1991 Audi V8 quattro 5-Speed

Back to big Audis! The early 1990s were, as I’ve described in previous posts, a period of change for the Ingolstadt firm as they closed down production on the Type 44 to introduce its new replacement, the C4. That led to a dizzying assortment of models from the one chassis. There was the aforementioned 100 and 100 quattro. You could move up to two turbocharged models, too – the 200 Turbo gave you 165 horsepower through the front wheels, and the new-and-only-for-91 in the U.S. was 200 20V quattro. Europe and the rest of the world got even more options; production lasted right up through 2006 in parts of China, where they even made a crazy long-wheel base 4-door convertible version of the Hongqi.

But the top of the heap for the U.S. market was a derivative of the Type 44, the D11 chassis. Of course, that was Audi’s foray into the top-tier luxury market with its new all-aluminum 32 valve double-overhead cam V8. Body revisions to the front and rear along with flared fenders made the V8 quattro seem like a completely different car to the slab-sided 100. V8s had, and have, serious presence. Big news, too, was that for the first time Audi was able to match its all-wheel drive quattro setup with a new 4-speed automatic transmission.

For die-hard Audi faithful, though, for a short while you could still opt to row-your-own with the 240 horsepower 3.6 liter V8 singing to your right foot. These manual V8 quattros are legendary because of their rarity and that they are the only car Audi brought to market with twin Torsen differentials. The combination of a more rearward weight bias, big and instant torque from the V8 and those clever diffs made for one of the best driving experiences in a classic big sedan from Audi, and they’re exceedingly rare to find:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Audi V8 quattro on eBay

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1995 Mercedes-Benz C36 AMG

It was only a matter of time before the Mercedes-Benz C36 AMG became a hot item. The ingredients of a significant history, low production run, and brand status all make for a desirable automobile at any price level. For the past 15 years or so, you could buy these for almost no money at all for well-used examples because they were nothing more than a minor footnote in Mercedes history. Now that AMG is a mega brand both on the street and the race track, people want the originals. Being this was the first official post-merger AMG to grace the US market, collectors are suddenly chasing them down while they still can. Yes, you can still find a decent example for under $10,000, but the perfect example are suddenly pulling big numbers when at the end of the day this is still a W202. So naturally, when one pops up, I always take a look to see if its an example worth lusting after. This 1995 up for sale in California sure looks the part, but once again, we have a dealer that is less than helpful.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 Mercedes-Benz C36 AMG on eBay

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2018 Volkswagen Passat GT

I know I just said that we were on Passat overload, so why are we here again? Well, I certainly haven’t written up many newer Passats. And, truth told, while competent the U.S.-specific B7 Passat hasn’t really given many reasons for fans to celebrate. Instead of leading the market, VW chose to give consumers what they thought consumers wanted. They reacted….sorta. B7 sales spiked with its introduction in 2012 to 125,000 until in the U.S.; respectable for what has always been a slow seller for the company. That was more than the B6 ever sold in a single year by a factor of 2.5, for example. But every year since has been a downward slope; 110,000 in 2013, 96,000 in 2014, 78,000 for 2015, 73,000 in 2016, 60,000 for 2017 and just 41,400 for 2018. Sure, sales of normal sedans are slipping all around. Compare that to the Honda Accord; a popular, “sporty” alternative, and it’s drawn into sharper contrast. In 2018, Honda sold 291,000 Accords. And that was an uncharacteristically bad year for the model.

So to help prop up sales towards the end of the B7 run, Volkswagen introduced new trim packages – no surprise there. And one came out in 2018 called the “GT”. Now, traditionally VW hasn’t done a stellar job on its GT packages, but hear me out on this one – because it’s pretty special. Outside, the Passat GT distinguished itself with red-trim grill like the GTI, blacked out roof panel and big dual exhaust. 19″ ‘Tornado’ wheels filled the lowered arches; the GT was a bit over half an inch lower with stiffer shocks. Inside, contrasting stitching and two-tone sport seats were met with carbon-like and aluminum trim. But the real news was what made this car sing; under the hood was the 3.6 liter DOHC 24 valve narrow-angle VR6 rated at 280 horsepower and barking through that big exhaust. Shifts were handled solely by the DSG 6-speed dual-clutch box, meaning lightning-fast changes and a manual mode. While VW has seldom given you something for nothing, the Passat GT also rang in as one of the cheapest 6-cylinder cars you could buy last year – base price was $29,995, making it one of just three sub-$30,000 sixes on the market. But today, you can grab one a whole lot cheaper:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2018 Volkswagen Passat GT on eBay

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1990 Audi V8 quattro

If Alfa Romeo built a German car, it would be the V8 quattro.

First, it was hugely complicated. There were computers controlling everything, and in the great manner in which Audi and Volkswagen developed their late 1980s computer technology, it worked great until it didnt, at which point the car would be thoroughly incapacitated. One day driving my ’93 4.2, during a rain storm the convenience controller failed, opening all of the windows AND the sunroof and not allowing me to close them. Needless to say, it was less than convenient. Second, it hemorrhaged fluids. Were not talking a little bit, either full on Oh, Im sorry, did you want me to keep that $20 a liter worth of hydraulic fluid IN me? hemorrhaging. Oil, coolant, transmission fluidyou name it, if you could put it in, it would instantly come out. It tried to kill me, too. Not just once, either. See, that fluid loss resulted in a buildup of oil gunk. Where does the oil gunk build up, you ask? On the throttle. This normally isnt a problem, unless once in a while you opened the throttle. Then, it became a problem, as the throttle wouldnt close. Again, not a problem so much on a 4000 quattro with all 115 stampeding horses, but in the 93 V8 quattro, there were 2.5 times that amount 276 horsepower with even more torque launching my 3,900 pound missile down Route 195. Leaks presented themselves in other odd ways, too like, for example, when I got a self-imposed flat tire at a winter driving school. Out came the tools to jack the car up, no problem. However, when I went to retrieve the spare, a sad sight awaited me the trunk had leaked into the spare tire well apparently, resulting in the space saver spare being thoroughly embedded in 10 inches of tire well-shaped ice cube. In story generation alone, the V8 quattro was by far the Professor Emeritus of my car history. Thirdly, no one knew what it was when you went to get a part. Allow me to present a theoretical trip to the parts counter even at an Audi dealer

Parts Guy: Hi, what kind of car?
Me: Audi
PG: What model?
Me: V8
PG: No, not what engine, what model.
Me: V8
PG: They made a model named V8?
Me: Yes
PG: (turns to other Parts Guy) You ever hear of an Audi V8?
OPG: He probably means A8.
Me: No, the A8 is the model that replaced the V8.
(both look confused)
PG: Okay, what year?
Me: 1993
PG: Audi made cars in 1993?
Me: Yes. Not many.
PG: Okay, the computer tells me that your car doesnt exist.
Me: Its outside. Would you like to see it?
PG: No, maybe I can cross reference the part. What do you need?
Me: The transmission control unit.
PG:
PG: .. (turns to other PG and looks confused)
Other PG: Ah, you should probably just go to the dealer.

Fourth, when eventually you convinced someone who supplied parts for your non-existent car that it really was real, inevitably the part would be expensive. Really, really expensive. And, on backorder, or no longer available. It made repairs lengthy and always have at least one comma in the price estimate. That estimate was almost always below what it actually cost to get it running again, and when it did run again, inevitably there would be something still wrong that would need to be fixed on the next trip to the mechanic. And that was 15 years ago!

Yet, more than any car Ive previously owned, its the one Id want back.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Audi V8 quattro on eBay

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2013 Volkswagen CC VR6 4Motion Executive

Over the past year, there’s been quite a bit of buzz about the Volkswagen Arteon. These reviews tend to focus around two main points; that the Arteon is quite nice, and that the Arteon is quite expensive – at least, for a Volkswagen. The model starts at $35,000 and if you add a few options it’s not hard to crest $40,000. I did manage to find a SEL 4Motion under $40,000 but it has few options. The 2.0T is rated at 268 horsepower in base form, and you can select front- or all-wheel drive variants and a ton of tech as the price climbs, but initially they’ll all be offered only with an 8-speed ZF automatic. Although outwardly it looks a lot like an Audi A7, and indeed features the same hatchback configuration, like the previous few Passats and Passat CC it is based on the Golf MQB platform.

All this got me to thinking; is it really that radical a departure from the last CC?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2013 Volkswagen CC VR6 4Motion Executive on eBay

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1992 Opel Lotus Omega

“Youngtimers” have been popular in the automotive news segment over the past few months, as a greater appreciation for cars just turning “vintage” has set the market ablaze. Within that category, automotive collaborations between manufacturers in the 80s and 90s produced some of the most memorable and, consequently, the most sought creations today. There was the Yamaha-powered Taurus SHO, the Mercury Marine-powered Corvette ZR-1, the Porsche-built Mercedes-Benz 500E and Audi RS2, Lamborghini had a hand in the BMW M1, and of course there was the Cosworth-built….everything, from Escorts to 190Es to Audi RS4s and RS6s. But one of the hottest cars from the period was, undoubtedly, the Lotus-built, Corvette-gearboxed Opel Omega/Vaxhaull Carlton twins.

Lotus was majority-owned by General Motors in the early 1990s, which led in part to the “Handling by Lotus” Isuzu Imark and Impulse models. Lotus, in turn, got an engine for their small Elan from the Japanese manufacturer which worked in partnership with GM. But their best work was certainly their last joint venture before GM sold them off to Bugatti in 1993. For the Omega/Carlton, Lotus took the production 3.0 inline-6 and punched it out to 3.6 liters, while fiddling with the 24V head from the Carlton GSi. Then, they hooked it up to a 6-speed manual ZF borrowed from the General’s parts bin. Also borrowed was a limited-slip rear end from GM’s Australian division, Holden. Then, they slapped not one, but two turbochargers on it. Brakes were Group C units employed from AP Racing. The result? A crushing 370 plus horsepower and over 400 lb.ft of torque from the C36GET produced the fastest sedan in the world:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 Opel Lotus Omega on Classic Driver

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1990 Audi V8 quattro

From the dated underpinnings of the Type 44 chassis, Audi emerged in 1988 with an all-new 4-cam aluminum engine that could be mated to an automatic transmission. Now, to most enthusiasts that probably sounds like a bad idea. But when it came to selling car – especially expensive luxury cars – the overwhelming majority of buyers wanted the car to do most of the heavy lifting. Audi’s response was the next generation of quattro drivetrains with a series of clutches in the center differential that helped to transfer power and allowed the car to be mated to an automatic transmission. That transmission – the ZF 4HP24A – was a derivative of the 4HP24, the same automatic found in the V12-equipped BMW 750 and 850s. Like the Mercedes-Benz, Audi employed Bosch ABS and a locking rear differential. But unlike other Audis with their manual- or electronic-locking rear differential, the V8 quattro used a Torsen rear differential with helical gears which would automatically split torque in up to a 3:1 ratio to the wheel with grip. Coupled with a more rearward weight bias with the shorter V8 and the gutsy torque on offer throughout the rev range, though much of the car was borrowed from the rest of the lineup it took on an entirely different character. That was matched with new, updated bodywork outside and a wider stance with flared arches. The effect? Magical. And, complicated.

