You could be forgiven for thinking that the VAG 1.8 liter turbocharged motor was the go-to motor for the company in the late 90s and early 00s. It appeared nearly everywhere in the U.S.; the Golf, Jetta, GTI, GLI, Passat, Beetle, Audi A4, and Audi TT all received the forced-induction unit. And that was just in the U.S.; go to Europe, and you’d find many more models (the A6 and Sharan) and even other companies (VAG’s Skoda and SEAT) with the venerable motor. They were used in race series like Formula Palmer as well. You’d also be forgiven for thinking they were all the same – however, a pause for thought would tell you they couldn’t be. First off, there were the drive train configurations; the Golf-based variants have their engines mounted transversely, while the Audi A4-based cars have them longitudinally. Then there is the output that was available from the factory; the 1.8T started with 150 horsepower in the early 1990s and ended with 240 horsepower in the highest output TT Sport. The natural assumption would be to think they had just turned up the boost, but in fact there were a host of changes to the higher horsepower motors to help sustain the increased pressure.
There are, in fact, no less than 13 distinct versions of the 1.8T from that generation. All shared the same basic structure; cast iron block, 20 valve head with a single turbocharger; but details including injection, crank, computers and engine management and breather systems vary in between each of the models. The Audi TT was the only one to offer various engine outputs here; available in either 180 horsepower or 225 horsepower versions, the later of which was pared with a 6-speed manual and Haldex viscous-coupling all-wheel drive. Though heavy, they were nonetheless sprightly thanks to the turbocharged mill. I’ve said for some time now that I think these will eventually be more collectable as they were an important part of the development of the company, yet few remain in good shape. Were I going to get one, I’d opt for one of the 2002 special edition coupes; the ALMS edition, launched to celebrate the American Le Mans Series victory by Audi’s R8 race car. Available in two colors, Misano Red with extended Silver Nappa leather or Avus Silver Pearl with Brilliant Red Nappa leather, they were mostly an appearance package but also received special 18″ ‘Celebration’ alloys and were limited to 500 examples each:
If the minor nomenclature differences between what constitutes a BMW with sport items, a Sport model, and a M-Sport model can be confusing, the ordering of model designation in Audi’s TT lineup is downright infuriating. Technically, I think the correct order for the model is as shown above – Audi TT Coupe 225 quattro ALMS Edition.
And here’s the trick. First you needed to differentiate if you ordered a Coupe or Roadster. In 2002, you could get a front-drive coupe with the 180 horsepower engine, and you could also get the 180 horsepower motor with optional Haldex quattro all-wheel drive. But if you selected a Roadster, you couldn’t get a 180 quattro. Now, if you went for the upgraded 225 horsepower motor, you automatically got quattro – there was no front-drive option. That makes the “quattro” moniker after any 225 model redundant. Even more redundant in this case is the “Coupe” moniker, because if you opted for the ALMS appearance package in the 2002 model year, the hardtop was your only choice. So if you referred to this as a TT ALMS – as many do – the rest would follow – you’ve got by default a 6-speed manual 225 horsepower quattro Coupe. For many, this makes the ALMS one of the most desirable 8N TTs, and the limited run of 1,000 examples in either Misano Red Pearl with Silver Gray Nappa leather or, as show here Avus Silver Pearl with contrasting Brilliant Red Leather tends to command a premium over other examples of the first-gen Golf-based model:
I watched this past weekend’s Le Mans with diminished interest compared to the past few years. The loss of the great champion Audi narrowed the likelihood of overall victory to a two-horse race. And within that duo was one horse who, if it didn’t have bad luck, would have no luck at all. To be honest, I was rooting for Toyota to finally come good on their promise of the (gasp) last 30 years of racing at Le Mans.
Of course, the curse of Toyota struck once again and with a vengeance, leaving Porsche to smirk in their pits until an equal fate befell them. It would have been Audi’s year, almost for certain, had some engineers not decided to push the limits of diesel technology.
It brought me back to the golden era of Audi’s dominance; the early R8 period, when the cars seemed unstoppable in endurance racing. So successful was the company in making the leap to Le Mans that they generated a special model just to celebrate; two alternate color options for the 2002 Audi TT 225 Coupe. All were laoded manual quattro coupes only in 225 horsepower form; the only choice you had was whether you wanted Misano Red Pearl Effect with Silver Gray Nappa leather interior or Avus Silver Pearl Effect with Brilliant Red leather. As like the rest of the S-Line models of this period, the TT also got a special set of “Celebration” alloy wheels inspired by the RS4 design. Lastly, you got a commemorative sticker and a membership to the Automobile Club de L’Oeust for a year.
While no performance gains were to be had, these smart looking 8Ns are still among the more favored examples of the first generation TT – and this one might be the best out there.
A truism of motorsport is that to make a small fortune in racing you need to start with a large fortune. Building race cars is very expensive; strange, considering that there is much less of them when you’re done than the road car that was started with. If, for example, you wanted to go racing in the GT3 class, the ostensible car to get would be the multi-class winning Porsche GT3R. Smart choice. Now, fork over your half a million hard-earned trust fund dollars, since before you turn a key the GT3R stickers at 429,000 Euros plus taxes. Run a race weekend, and presuming you don’t crash or have a mechanical, you’ll be several tens of thousands of dollars more in the hole, since race cars consume consumables at an alarming rate. Tires, brake pads, clutches – you name it, it’s expensive if it’s top-tier racing goods. And then come the realities that after a staggeringly short amount of time, you need to completely rebuild your race car. According to the Census Bureau, the average American spends 50 minutes a day commuting in their car. In race car terms, that would mean that after a little over a month you’d have to completely rebuild your car. Nuts, right?
But you still want to do it. Okay, a much more affordable way to go really, really fast is to buy a last generation car. Just past the current vogue, they tend to be considerably more friendly on the wallet. Yet, top tier cars are still very, very expensive to run. Perhaps, then, a smarter choice would be to look at a car based upon more pedestrian internals:
BMW AG Motorsport ALMS car # 003 is up for sale and comes race ready with a fresh spare engine.
This ex Tommy Milner PTG Racing car is a chance for a turnkey factory BMW racer.
This M3 currently has a 450 horsepower P50B32 stroked to 3.4 liters by PTG. Power is routed through a 6 speed sequential racing gearbox.
Also included with the car is a brand new factory P54B32 3.2 liter good for 420 horsepower. The seller, Scottsdale Motorsport also says they can upgrade the car to a P65B44 V8 with 530 horsepower if you so desired.
These factory cars are pretty sweet because they are purpose built, engines included. These inline six models were the predecessors to the E46 V8 powered GTR racers.
The car is pretty rare. Unfortunately the pricing puts it out of reach for many, the ask price is $348,000. You can go racing in an E46 M3 for a lot less than that, but you aren’t going to have a car so well setup or the genuine BMW, real deal, race engine. The seller says they will knock $69,000 off the price if you decide you don’t want the brand new spare engine. That gives you an idea of the level of race car you are dealing with. ALMS level competitive cars aren’t your backyard mechanic stripped down used E46 M3 with an exhaust tacked on.
Though the car isn’t that new, heck it is eligible for some historic racing, I suspect that for this type of car a new owner would want to put it through some pretty competitive racing. If historic racing is your thing feel free to bring this over to Watkins Glen for one of the events, I’m willing to help a new owner take it around the track. : )
The seller has recent video of the car starting up and I’m sure you can find older video of it at speed.
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