2003 Audi S8

I still have this dream of getting a S8. This seems like a strange thing to dream about, I admit. And, it also seems like a quite attainable dream. My father-in-law often tells me about some day procuring his ‘dream truck’ – a manual mid-90s six-cylinder F150. I’ve found several for him that seem like good prospects, and none are ever more than a few thousand dollars. As I’ve said to him several times, ‘If you’re $4,000 away from your dream, what’s holding you back?’

Well, that comment coming from me is riddled with hypocrisy. I certainly could sell my very reliable Passat, save a bit of coin, and buy a S8. The problem increasingly inherent in that plan is that the S8 I can afford will probably not be the S8 I want. See, in the early 2000s I fell in love with the design. In the mid-2000s I lusted over lightly used examples that were out of my price range. S8s are now in a range I can afford, but it’s no longer the early 2000s and most are, to be frank, pretty used up. And though they’re far from the most technologically advanced vehicle, they aren’t exactly an F150 either in terms of complexity and parts availability (not to mention pricing). So looking at a S8 means you automatically need to budget in probably double the asking price or more in potential repairs between the transmission, timing belt service, and other deferred maintenance. Or, you can find one where that’s been done for you:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Audi S8 on eBay

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2001 Audi S4

In just a few years as the century turned over, Audi went from only one S model with very limited production imported in the C4 S6 to three models. Top of the range was the S8, but it shared its running gear and sonorous V8 in a slightly detuned state with the new C5 S6. For Audi enthusiasts, though, big news came with the launch of the new S4.

It was unrelated to the first S4 because of Audi’s renaming strategy in 1995. That meant that the new S4 was based on the small chassis B5, and U.S. enthusiasts finally got a taste of Audi’s M3 competitor. Performance came in the form of a new 2.7 twin-turbocharged V6 30V and was mated to either a 5-speed Tiptronic transmission like its bigger siblings or a 6-speed manual. Like other B5s, the S4 made use of the 4th generation of quattro technology driving all four wheels. This utilized a Torsen center differential with open front and rear differentials, both of which employed the ABS sensors to electronically ‘lock up’ the slipping wheels when a speed differentiation was detected. Like other S models, some light revisions to the bodywork and more pronounced exhaust were present, along with polished mirrors and 17″ Avus-design wheels. Most notable was the large front bumper cover with 6 gaping grill covers which hid the twin intercoolers for the motor. With 250 horsepower and 258 lb.ft of torque, you had an all-weather 155 mph warrior – and one that could easily be turned up many notches:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Audi S4 on eBay

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1995.5 Audi S6

The Audi and Volkswagen crowds can be pretty finicky. Instead of cheering on high sales of models similar to their cars, they instead tend to resort to denigrating lofty asking prices. Truth told, I’ve been guilty of it myself – but, then, there are owner’s who “know what they’ve got” and it’s easy to point towards another example that is equivalent for a better deal.

Then there’s this S6.

Look, far be it from me to say that the S6 isn’t a very special car. It is. And I certainly feel that it should be held in equal esteem to its contemporaries, the M5 and ‘E500E’. I’ve said as much many times. But here we have a very clean-looking example of a 95.5 S6…and, well, the elephant in the room has to be not the condition, not that the C4 is overlooked, not that the mods can make crazy power; no, the headline here is the $32,900 asking price:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995.5 Audi S6 on eBay

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1994 Audi S4

As the E34 M5 and W124 500E/E500 creep up in value, if you search you can still find excellent examples of the odd-ball turbocharged inline-5 all-wheel drive wonder from Ingolstadt. While both of those cars are legends and fan favorites in their own right, Id like to suggest that most underappreciated yet most capable of that generation was the C4 Audi S4. Out of the box, it was at a disadvantage to the other two; its small displacement cast-iron inline-5 hung fully in front of the forward axle line and was at a distinct power disadvantage. With 227 horsepower on tap, it was some 84 horsepower shy of the S38B36 and nearly a hundred down on the M119. But it was turbocharged, so torque was over 250 lb.ft close to the BMWs level. Still, they were fairly heavy and if you wanted to shuffle with the Municher and Stuttgarter, you had to keep that AAN on boil and on boost. But the trump card that Audi presented in the market at that point was all-wheel drive, and coupled with the tunable nature of the AAN, it meant there was a lot of potential in the chassis of the C4. That was met with excellent build quality to create what was perhaps the zenith of Audis production in the inline-5. Despite that, they have remained far more affordable than either of the competition, though finding a good one today can be difficult. One of just 399 ’94s sold in the U.S., this Brilliant Black example is one of 50 sold with black leather:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 Audi S4 on eBay

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2001 Audi S8

If you follow these pages, it goes without saying that Im a pretty strong Ingolstadt devotee. My first car was an Audi 4000CS quattro and since then Ive owned an absurd 9 models along the way. But that doesnt mean I buy everything from the company hook, line and sinker. Indeed, Ive been less than impressed with many of the newer models. Sure, sometimes they look slick, go like stink or are really pretty inside. But would I want to own one? In most cases, no outside of a few very select models, I dont really desire to own much post Y2K.

One exception to that rule and its literally and figuratively a huge exception is the S8. Everything about this car was just spot on to me. In an age when increasingly the offerings from the competition were unattractive and overly complicated, the S8 was to me the last of the great original quattros. It was an analog offering in a digital age; simple, blunt force from a 360 horsepower V8 in front driving all the wheels with a luxurious driver-oriented cockpit. Sure, there were plenty of computers. Probably there are too many. But compared to the new luxo-suites? The D2 seems downright cart-like. And the proportions of the car were just perfect; lowered, menacing stance, huge yet delicate-appearing wheels, just the right amount of bling, yet an understated car which easily fades into the background. So even though Im still probably a long way from ownership, I often find myself dreaming about being behind the wheel of one.

The pool of candidates that remain is beginning to dwindle; the newest of the D2 S8s are now 16 years old and parts are already getting hard to source. Getting into an enthusiast owned one is the way to go at this point, but that doesn’t automatically mean it’ll break the budget:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Audi S8 at Keloland Automall

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2001 Audi S4 Avant

Audi brought the S4 Avant to the United States for the first time in 2001. It joined the sedan lineup and offered a follow-up to the large chassis S6 Avant from 1995. This was actually the second S4 Avant, as Europeans had enjoyed the C4-based creation in the early 90s. Audi’s renaming convention therefore created a successor to the B4-based S2 Avant. Instead of the traditional inline-5 motivation, though, Audi had developed a new 2.7 liter version of its V6. With a K03 turbocharger strapped to each side, the APB produced 250 horsepower at 5800 rpms and 258 lb.ft of torque at only 1850 revs. Like all the B5s, Audis new generation of quattro used a T2 Torsen center differential and relied upon an electronic rear differential utilizing the ABS sensors. The B5 chassis used the same technology on the front differential as well and was capable of independently braking each front wheel to try to sort the car out through its dynamic stability program.

But the real fun was that it was available as an Avant and with a 6-speed manual. Just over 1,500 were claimed imported between 2001 and 2002s model years, with about 600 of those being Tiptronic equipped. LY9B Brilliant Black was the second most popular color ordered behind Light Silver Metallic, and this particular Avant is one of 183 Brilliant Black (out of 850 total) manuals brought in for the 2001 model year:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Audi S4 Avant on eBay

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2003 Audi A6 4.2 quattro

Update 1/17/19: This car is listed as sold for $2,750.

As I’ve mentioned before, the success of the Audi A4 really opened the U.S. market to a whole lineup of cars we might otherwise not have been privy to. Undoubtedly the best way to consider that is by looking at the C5 A6 lineup. But first you need to remember that prior to its 1998 launch, the C4 reigned in 1996 at the top of the Audi sales ladder for the U.S.. However, the number of configurations you could get was shockingly small. You had the choice between front-wheel drive and quattro, and again between sedan and Avant. That’s it. Following the drop of the 2.2 liter turbocharged S6 for our market in 1995 and the 5-speed manual from the A6 lineup for 1996, your only “choice” if you wanted a mid-sized Audi was to begrugdingly select the rather stale 2.8 liter V6 rated at 172 horsepower and mated solely to a 4-speed automatic. It was competent, but boring. Actually, that sentence sums up the end of the C4 run here pretty well – and the market recognized that, snapping up only around 10,000 of the models each year.

Turn your attention to the C5 lineup and you suddenly see the array of options opened by sales success. First to launch was the heavily revised sedan for 1998. Now with the 30 valve V6, horsepower was up to a more respectable 200 and the transmission gained a gear, though it was still automatic-only. The Avant carried over from the C4 lineup unchanged for ’98, but the new sedan was enough to double sales of the A6. ’99 launched the new Avant and with it, again a surge in sales by 50%. That allowed Audi to bring over some more exciting options:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Audi A6 4.2 quattro on eBay

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2001 Audi S8

Only a week ago, I looked at a great example of an Audi S8. Granted, it was not perfect; but, the maintenance and ownership ticked the right boxes for proper consideration. Still, the unique Cashmere Pearl paint coupled with the Ecru interior weren’t most people’s favorite, nor were the C6 Speedline wheels the best match for the design. Does the cost of ownership mean you have to accept a good maintenance history at the expense of the color you want? Not necessarily, as witnessed by this Brilliant Black 2001:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Audi S8 on eBay

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2002 Audi S6 Avant

Back to wagons!

One of the more captivating baffling options in the used performance wagon market must surely be the C5 Audi. Despite the reputation for 100% metaphysical certitude that they’ll fail – probably catastrophically, they’re fan favorites. Often as a retort to internet commentaries that they’re not reliable, actual owners will chime in, demanding respect and steadfastly assuring the audience that the Allroad’s reputation is undeserved.

‘It’s been 100% reliable!’ they’ll insist.

Of course, the recipe to actually make it reliable involves major reworking of the engine and suspension. And, sometimes the electronics, too. On top of that, it turns out that various people’s definition of ‘reliable’ varies greatly – especially for Audi owners. Basically, to be deemed ‘unreliable’, an Audi must first assassinate a major public figure, then make a Star Wars reboot featuring only Jar-Jar Binks, then kneel during the National Anthem (easy to do, as most have failed suspension on at least one corner), and finally when you turn the key the engine does the action sequence out of a Michael Bay Transformer movie. If, and only if, those conditions are met will fanatics finally fail to reply to the assertion that the Allroad just isn’t a reliable car.

But, it’s cool. And so you probably want one, even though you know it’ll bankrupt you. So the smart way to buy an Allroad is to not buy an Allroad:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Audi S6 Avant on eBay

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2000 Mercedes-Benz SL500 — Revisit

A few months ago I checked out a really unique 2000 Mercedes-Benz SL500 with the Designo interior package. Outside of the garish red and black leather, there was one major thing would chase me away from this car: the giant crack in the carbon fiber trim. It wasn’t so much as there couldn’t be anything done about it, but rather it would cost $3,000 to replace that piece of trim that surrounded the shifter. Much to my surprise, this same car is back up for sale many states away with an increased price tag of almost $3,000 and that same crack is still there, although hidden really well with some clever photography angles. Honestly, at first I thought this was a different car and it didn’t have any flaws in the carbon fiber. Then I compared the mileage and knew it wasn’t just dumb luck to find two nearly identical cars. While it might have been in the right market range at the original $11,900 ask, good luck trying to sell it for $15,000. I just don’t think the market is there for this odd ball with a wart.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 Mercedes-Benz SL500 on eBay

The below post originally appeared on our site September 4, 2017:

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