Update 1/29/2018: The asking price on this S4 has dropped from $13,995 to $12,995.
The B5 S4. On paper, it’s a car that I should like a lot. Coming from the modest 4000 quattro, Audi produced what should have been a monster on paper; a 2.7 liter twin-turbocharged V6 rated at over twice the power of the old inline-5s mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. 6-spoke “Avus” wheels carried on the late 90s design in 17″ form, with deeper but still subdued body additions and more grills hinting at the better performance of this A4-based creation. Twin polished exhaust tips, Xenon headlights, deeply bolstered sport seats and plenty of technology also came along from the ride, too.
But for me the B5 S4 sedan was never super exciting. Perhaps that was because it was instantly popular. What I remember annoying me more, though, was that it really seemed like Audi could have produced stronger performance. After all, it generated only a few more horsepower than the last favorite – at launch, the already out-of-production E36 M3 was the match for the performance of the S4 due to its lighter weight. And that was in turned-down U.S. spec! More sharply notable was the launch at the same time of the S8, and the S4 was some 90 horsepower down on that model. Yet get behind the wheel of one, and suddenly it wasn’t a lack of grunt you were noticing. It was how well the package pulled together. It rode well, it had a glut of usable torque thanks to the small twin turbos’ ability to spin up so quickly, and the fit and finish inside was leagues better than the E36 was. And while you could stick snow snows on an E36 and make it through winter just fine, as a year-round commuter car the S4 made a lot more sense while simultaneously being a much better sleeper. It was a ‘Q-Ship’; admittedly, not the biggest or fastest one out there, but certainly an undercover speed agent.
Those in the know noticed, and although today’s example has sprouted wings and is decidedly not as understated as it left the factory, when you see the name of the original owner you’ll understand why…
I’ve previously made fun to the term “Unicorn” as it relates to selling…well, pretty much any of the cars we feature on these pages. Truth told, as special as you think your car is, it’s really just one of probably a fairly large number of cars just like it out in the wild. Yet that doesn’t stop the P.T. Barnum’s of the used-car market from touting how unusual it is to see their particular circus attraction. In fact, many times it seems to be considered the main selling point:
Salesman: Now that you’ve selected all your other options, I’m going to tell you about one final “dealer special” option we can offer you – but it’s only for select, and discerning customers!
Rich Plebian: Uh, okay, what is it?
S: It’s the not offered to public “Unicorn” option
RP: “Unicorn”? Like, horned mythological beast?
S: Yes, exactly. The Unicorn Package is option code 785.
RP: Okay, what does it get me?
S: You get to tell everyone how unique your mass-produced car is.
RP: Wait, it gives me special powers?
S: No, you just get to say that your car is more special than the other cars that are exactly like it.
RP: Well, people have always told me how special I am, so sign me up!
So here we are again. In the sales pitch for this 2006 Audi S4 Avant, “Unicorns are real” appears. The question is – is this really something you never see, and is it the horned mythological beast you’ve been looking for?
EDIT 8/10/2017 – IT’S BACK! Now with a $58,900 asking price, according to Hunting Ridge Motor’s site. With prices on the rise when the right combinations appear on these E46s, it will be interesting to see when and what amount it finally sells for.
EDIT 7/25/2014: with a few well placed seeds and some research, it appears that this car is the same one as the 10,000 mile M3 I wrote up in May here. That makes the asking price and modifications all the more puzzling. Thanks for the interest and sorry that I didn’t catch it the first time around!
What is the price for perfection? What would you be willing to pay for a brand new example of the car you love? There are certainly a lot of people who love the E46 M3 including me. I really think it was a high point of design for BMW; those sweeping arches, the delicate lines in the hood, the hunched, angry stance – it’s perfect, and best of all, it’s relatively affordable still. But many have already begun to fall into disrepair, and of course when you’re buying an older car you’re subject to what comes to market and managing repairs, restoration and asking price. But what if the car was effectively brand new? Chances are everyone would say “Sign me up!”, especially if that car was in one of the most sought after color combinations. They would, that is, until they saw the price tag:
My somewhat dour post regarding yesterday’s S8 had me feeling a bit downtrodden, and this listing was just what I needed to feel a little better. Not every current S8 owner is less than careful, and there are many who have grabbed one of these spectacular super-sedans because of the same enthusiasm I have for them. In the case of today’s example, it’s a first-year run S8 from 2001. However, the owner has upgraded the often-maligned 5-speed Tiptronic to an 01E 6-speed manual. The dream of many though few have been completed, the 6-speed swap is often mentioned as an alternative to add a little sport and long-term reliability to the mix. But it’s no small undertaking, and finding one that’s done correctly offers the potential buyer a turn-key package without the headaches of heavy lifting:
A few weeks back during our “Wagon Week” theme, I wrote up Audi’s last stand in the Avant market; a steadily decreasingly number of offerings in the 2000s. I looked at three nice versions of the Avant that were available in 2008. My unfortunate conclusion, though, was that none of them would be the car that I would want. The S4 Avant was certainly tempting, but the automatic wasn’t the transmission I’d want in there. However, change a few details and suddenly that B7 becomes much more appealing. Add some great option BBS CH wheels and a manual transmission along with a caring owner, and the B7 S4 was a package that really had no rivals. It looked as fast as it went and remains on the best all-weather people haulers made: