Wagon Week 10K Friday: Audimatic S For The People

It’s been a while since I wrote up a 10K Friday article; they take some time both in determining the thread, finding the car and then writing them all up. Sometimes all it takes is a bit of inspiration though, and Wagon Week was just that for me. While we’ve covered many of the most popular fast and practical wagons this week, again I’m going to do a bit of an unusual comparison to cover some unloved models that are potential deals: automatic Audi S Avants. So, in today’s comparison we have a B5 S4, a B6 S4, a C5 S4 and to compare values a C4 S6 (the only row-your-own here). Which is the right choice for a fast Audi wagon?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Audi S4 Avant on Craigslist

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Double Take: 2002 Audi S6 Avant

Amongst unappreciated Audis, the C5 S6 seems to be pretty high on the snub list for enthusiasts. Complaints that they were overly complicated and underwhelming were understandable in some regards as the C5 S6 only came in Avant and automatic form to the U.S.. Indeed, at the same time as the S6 was offered, you could get a twin-turbocharged Allroad 6-speed for a bit less money than the S6. Since it was effectively the same car with a manual and height-adjustable suspension, one would wonder why Audi would offer the S6 at all. However, compared to some other Audis of the same vintage, the S6 holds some advantages. To lighten the porky C5 up slightly, the S6 featured some aluminum body bits up front. Unlike the previous turbocharged inline-5, power came from a capable V8 – rated at 340 horsepower, it was effectively the same motor shared with the S8 and nearly 100 horsepower more than the V6. The S6 also got a special and unique version of the Ronal-made Avus wheel at 17″x8″, instead of the 17″x7.5″ on the B5 S4. Inside the S6 was much the same as the rest of the C5 lineup, though sport seats were standard as with the S8. However, for second or third-hand owners, the big advantages to the S6 are the steel suspension in place of the air-controlled suspension the Allroad featured – a complicated system that has proven failure prone. Additionally, the belt-driven V8 doesn’t have the same guide issues of the chain-driven later V8s in the S4 V8. True, you are still subjected to the transmission woes of this generation Audis – but properly cared for, even the weak-spot transmissions can go for some time. Today I have two examples of the S6 Avant; which is the one to buy?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Audi S6 Avant on eBay

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Future or Now? 1998 993 Carrera 4S v. 2007 997 Turbo

This past weekend I caught a bit of the Mecum Auction action, and I was pretty stunned to see a fairly new 993 Turbo in Arena Red come across the auction block. Generally, when newer metal comes across the block at these auctions, the commentators break to commercial sponsors and don’t really pay attention. But the 911 market is such that this particular 993 – which wasn’t perfect, mind you – hammered for around $170,000 not including fees. The surge in air-cooled prices is amazing, and it seems that there’s a scramble to buy what good examples are left while they’re still affordable. Two cars were sent our way by readers last week that got me thinking more about this; one was the 993 Carrera 4S that you see here from our reader John, and a 2005 996 Turbo S in Signal Green – reportedly 1 of 1 – from our reader Michael. I’ve talked before about how the 996 Turbo is a screaming performance deal right now, and this one-off Turbo S wasn’t too far from the price of the 993 Carrera 4S offered here.

Obviously, despite being very similar cars in many respects the two have very different markets. Those in the 993 market are looking for a rapidly appreciating classic; a well proportioned, ultimate development of the air-cooled days of Porsche when limited production numbers, over engineering and sublime driving experiences ruled the day. Those in the 996 market are looking for the most performance they can buy, and a twin-turbo, all-wheel drive 911 is truly a car that now can be used all year long while lighting your hair on fire every time you hit the loud pedal. Unfortunately, that Signal Green example disappeared before I could get this article up; what I found to replace it might even be more astounding – a 997 Turbo Sport Chrono with less than 40,000 miles on the clock. Nearly a decade separates these two cars and there’s a substantial performance gap as well; which would you choose?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S on eBay

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