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Tag: Audi D2

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Audi Oddity Project: 1997 Audi A8 3.7

The V8 quattro was notoriously innovative. It was also quite complicated (read: expensive) and therefore painfully slow selling. At a time when all European imports were suffering from the global recession, the range-topping V8 busted budgets. Introduced for the 1990 model year in the U.S., the launch year was really the only marginally successful one; just shy of 3,000 were sold between 1989 and 1990. However, even light revisions in 1991 and a major engine upgrade to 4.2 liters failed to bring buyers to dealerships. Audi sold 527 1991s, 270 1992s, 170 ’93s and a scant 78 ’94s. Statistically speaking, you’re about as likely to run across a 4.2 V8 quattro on the road as you are a BMW M1.

By 1994 there was no denying that the Type 44-derived D11 chassis was quite old. Audi admitted that itself with the big splash of their new ASF concept in 1994 – a thoroughly modern large executive again full of innovation, this time with its extensive use of aluminum. Audi brought that design to market largely unchanged in the all-new D2 A8 range. And to help keep costs in check, while the V8 quattro had only been available in one configuration each model year, Audi introduced options in the A8 range. The one that got the headlines was Audi’s signature all-aluminum 4.2 V8 mated to the all-wheel drive quattro drivetrain. But if you wanted range-topping looks and didn’t need the sure-footed nature of the quattro system, you could briefly opt out.

That’s because Audi launched a FronTrak (front-wheel drive) A8 model. Instead of the larger 4.2 model, motivation was provided by destroked 3.7-liter unit. Rated at 230 horsepower and matched only to the 5-speed automatic Tiptronic and weighing the best part of 4,000 lbs., it was pretty underwhelming in just about every respect. 0-60 was a leisurely 8.3 seconds, and despite the decrease in power, the 3.7 was no less thirsty than the 4.2. While it did save you about $7,500 ($56,900 v. $64,500 base price for the 4.2) it was no surprise, then, that the bulk of Audi’s deep-pocketed fanbase chose the 4.2 quattro model, and the base 3.7 was dropped in the 2000 model year in favor of the long-wheelbase model. Early A8s are hard to find – Audi sold only about 6,000 over three model years before the refresh. But 3.7s have become a bit of an oddity that are almost never seen:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1997 Audi A8 3.7 on eBay


Class of ’23: 1998 Audi S8 6-Speed

Now that we’re into 2023, we can consider what new cars can come into the country. For me, that last few years has been spent pondering pre-facelift Audi S8s. Although we got the S8 here in “plus” form between 2001 and 2003, and it’s still one of my favorites, there’s some allure about the 1996-2000 cars in Europe. Why? Well, that was the model used in 1998’s Ronin and, for many, our first introduction to the model that at that time was not available here. The styling is slightly more subdued, as well – there’s less chrome, and especially in silver, the design closely resembles the polished-aluminum Audi ASF concept. In fact, it’s nearly identical. Under the hood was a development of the ABH (V8 quattro and C4 S4 V8), ABZ (A8), and AHK (C4 S6 Plus) 32-valve 4.2-liter V8. The AHC/AKH was utilized in the first S8s and cranked out 335 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque; down slightly on the “plus” 40v version in the US market, but still plenty. But there’s one more special reason to look at European-market S8s – the transmission.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 Audi S8 on