Today’s car is going to start a bit of a series of big-body Audis from the 1990s for me. Why start here? Well, the 1991 Audi 100 was a end of an era for Ingolstadt’s products in the U.S. For a little over a decade the big-body cars had been powered by inline-5 motors, and the NG 2.3 liter unit under the hood of this 1991 was at the end of its life span. 1991 would see the introduction of the new V6 motor that would become the staple of Audi for the nearly decade and a half. Late 1991 also saw the introduction of the Type 44/C3’s replacement – the all-new C4 chassis. Well, I saw “all new”, but inside it didn’t really look like it changed much. Outside, though…
There were other changes to the new 100 that I’ll go through in the next post. But let’s talk about today’s 100, which was really just a dressed up 5000. Like all the Type 44s, it received a revised interior with the nomenclature swap in late 1988. Dynamically, though, there were basically no changes from 1987. In fact, the ’87 5000 front-drive shared more in common with the Turbo than the later model which shared many components with the small chassis cars.
The front-drive 100 soundly outsold its more expensive 100 quattro and 200 brethren. Somewhere around 5,000 1991 100 front-drive sedans and Avants were sold here, but finding them today can be a bit of a trick:
The Audi Type 44, while no doubt a smart looking aerodynamic sedan, was rather a tame thing – especially in U.S. guise. With about 160 horsepower and well over 3,000 lbs to push around, they were great on the highway but lacked serious motivation. That was until the 1991 introduction of the new turbocharged version of the double overhead cam 20 valve version of the venerable inline-5 was coupled with some flares, some crazy floating rotor brakes and some of the best BBS wheels to be fit to an Audi. Available as a wagon and riding alongside the newly launched V8 quattro with the first automatic all-wheel drive, Audi had two trump cards over their European competitors and were set to take off – yet, they were nearly pulled from the market by parent Volkswagen around the same time due to extraordinarily slow sales in the wake of the unintended acceleration debacle. Coupled with fictitious claims about their reliability spread by many who never owned them, most of the enthusiast community stayed away from the fast Audis; but the few who bought them sure loved them. In the case of the 200 20V Avant, less than 200 were sold in the United States – and those that were sold here were loved and used well. Such is the case with today’s 200 20V – mileage that would scare off all but the diehard Audi fans but an overall condition any enthusiast would appreciate. Take a look at this rare-to-see Bamboo Metallic Avant: