1990 Audi Coupe Quattro

With only around 1,700 imported over 30 years ago, your odds running across an Audi Coupe Quattro any day of the week are…well, exceedingly low. With a sweet 7A 20V inline-5 under the hood, robust build quality, just enough creature comforts, and Audi’s legendary quattro all-wheel-drive system underneath you, there’s a lot to like if you do find one. I took a look at a nice example back in December:

1990 Audi Coupe Quattro

It was not for the faint of heart, with bidding in the mid-teens. Today’s example is a bit more affordable, if you’re looking for one of these:

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1990 Audi Coupe Quattro

There were a lot of reasons to be skeptical about the most recent B3 Coupe Quattro I posted:

1990 Audi Coupe Quattro

In fairness, though, they were nice cars and quite competent, and though they’re not my personal favorite Audi, they have quite a few fans for a good reason. I felt we needed to resurrect our respect for the model, and wouldn’t you know that a worthy example turned up right away?

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1990 Audi Coupe Quattro

“It’s a great car, but it’s a pain in the a**.”

This is a phrase that summarizes many different makes and models, for which the owners toil countless hours over labors of love only to have a car that (effectively) only they themselves are really interested in. Sure, you might think it’s cool too, and maybe you want to drive it, or take a picture with it. But do you really want to own it?

In the case of the Audi Coupe Quattro, the answer is probably no. At least that’s true for the bulk of them. Listen, I’m a huge Audi fan. And I have owned my fair share of them, too. But easy-to-live-with they are not. We make all sorts of excuses for how wonderful they are, and certainly you can make them very fun. But the reality is that most older examples were forlorn for at least some period of time, most have lived a pretty hard life, and most will leave you cursing the “Audi Gods” with frozen bolts, NLA parts, and a complete lack of functional equipment.

Now that I’ve really sold the Audi experience, let’s take a look at today’s subject:

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1991 Audi Coupe Quattro

It hasn’t been all that long since I looked at a 7A-powered 90 or, for that matter, a very clean Coupe Quattro:

1990 Audi Coupe Quattro

However, today’s car – while broadly similar to that Coupe above, is definitely worth a closer look. That’s because it has a scant 27,000 miles on the clock. How is that even possible?

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1991 Audi 90 quattro 20V

I’ve owned Audis of all sorts, but the B3/4 chassis has so far eluded me. It’s not that I haven’t come close, though. My first experience with a B3 was at one of my first jobs. One of the delivery men had bought a brand-new 1990 Coupe Quattro. It was a mess, though it was only 6 years old at that point. I offered to clean it for him, and thus was born my first drive with the 7A. It started up and sounded just like my 4000CS quattro, and if I’m brutally honest, below 3,000 rpms you couldn’t tell any difference between the two in performance. But keep your foot buried in the loud pedal and the DOHC 2.3 inline-5 began to sing, eagerly heading for the redline at every prodding. The fit, finish and luxury of the Coupe made me envious of the time; though my Audi was only four years older, it might as well have been five times that. Such was the jump from the B2 to the B3. Soon after I met another Audi fanatic who had a string of Lago Coupes I would often drool over.

My later encounter came much closer to actual ownership. I met a friend in England during grad school and we quickly bonded over Audis. It turned out that back in his hometown in Canada, he, too, had an Audi waiting. It was a graphite 1990 90 quattro 20V. And, after some time, he asked me if I wanted to buy it. When I got home I pursued this prospect since I had sold the 4000 to leave for England. Long story short, when the photos arrived of the car, it was quite a bit more crusty underneath than I was hoping. His price was reasonable, but then for about the same ask a 1993 4.2 V8 quattro came up for sale locally, and the rest was history for me.

The B3 20V has never left my thoughts, though I haven’t gotten any closer to owning one. The Coupe and its 90 quattro 20V brother each have their devoted fanbase, yet they’re remarkably different cars both in how they look and who wants to own each. Both are fairly rare, with around 1,500 Coupes and roughly 1,000 90s imported with the 7A originally – and, in all honesty, probably only a fraction of that number remain today. This week a clean example of Pearlescent White Metallic 90 popped up, and it’s worth a look:

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1990 Audi Coupe Quattro

Nomenclature has been something Audi fans have struggled with, but to be fair the naming scheme from Ingolstadt hasn’t always been particularly straightforward. For example, though ubiquitous as the Coupe GT, there was actually a trim and performance difference between B2 front-drive Coupes and Coupe GTs. Similarly, though U.S. fans often fair to recognize it, the B3 Coupe Quattro was actually the second generation with the name; Europeans enjoyed the option of having a non-turbocharged, non-flared version of the B2 platform which few but the most dedicated U.S. Audi Coupe fans are aware of. Then there’s the name – properly, a capitalized Quattro refers to the aforementioned legend – the model that launched the branding of Audi’s all-wheel drive system. Every subsequent model that followed properly has a lowercase “q” if it sported the optional all-wheel drive. That even goes for models that were only offered in all-wheel drive, such as the V8 quattro. That is, except for the Coupe Quattro, which Audi insisted should also be capitalized. So confusing is the naming scheme that fans have taken to using “Ur” to refer to the Quattro (though proper capitalization would take care of the problem) for not only the original model, but the C4 S4/S6 and I’ve even been seeing it used for TTs, A4s and a few others. It also means that every time one comes up for sale and someone slaps ‘Ur’ in front of it, someone else has to ask what ‘Ur’ means.

But the B3 and B4 Coupe wasn’t just offered in all-wheel drive; there were a long line of optional engines in the Coupe in both two and four wheel drive. However it only came to the U.S. in one configuration – the under-appreciated 7A inline-5 20V motor pushing all four wheels. The B3 ran the second generation of quattro, with the center differential controlled by a Torsen unit and the rear open with an optional, speed limited locking unit. It upped the safety and electronic options to respond to market demands. They were heavy with electronic features including power seats, and passengers enjoyed the confusing safety net known as PROCON-10 – essentially, a series of cables which pre-tensioned seatbelts in the event of a crash. Though the production run of U.S. Coupes was brief at only 2 years and roughly 1700 units, there were many changes over that time. The motor changed ISV valves and computers as well as swapping from a tubular header to a cast iron unit. Shortly into production, airbags became standard on both the Coupe and sedan models. A rear swaybar was added, along with changes to the hydraulic system. All of these went relatively unseen to consumers, making the only notable change the addition of a glass sunroof to 1991 models. For the most part, these cars came fully loaded with the only options being Pearlescent White Metallic paint and power heated seats, unlike the sedan which despite being fewer in number has much more variety in options.

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1991 Audi Coupe Quattro

For some time, the B3 Audi Coupe Quattro enjoyed a coveted place in the lineup, and many enthusiasts still consider them the high point of Audi design. However, in the market place their star has fallen slightly as newer and faster cars have become more affordable. While for some time a solid example would have cost you well north of $6,000, these low production all-wheel drive hatchbacks seem to have fallen on harder times recently, with the pool of remaining candidates dwindling and most coming to market with heavy needs. They have a reputation for being slow compared to the competition the result of being relatively heavy rather than lacking in the motor department. The 7A inline-5 20V motor is a true gem, and on the fly these Coupes are quite entertaining to drive. Of course, as with most of the Audi quattros, turbo conversions are popular and the possibilities are near limitless.

The B3 chassis also upped the electronic quotient for the driver compared to the relatively simple B2s. Electronic fuel injection, electronically locking (and automatically disengaging) rear differential, a Torsen center differential, electric seats and automatic climate control moved the B3 upscale from the B2, along with added safety features. Next year the first of these Coupes turn 30 years old an age that qualifies them as being antique in most states. Audi only sold a reported 1,730 of these Coupes between 1990 and 1991 model years, and the best (and probably optimistic) estimates put only about 75% of those still on the road today. Options on the Coupe were limited to the Cold Weather package, 8-way power seats and Pearlescent White Metallic paint two of which are seen here on this 91. 91s also had the upgraded glass moonroof rather than the early steel panel, though they lost the infamous Bag of Snakes tubular header early models carried. 91s also gained rear sway bars and are the rarest of the bunch, with only 364 sold in the model year and a further 58 traded as leftovers. Like the original, finding a good one is key and difficult:

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1986 Audi Coupe GT 20V

This Audi Coupe GT 20V sold for $11,900.

Yesterday’s Jade Green ’74 911 Coupe was for me a ‘Greatest Hits’ example. It was a great color on a great classic, with great wheels, great flares, a great interior and great graphics. While I’m certain it wasn’t for everyone, the 911 market of today means that whatever genre your particular greatest hits are composed of you’ll probably find what you’re looking for.

The same cannot be said for Audi, especially when it comes to 1980s examples. Yet here, today, we have what I would consider to be a pretty good attempt to make the greatest Coupe GT. First off, there are some who like the early Coupe or Coupe GT models, but as I’ve had a string of them my heart beats to the later ’85-up chassis. Couple the better looks with improved European headlights and you’re starting off well. Make it one of the better colors for the GT – Alpine White L90E – and things are still great. Inside, the best interior to match that outside was the limited edition Commemorative Design “Mouton” red leather. You’ll want the Nardi leather wheel to hold on to. Kick the wheels up a few notches to really make the GT look more purposeful, and while you’re there, lower the ride height too.

But it’s the go that really separates this GT. The stock KX is hard to develop, between the lack of parts, the CIS fuel injection, and the lack of parts. Did I mention the lack of parts? You can go the cam route and do a bunch of other goodies and once it’s all done, you’ll come out the other side with maybe as much power as the later 2.3 NG. Maybe. But since the GT is a one-wheel drive wonder, you won’t want to overdo the power department. The solution is the short-lived 7A 2.3 20V DOHC motor found in the 1990-1991 90 quattro 20V and Coupe Quattro. Match the 164 horsepower, 7,200 RPM screamer to the 600 lb lighter chassis of the GT and suddenly you’ve got quite a stunner. And why not throw in some period graphics, too?

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Type 89 20Vs: 1990 Audi 90 quattro 20V and Coupe Quattro

Update 10/24/18: After being listed as sold, the Coupe Quattro was resold in a no reserve auction format at $3,500.

Update 9/26/18: The 90 quattro 20V sold for $2,600, and the Coupe Quattro sold for $4,249

I’ve owned Audis of all sorts, but the B3/4 chassis has so far eluded me. It’s not that I haven’t come close, though. My first experience with a B3 was at one of my first jobs. One of the delivery men had bought a brand-new 1990 Coupe Quattro. It was a mess, though it was only 6 years old at that point. I offered to clean it for him, and thus was born my first drive with the 7A. It started up and sounded just like my 4000CS quattro, and if I’m brutally honest, below 3,000 rpms you couldn’t tell any difference between the two in performance. But keep your foot buried in the loud pedal and the DOHC 2.3 inline-5 began to sing, eagerly heading for the redline at every prodding. The fit, finish and luxury of the Coupe made me envious of the time; though my Audi was only four years older, it might as well have been five times that. Such was the jump from the B2 to the B3. Soon after I met another Audi fanatic who had a string of Lago Coupes I would often drool over.

My later encounter came much closer to actual ownership. I met a friend in England during grad school and we quickly bonded over Audis. It turned out that back in his hometown in Canada, he, too, had an Audi waiting. It was a graphite 1990 90 quattro 20V. And, after some time, he asked me if I wanted to buy it. When I got home I pursued this prospect since I had sold the 4000 to leave for England. Long story short, when the photos arrived of the car, it was quite a bit more crusty underneath than I was hoping. His price was reasonable, but then for about the same ask a 1993 4.2 V8 quattro came up for sale locally, and the rest was history for me.

The B3 20V has never left my thoughts, though I haven’t gotten any closer to owning one. The Coupe and its 90 quattro 20V brother each have their devoted fanbase, yet they’re remarkably different cars both in how they look and who wants to own each. Both are fairly rare, with around 1,500 Coupes and roughly 1,000 90s imported with the 7A originally – and, in all honesty, probably only a fraction of that number remain today. But surprisingly I found two examples of Pearlescent White Metallic to compare:

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1991 Audi Coupe Quattro

Update 7/15/17: Due to lack of payment, this Coupe Quattro has been relisted, again with a no reserve auction format.

Time to consider another Audi icon – the Coupe Quattro. Of course, it was quite hard to follow the original act, but in Europe alongside the RR Quattro 20V was the all-new B3 generation S2. Performance was about par between them, but they had intensely different character. The new car was safer, more quiet, more round, and a lot more practical. For while the original Quattro had always looked like it had a hatchback, it was the successor that actually had one.

Of course, in the U.S. we didn’t receive the S2. The Coupe Quattro made due with a thoroughly upgraded 2.3 liter DOHC 20V motor – the 7A. Deep in the middle of the recession and not fully recovered from Audi’s 60 Minutes debacle, the very expensive Coupe Quattro sold slowly. A total of approximately 1,700 of them were imported at over $30,000 each. Considering the cost, the performance was rather soft; the heavy Coupe sported only 164 horsepower and though it was smooth and reasonably quick on the highway, off the line performance was lackluster at best. Still, though the internet fora would have you believe otherwise, performance between the U.S. spec Coupe and original Quattro was pretty similar.

Options on the Coupe were limited to the Cold Weather package, 8-way power seats and Pearlescent White Metallic paint – all seen here on this ’91. ’91s also had the upgraded glass moonroof rather than the early steel panel, though they lost the infamous “Bag of Snakes” tubular header early models carried. ’91s also gained rear sway bars and are the rarest of the bunch, with only 364 sold in the model year and a further 58 traded as leftovers. Like the original, finding a good one is key – and difficult:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Audi Coupe Quattro on eBay

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