I still have this dream of getting a S8. This seems like a strange thing to dream about, I admit. And, it also seems like a quite attainable dream. My father-in-law often tells me about some day procuring his ‘dream truck’ – a manual mid-90s six-cylinder F150. I’ve found several for him that seem like good prospects, and none are ever more than a few thousand dollars. As I’ve said to him several times, ‘If you’re $4,000 away from your dream, what’s holding you back?’
Well, that comment coming from me is riddled with hypocrisy. I certainly could sell my very reliable Passat, save a bit of coin, and buy a S8. The problem increasingly inherent in that plan is that the S8 I can afford will probably not be the S8 I want. See, in the early 2000s I fell in love with the design. In the mid-2000s I lusted over lightly used examples that were out of my price range. S8s are now in a range I can afford, but it’s no longer the early 2000s and most are, to be frank, pretty used up. And though they’re far from the most technologically advanced vehicle, they aren’t exactly an F150 either in terms of complexity and parts availability (not to mention pricing). So looking at a S8 means you automatically need to budget in probably double the asking price or more in potential repairs between the transmission, timing belt service, and other deferred maintenance. Or, you can find one where that’s been done for you:
Well, if it’s not evident already, you know why this one is here. First off, it’s one of just about 1,200 RS6s imported. But the vast majority of those are black, gray, or blue. A little over a year ago I took a look at a rare one that wasn’t – one of five Polar White examples. But in terms of rarity, this one is 250% less likely to be seen. It’s one of a claimed two Imola Yellow examples sold in the US. Some people claim color doesn’t matter, but let’s be honest – here, it does.
Following up on Andrew’s Mercedes-Blah and my interesting because of obscurity 4000 5+5, here’s one of quite a few relatively forgettable Audis. In the small chassis, Audi continued to offer two different chassis levels for the newly introduced for 1992 B4. Carrying over from the C4 range was the same 172 horsepower 2.8 V6, powering either all four wheels or the front wheels only. Few mechanical changes were made to the quattro models versus earlier inline-5 models, but the front drivers received more refinement from a trailing arm torsion beam axle instead of the previous Panhard rod design. Outside, new front and rear fascia was mostly expressed by integrating the hood and grill to match the C4 design. Fender flares increased, new contoured hoods offered more character, and different bumper covers updated the look slightly. New wheel designs were also incorporated into the B4 quattro lineup, with 10 spoke Speedline-made wheels being standard and optional Ronal “Sport” 5-spoke wheels, both in a slightly greater 37mm offset as opposed to the 45mm offset of early B3 models (with the exception of the Coupe). Front drivers came standard with 6-spoke Ronal ‘Aero’ wheels. There were plenty of other minor changes inside and out that added up to a very different and more refined feel versus the earlier B3. But Audi needed to provide some time for U.S. dealers to relaunch the new 90 model range. So, while in 1991 you could buy either a 90 quattro 20V or 80 quattro, in 1992 there was only a 80 model available – no 90s were sold. This coincided with the lowest sales figures for the small chassis Audi had recorded. The new 90 would launch here in late 1992 as a 1993 model in both quattro and FrontTrak form. Mostly people only remember the front-drive 90s in their Cabriolet form, but soldiering on was the 90S/CS as well:
Do you know how many times I’ve heard “It was just too nice to part out” when referring to an older Audi? Heck, I’ve personally had three that I’ve said that very sentence for, and at least one more I should have said that about. One time I bought a 4000S front wheel drive 5-speed simply because I wanted a door. No, I’m not joking. The entire car was in mint shape – Sapphire with Marine Blue velour, and because I was 18 and had fully subscribed to the idea that the only good Audis were all-wheel drive Audis, I paid $300 to rip what was otherwise one of the nicest 4000S models I had seen to that point in my life apart. Most of it went to the junkyard, in fact. It’s something that near 40 year old me is mad at 18 year old me about, still.
Fast forward 25 years into the future, and since then I keep hearing the phrase in relation to all sorts of obscure, slightly crusty and forgotten examples of the brand. So when this 4000 5+5 popped up for sale it was worth a look. These are highly prized for their donor doors (see what I did there?) which are utilized in Sport Quattro conversions. Does this one have to die?
This S6 Avant sold for $8,182.52.
If you want in on the zenith of the BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche production – what many argue are the late 80s to mid 90s cars – you’re going to pay a lot of money for a prime example. But turn to Volkswagen and corporate partner Audi, and you’ll still be able to get into a legend for pennies on the dollar. Witness, the Audi S6 Avant.
I’ve previously covered just how special these cars are and to say that they’ve got a cult following is an Internet-breaking understatement. Seriously, tell an owner of one of these that he’s got just another car and you’re likely to end up with a bloody nose and an earfull of Ingolstadt. Yet prime condition S6 Avants are surprisingly hard to come by, in part because they were used heavily and more notably because so few came here originally. Here’s a great-looking black on black ‘95.5 to consider, though, and it’s no reserve to boot:
Today’s post is not about how revolutionary the Quattro was. I’ve written plenty of those and I’m sure you’re tired of hearing about it. So instead, today’s post is more of a philosophical question.
At what point do modifications become sacrilegious?
There seem to be several camps of automotive enthusiasts; one seems to always be wrapped up in the biggest, brightest, and fastest things to come out. Another group embraces the history of automobiles and celebrates most who love the cars. And then there are the preservation people. They’re a very special group who deem it necessary to fault someone’s vision or personal preference in their expression of automotive enthusiasm.
