Back when I bought my first Audi, there were two five doors available in the US; the A6 Avant and the S6 Avant. Other markets had more options, its true, but it’s also not like the cup overfloweth. Today? The story has changed. Right now, Audi markets 15 different five door models. FIFTEEN. How is that possible? Well, you’ve got seemingly infinite variants of just a few chassis underpinnings, that’s how. There’s the Q3, Q5, the ‘slinkier’ Q5 Sportback, then the S versions of both of those, the Q7 and SQ7, the Q8, SQ8, and RS Q8, the e-tron, the e-tron Sportback, both A4 and A6 allroads, and finally, the RS6 Avant. Wow, how times have changed!
Today I’m going to look at two of Audi’s most expensive products outside of the R8. Both share a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8, an 8-speed automatic, around 600 horsepower, sub-4-second 0-60 times, ‘track-tuned’ ability, and $110,000 plus starting prices. But what if you just can’t wait to get down to your dealership?
As I mentioned in the last listing, Europe got some really interesting options in the C4 S4/S6 that I’d probably be looking at were I importing one. On top of that, most of the C4 range is relatively cheap compared to both other vintage Audis and the prices they achieve in the US market. For reference, here’s the last example:
1995 Audi S6 Avant Euro-Spec
Now before you get all excited and say that I forgot a very important addition symbol on the end of the title here, this one isn’t a Plus. But, it sure looks like it is! Finished in RS Blue over matching Alcantara, what we have here is a right-hand drive S6 Avant 20V Turbo with a few nice upgrades. We’re still a year away from being legally able to import late C4s like this, but what will it cost?
From the dated underpinnings of the Type 44 chassis, Audi emerged in 1988 with an all-new 4-cam aluminum engine that could be mated to an automatic transmission. Now, to most enthusiasts that probably sounds like a bad idea. But when it came to selling car – especially expensive luxury cars – the overwhelming majority of buyers wanted the car to do most of the heavy lifting. Audi’s response was the next generation of quattro drivetrains with a series of clutches in the center differential that helped to transfer power and allowed the car to be mated to an automatic transmission. That transmission – the ZF 4HP24A – was a derivative of the 4HP24, the same automatic found in the V12-equipped BMW 750 and 850s. Like the Mercedes-Benz, Audi employed Bosch ABS and a locking rear differential. But unlike other Audis with their manual- or electronic-locking rear differential, the V8 quattro used a Torsen rear differential with helical gears which would automatically split torque in up to a 3:1 ratio to the wheel with grip. Coupled with a more rearward weight bias with the shorter V8 and the gutsy torque on offer throughout the rev range, though much of the car was borrowed from the rest of the lineup it took on an entirely different character. That was matched with new, updated bodywork outside and a wider stance with flared arches. The effect? Magical. And, complicated.
But the V8 quattro wasn’t only about its unique new form of all-wheel drive. The moniker obviously indicated there had been a change in motivation, too, and indeed the V8 launched a new all-aluminum 4 cam, 32 valve V8 displacing 3.6 liters dubbed the PT. Rated at 240 horsepower and 254 lb.ft of torque, it was the most powerful Audi for sale in the late 1980s and brought the brand to a luxury level it had previously not competed at. In the U.S., these mega-Audis were met with mixed success. The 1990 launch of the V8 resulted in reasonably good sales; Audi sold 2,823 between late 1989 and the end of 1990 which represented over 10% of their yearly sales. Values in the used market plummeted after timing belt fiascos on early cars and the general recession of the early 90s, along with the ’92 launch of the turbocharged, manual and later Avant-equipped S4/S6 twins. Today, it’s a bit of a treat to see a clean V8 quattro, and this looks to be one of the better examples out there for sale:
Ahhhhh, the 80s. Tuners in the 80s were pushing the limits of their crafts, redefining performance and styling with cutting-edge technology. Of course, when I say ‘cutting edge’, I literally mean cutting. Take Walter Treser, for example. He not only lopped the top off of a Quattro to create his ‘Roadster’, but he also had at the roofline of the Type 44 to create the hatchback ‘Liner’ model. While Audi was busy sawing Quattros in half and removing about a foot to create their Sport Quattro, Treser went in a different direction. As in, the complete opposite. Apparently not satisfied that the Roadster and Liner were crazy enough, Treser chopped a 200 clean in half, stitched 12.6 inches into the middle of it, and created the ‘Largo’. I presume that the pronunciation is akin to the current President’s (for today, anyway) residence of choice, but all I can see is “Large-Oh”. And large it is. Audi themselves would later create their own Lang version of the V8, but Treser’s version appeared over half a decade earlier. To say they are rare is an understatement of…well, long proportions. But one can by yours today in Florida, if you’re up for a project:
While the move from the B2 to B3 chassis brought many changes to the small Audi lineup, it was also very much a case of ‘meet the new boss, same as the old boss’. Some of the features of the 4000 were gone; you could no longer opt to lock the center differential, for example, since the manual locker had been replaced by a more sophisticated Torsen unit. You could still opt to engage a rear differential lock, but electronics overrode that at 15 m.p.h.. That change was indicative of movement in the marketplace and where the B3 was aimed – slightly more upscale from the B2. Interior quality was greater, safety took priority, and production was broken into two categories as it had been in Europe for the B2. Selecting the top-range 90 quattro got you nicer BBS wheels, color matched bumpers and mirrors, a sportier raised spoiler, a better leather interior and wood trim. The downscale 80 would channel more of the outgoing 4000, with a velour and plastic-heavy interior. They even opted to keep the same Ronal R8 wheels as the old model early on, and the subtle rear spoiler was a near copy of the B2.
The more basic 80 was closer in performance to the 4000, too – the luxury and safety items of the B3 meant more weight, and the 90 tipped the scales at nearly 3,000 lbs. Mechanically identical, the 80 quattro was about a hundred pounds lighter and anyone who has driven 80s normally aspirated Audis knows that 100 lbs. makes a difference in performance. Motivation for both was the same NG-code inline-5 that was seen in the last Coupe GT Special Build models, meaning 130 horsepower and 140 lb.ft of torque – smoothly adequate, but certainly never overwhelming. The 80 quattro enjoyed only a short run in the U.S., being available in the 1988-1990 model years and then re-introduced with some 90 quattro upgrades for the ’92 model year as a hold-over until the V6 B4 was ready for production. The de-contented 80 was a fair bit cheaper than its quite expensive brethren; while a Coupe Quattro would set you back over $30,000 with some options, select a basic 80 quattro and you could sneak out of the dealership for $23,000 – barely more than the ’87 Coupe GT retailed for. Later 80s got some upgrades; body-color bumpers and BBS wheels primarily, and a clean Alpine White example has turned up for sale.
My first real car was a B5 Audi A4 1.8t, which means everything related to the B5 RS4 was “it.” That was the holy grail and everything the B5 chassis aspired to be. It had all the little special touches and had just enough differences that made it far from just a B5 S4 Avant with more power. Even more, you are waiting until 2025 to even see one in the US outside of a few rare examples that made their way in. This was the car. Even now that these cars are 20 years-old, the want is still there and the prices reflect that. Today’s example, a 2001 finished in Goodwood Green, is checking all the boxes for me. Just four more years, right?
Update 12/26/20: This 200 20V quattro is back up with better photos!
By my account, I seem to have the market cornered on writing up Bamboo Metallic 1991 Audi 200 20V Avants. When today’s example popped up near me in Connecticut, I thought at first that it was the same as the last 200 20V Avant that I looked at in the Constitution State:
1991 Audi 200 20V quattro Avant
An easy mistake, given that 1) they were both in Connecticut b) they were the same color combination and both have Euro headlights and III) there were only 149 imported, so what are the odds?
But that wasn’t the only Bamboo Avant I’ve looked at:
1991 Audi 200 20V quattro Avant
Amazingly, that car also had European headlights, but there were enough differences to tell me that wasn’t today’s car either. So welcome to the third installment of my continuing series that I call ‘1991 Audi 200 20V quattro Avants in Bamboo over Travertine for sale‘. Surely it can’t go to a fourth episode?
The B8 A4 Avant is a pretty good looking car; but here in the US we were only offered the chassis in one figuration; the 2.0T quattro hooked to an automatic. Even when the “Allroad” returned to the lineup, it was really only an appearance package on the standard A4 with taller springs and larger sidewall tires. Considering the plethora of options that had been available on prior Audi wagons, it was an understandable disappointment.
Inspired by this, enthusiasts have sought to remedy the problem by combining the Avant’s platform with its sibling powertrain; this feels like ‘throwback’ tuning at its best! So here we have an ’09 A4 Avant that’s running the gear from a S4. Sweet! The thing is, it’s not quite complete…
For the US market, the last of the D2 Audi S8s were brought here as Audi Exclusive packages; 100 each of three color combinations, with one new color of Avus Silver Pearl Effect over burgundy leather and revised ‘Celebration’ wheels. For the European market, though, the last S8s got a different Audi Exclusive package. Dubbed the ‘Final Edition’, the car came with 20″ high-polish ‘Celebration’ wheels, Bose audio with a six-disc changer, bi-xenon headlights, an extended leather interior, and dark myrtle wood trim. Four colors were offered with four total interiors; Avus Silver Pearl Effect over either Brilliant Red or Mauve leather, Misano Red over Silver Grey leather, Aqua Blue over Morning Dew leather, or Ebony Black over Brilliant Red or Silver Gray leather. What we see here is the latter of those; a lower-mileage Final Edition in Ebony Black Pearl Effect over Silver Gray leather. It might not be the highest-spec car out there, but boy are these Final Editions impressive-looking!
I recently looked at a slightly baffling and oddly-named special edition of the R8 – the Decennium Edition:
2020 Audi R8 V10 Performance Decennium Edition
I noted that it had pretty striking performance and bold looks, and overall wasn’t a horrible deal if you liked the colors – which was a whole lotta black. To me, if I’m going to drop the pointy end of $200,000 on an Audi, though, I’d want a prettier color. Well, it turns out that probably to no one’s surprise, the Decennium Edition was not the only special R8 imported in 2020: