Within the world of older Audis, it’s often a case of pick your poison. Do you want low miles? Do you want good exterior condition? Do you want good mechanical condition? Do you want a manual? Do you want a desirable model?
Running down the checklist when considering the pool of available candidates, infrequently are you allowed to shout out “BINGO”!
I’m not sure today is that day, either. Here’s a 1986 Audi Coupe GT, and yeah, I really do try to look at every single one I can find. But in particular I wanted to look at this car because it’s very similar to how my own GT was delivered from the factory; Oceanic Blue Metallic, a quite rare color to find on any Audi from the 80s. How rare? Well last year I wrote Audi to ask them. And they claim that in 1986 114 Oceanic Blue Metallic with Gray Velour Coupe GTs were produced. That number seems low, but to me it also seems a bit suspect. Audi also claims they sold 2,846 Coupe GTs here in 1986. If those numbers are both to be believed, it’d mean that every 25th Coupe GT we’d come across would be Oceanic Blue Metallic. Maybe that number does make sense, but it seems to be unlikely; spotting an OBM Coupe GT in the wild seems to be a lot more unlikely than that number would suggest. Regardless, we don’t see it often, so it’s worth taking a look:
Like yesterday’s GTI, the similarly Giugiaro-styled Audi Coupe GT added a touch of upscale Italian design to relatively pedestrian underpinnings. However, there was more of the rally-bred all-wheel drive Quattro DNA in the Coupe GT than its corporate cousin. Nearly everything apart from the door handles in the B2 was overbuilt; massive driveshafts, bigger brakes and heavier duty suspension, and a robust engine meant that in any form these entry level Audis have stood the test of time pretty well. While in Europe there were several different variants of the Coupe in 4 or 5 cylinder and with all-wheel drive, in the U.S. we only got one at any time. Starting with a 2.1 inline-5, the front-drive only GTs worked their way up to the last of the run 2.3 NG motored cars. With 4-wheel disc brakes, special exterior and interior treatments, a unique digital dashboard and 130 horsepower, these lighter “Special Build” GTs were a performance match for U.S. spec Quattros, and are almost as rare. This black example sports some modifications but looks quite clean overall:
If you pop on to the Audi USA configuration site, it’s easy to shake your head at how expensive it seems the range has gotten. The A3 is the cheapest product you can buy, but at $33,000 without options it’s hard to see how this gussied-up Golf is affordable.
Yet, relative to where Audis used to sticker, that price is downright cheap.
Take this 1987.5 Audi Coupe GT Special Build. At the end of the run, Audi sold approximately 850 of these B2/B3 hybrid Coupes to the U.S. market. While things like the suspension and basic body were unchanged, the Special Build got the NG-code 2.3 inline-5 that was seen in the later Type 44/C3 and B3 chassis cars with 130 horsepower. The gearbox was also unique to the Special Build, having beefed up drive shafts (for some unknown reason, as the existing ones were already overbuilt). The Special Build was also the only front-drive B2 to carry 4-wheel disc brakes – again, shared with the B3 instead. Inside, the Special Build got a special digital dashboard in a slightly different hue than the ’86 Coupe GTs with digital boards had. The interior fabric was updated to the Savoy Velour (also from the B3) instead of the B2’s Kensington Velour – this was signified by a triple stripe instead of a dual stripe. To help distinguish the limited cars, the exteriors featured a “dipped” look; window surrounds were body color as were mirrors and spoiler, and if you opted for Alpine White (L90E) the Ronal R8s were also painted body color. As with most later GTs, the Special Build came relatively loaded with few options, though most don’t seem to have the rear wiper selected for some reason. Sunroof, leather steering wheel, power windows, power defogging mirrors, cassette stereo and power antenna, cruise control and a trip computer were all standard. Only heated seats, a rear wiper, leather interior and an automatic transmission could be optioned.
The price for this “heavily optioned” exclusivity was $20,600, and you’d be hard pressed to leave a dealer for much under $21,000 after delivery charges. Inflation corrected from 1987 dollars to 2020 dollars, that’s about $48,000. A brand new A5 coupe starts at $44,000 today and has many more amenities standard. Is it any surprise that we see so many more luxury vehicles today than what we saw in the 1980s?
Like the 1984 Audi 4000S quattro, the 1984 Audi Coupe GT was a bit of an odd bird in the U.S. market. The GT was a light revision of the earlier Coupe; the major difference that was noticeable immediately was the Quattro-inspired 14″ Ronal R8 wheel design and raised spoiler shared with its bigger brother. Coupled with the deep chin spoiler and 4-quad headlight design, the Coupe GT introduced in mid-1983 looked like a fitting tribute to the turbocharged halo model.
Power now came from a 2.1 liter inline-5 (code WE) which cranked out 100 horsepower. Matching its European “5S” counterpart, the U.S. spec GT got an overdrive 5-speed manual with a 4.90 final drive; it helped economy slightly, though the slab front end certainly didn’t. But the new close(r) ratio box over the early economy-minded 5 speed helped acceleration little. Despite the lightweight 2,500 lb curbweight, Audi claimed the GT could hit 60 in a little over 10 seconds and it was out of fizz at about 109 mph. Despite this rather tame performance for a ‘Grand Tourer’, the GT’s numbers were on par with the GTI and better than the Scirocco. Plus, the longitudinal engine layout with equal length driveshafts coupled with a longer wheel base made them quite fun to drive.
But what was really unique about these cars was that they were an intermediary; the end of the Type 81 Coupes before the Type 85 Coupe GTs launched with heavy revision and more power (along with bigger brakes) for 1985. So while the later Coupes were basically a front-drive quattro, the 83-84 Coupe GT was like a 5-cylinder powered VW in some ways. They retained the smaller 4×100 mm bolt circle on the hubs with 239mm (9.4″) front disc brakes and rear drums, which is a blessing for wheel and brake upgrades should you want to go that route.
But on an example like this ’84, I hope someone keeps it stock!
Update 4/28/19: Back in December 2018 I looked at this beautiful, low-mileage Coupe GT Special Build with a $12,000 asking price. It quickly disappeared, but has popped back up at another dealer, now with a $14,950 asking price. While it seems unlikely to sell, appreciation for this chassis has been rapidly growing and pricing creeping up. Finding an original one like this is very tough today!
How many times can you write-up the same car, or find something new to say? Somehow, for me these older Audis drive a passion of discovery which keeps them fresh. Today’s example of a B2 Audi is, like the 4000CS quattro from the other day, a last year model. Unlike the 4000CSq, though, the late Coupe GTs were upgraded with the Special Build package. A crossover to the B3 chassis, they featured rear disc brakes, color-matched trim, B3 interior fabric and a 20 horsepower bump thanks to the addition of the 2.3 liter NG inline-5. The Special Build also had a slightly different version of the ’86 digital dashboard. The best performing GT offered here, these are generally considered the most desirable of the lineup.
Today’s example is much like my ‘87.5 project, (unfortunately) right down to the automatic transmission. But with only 60,000 claimed miles and in pristine shape, is this the one to get?
This Audi Coupe GT 20V sold for $11,900.
Yesterday’s Jade Green ’74 911 Coupe was for me a ‘Greatest Hits’ example. It was a great color on a great classic, with great wheels, great flares, a great interior and great graphics. While I’m certain it wasn’t for everyone, the 911 market of today means that whatever genre your particular greatest hits are composed of you’ll probably find what you’re looking for.
The same cannot be said for Audi, especially when it comes to 1980s examples. Yet here, today, we have what I would consider to be a pretty good attempt to make the greatest Coupe GT. First off, there are some who like the early Coupe or Coupe GT models, but as I’ve had a string of them my heart beats to the later ’85-up chassis. Couple the better looks with improved European headlights and you’re starting off well. Make it one of the better colors for the GT – Alpine White L90E – and things are still great. Inside, the best interior to match that outside was the limited edition Commemorative Design “Mouton” red leather. You’ll want the Nardi leather wheel to hold on to. Kick the wheels up a few notches to really make the GT look more purposeful, and while you’re there, lower the ride height too.
But it’s the go that really separates this GT. The stock KX is hard to develop, between the lack of parts, the CIS fuel injection, and the lack of parts. Did I mention the lack of parts? You can go the cam route and do a bunch of other goodies and once it’s all done, you’ll come out the other side with maybe as much power as the later 2.3 NG. Maybe. But since the GT is a one-wheel drive wonder, you won’t want to overdo the power department. The solution is the short-lived 7A 2.3 20V DOHC motor found in the 1990-1991 90 quattro 20V and Coupe Quattro. Match the 164 horsepower, 7,200 RPM screamer to the 600 lb lighter chassis of the GT and suddenly you’ve got quite a stunner. And why not throw in some period graphics, too?
