Update 9/26/18: This pristine 4000S has sold to a reader!
While I’m a big fan of the Audi B2 chassis, I don’t spend much time looking at or for the low man on the totem pole – the 4000S. If you read my Audi badging rant from a while ago, you’ll remember that there was no model below the “S” offered here, so the 4000S was the base model. Although these were the least powerful B2s on offer, in manual form they could keep up with the Coupe GT because they were also the lightest of the chassis here. Power came from a 1.8 inline-4 borrowed from the GTI and GLI Volkswagens, but it was mounted longitudinally like all B2 motors. Even though they were down on power to the 5s, the inline-4 also had 20% less motor hanging out front, making them fairly nimble. Like their 5-cylinder GT brethren, you had a choice between a 5-speed manual or the venerable 3-speed automatic that appeared in everything from the Vanagon to the Porsche 944. They were also the cheapest Audi you could buy in the 1980s. Though we often look at 4000 quattros, the reality is that about 75% or more of any given model year’s sales were front drivers. 1987 saw 9,043 out of 11,972 sold in this configuration. These appeared to be bought primarily by older women who wanted a more refined sedan but weren’t ready to buy the W201 Mercedes-Benz or E30 BMW. Much more often than their all-wheel drive counterparts, or even the GT, clean examples of the prolific 4000S pop up for sale:
Familiar to U.S. fans as the Audi 4000, in the rest of the world Audi continued a naming tradition that dated back to the 1960s regarding engine output. Most of the models didn’t make it here, but prior to the 1980s there were Audi 50s, 60s, 80s and 100s. The original B1 80 was also called the Fox here, not to be confused with the later Volkswagen Fox model. When Audi switched to the B2 chassis, the U.S. nomenclature changed to the 4000 most remember. And there were several engine configurations available initially, including a diesel, turbo diesel, inline-4 and inline-5 motor in both 2 and 4 door configuration, along with the stablemate Coupe GT model though the designations no longer aligned with engine power. By the time Audi progressed to 1984 and the introduction of the 80/4000 quattro, though, engine choices dwindled. In the Coupe GT, you could only get the 5-cylinder motor – effectively the same motor that was available in the quattro but with a slightly different exhaust manifold that netted 5 more horsepower in the sedan. Otherwise, if you bought a 4000 front drive model, you got a 1.8 inline-4 that was shared with the Volkswagen model range. This continued with the refreshed models in 1985, with the only further engine change being the later 1987.5 Coupe GTs switching to the NG 2.3 130 horsepower motor.
However, in Europe there were still many configurations you could get the B2 in. There were two model levels; 80 and 90, with the later being the more upscale version with more powerful motors. This would be seen in the U.S. later with the B3 run, but in Europe there were pretty substantial differences visually and mechanically between the 80 and 90. The 90 was, for all intents and purposes, a Coupe GT under the skin. In 4-door guise, it retained the larger 10.1″ vented front brakes mated to 4×108 wheels instead of 4×100. Outside the aerodynamic bumper covers only made their way onto 90 models, while 80s carried bumper covers that looked very similar to the pre-85 models. The engine was the same 2.2 inline-5 that would be found in the quattro models, with European variants producing a few more horsepower than U.S. markets. As with the Coupe GT, these were expensive models that were more heavily taxed than the smaller motored 80s, and consequently they’re not seen as often. But a seller contacted us with a pretty stunning example that’s worth taking a look at.