Rounding out my trio of grunge-era Audis, let’s take a look at the entry level quattro-equipped model – the 80. While the move from the B2 to B3 chassis brought many changes to the small Audi lineup, it was also very much a case of â€˜meet the new boss, same as the old bossâ€™. Some of the features of the 4000 were gone; you could no longer opt to lock the center differential, for example, since the manual locker had been replaced by a more sophisticated Torsen unit. You could still opt to engage a rear differential lock, but electronics overrode that at 15 m.p.h.. That change was indicative of movement in the marketplace and where the B3 was aimed â€“ slightly more upscale from the B2. Interior quality was greater, safety took priority, and production was broken into two categories as it had been in Europe for the B2. Selecting the top-range 90 quattro got you nicer BBS wheels, color matched bumpers and mirrors, a sportier raised spoiler, a better leather interior and wood trim. The downscale 80 would channel more of the outgoing 4000, with a velour and plastic-heavy interior. They even opted to keep the same Ronal R8 wheels as the old model early on, and the subtle rear spoiler was a near copy of the B2.
The more basic 80 was closer in performance to the 4000, too â€“ the luxury and safety items of the B3 meant more weight, and the 90 tipped the scales at nearly 3,000 lbs. Mechanically identical, the 80 quattro was about a hundred pounds lighter and anyone who has driven 80s normally aspirated Audis knows that 100 lbs. makes a difference in performance. Motivation for both was the same NG-code inline-5 that was seen in the last Coupe GT Special Build models, meaning 130 horsepower and 140 lb.ft of torque â€“ smoothly adequate, but certainly never overwhelming. The 80 quattro enjoyed only a short run in the U.S., being available in the 1988-1990 model years and then re-introduced with some 90 quattro upgrades for the ’92 model year as a hold-over until the V6 B4 was ready for production. The de-contented 80 was a fair bit cheaper than its quite expensive brethren; while a Coupe Quattro would set you back over $30,000 with some options, select a basic 80 quattro and you could sneak out of the dealership for $23,000 – barely more than the ’87 Coupe GT retailed for. Today I’ve come across what must be one of the best 80 quattros remaining out there:
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?
The Jetta Diesel wasn’t a big seller in the U.S. early on as oil-burners fell out of favor in the mid-80s. Up through 1987, you had your choice of the 1.6 liter diesels with or without turbochargers, producing 68 and 52 horsepower, respectively. For 1988, both disappeared, yet oddly there was a run of ’89-’90 Jettas that reintroduced the 1.6 ME diesel prior to the launch of the new EcoDiesel model. While the diesel had been able to be selected in higher “GL” trim level earlier, the ’89-’90s were base model only and are fairly rare to find. But today a nice ’89 example has popped up for sale:
In 1987, there were quite a few Jettas to like (as Jettas go, that is). If you absolutely had to have a trunk, you could grab a turbo diesel for its last year until the 1990 Ecodiesel arrived. The “GL” trim package gave you power options like windows, mirrors, locks, and even a power antenna – remember when breaking antennas off cars was a hoodlum pastime? Your GL would even come with a ski sack! There was the new Wolfsburg Edition, which gave you all the options of the GLI without sport seats – so you got the special Pirelli P-slot wheels, deeper spoilers, and even a power bump to 105. Did I mention the GLI? For good measure, there were two that year, with the 8V bowing out to the incoming 16V model.
This car is not any of those trim levels, though. This is a plain-jane Jetta; steel wheels, the lowest power available, and manual everything (except, predictably, the transmission). So why look at it? Well, two reasons – and they both open. Oh, and it only has 5,581 miles, too.
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 $31,200 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 2016 dollars, that’s about $44,500. The brand new, 2017 Audi A5 Sport with the 2.0 TSFI motor, quattro all-wheel drive and a 6-speed manual starts at $41,200 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?
Park a 1984 Audi 4000S quattro next to a 1985 Audi 4000S quattro and you’d be forgiven for thinking they were completely different cars. While few changes were manefested under the skin, the major overhaul in 1985 of the 4000 gave the car a completely different character. Few stones were left unturned; new aerodynamic headlights and smooth, textured body-color bumpers with revised indicators led the charge and did well to integrate the mandatory 5 mph impact bumpers. Wider black moldings surrounded the car. The same Ronal R8 14″ x 6″ 14 spoke wheels were present, but as the revised B2s stretched their legs, new aerodynamic lug covers appeared. The taillight design and rear quarter panels were revised as well – now the lights wrapped completely across the back of the car. But the full-width lights masked a big change to the body, as the trunk now had a much lower threshold, with the center section of the lights integrated into the lid. Inside, the seats didn’t change but the dashboard was entirely new. More up-to-date and modern feeling, power windows now were both front and rear and a few more options for colors were offered.
But underneath, what made the Type 85 quattro great remained unchanged. The 2.2 liter inline-5 JT-code motor was still pumping out 115 horsepower; modest for the weight, but with a great howl and good, usable torque. All-wheels were still driven with twin vacuum-actuated locking differentials, and the robust drivetrain and suspension was largely rally-ready out of the box. The great recipe coupled with the heavily revised and modernized aesthetics meant that the 1985 4000S quattro was a sales success, at least in relative terms. Nearly 5,000 sold that year (4,897 according to Audi), making it the most popular year for the model: