Roll the Dice? 1987 Audi Coupe GT Special Build

If you pop on to the Audi USA configuration site, it’s easy to shake your head at how expensive it seems the range has gotten. The A3 is the cheapest product you can buy, but at $31,200 without options it’s hard to see how this gussied up Golf is affordable.

Yet, relative to where Audis used to sticker, that price is downright cheap.

Take this 1987.5 Audi Coupe GT Special Build. At the end of the run, Audi sold approximately 850 of these B2/B3 hybrid Coupes to the U.S. market. While things like the suspension and basic body were unchanged, the Special Build got the NG-code 2.3 inline-5 that was seen in the later Type 44/C3 and B3 chassis cars with 130 horsepower. The gearbox was also unique to the Special Build, having beefed up drive shafts (for some unknown reason, as the existing ones were already overbuilt). The Special Build was also the only front drive B2 to carry 4-wheel disc brakes – again, shared with the B3 instead. Inside, the Special Build got a special digital dashboard in a slightly different hue than the ’86 Coupe GTs with digital boards had. The interior fabric was updated to the Savoy Velour (also from the B3) instead of the B2’s Kensington Velour – this was signified by a triple stripe instead of a dual stripe. To help distinguish the limited cars, the exteriors featured a “dipped” look; window surrounds were body color as were mirrors and spoiler, and if you opted for Alpine White (L90E) the Ronal R8s were also painted body color. As with most later GTs, the Special Build came relatively loaded with few options, though most don’t seem to have the rear wiper selected for some reason. Sunroof, leather steering wheel, power windows, power defogging mirrors, cassette stereo and power antenna, cruise control and a trip computer were all standard. Only heated seats, a rear wiper, leather interior and an automatic transmission could be optioned.

The price for this “heavily optioned” exclusivity was $20,600, and you’d be hard pressed to leave a dealer for much under $21,000 after delivery charges. Inflation corrected from 1987 dollars to 2016 dollars, that’s about $44,500. The brand new, 2017 Audi A5 Sport with the 2.0 TSFI motor, quattro all-wheel drive and a 6-speed manual starts at $41,200 and has many more amenities standard. Is it any surprise that we see so many more luxury vehicles today than what we saw in the 1980s?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Audi Coupe GT Special Build on Knoxville Craigslist

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1987 Audi Coupe GT Special Build

I spent a lot of bandwidth covering the many changes from the B2 to the B3 chassis Audi yesterday. However, there was a transitional model between the two chassis in the 1987 Audi Coupe GT Special Build. The Special Build carried many items that would appear in the production B3 front drive 90 the next year. As with yesterday’s 90 quattro, motivation came from the 130 horsepower 2.3 liter NG inline-5. This represented a substantial power upgrade over the outgoing KX 110 horsepower unit. The rear brakes were upgraded to discs, as well – the only Coupe GT to have this setup, which again would be seen on the B3. The interior was revised, too, with the Savoy Velour replacing the Kensington Velour. The easiest way to tell the difference was the triple (opposed to double) striping of the fabric, though several Special Builds were optioned with leather interiors.

In what was a mostly unnecessary move, Audi beefed up the standard gearbox with larger output shafts. The Special Build cars also came with a unique exterior treatment. The spoiler, B pillar and window surround, and mirror housings were all painted in the exterior color choice. This had partially been seen on the 1986 Commemorative Design cars, which often causes confusion between the two. However, the easy way to spot the difference without popping the hood or peering between the fourteen spokes of the Ronal R8s in back is that the rear spoilers on the ’86 models weren’t body color. As with the ’86 CD, color options were limited to Black, Alpine White, or Tornado Red. Also lightly revised was the digital dash, which changed color from Red in the ’86 CD and limited run non-CD models to an orange backlit unit.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Audi Coupe GT Special Build on Central New Jersey Craigslist

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1987 Audi Coupe GT Special Build

Like yesterday’s Scirocco, the similarly Giugiaro-styled Audi Coupe GT added a touch of upscale Italian design to relatively pedestrian underpinnings. However, there was more of the rally-bred all-wheel drive Quattro DNA in the Coupe GT than its little brother. Nearly everything apart from the door handles in the B2 was overbuilt; massive driveshafts, bigger brakes and heavier duty suspension, and a robust engine meant that in any form these entry level Audis have stood the test of time pretty well. While in Europe there were several different variants of the Coupe in 4 or 5 cylinder and with all-wheel drive, in the U.S. we only got one at any time. Starting with a 2.1 inline-5, the front-drive only GTs worked their way up to the last of the run 2.3 NG motored cars. With 4-wheel disc brakes, special exterior and interior treatments, a unique digital dashboard and 130 horsepower, these lighter “Special Build” GTs were a performance match for U.S. spec Quattros:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Audi Coupe GT Special Build on Charlotte Craigslist

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B2 Love: Audi Coupe GT Roundup

My affinity for the Audi Coupe GT goes without saying, and it’s been a bit since I’ve written one up – but a few nice examples floated past my computer screen thanks to the quattroworld B2 forum and I thought they were worth looking at. Below are three distinctly different versions of the same car – one of the early design 84 Coupe GTs with some great modifications, a stock but automatic 86 model and a last-of-the-run 87.5 “Special Build”. Which is the one to grab as these cars continue to appreciate but are still quite affordable?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1984 Audi Coupe GT on German Cars For Sale Blog’s Self Service Classifieds

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Shifting Gears: 1987.5 Audi Coupe GT Part 3

Has it already been two months since my last update on the project 1987.5 Coupe GT? It seems hard to believe, but the date doesn’t lie. In that time there have been, predictably, some successes and some setbacks, coupled with a fair amount of waiting for both parts and diagnosing the problems. If you want a refresher, you can check out the introduction piece on the new-to-me 1987.5 Audi Coupe GT “Special Build”, or Part 2 when I finally got it running. Now, what’s next? Well, as it turns out, a whole lot….
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The Spark of Life: 1987.5 Audi Coupe GT Part 2

About a month has passed since my introduction piece on the new-to-me 1987.5 Audi Coupe GT “Special Build”, and since then a fair amount of work has occurred. There have been a few successes and a few setbacks; as with any project, some things were unexpected and have complicated matters slightly, but then this is a car that has been sitting outside for over a decade non-running – it was never going to be a cake walk. Still, I’m quite a few steps closer to it being a viable car again, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to update the readership as to just how well it is (or, isn’t) going.
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1987 Audi Coupe GT Special Build

Is a car ever really “free”? This past weekend, with help I managed to get the recently acquired Coupe GT running. That, in and of itself, was both awesome and created a problem. Don’t get me wrong, I was very excited to hear the inline-5 clack to life. But, had the car not run, in some ways it would have been much easier. Sadly, I could have taken the parts that were good and resigned myself to the reality that I just couldn’t save this one. But as old Audis do it sprang to life and immediately presented new problems; a frozen alternator, a leaking auxiliary radiator, and the inability to shift out of first gear. Even before tackling those problems, I’m already a few hundred dollars into the car in parts and delivery. Start adding up the potential bills, and the “free” car gets closer to the reality; it’ll likely end up costing close to market value (or perhaps even more). Wouldn’t buying one that was already done and in great shape be easier?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Audi Coupe GT Special Build on eBay

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Rare B2s: 1987.5 Coupe GT “Special Build” and 1986 4000CS Quattro “Commemorative Edition”

I’m not sure who is funnier – enthusiasts or marketing specialists. Let’s start with marketing specialists; for Audi, the introduction of a new “Fox” design brought with it a specific name for North America – the Audi 4000. There were various trim levels available, but by 1985 the trim specifications were limited to “S” specs. Now, at one point, the “S” actually stood for a slightly different Sport trim specification, but in 1985 you couldn’t get a non “S”. That changed slightly in 1986; if you wanted a quattro, your only option was the 4000CS quattro. Presumably, that stood for Commemorative Sport – but while in 1986 the CS versus S meant the difference of a turbocharger in the 5000 model range, in the 4000 there was no option. In part this can be viewed as the problem with the cars directed towards the United States; in Europe, there were two different trim specs with different motors, too – the 80/90 and 100/200. But to throw even more confusion into the lot, there was then a series called the “Commemorative Design” which was launched in 1986, too. Those Commemorative Design editions were available in Coupe GT, 4000CS (front drive), 4000CS quattro and 5000CS models and were a celebration of 100 years of the automobile. Convoluting things even more, there was now a 4000S and 4000CS front drive, but no 4000S quattro. Make sense? It seemed uniquely un-Germanic, but also signified that Audi did things differently than the rest of their compatriots. What did the Commemorative Design get you? Well, that’s interesting, too – because it varied by model. In the GT and 4000CS quattro, it was color-matched trim in your choice of white or graphite metallic with a special red leather. The GT was slightly different, with a digital dashboard making its appearance in that model – but not only in the Commemorative Design, as a slew of normal 1986 models also came with the digital dash for some reason that no one completely understands. The red leather was not carried over to the 4000CS front drive interestingly – it instead got Audi 5000-spec wheels, Coupe GT brakes and split leather and Alcantara seats. The 5000CS Commemorative was only available in front drive spec and similar to the 4000CS front drive, making the front drive 5000CS more luxurious than the 5000S quattro – which was more expensive. Of course, these cars weren’t called the “CD” models – because there actually was a 5000CD in Canada which was spec’d more like the 5000CS. Still with me? To quote Adam Sandler from a memorable Saturday Night Live skit, “Who are the ad wizards who came up with this one?”

Now to complicate matters even more, in 1987 Audi launched a revised Coupe GT which it then promptly discontinued. The car was substantially changed – a new engine bumped up to 2.3 liters (the NG/NF that would see duty in the later 80,90 and 100 models), along with new to the GT 4-wheel disc brakes and – like the Commemorative Design, color matched trim. There was also a slightly different gearbox and different dashboard – still digital – just to confuse things even more. There were only a few hundred of each of these models that were imported to the U.S., making this whole exercise a bit strange in the grand scheme of things. But what’s undeniable is that B2 enthusiasts generally love these cars the most, creating their own names for them – the “Special Build” GT and “Commemorative Edition” 1986 models:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987.5 Audi Coupe GT on Craigslist

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1987 Audi Coupe GT “Special Build”

Since I’ve come aboard GCFSB.com, I’ve really wanted to write up an Audi Coupe GT. In fact, long before I started writing for the blog, I wanted people to appreciate these cars more. Perhaps it’s because I’ve owned a long string of Coupes, or perhaps it’s because not many people even know what they are. I missed the white 87 Special Build Paul wrote up later in the month. I found this particularly disappointing since I love the Alpine White Coupe GTs, especially the CE 1986 and SB 1987.5 with their color matched trim. Still, I always keep my eye out for another, so I was greatly excited to see a clean Tornado Red 1985 pop up on eBay – only to see that Paul had grabbed that one too! Not dissuaded, I challenged him to a “Coupe-off” and found another white 1987 Coupe GT Special Build on eBay. Now, I’ve owned two Oceanic Blue coupes (85 and 86), a 85 Zermatt Silver, a 86 Tornado Red one, and my current Black 1986 GT, but I’ve still always wanted one of the triple Alpine White models, and even more so one of the last of the run, a Special Build 1987:

Year: 1987
Model: Coupe GT “Special Build”
Engine: 2.3 liter inline-5
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 200,720 mi
Price: Reserve auction, $2,000 opening bid

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Audi Coupe GT Special Build on eBay

This is a survivor, pretty much original except for front, adjustable coil over springs with shocks and the Momo steering wheel but the original parts also come with. Runs great and looks distinctive! Of 1,600 Special Build editions built, about 850 were imported to the USA. They use some of the heavier 5000 drive train pieces like the inner CV joint and transmission. This is the successsor to the famous ralley cars that ran all wheel drive with a turbo 2.2 engine. Advantage here is much more reliable and economical. (You don’t really intend to ralley, do you?) The GT Coupes were voted among the best handeling cars of their time and still do pretty well with modern tires. Original Ronal 14″ wheels white powder coat makes them easy to keep clean.

The Special Build came in 3 colors with the trim including the spoiler and wheels matching body color; white, black and red. They have a heavy duty 5 speed transaxle, four wheel disc brakes, digital dash which incorporates a computer read out of mileage, range, etc. The 5 cylinder 2.3 ltr. NG high compression engine has multi-port electronic fuel injection and a larger throttle body that gives 130 H.P. from the factory. Audi started using this in the new of the lines in 1988. I regularly get 26 +mpg on the highway, but I tend to drive a little fast.

New are the battery and starter. The tires have less than 1000 miles on them and are performance 195x60x14″ BFG G Force Super Speed.tires. I installed new front wheel bearings and strut bearigns when I converted to the coil over front shocks a couple of years ago, so they are virtually new, too.

No obvious rust, dents or scratches; although he car is 25 years old and has been used so there are a few very minor chips and things. Original paint still shines. I had the front of the hood repaired to remove rust on teh front edge 3 years ago. Seats are fine, clean and with little apparent wear. Dash is not cracked. All instruments and controls work except for the right side window, the malfunction is in the counsel switch, I think. Check out Forutitude website for more information.

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I’ll be honest – I think I’m over telling everyone what a great car the Coupe GT is. I’m tired of dragging out the old magazine reviews where it was one of the ten best cars and proclaimed the best handling GT car. I’m tired of telling people that it’s an affordable classic. I’m through explaining why a stock Coupe GT will beat a stock U.S. spec Quattro around a track without four wheel drive or a turbo. I’m not even sure why I’ve defended Audi’s honor, considering they barely acknowledge this car existed. From now on, I’m going to agree with all of the typical Audi commenters, so let me sum this up in a few sentences.

“It’s got 200,000 miles. Who would buy a car with 200,000 miles? It’s sure to break before you even buy it, and then repeatedly every time you look at it. All Audis are horrible. It will cost you the best part of a million dollars to own this car for anything more than a month. It’s sure to rust away to nothing by the end of the week. A good friend of mine once owned an Audi, and after it raped him and killed most of his family, it stole his identity and charged up a storm in Eastern Europe. This car would be great with a quattro conversion. What, no turbo? The RS4 is the only Audi worth looking at.”

Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, about this car. It’s one of the rarest of the Audi Coupe GTs. The 87 Special Build cars are indeed special and were the highest performance version of the car, and it’s more than capable of holding it’s own against most of its contemporaries. It appears to be in great shape and cared for, minus the one poorly placed political sticker that may be hiding something. I’ve owned enough of these to know the window “switch” issue could be diagnosed quickly – pop out the ashtray, wiggle the switches out of place and swap the switches to find out if it’s the harder to replace regulator, or perhaps the wires broke in the door. Otherwise, it looks like this car is ready to be a fun driver. I bought my current car with 192,000 miles on it 15 years ago, and it’s still running strong. Although there is little dealer and manufacturer support, there is an avid community to back these cars up and keep them running. Parts are reasonably cheap, they look good, get respectable mileage, and are fun to drive. But please, keep thinking they’re horrible and don’t buy them up, because I’ve seen what happened to the E30, and I’d like to be able to afford one of these Special Builds one day.

-Carter