1991 Audi 90 quattro 20V Turbo

Everyone talks a good game, but let’s be honest – few undertake the heavy lifting involved with a project car. I’ve certainly been guilty of it more than once, having had a Coupe GT racecar that I just couldn’t quite come up with the resources to get together. Then I was going to drop my spare Audi 4.2 V8 into a derelict 924 chassis that was kicking around. I still think that’s a good idea, but it has not occurred. And I’m not alone, judging by how often ‘project’ cars come up for sale.

One of the more prevalent dreams in the Audi swaps is to recreate what Europeans had the advantage of all along – 20V turbo power in the small chassis. While most take the Coupe Quattro route for their swap, some go the unusual route of choosing an 80 or 90 quattro. They’re not as popular for a few reasons – mostly, the sedan platform doesn’t look as neat to some, but another reason is that tire size is more limited on the sedan. But let’s not forget that Audi built about 300 S2 sedans themselves, so it’s not without precedent.

Today’s car has taken inspiration from that and done the heavy lifting for your project already. So is it the car for you?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Audi 90 quattro 20V Turbo on eBay

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1986 Volkswagen Quantum Syncro Wagon

The B2 Quantum has always been an interesting car to me. As my first car was an Audi 4000CS quattro, there were aspects of its Volkswagen sibling that I really liked. First, while I wouldn’t say that the Quantum was more handsome than the 4000, it was certainly more distinctive looking. There are some downright odd angles on the Quantum, but somehow the design pulls it off. It’s also more rare to see them, or at least it felt so when I was driving around in the 4000. Then there were more practical things; for example, unlike Audi who ran the odd 4×108 pattern for slightly larger brakes, the Quantum stuck to smaller stock and retained 4×100 mm wheels. That made upgrades a bit easier and gave the Quantum a signature look with the GTi-sourced snowflake wheels. You could also get the 5-cylinder in front drive sedan configuration with the GL5; it was something Audi offered early on but had dropped, instead having only the Coupe GT be the front drive 5-cylinder. But the real trump card for the Quantum was undoubtedly the Syncro Wagon, as there was no Audi B2 wagon available in any configuration. Effectively, they took most of the oily bits from a 4000 quattro and stuck them in the Volkswagen with little fanfare. Outwardly, there was really only a single badge to tell them apart from a GL5 wagon.

Pricing was on par with period 4000 quattros, though – base price was $15,645, but equip the Quantum similarly to the standard 4000 with power windows, mirrors, locks and sunroof and you’d quickly crest $17,000 – about $4,000 more dear than a standard GL5. Unlike the 4000, Quantum Syncro Wagons came standard only with power steering, brakes, cruise control and air conditioning. You had to opt-in the power package to get the other items.

That made the Quantum Syncro Wagon very much more expensive than, say, a Subaru GL 4WD Wagon or the Toyota Tercel SR5 4WD Wagon. But both of those cars were part-time 4WD; in order to get a car with similar build quality and seamless drive of all wheels, you’d need to pony up a staggering $30,000 for the Audi 5000CS quattro Avant. Also unlike the Audi, the Syncro Wagon ran through the 1988 model year, but never sold in large numbers. Finding one today is a bit of a treat, even if it’s not without its needs:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Volkswagen Quantum Syncro Wagon on The Samba

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1987 Audi 4000CS quattro Special Build

Most enthusiasts couldn’t give a damn about a mid-80s Audi. I am not ‘most enthusiasts’. Indeed, if two people pulled up to a Cars and Coffee – one in a brand-new C8 Corvette and one in a fairly used 4000CS quattro, I know which one I’d gravitate towards. I’d like to think I’m not alone, either. The 4000CS quattro was one of the best examples of the expression ‘greater than the sum of its parts’. With only 115 horsepower on tap and fairly mundane roots in an economy car, you’d be right to not expect much. But the 4000CS quattro over-delivered in just about every way thanks in no small part to a healthy dose of DNA infused from its bigger, turbocharged brother.

To end production, just as they did with the Coupe GT Audi of America rolled out a Special Build 4000CS quattro. Since it already had four-wheel discs, that wasn’t changed, nor was the engine, unlike its two-door counterpart. But what you got was a special Jacquard quattro-script heated cloth interior, blacked-out badges, body-color mirrors, a trip computer, and one of the best all-weather companions ever created:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Audi 4000CS quattro Special Build on eBay

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1983 Audi Quattro

Today’s post is not about how revolutionary the Quattro was. I’ve written plenty of those and I’m sure you’re tired of hearing about it. So instead, today’s post is more of a philosophical question.

At what point do modifications become sacrilegious?

There seem to be several camps of automotive enthusiasts; one seems to always be wrapped up in the biggest, brightest, and fastest things to come out. Another group embraces the history of automobiles and celebrates most who love the cars. And then there are the preservation people. They’re a very special group who deem it necessary to fault someone’s vision or personal preference in their expression of automotive enthusiasm.

Perhaps we transit through these groups as we age. I can certainly remember a point in my life where I was part of the newest and fastest group. I can remember moving into the second group as I attempted to modify my car to be a personal expression. And, more recently, I’ve found the appeal of originality much greater. I’ve certainly even poked fun at or criticized my fair share of cars. Which brings us to today’s example of a 1983 Quattro.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1983 Audi Quattro on eBay

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Roll the Dice: 1983 Audi Quattro

Update 11/17/19: This Quattro sold for $18,600

Though the basis for what made the Quattro legendary; inspired racey styling, boxflares, turbocharging and all-wheel drive with a near-luxury interior seems almost trite, the Quattro really was a revolution in design. Some ten times more dear than an E30 M3, in recent years the Audi has gained a lot more respect in the marketplace. There are those that say you cant really compare the Quattro to the M3, or even the 911 though the pricing was quite similar. But isnt that the point? In period, the other car you could have bought for the same money was a basic 911. And the market spoke: in 1983, Audi sold some 240 Quattros in the U.S.. Porsche, on the other hand, traded 5,707 911SCs between the Coupe, Targa and new Cabriolet models. There was basically no market overlap with the other two major contenders the 944 Turbo and the M3. Both those cars, and the 911, were finished to a higher level of quality with better components, arguably, but the real difference was the type of owner who bought the Quattro versus the 911. These cars were built to be used and abused, and many were.

With only 664 brought here in total, and just 240 from the first model year, you’re going to have a pretty hard time finding one for sale at any given time – unlike the other three cars mentioned. That’s why it’s worth taking a look at one of the earliest U.S. chassis, even if it does come with a long list of needs. But that strong potential of heavy needs isn’t slowing bids down…

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1983 Audi Quattro on eBay

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1984 Volkswagen Quantum GL5 Wagon

The lineup of offbeat VAG survivors continues today with this second generation Volkswagen Passat, of course badged the Quantum for the U.S. market. Volkswagen was happy to tout the Quantum as the sole German engineered Grand Touring car sold in America that was available as both a sedan and station wagon and came equipped with a 5-cylinder, fuel injected engine, front-wheel drive, power assisted rack and pinion steering, four-wheel independent suspension AND cruise control. You dont say, VW? Seriously, I think they could have left a few modifiers off that description and it still would have been true. This model replaced the lovely and popular Dasher model which had been available in several configurations. Briefly, the new B2 continued that and if youve ever seen a 1982 Quantum 2-door hatchback in person in the U.S., you might be alone. The model was dropped quickly, though continuing on was the Variant (VW-speak for wagon) model. And because the underpinnings were shared with the B2 Audi, things started to get pretty interesting for the upscale VW. And, confusing.

The weird part is that this model actually tread on the toes of its even more upscale competition the Audi 4000. Though early 4000s had the 5-cylinder available as an option, when it came to the mid-80s Audi saved the inline-5 only for the quattro models and Coupe GT/5000 front drivers. The 4000 grabbed the engine from the GTI, instead. But you could still get a 5-cylinder Quantum, and you could get a wagon version – something Audi didn’t offer at all in the B2:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1984 Volkswagen Quantum GL5 Wagon on eBay

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Halo Homologation-off: 1980 BMW M1 v. 1986 Audi Sport Quattro

It’s a bit amazing to consider that two of the most significant halo cars in German motoring history – both homologation models intended to lead their respective marques into the next decade – so closely paralleled each other, yet were so very different. It’s but a 35 minute train ride between Munich and Ingolstadt, and in the late 1970s both BMW and Audi wanted a range-topping model to grab attention. But their approaches were radically different. BMW designed a bespoke mid-engine, tube-frame supercar around a basic engine design it already had. Audi, on the other had, took a basic car design it already had and added a revolutionary drivetrain.

Both were styled by Giugiaro. Both had to be built out-of-house; Baur had a hand in each. Both had legendary engineers – Walter Treser and Roland Gumpert for Audi, Jochen Neerpasch at BMW. Both raced, though the series they were intended for were ultimately cancelled. Both launched a brand name – BMW’s M division, and Audi’s quattro (and later quattro GmbH). And today, both are both legends and highly sought by collectors. So today we have an interesting showdown; two prime examples have come to market and are nearly the exact same price. Of course, for that to occur the Audi entrant is the ‘ultimate’ evolution of the Quattro, the Sport model. So let’s put aside the ridiculous $700,000 plus asking prices of each of these cars for a moment, and consider – all things being equal (which they nearly are!), which one would you choose? Let’s start with the M1:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1980 BMW M1 on eBay

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Feature Listing: 1986 Audi Coupe GT Commemorative Design

I’m pretty sure that I’ve written up more B2 Audis for sale than any other site out there. You won’t get an unbiased account from me, but they truly are a great design. They’re handsome, comfortable, reliable and fun to drive in just about any iteration. They’re more rare to see than both period Volkswagens or BMWs, too. And while they’re not without their quirks, they’re the type of car that certainly rewards ownership and makes you feel special. Obviously, I’m a fan of the Audi Coupe GT. I’ve owned five over the past 23 years and get joy out of seeing each one. But there are a few configurations of the GT that really stand out.

There werent many special editions of the GT produced, but in 1986 Audi made an entire run of Commemorative Design cars. The 4000CS, 4000CS quattro, Coupe GT and 5000 models all got special upgrades and each were slightly different. The closest were the 4000 quattro and Coupe GT, which shared paint colors and interiors. Option code 761 got you the Special Build package on the GT (750 for the 4000CS quattro). The exteriors of both were either LB7V Graphite Metallic or L90E Alpine White, but inside they shared the same lipstick red Mouton leather (92). While the quattro got the slightly uprated JT code 115 horsepower 2.2 inline-5, the GT relied on the KX code motor with 110 horsepower. The difference lay in the exhaust manifold; the GT unit was a 5-1 cast manifold, while the quattro had a beefier 5-3-1 exit, along with a larger diameter exhaust. However, the lighter GT was quicker than the all wheel drive variant; and thanks to the nature of the GT versus the quattro market, more of the 750 special 1986 models have survived. The 86 CE models also received the notorious digital dash, and if you selected Alpine White, they had color matched wheels, mirrors and rear spoiler. But the Graphite over Mouton color combination really makes the sharp Giugiaro lines stand out:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Audi Coupe GT Commemorative Design on Washington, D.C. Craigslist

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1984 Audi 4000S quattro

Update 8/22/19 – this 4000S quattro sold for $3,000.

The 1984 Audi 4000S quattro is a bit of a unique beast. Though it appeared for all intents and purposes identical to the 4000S Limited Edition from the same year, underneath the two shared little in common. Indeed, when you lifted the covers much more of the quattro model was shared with its bigger brother, the exotic Quattro the so called Ur-Quattro by fans. Herein lies part of where things get confusing in Audi history, since the actual development mules for the boxflared rally wonder utilized the 4000 (nee 80). You could make a pretty convincing argument that the small sedan was the original, but thats neither here or there at this point and is generally semantics (though, its occasionally nice to splash the waters of reality on enthusiasts ill-informed fires of unshakable belief). Whoever was technically first, theres no denying that the 4000/80 model brought the idea of permanent all-wheel drive to a much more affordable market of rally-bred enthusiasts who eagerly snapped up the roughly 4,500 examples of the first year model. Radical looking changes came for the 1985 model year with a thorough refresh, and there are those who love both generations with equal aplomb. Admittedly, Im a fan of the post-’85 models, sometimes referred to the as the sloped grill cars. But you dont have to go far to find fans of the more square 84 model. One reader of ours tasked me with the goal a few years back of keeping an eye out for a clean 84. Easy, right? Not so fast

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1984 Audi 4000S quattro on eBay

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1987 Audi 4000CS quattro

The Audi 4000 quattro was like a Sherpa to thousands of European car enthusiasts; a steadfast winter standby with slick styling and Rally-bred sure-footedness. On paper, looking back today the 4000 was probably a bit dull; nearly 2,900 lbs of brick-on-brick design with a measly 115 horsepower motivation from the slow-revving oddball inline-5 hanging entirely in front of the forward axleline. But numbers dont tell the whole story of the B2 Audi, because in any configuration its a great handling car. The quattro, however, had some special features that would have been headline items for any sports sedan until very recently; four wheel independent suspension with a large front sway bar and four wheel disc brakes. Couple that with the first all-wheel drive system fitted to a small car, sprinkle some luxury items in and cut the price of the exotic Quattro in half, and it didnt matter that it wasnt particularly fast.

What the 4000 quattro was, though, was one solid all-around performer. The subtle changes from the front-drive sedan resulted in a car that felt more grown-up and refined, yet still pushed you to do silly Hoonigan things. 4000 quattro owners that Ive talked to almost always have the same proud story; the time that they managed to get their 4000 quattro stuck. Normally, that would be a cause for embarrassment, but such was the grip of the plow-through-anything small sedan that it became a badge of honor when you outdid the cars twin-locking differentials. The secret, of course, was just to make sure all four wheels were in the air! But because of this type of silliness-inducing competence coupled with dropping residual value and a second or third tier of ownership that didnt always repair or maintain the cars, few are left in good condition. But once in a while one pops up that has you seeing red…LY3D Tornado Red, in this case:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Audi 4000CS quattro on Bring A Trailer

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