1987 Audi 5000S

Let’s go back to the beginning of Type 44 production today and take a look at this Audi 5000S. To me, this car represents just about the least appealing model in the lineup for 1987. No turbo, no quattro, automatic, Almond Beige Metallic – it really doesn’t get more yawn than this. “But it’s a ‘S’ model“, you say. Ah, but continuing on the theme of Audi’s unconventional naming strategy in the U.S., there was cleverly no non-S model for a few years – everyone got a participation trophy.

As it turns out, there were a lot of ‘everyone’. The new 5000, which started selling in the U.S. in 1984, was a massive success for Audi. In fact, it was far and away the most successful model they sold in the 1980s. And while we love to see turbos and quattro and manuals, it was specifically this car – gold Audi 5000S front-drive automatics – that sold in droves. Audi sold 48,057 5000s in 1985, for example. Only about 20% were Turbos. And the quattro model didn’t launch until very late in the year. Even when it did, they similarly never accounted for more than 20% of sales of the Type 44.

Still, ~40,000 doesn’t sound like a big number. But consider Audi sold a total of 26,000 other cars between the Coupe, Quattro and all 4000s the same year. And the 5000’s proliferation wasn’t just over one model year. From 1984 to 1988, Audi sold 171,494 Type 44s in the U.S. and was really only limited by the November 1986 airing of the 60 Minutes debacle. This ’87 is representative of how a majority were delivered, but is not indicative of the condition of most today:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Audi 5000S on eBay

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1987 Audi 5000S quattro

The 1987 and 1988 Audi 5000S quattro was an interesting model. It took the drivetrain, the wheels and brakes shared with the turbocharged CS model (CD in Canada) but married them with the more modest NF 130 horsepower 2.3 liter normally aspirated inline-5. They ran the standard 5000S headlights as well, single bulb 9004s which had about .5 candle power each when new. Seriously, the Amish have more light at night. Inside was not as luxurious as the CS/CD models, either, with manual seats and velour where there would usually be leather. These omissions helped to keep the price in check a bit as the 5000 in CS quattro form had gotten pretty expensive with a sticker price of $34,000 – $35,500 if you wanted the Avant. The lack of turbo and leather dropped these S quattro models to a much more reasonable $27,000. However, the performance of the 5000S quattro was pretty poor, though fuel economy was the same as the turbo models they made a reasonable highway cruiser. Like most Type 44s, they’re infrequently seen these days:

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Feature Listing – 1987 Porsche 944

Many will correctly credit cars like the Boxster and Cayenne for giving us the solvency of Porsche and the more exotic models we love to look at daily. But back up to the 1980s, and while SUVs were popular unless you bought a Geländewagen your 4-wheel drive truck wasn’t coming from the Vaterland. The 1980s were just seeing the reemergence of the convertible, too, and the popular roadster concepts from BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche were still a decade off (excusing the Z1, that is…). So how did Porsche manage to survive the 1980s? Well, they had some star power with the 928 and the 911 and 911 Turbo models were still popular, even if at the time everyone admitted they felt pretty ancient compared to the competition or even Porsche’s own lineup. No, what made Porsche successful in the 1980s was the 944. It’s hard to conceptualize how relatively successful it was, but especially considering the relatively high entry price and exclusivity of Porsche cars in general, it was positively a blockbuster. Porsche shifted a total of just over 113,000 944 models between 1982 and 1989, and nearly exactly half of them sold here in the United States. Today it’s not unusual to find a 944 still kicking around as a daily driver; solid build quality, reasonable fuel economy and relatively inexpensive repairs thanks to the more pedestrian inline-4 means that quite a few are still living today. Let’s also not forget that these were expensive and treasured items for many. Even so, few examples turn up for sale today in anywhere near the shape of this 1987 example at Sun Valley Autos:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Porsche 944 at Sun Valley Autos

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Beige-off: 1986 Volkswagen Quantum Wagon v. 1987 Audi 5000S Avant

One of the unintentionally funny quotes from Stephen King’s Pet Semetery was the haunting warning from the crusty old Jud Crandall; “Sometimes, dead is better“. Now, I know what you’re thinking – “What, Carter? You’re the biggest Audi/Volkswagen fanboy who writes in complete sentences on a daily basis! And now you want to suggest that these two classic VAG wagons shouldn’t have been buried in the Micmac Indian burial grounds?” Well, I wouldn’t go that far but it does seem that 1980s Audi and Volkswagen products of this ilk are resurrected from the underworld because we see them so infrequently. And for enthusiasts, inevitably they’re not quite the cars we wish had been saved. As a result, besides both being beige in color, these two wagons are completely beige in their totality. Neither was a top-spec car originally though they were both fairly expensive – the Volkswagen stickered at around $14,000 in 1986 without options, while the Audi was the best part of $22,000 base price in 1987. Both come with the long lived but rather forgettable KX-code 110 horsepower inline-5 engine, and both original buyers opted to pay an astonishing $1,000 extra (from memory, it’s been a while) for the dull-witted 3-speed automatic. And then, if that wasn’t enough, both buyers selected their respective marques’ beige tones in a celebration of their mediocrity. Yet here we are, nearly 30 years later, smiling just a bit to see both in overall very good shape. Who wins the “race to watch the paint dry” competition?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Audi 5000S Avant on eBay

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