean CARFAX. **CLEAN CARFAX**, THIS CAR IS TRUST VERIFIED!, ALLOY WHEELS, BLUETOOTH, CD PLAYER, DRIVER SEAT MEMORY, GPS NAVIGATION SYSTEM, HEATED FRONT SEATS, IPOD INTEGRATION, LEATHER SEATS, MEDIA CONNECTIVITY, PUSH START, REAR PARKING AID, REARVIEW CAMERA/MONITOR.
There are a few things I love about this R8. First must be the color – I’m not sure why, but hands down Jet Blue Metallic is my favorite hue on these. It just looks neat and hearkens to classic powder-blue super Ferraris in the 1960s and ’70s. The 19×8.5/11″ wheels are right up there, too, and the perfect fit for the design. Condition wise, the car looks very good; there’s minor bolster wear and some scratches on the switch gear, but otherwise not much to write home about. So why is this example priced $7,000 less than the next cheapest (and, on average about $13,000 less than most others)? Two reasons – the transmission, and the miles. The 7-speed R-Tronic was the fastest way to drive an R8 around the track, but the single-clutch semi-automatic Lamborghini-derived unit wasn’t a favorite of many critics. I haven’t driven one, but from the sounds of reading then-new reviews of the transmission is that it’s similar (but probably not quite as good as) BMW’s SMG II. That’s probably a negative for most, and if you turn to Google you’ll break the internet with pages of R-Tronic problems. Then there’s the mileage. At over 60,000 on the clock, it’s a figurative death sentence for many supercars. But this is an Audi, and you probably wouldn’t blink twice at the same mileage on an RS4, so the service prices (outside of the transmission) should be fairly reasonable as big-budget cars go.
So, at the end of the day, is it worth saving money to buy the cheapest R8 on the market? I don’t think so. The next cheapest example is a 2008 as well. A no reserve auction, it’s gotten no bids so far at the opening price of $64,975. Let’s assume it’ll trade well under $70,000 if bidding is sensible. I’m not crazy about Silver Ice Metallic or the black powder-coated wheels, but I like the light-colored interior even more than the all-black one above. But the kickers? Well, your extra investment up front gets a recent service, a 6-speed manual and less than half the mileage. That seems like a winning proposal.