Perhaps we transit through these groups as we age. I can certainly remember a point in my life where I was part of the newest and fastest group. I can remember moving into the second group as I attempted to modify my car to be a personal expression. And, more recently, I’ve found the appeal of originality much greater. I’ve certainly even poked fun at or criticized my fair share of cars. Which brings us to today’s example of a 1983 Quattro.
The first A3 was launched alongside the then-new A4, and while the visual similarities were strong, the two models shared little. That’s because the A3 was based heavily on the Mk.4 Golf platform with transverse mounted engines. Just like the original Audi 50, though, the A3’s arrival predated the Mk.4 Golf by a year. While the U.S. had to wait until the 2004 launch of the Golf R32 to get all-wheel drive performance, Europe had enjoyed Golfs with four wheels driven since 1986. So it was a relative cinch to stick the Haldex-based all-wheel drive system into the A3 chassis where, like the TT, it would be called “quattro”. And just like the TT, a high performance variant of the 1.8T would be included and become the S3 in 1999. Some of the styling cues were shared with the big-brother S4, including 17″ Avus wheels and deeper, smooth bumper covers. The S3 was the first model to utilize the ‘door blades’ that would become signature S bits soon after. Performance was about what you’d expect from a near twin of the TT – meaning, virtually identical. But what you did get was slightly more subtle styling and slightly more practicality, with a bit more storage space and a roomier cabin.
In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m a huge Audi fan.
Some Most consider this a huge flaw. But the company has emerged from fringe technology fighting to compete with the established giants in the 1980s to be the standard for interiors and, even in some cases, performance in a daily driver. And as a result, they’ve become incredibly popular. For some reason I can’t fully identify, as they’ve become more popular I’ve become increasingly disenchanted with the brand. They all look broadly similar, they all are way too complicated, and they all are way out of my price range.
But once in a while one pops up that grabs my attention. I live by a port that delivers new Audis and Volkswagens, and ride my bike by the long rows of oh-so-boring white, grey, silver, silver-grey, off-white, black, black-grey, grey-black, and charcoal SUVs that pile into this country. But last year I caught sight of a green RS5. I never stop to look at these cars, but I stopped to look at that one. It was damn impressive, and I internally applauded the buyer who sat down and refused to buy a black car. On top of that, they refused to put black wheels on it, too.
Lo and behold, I found its four-door twin this week:
In 1993, my father purchased a W113 Mercedes-Benz 280SL Roadster. It was green with black MB Tex and do you know what? It looked, and felt, old. At that point, it was a 22 year old car that had been mostly forgotten by the enthusiast world. After all, the dated W113’s replacement – the oh so 80s even though it was from the 70s R107 – had just gone out of production, itself replaced by the thoroughly modern R129. A teenager, I loved the fresh R129 at the time, and the W113 seemed like a dinosaur by comparison. But my father loved the look of the W113, and so for the then princely sum of mid-teens he purchased a relatively clean, reasonably low mileage and (almost) fully functional Mercedes-Benz SL. Not a bad deal in hindsight – or at the time, considering the new SL’s $80,000 sticker price – in 1992!
Fast forward 27 years, and the SL market has gone completely bonkers, awakening to the fact that the W113 was (and still is) a beautiful, classic and elegant design. I’m not even sure you could buy a non-functional, rusty wreck of a W113 for the same price my father paid in 1993 – and an expensive restoration would await you.
Why do I mention this?
Currently, almost no one has time to even consider the 8N chassis Audi TT. It’s old, with the last of the first generation produced 15 years ago and its replacement – the 8J – has also fully completed a production cycle. It doesn’t have the super wiz-bang computers, million horsepower engines, or cut-your-hand-on-the-front-end styling of the new models. A fair amount lay in a state of disrepair; crashed, thrashed and trashed to a point where they’re nearly given away – quite seriously, there’s one near me for $1,500. But find a good one, and I think now is the prime time to grab a clean TT that will be a future collectable. So here we are with a ’03 TT 225 Coupe in Goodwood Green Pearl Effect over a light tan interior. I think I’m in love!
I have a lot of respect for Bob Lutz and Chrysler in at least one way; in 1989, they came out with the Viper concept, and because of such an overwhelmingly positive response, said that it was going to go into production as is. Of course, that wasn’t true and when the production Viper arrived the next year, it was a lot less hard-edged than the original concept. That’s true of nearly every concept car that goes into production; they’re outrageous for the shows, then watered down for public consumption.
Apparently, no one told that to Giugiaro’s Italdesign when they decided to take their hybrid Audi/Lancia/Spaceship directly to the market. Giugiaro’s company had long been pioneers of advanced and cutting edge designs, but they really outdid themselves with the Aztec. As if taking inspiration from some of the best futuristic designs from the 60s and 70s, the Aztec looked part jet fighter, part rocket ship, and part Star Trek communicator. Indeed, it wouldn’t be surprising at all to have someone like Mark Hamill or Harrison Ford pull up in an Aztec at a movie premier; it was as otherworldly and futuristic as both Hollywood and the sets of Star Wars and Blade Runner. But even if there were more wild designs that you might have seen on the show circuit in 1988, Giugiaro – with the aid of some hefty backing from Japanese capital – was crazy enough to produce road going versions of these cars. What was not surprising, then, was that there was a market for them – though, admittedly, it was as limited as the daily drive-ability of the car. If the complete lack of practicality didn’t cool prospective buyer’s desire to own one, surely the $225,000 entry price did. A bit of an oddity to see anywhere but on posters, there is one for sale today on Bring a Trailer: