Wagon Week: 1991 Audi 200 20V Turbo Quattro Avant and 1995 S6 Avant

What would “Wagon Week” be without some fast Audi wagons? Starting in the mid-1980s, Audi cornered the market with its turbocharged all-wheel drive fastback “Avants” – starting with the 5000CS Turbo Quattro. The 5000 was replaced by the 200 in 1989, resulting in effectively the same car – now with BBS wheels and a revised interior and lacking the manual differential locks, but otherwise primarily unchanged. There was a minor revision in 1990 – the engine code changed from MC-1 to MC-2; the cam was slightly different and the engine ran higher initial compression and a lighter flywheel in order to drop boost for quicker response – but ultimately, it wasn’t a major change. The big change came in 1991 with the release of the heavily revised double overhead cam version of the venerable inline-5. Dubbed the 3B, it gained about 50 horsepower over the standard 200 turbo. The 20V version also sported “UFO” floating brakes, upgraded suspension, 7.5″ BBS wheels instead of 6″ and some subtle flares. As I mentioned previously, the 200 20V was perhaps the ultimate “Q-Ship” – it had no external badges, so you had to know those flares and wider BBS wheels in order to differentiate it. The 200 20V was a one-year model, replaced in 1992 by the again heavily revised S4 with another revision of the 20V turbocharged engine. We didn’t receive the initial C4 Avant version of the S4, though it was available in Europe in both turbocharged and V8 form. Audi finally corrected the problem in 1995 by releasing the S6 Avant; again revised with temporary overboost providing a bit more power through the AAN version of the inline-5 and with freshened bumpers, the limited run S6 Avant has become just as much a legend as the 200 20V version – if not more so. Our reader John spotted the two good looking examples found here:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 Audi S6 Avant on Craigslist

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10K Friday: A44ordable Audis – 5000CS quattro Avant v. 5000S quattro v. V8 quattro v. 100 quattro

The Type 44 Audi was an impressive advance for German automobiles, a huge leap forward for Audi in a new marketplace – but also nearly the cause of its demise. It was an aerodynamic, futuristic sedan when both BMW and Mercedes-Benz seemed to be producing cars stuck in the 1970s. It was the blueprint for most modern luxury sedans from not only German companies, but many of the advances were copied by the Japanese, Italians and Americans for their large sedans. Yet, by 1990 Audi nearly pulled out of the American market thanks to some creative journalism from 60 Minutes, who in their effort to prove Audi was at fault for some unintended acceleration cases nearly killed off the company entirely. In part as a result of their efforts, it’s become quite rare to find clean examples of them today – but it’s also because they were such good, long-lived and solidly built machines that few have lower miles today. While I recent featured a few 20V turbocharged examples in the 20V Turbo comparison, today we’ll look at a few of the lesser appreciated examples, starting with a clean 5000CS quattro Avant in Canada:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Audi 5000CS Quattro Avant on Hemmings

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10K Friday 20V Turbo Edition: S6 v. 200 20V v. S2 v. S2 Avant v. S4 v. 200 20V Avant

Most of my 10K posts have been a balance between finding examples of cars that just squeak under the 10K limit (sometimes, a little liberally) but aren’t complete wrecks. Typically, they’re examples of cars that you just don’t often think of as being cheap or don’t typically see fitting into a budget. But, it’s always a bit of a compromise – seldom are they exactly the cars that I’d buy. More often than not, when it comes to these comparisons I’d spend a little bit extra to get a better example of the car I wrote up than the budget one. Any number of enthusiasts will tell you why; a higher priced but better maintained car is almost always a more sound investment than a lower priced, questionable history example. There are, however, some cars that fall in general well below our self-imposed 10K cap. Most notably, when comparing packages and what one gets for a moderate investment, it’s hard to argue with the early 1990s Audis. Though Audis reputation was, in many ways, in the toilet at this point of history, arguably this is when they reached their zenith of design, performance and build quality. Certainly, newer Audis are more quiet, faster and have gorgeous interiors – however, they also have a reputation for being overly complicated, expensive to fix and often on the IR list with dashboards lit up as if we were a few months closer to Christmas.

But in the mid to late 1980s, Audi spent millions of dollars developing their turbo technology and the inline-5 motor into a world-beating engine. They raced several different race series with this flexible platform, dominating with their quattro technology. Simultaneously, Audi developed two new chassis to hold the 20V power plant – the B3/4 90 chassis and the C4 100 both would receive versions of the 20V Turbo, along with the last run of Quattros in the form of the RR. Both of these chassis were painstakingly designed to not only take on the competition from Munich and Stuttgart, but indeed to best them. This was a time when Audi was alone at offering all-wheel drive turbocharged performance sedans, coupes and wagons in the luxury market – something we’ve since come to associate with most major manufacturers. Despite the innovation, good looks, notorious long-lived reliability and performance potential of these cars, though, most of them remain the most affordable of their contemporaries. I’ve lined up a group of most of the 20V applications here – which would be your choice? Let’s start with the S6:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 Audi S6 on audifans

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1991 Audi 200 20V Quattro Avant

If I’m completely honest, this was not the car that was originally slated for this spot. Rather, it was a excellent condition black 1991 200 20V quattro Avant – a rare specimen in any event given the less than 200 that made it here originally, but in near mint condition they’re especially rare. Alas, it was not to be; that car sold, and in it’s place I managed to find…another 1991 200 20V quattro Avant. Perhaps I should play the lottery, since best guestimates place only around 100 of these Audi super-wagons on the road today. This example is presented in the more common Pearlesant White Metallic that was the calling card of Audi in the late 80s/early 90s, but inside we find black sport seats – a nice treat on the 200s and substantially more comfortable than the “comfort” seats I had in my 1989 200. The rest…well, the rest reads a bit like a normal 23 year old Audi does these days…

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Audi 200 20V quattro Avant on eBay

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Tuner Tuesday: 1986 Audi 5000CS Quattro

While it’s tempting to throw the design laurels for Audi onto the later 200 20V quattro and S4/S6 models as we often do, it’s important to remember that they were really developments of the original Audi super-sedan, the 5000CS quattro. That model was, itself, a development of the earlier turbocharged version of the large sedan, as seen driven in by the father in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The CS quattro brought together the best elements of Audi’s designs; the revolutionary C3/Type 44 aerodynamic and futuristic design which provided excellent looks and fuel economy, the robust all-wheel drive system with locking differentials as seen in the World Rally Championship-winning Quattro and 4000S/CS quattro, and the turbocharged inline-5 that also powered the Quattro and had previously powered the front-drive sedan. But 60 Minutes managed to do a number on late 1980s Audi products, creating a scenario where Audi was nearly removed from the American market. That meant low residual values, and by many these 5000s were viewed as throw away cars for some time. It’s become rare to find good examples, and while this particular one isn’t showroom-fresh it is a reminder that the 5000 was a neat looking and performing package:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Audi 5000CS Quattro on eBay

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1991 Audi 200 20V Quattro

If you walked up to a stranger on the street and said “would you buy a 1991 Audi with 227,000 miles for $6,000”, I’d guess nearly every response would be a hearty laugh. But then, if you asked the same question but instead of the Audi and $6,000 it was a 1970s Porsche and a million dollars, you’d probably get the same laugh. Car valuations are so difficult, because within them lies desirability, condition, and sometimes childhood dreams. I still remember the James Bond movie where the baddie-turned-goodie-but-still-baddie was whisked away from the border guards tucked in the back of a 1991 Audi 200 20V quattro. I was, at the time, a teenager and didn’t really have much of an idea what the 200 was at that point. When I finally bought my Audi, I understood a bit more – it was a luxury sedan with the heart of a World Rally champion, a car whose dual nature few could manage at the time. High speed Autobahn cruiser? Check. Quiet, civilized luxury car? Yes, that too. Spirited on back roads? That could be said about the 200, but so could it about the BMW M5. What set the Audi apart at that time was the combination of the turbocharged engine with the quattro all-wheel drive system, allowing this performance to occur in just about any condition. That made the quattro a ski-trip vehicle as well. With handsome looks, the lightly flared 200 was also a racer, competing in the North American IMSA series as doing quite well for such a large, production based car. While not quite the jack of all trades, one can appreciate what a special package the Audi 200 20V was, and still is:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Audi 200 20V Quattro on eBay

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1987 Audi 5000S Avant with 45,000 Miles

When it comes to memorable Audis from the 1980s, the 5000 undeservedly gets little attention. That’s especially true when you back out the turbo and quattro versions of Audi’s flagship sedan. But in many ways it was the success of the large Audi sedans that allowed for the more exotic Quattro development – and the 5000 was a revolutionary success. Compared with what was on offer from rivals Mercedes-Benz and BMW at the time, the 5000 was downright futuristic and more modern in every way. It was an aerodynamic marvel, quiet and capable of returning excellent fuel economy. It was also hugely practical, too – especially when configured in hatchback Avant spec. Though the sloping rear glass dropped storage space a bit, it wasn’t much – and it’s amazing what can fit inside of these cars. Indeed, I used my 200 Avant to bring a complete 7A inline-5 home; the hatch actually assisted this since we could get the engine hoist over the car – something that would be impossible in most wagons. Still, most enthusiasts want the turbocharged quattro version, leaving the few front drivers that remain throwbacks to a time when a 120 horsepower large wagon was a reasonable option:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Audi 5000S Avant on eBay

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1989 Audi 100 Avant

In yesterday’s post on a 1978 Porsche 930, Rob asked “What happened to Guards Red“? Well, I have a similar question – what happened to all of the front wheel drive Audi 5000s and 100s? Occasionally we see some turbocharged front-wheel drive 200 models come up for sale, but even they’re a rarity; yet, in the 1980s it was those front-wheel drive models that provided the revenue stream for Audi, who struggled to sell vehicles increasingly towards 1990. The 5000 and 100 were actually pretty popular, too – competent, quiet highway cars that looked much more updated than the rivals from Munich when they launched. Sure, they weren’t the best performing cars in their day, but they were a reasonable alternative to the Mercedes wagon, which was the only other big German wagon at the time. Despite that, there just aren’t many left – especially not in this condition:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Audi 100 Avant on eBay

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Heap(s) of the Week 2: Tres Audi Quattros with DTM dreams

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:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985, 1990 and 1991 Audi package on Craigslist

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1991 Audi 200 20V Quattro

Though produced in similarly small numbers and both enjoying their own separate and unique fan base, we seldom see both V8 quattros and 200 quattros for sale at the same time anymore; it’s generally one or the other. So is this car the start of a 200 trend after our string of 4 in a row Pearlesant V8 quattros? Either way, I’ll be happy. It’s interesting to me how similar and yet different the V8 and 200 20V are; they executed the same goal in such a different way you’d be forgiven for thinking they were from different companies entirely. While both shared many body panels, wheels, brakes, nearly the full interior and major drive train components, the engines weren’t the only difference and there are surprisingly a large amount of them. As such, while it’s rare to see a modified V8 quattro, it’s quite rare to find a stock 200 20V; but this particular model has some fairly subtle modifications that don’t detract from the overall package:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Audi 200 20V Quattro on Craigslist.org

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