Update 12/3/19: This Caravelle syncro sold for $11,600
It’s hard to fit into the regular lineup all of the various neat German vehicles from diverse brands, so admittedly I end up focusing on ones that really spark my interest. That leaves big gaps in coverage, and one such gaffe is certainly the Volkswagen T-series. The first three generations were based upon the Type 2 platform and rear-engine configuration, which left plenty of space for a slab-sided apartment on wheels. But Volkswagen continued the feat with the T4. The engine moved to the front and was water-cooled, transverse and in most applications driving the front wheels. But like the T3, the T4 was also available in syncro configuration with all-wheel drive.
However, while the T3’s viscous coupling sent power forward with twin locking differentials for each axle, the T4’s front-drive transverse layout meant that it needed to employ a system similar to the Golf platform. That meant a viscous coupling to transfer power rearward when slip was detected, with some T4s also having a manually locking rear differential to assist in really sticky situations. While not the go-anywhere mountain goat the T3 could be, it was a neat configuration not offered in the States. Further, you could get a plethora of engine choices at the same time the EuroVan was solely offered with the 2.5 inline-5 gas motor. Case in point is today’s 2.4 liter AAB. While not more powerful than the 2.5 gas motor, the 10 valve inline-5 diesel was a lot less thirsty and offered 77 horsepower and 121 lb.ft of torque at low revs. Here it’s hooked to a manual transmission and already imported to the U.S.:
Ah, the used car market in Europe. It’s the stuff of dreams for U.S. fans. First off, you get cars that were never available to our market. Often, those cars come with colors or options that weren’t offered here. They are usually closer to original specification. Europeans seem to drive less and value their expensive cars more, too – so they turn up with lower than normal mileage and in better than average condition. And, as if to top it off, they’re dangled in front of us at cut-rate pricing. Because of the cost of keeping these cars down stream in Europe with taxes, insurance, and – most importantly for most – the space to keep multiple cars, older cars are often offered at prices that would immediately have several fans on U.S. shores throwing money at the sellers.
Today’s S6 4.2 Avant combines all of those things into one package:
Ahhhh, the Audi V8 quattro. It’s like that friend that comes over, crashes on your couch, eats all of your food and smears his greasy hands on your furniture, insults your wife and leaves the toilet seat up, burps and farts in a business meeting, forgets your birthday, and asks to borrow a hundred bucks (or several thousand) that you know you’ll never get back. But he’s your friend, and it would take a lot more than just those indiscretions to make him otherwise. Every once in a while, your friend really dresses up and looks great, but most times that you see him he’s disheveled, unshowered and hacking up some fairly disgusting looking phlegm – which, incidentally, he spits out on your carpet. Sound awesome? My experience with the V8 quattro was pretty similar, and yet it’s a car that I just look at and daydream about. Few are in good shape and serviceable today; many more appear as these do; discarded, forgotten, permanent projects. And much like your college bum friends, they seem to congregate in groups, because of course you need a parts car for your parts car. So what are they doing here? Well, one of this particular lot happens to be the best of the bunch brought to the U.S. – the coveted 1991 Audi V8 quattro 5-speed: