Now that we’re into 2023, we can consider what new cars can come into the country. For me, that last few years has been spent pondering pre-facelift Audi S8s. Although we got the S8 here in “plus” form between 2001 and 2003, and it’s still one of my favorites, there’s some allure about the 1996-2000 cars in Europe. Why? Well, that was the model used in 1998’s Ronin and, for many, our first introduction to the model that at that time was not available here. The styling is slightly more subdued, as well – there’s less chrome, and especially in silver, the design closely resembles the polished-aluminum Audi ASF concept. In fact, it’s nearly identical. Under the hood was a development of the ABH (V8 quattro and C4 S4 V8), ABZ (A8), and AHK (C4 S6 Plus) 32-valve 4.2-liter V8. The AHC/AKH was utilized in the first S8s and cranked out 335 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque; down slightly on the “plus” 40v version in the US market, but still plenty. But there’s one more special reason to look at European-market S8s – the transmission.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 Audi S8 on Mobile.de
Engine: 4.2 liter V8
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Mileage: 196,800 km (~122,200 mi)
Location: Leipzig, Germany
Price: E. 12,485 (~$13,250)
Rare Audi S8 with manual transmission ex works and great equipment:∗Recaro sports seats, electrically adjustable and Avus alloy wheels
Electr. Seat adjustment
leather steering wheel
central locking system
2-zone automatic climate control
all wheel drive
Front and side airbags
The first generation of the Audi S8 was launched in 1996. The Audi S8 (D2) was a four-door luxury sedan. The drive was provided by a performance-enhanced 4.2-liter V8, which produced 340 hp and transmitted its power to all four wheels as standard. Customers with sporting ambitions ordered the S8 with manual transmission
If anything I think I slightly prefer the understated pre-facelift looks, and I definitely prefer the Speedline-made 18″ Avus wheels to the later Ronal-made thin-spoke “plus” wheels. This one is not the color I’d choose if I had the option, but I’d go for condition and transmission first; even in Europe, the manuals are unusual to find. Pricing is very reasonable considering; these are not hugely valuable cars, so for under $20k you can have a manual stateside with room to do some repairs and a timing belt service. If you love this generation of Audis, it seems like a really smart buy.
Having spent a bunch of time with a ‘98 A8 and an ‘01 S8 I can share your sentiment. The S8 in particular would seem to me to be particularly well suited for a manual transmission. I have never driven a car of the stature of the S8 that was as sporting and luxurious at the same time. The expression “handling like on rails” while overused seems appropriate in my experience, both in the massive locomotive way and providing in incredible sporting experience at the same time. As a counterpoint, my daily at that time was an S4 avant- with a manual, and that S8 got my full attention. It was just stellar. Great find Carter, and a good reminder of what is new in 2023. Thank you.
Great car. I also prefer the pre-facelifted model…maybe Ronin was an influence…and for that price with a 6 speed; a very good choice.
The manual transmission is a rare find even in Europe, making this a smart buy for Audi enthusiasts. The pricing is also very reasonable, considering it’s a luxurious four-door sedan with a performance-enhanced 4.2-liter V8.