But the V8 quattro wasn’t only about its unique new form of all-wheel drive. The moniker obviously indicated there had been a change in motivation, too, and indeed the V8 launched a new all-aluminum 4 cam, 32 valve V8 displacing 3.6 liters dubbed the PT. Rated at 240 horsepower and 254 lb.ft of torque, it was the most powerful Audi for sale in the late 1980s and brought the brand to a luxury level it had previously not competed at. In the U.S., these mega-Audis were met with mixed success. The 1990 launch of the V8 resulted in reasonably good sales; Audi sold 2,823 between late 1989 and the end of 1990 which represented over 10% of their yearly sales. Values in the used market plummeted after timing belt fiascos on early cars and the general recession of the early 90s, along with the ’92 launch of the turbocharged, manual and later Avant-equipped S4/S6 twins. Today, we it’s a bit of a treat to see a clean V8 quattro, and this looks to be one of the better examples out there for sale:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Audi V8 quattro on Bend Oregon Craigslist

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1994 Porsche 911 Turbo 3.6 with 6,350 Miles

As I discussed in the ’91 911 Turbo post, while Porsche claimed that a fair amount (85%!) of the “new” Turbo was “new”, in reality it was an evolution of the ’89 Turbo wrapped in a smoother package. However, as our reader Howard pointed out in the comments, one very important change outside of the look was the suspension, which moved away from wooden carts the antiquated torsion bar setup to ‘modern’ coil springs. Coupled with the new limited-slip differential, anti-lock brakes and more sophisticated engine management (hence, smoother power delivery), the ’91 Turbo was a lot more livable in day-to-day situations.

Of course, that meant that it was possible to introduce even more power. Since the ’91 Turbo was a replacement for the defunct 965/969 V8 project, it made sense that Porsche hadn’t developed a new Turbo motor for the initial 964 Turbo launch. But for 1993, Porsche took the 964’s 3.6 liter and mated it with the turbocharger from the 3.3. The result was, of course, the Turbo 3.6. The extra displacement meant power was up 40 to 360 and torque 52 to 384 lb.ft, while both numbers were achieved lower in the rev range. To show off this new-found power, Porsche installed some fantastic Speedline-made Cup wheels and discrete “3.6” badging after the Turbo script. Despite the relative undercover looks, these are sought cars.

Today’s car is listed as one of the 288 Turbo 3.6s imported in ’94, and with a scant 6,350 miles on the odometer you know the price will be high. How high?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 Porsche 911 Turbo S 3.6 ‘Package’ on eBay

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1995 Mercedes-Benz C36 AMG

Last week I checked out an interesting Mercedes-Benz C36 AMG that needed some help up for sale in Canada. It seems like no one wanted to give a helping hand for this car as it ended with no bids even at it’s reasonable $2,500 US starting price. Today, I ran across another C36 AMG up for sale in Canada although this one has a much different story. This 1995 is actually a Japanese-spec car that has a few little touches that set it apart from the North American-spec cars. Unlike last week’s example, this one isn’t a basket case that needs thousands of dollars to make it presentable again. In fact, it is actually pretty clean.  The price? Not all that bad in my eyes.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 Mercedes-Benz C36 AMG on eBay

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Roll the dice: 1997 Mercedes-Benz C36 AMG

The W202 Mercedes-Benz C36 AMG has gone from being a neat little footnote in Mercedes-Benz and AMG history as being the first post-acquisition AMG car to a car that collectors are now seeking out to add them to their stable. They aren’t at the level of the 190E 2.3-16v, nor do I think they will ever be, but the demand has definitely picked up over the past year or two. Because of these cars being unloved and overlooked for as many years as they were, lots of them fell into the hands of people who used and abused them then moved on to the next cheap car. At the end of the day, this is still a W202, so its tenancy to rust is always a major issue as well as some other things that plague the chassis such as the tendency for head gasket in the M104 engine to leak oil from the back of the head. Sadly, this 1997 C36 up for sale in Canada, seems to suffer from both of these mentioned things. Although if you do the math on the purchase price plus potential repair costs, maybe you could come out ahead and have yourself a really cool car that the value is slowly rising on.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1997 Mercedes-Benz C36 AMG on eBay

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