Update 11/16/18: This GT sold again for $3,474.
Update 11/2/18: After selling over the summer for $3,000, this fairly clean driver-quality 1985 Audi Coupe GT is back on the market. The no reserve auction is so far below $2,000, and the seller gives a very honest breakdown of the current status of the car and notes more problems with the car than the listing over the summer. Despite that, it’s still fairly hard to find a clean GT, so this one might be worth grabbing!
Update 6/28/18: The best part of a year after originally being listed, this reasonably clean 1985 Audi Coupe GT is back in a reserve auction format. Since the Buy It Now was $4,950 last September, we can guess the reserve is probably at or over $4,000. The Coupe GT market has moved forward since last year, so will it sell this time?
The 1985 Audi Coupe GT debuted the aerodynamic B2 refinements in the 2-door version of the Type 85. Just like the 4000CS quattro I looked at the other day, smooth bumper covers front and rear were met with wide molding and new rocker covers. DOT-required 9004 halogen lights replaced the upright quad-rectangle arrangement on 1984 models, and the new grill sloped to meet stainless trim which surrounded the car. Inside was met with a revised dashboard with new softer-touch plastics, a leather covered steering wheel and few other changes. Mechanically, just as with the 84-85 4000 quattro, there were very few alterations between pre-facelift GT and the ’85. The same KX 110 horsepower inline-5 and 5-speed manual (3-speed automatic available) drove the car, but the ’85 up wore the same 4×108 hubs and brakes (in front, at least) as the quattro.
As with the 4000 line, most of the manual bits available in early B2s disappeared, and in you bought a late model it probably came standard with power locks, mirrors and windows. Most GTs also came equipped with a sunroof (manual and pop-out) and the rear wiper. Today’s example follows that convention minus the rear wiper. The package proved to generally be considered more than the sum of its parts, and in 1985 Car and Driver tested eight GT cars and proclaimed the Audi Coupe GT the best package available, beating ‘sports cars’ like the Supra, Mustang, and Camaro. One of the 3,586 sold in 1985, this Alpine White example reminds of a more simple time when you could drive a car at 10/10ths and still remain (mostly) at legal speeds:
I’m certain there’s a sect of the readership that gets pretty sick of me droning on about the Audi Coupe GT. I’ll acknowledge a very large soft spot for this relatively unloved Audi oddity. But it’s Father’s Day, and so as a treat to myself I’d like to look at another. And, I think you’d like to look at it too.
As we write up cars constantly, for me there’s always a point of thinking ‘Right! That’s it. There can’t be another clean original one out there!’ Because, at some point that certainly must be true. How many completely original, low mile and low ownership examples can there be out there. Who, for 33 years, would care for a car so much that basically everyone else gave up on when it was five years old?
Yet occasionally they turn up, and here’s a prime example. According to the seller, this 1985 GT has turned just 67,000 miles and he picked it up when GTs were still on dealer lots. Alpine White with the unique blue tweed interior and matching blue dashboard, he obviously loved the B2 as much as I do:
Audi’s attention to detail in 1986 was…well, poor. Contrary to the never-wrong-Internet’s common belief structure and commentary every time an 80s Audi appears on a site, this had nothing to do with the quality of the cars they built. They were, in fact, very nice cars, and they have generally withstood the test of time as well as their countrymen and better in aggregate than the majority of 1980s cars.
So what was their problem with detail work? Well, notoriously Audis from the 1980s stood a good chance of being in some unusual specification which didn’t conform to what Audi claimed was available. Let’s take this 1986 Audi Coupe GT for example. According to Audi’s literature, if you bought the Commemorative Design 2-door in 1986, you got a special electronic digital dashboard with accompanying “Audi Electronic” oil temperature/voltmeter in place of the typical VDO 3-gauge center dash readout.
Except that wasn’t the only way to get the electronic dash. Because even though it apparently wasn’t an option you could select, Audi must have had a surplus or stock in ColecoVision, because they installed a bunch of these dashboards in a random selection of 1986 and some early 1987s. I know, because I have one of them. Here’s another, and this one only has 28,000 miles: