By 1984 the writing was on the wall, and the wild formula called Group B was mutating cars as if they had been supplied nuclear-tainted drinking water. Lancia went from the nutty but awesome and pretty 037 to the much nuttier, much less pretty but significantly faster Delta S4; a mid-engined turbocharged and supercharged all-wheel drive wonder. That matched Peugeot’s effort with the 205 Turbo 16, a mid-engined turbocharged and super-balanced all-wheel drive hatch. The competition was lighter and much better balanced than the Audi was, and all-wheel drive was no longer the trump card. The Audis had been fast but also a bit prone to understeer – something that won’t surprise anyone who has driven a 1980s Audi. Additionally, they were heavy compared to the competition even when fitted with special aluminum blocks instead of the road-going cast iron. One last complaint that the drivers had was that the windshield rake meant there was a tendency to have a large amount of glare that distracted the driver and navigators. Plus, Audi was at the limit of what it could develop reliably with the 10 valve turbo motor.
The response was the Sport. To drop weight, Audi chopped the best part of 13 inches out of the middle of the Quattro, making it a two-seater unless your passengers had no legs. They took the doors from the short-lived 4000/80 5+5 2-door and the windshield from the 4000/80, too – it was much more upright than the normal Coupe. The flares grew as well, another few inches in girth allowing now 9″ wide wheels with larger 235-45-15 tires. The body was made from carbon fiber and kevlar to help cut weight and was produced by noted special vehicle producer Baur in Stuttgart. And under the vented hood lay what would become the party piece; the 2.1 turbo motor now sporting 20 valves. The result was staggering in terms of road performance; in 1984, the Sport was the fastest accelerating road car you could buy to 60 m.p.h. at 4.5 seconds. Remarkably, 30 years on that would still be considered seriously fast. But it was the belching flames, the wail of the five cylinder and the wild slides that captured the imagination of the world. In rally trim, Audi saw a reported 600 horsepower from the monstrous S1 E2 depending on spec. On the road the Sport only saw half that output, but it also received a special interior to match the special exterior – heavily bolstered Recaro seats in special trim and a significantly revised dashboard with more gauges and a new readout. 214 of these special Quattros made it to the road at a somewhat staggering equivalent of $72,000 in 1984 – nearly double what the already expensive long-wheel base Quattro cost. As with all of the special homologation cars from Group B, the Sport was a truly special car then and is perhaps even more revered now:
Update 12/2/18: The manual 1981 5000S has been relisted with a reserve auction and opening $6,500 bid price. It bid to $5,100 last time around and I was surprised it didn’t sell. Based upon the other Type 43 sales recently, the current listing seems ambitious so we’ll probably see this one remain for sale for a bit.
Update 11/11/18: The 1980 5000S sold for $2,600.
I wasn’t particularly effusive with praise for the Type 44 Audi 5000S, although it was almost certainly the car which kept Audi’s doors open and lights on in the U.S. during the 1980s. Part of the reason that the Type 44 was so successful was that it was a major step forward from the Type 43, a car designed in the 1970s that felt…well, decidedly like it was from the 1970s. It was big, boxy, not particularly efficient and not particularly technically advanced – especially when compared to the model which replaced it.
However, there were some great qualities about the Type 43. It was the model that introduced mass turbocharging to Audi with the 200 5T, a de-tuned version of which would appear in the U.S. as the Audi 5000 Turbo. Audi used that idea to launch the Quattro a bit later, and the rest is history. The Type 43 was also quite a handsome car, though like many from the period its looks were hampered by the DOT-approved bumpers. Although well reviewed by magazines and offering class-leading features and technology, the Type 43 never really sold in great numbers. A total of 163,442 sold here between its 1978 launch and 1983, the last model year before the Type 44 replacements rolled into dealers. That was just a bit better than the C1 Audi 100 had sold here, a car with a less-than-stellar reputation. Clearly, the Type 43 spent most of its time erasing the memory of the C1, and consequently it is important as it laid the cornerstones for the more successful Type 44.
Today C2s are pretty hard to come across, though we do see a regular flow of them across these pages. Today’s examples are the more pedestrian (and more common to find) 100 horsepower naturally aspirated versions rather than the early Turbo. Still it’s a bit of a treat to get two at the same time, so here we go:
Okay, the third blue Audi in a row and so far I’ve been batting out in terms of cars I’d put in my ultimate garage. While the Audi TT would be on the list, the 180 version wouldn’t be my first choice, and though I wouldn’t kick the S4 out of my bed, I’d opt for a Avant version first. So how about my favorite chassis?
I’ve owned something like 8 or 9 Audi B2s, and though I came very close to owning a Quattro once, my history doesn’t include the illustrious leader of the pack. But a Quattro would very certainly be on my list of ultimate Audis. Which one would I want? Well, if money were no object, I’d probably choose a RR 20V first. The last of the run produced right through the 1991 model year, they were also arguably the best of the breed too; more refined than early models and sporting the 3B 2.2 liter 20V engine we saw in the 200 20V. While 20V conversions are popular, this one was factory. Here’s a link to a nice ’89 that’s for sale for a bit over $100,000.
More affordable are the cars that actually came to the U.S.. It’s a bit of a chuckle, though, as only a few years ago you could pick up a really nice example for well under $20,000. Today, those same cars are trading between $40,000 and $60,000 depending on condition. Here’s a very nice ’84 that comes in right at the middle of that range (and half the amount of the lustful RR) – so how does it stack up?
Perhaps I’m being harsh in my title. But I have to say, this listing annoys me for a few specific reasons. We’ll get back there soon. Predictably, as it did with Mercedes-Benz Pagodas, Porsche 930s, 80s BMW M products and the original GTI, the quick rising of selling prices for the Audi Quattro has continued to bring good examples to market. Where we used to wait seasons between seeing any at all, today you seem to be able to view at least one pretty good one on the market at any given time.
Today’s furthers the recent line of ’83s I’ve looked at. We saw the $59,000 ask on a modded L041 Black one. Recent bids only hit $33,000, which tells us more where market value lies. We saw more of a project a month later with the Treser’d LA5Y Helios example. At $25,000, it was one of the cheaper examples to come to market recently. Then just last week the stellar L97A Diamond Silver Metallic one popped up. Priced right in the middle of the two at $40,000, it looked like the one to buy of the three.
Today’s ’83 comes in a fourth shade available that year. LA3A Mars Red was shared with the A1 and early A2 chassis Volkswagen GTI and GLIs (along with a few others), but is less frequent to see on the Quattro than the color that replaced it in 1984 – LY3D Tornado Red. It’s more orange in tone and distinctive as a result. This particular example is also claimed to be completely original and from a single owner – something none of the others could boast. Priced at $36,900, is this the one to get as a collector?
This 1982 Audi Coupe is an interesting counter-point to yesterday’s survivor Scirocco. Obviously, there are the links within the parent company – but beyond that, both the Scirocco and Coupe occupied the same market segement. Audi’s offering went more upscale, with leather interior options, a bit more power and refinement and a host of power equipment. They were styled by the same man, too; Giugiaro’s masterful work on the Scirocco was influenced by his ‘Asso’ designs, but then so was the 2-door Audi. The Coupe’s C-pillar, window silhouettes and lower character lines closely echo the inspired 1973 concept.
There’s another similarity between the two budget 2-doors, though. While both have always had a pretty devoted fan following, the values on each have meant that for a long time you had to hope to find a survivor like yesterday’s. Undergoing a restoration on a car like this has been as unthinkable as restoring a Mazda 626. The market has started to turn the corner, especially on the Scirocco, but the Coupe is holding its own now, too. Still, it would be much easier to jump into a chassis that has had a large amount of the heavy lifting done:
While the Audi Coupe is no stranger to these pages due to some ridiculous bias by a certain author (ahem), we rarely get the treat of looking at the first half of B2 production. But before it became the “Coupe GT” I so adore, the 2-door basis for the Quattro was simply referred to as the Audi Coupe.
Europeans got a choice of several engines, but in the United States options were limited to one: the WE 2.1 liter inline-5, rated at 100 horsepower. Mated to a wide-ratio 5-speed with economy in mind, these cars were decidedly not as sporty as the later KX- and especially NG-equipped GTs. Brakes were smaller, too – with 4x100mm bolt pattern wheels on the early models sharing duty with some Volkswagens. But the Coupe had a whiff of class that the VWs didn’t manage, and its upscale construction – when well maintained – meant these cars have serious staying power.
Early models, while numerically superior to late GTs, are harder to come across. Audi sold some 4,236 1982s – the Type 85 Coupe’s most successful sales year in the U.S.. However, ’81-’83 GTs are the least frequently seen on the open market here, so this one from Canada looks to be prime to import:
In the long list of Audis I don’t really consider particularly appealing, the U.S.C2 is pretty high on the leader board. A design befuddled by Federally-mandated bumpers, perhaps its redeeming quality is that it introduced us to the characteristic inline-5 thrum that would hold over until the end of C4 production. Of course, what really made all of those cars sing was forced induction, and so within the C2 range, the model that ostensibly is the most desirable is the Turbo. And it was, when in ‘5T’ Euro 200 form. However, the U.S. cars were turned down, weighed down, and solely opted with a 3-speed automatic. Interest in this post has, at this point, waned nearly as much as the surviving examples have.
There was also a diesel, and a turbo diesel, version the C2. While they make frozen molasses heading uphill look brisk, they’ve at least got the diesel clique going for them. That leaves the normally aspirated Audi 5000S third in desirability in my ranking for a chassis I wouldn’t intentionally seek out. Not high praise, and this is coming from a pretty strong defender of the ringed corner of our world. But you could get a 5-speed manual, at least. This car doesn’t have that going for it, either, alas.
But am I glad someone saved one from being scrapped? Yeah, I sure am!
Boy, it’s been a bit too long since we looked at a Volkswagen Van. In fact it’s been over a year since I last looked at a Vanagon. For shame! Because while I often lament the lack of good 1980s Volkswagens to consider for these pages, there are predictably two models you can find at any time. One is the Cabriolet.
Okay, admit it. While you tell your Corvette-owning friends that the Cabriolet was a travesty you’d never be seen in, they’re actually kind of neat and certainly have their place. After all, what other cheap manual German convertible can you buy….a Boxster?
The other model that’s ubiquitous with 80s search parameters is the T3. They occupy an interesting subculture within the German automobile ownership community. And once in a while, one pops up that I really take notice of:
After yesterday’s South African 500SE, this 200 Turbo is an interesting counterpoint for several reasons. First, if the age is correct, it’s from the very beginning of Type 44 production. In fact, it wasn’t until September 1983 that the turbocharged variant of the new Type 44 – the 200 – was available for the marketplace. So this car represents the beginning of the run compared to yesterday’s run-ending 500SE.
What’s amazing to me is how little change there was in that period. Outside of the interior refresh, a slightly different exterior color and some small details, the 1983 and 1990 model years could pass for contemporaries. Try that in other model ranges today! Of course, one other reason this car is interesting is the turbo. This would be an early 2.1 liter unit, rated nominally at 182 horsepower – a healthy bit more power than the late NF motor (130 horsepower). What’s unusual in this case is that it’s mated to a 5-speed manual transmission. Of course, these were the days before the quattro drive setup moved into other models outside of the halo Quattro, so you’re stuck with a front-driver only.
Oh, and one more oddity? Well, it’s being sold in the U.K., but it’s left hand drive.
Unlike the Porsche 924, the Audi Quattro had no special editions. Outside of the homologation version of the Sport Quattro, there were no gimmicks, no limited models, and very few options. It was a take-it-or-leave-it design. You got a turbocharged inline-5 in front, a 5-speed manual gearbox in the middle, twin locking differentials center and rear, and it only came in Coupe form; no sedan, no four door, no popping rear windows, no convertible, targa or cabriolet. With a high-dollar price tag for its development, perhaps the Quattro would have been a greater market success if it had been available in more options, but the result was that they sold fairly slowly. In 1983, the model year of this particular example, Audi managed to shift only 240 of its $40,000 halo cars in the U.S.. Today, that makes them significantly more collectable than the 924, especially when they’re presented like this car: