As I’ve mentioned before, the success of the Audi A4 really opened the U.S. market to a whole lineup of cars we might otherwise not have been privy to. Undoubtedly the best way to consider that is by looking at the C5 A6 lineup. But first you need to remember that prior to its 1998 launch, the C4 reigned in 1996 at the top of the Audi sales ladder for the U.S.. However, the number of configurations you could get was shockingly small. You had the choice between front-wheel drive and quattro, and again between sedan and Avant. That’s it. Following the drop of the 2.2 liter turbocharged S6 for our market in 1995 and the 5-speed manual from the A6 lineup for 1996, your only “choice” if you wanted a mid-sized Audi was to begrugdingly select the rather stale 2.8 liter V6 rated at 172 horsepower and mated solely to a 4-speed automatic. It was competent, but boring. Actually, that sentence sums up the end of the C4 run here pretty well – and the market recognized that, snapping up only around 10,000 of the models each year.
Turn your attention to the C5 lineup and you suddenly see the array of options opened by sales success. First to launch was the heavily revised sedan for 1998. Now with the 30 valve V6, horsepower was up to a more respectable 200 and the transmission gained a gear, though it was still automatic-only. The Avant carried over from the C4 lineup unchanged for ’98, but the new sedan was enough to double sales of the A6. ’99 launched the new Avant and with it, again a surge in sales by 50%. That allowed Audi to bring over some more exciting options:
One of the reasons it’s hard to get excited about the Type 43 Audi is just how far forward the bar was moved with the Type 44. Similar to the leap from the 6-series to the 8-series BMW, the Type 44 was a radical departure both in style, aerodynamics, and chassis dynamics. The basic Type 44 chassis would endure a remarkable run, too – from its basic layout in the Forschungsauto FV Auto 2000 from the 1981 Frankfurt Auto Show right through the derivative D11 V8 quattro through the 1994 model year. The C3 was revolutionary in its incorporation of modern aerodynamic devices, helping to drop drag coefficients to a then-excellent .30 cd. The Audi design prompted many copies, the most notable of which was the very popular Ford Taurus.
But the C3 was about more than just a slick body. Underneath it continued the C2’s turbocharging on top-tier models. With the addition of intercooling, power was up quite a bit from the prior model. Where the 1983 5000 Turbo generated 130 horsepower and 142 lb.ft of torque in U.S. trim, the C3’s MC1 brought 158 horsepower and 166 lb.ft of torque to the party. It was good enough to prompt notoriously BMW-friendly Car and Driver to name it to its ’10 Best’ list for the first time. In the later 200 20V, it also brought a tamed version of Audi’s Sport Quattro motor to market. The Ingolstadt company also pioneered full body galvanization, something that would become the norm for many newer cars moving forward. That body also grew, as Audi added its signature ‘Avant’ model to the lineup. But of course the big news was the 1986 addition of the word synonymous with Audi in the 1980s and ever since – quattro:
Update 11/22/18: Back to my dream Audi garage! After disappearing off of eBay in the midst of hot bidding, this sweet 20V-converted Quattro is back, now listed on Audizine for $62,500. Included is a link to new photos which show the car off well.
Audi landmark Quattro has finally moved beyond cult status and into the greater automotive consciousness as a desirable model. That creates many problems, though. The first of these problems is that there just aren’t many Quattros out there. Audi only imported 664 examples of the original, meaning you’re statistically a little better than twice as likely to see an E28 M5 cruising around than you are a Quattro.
But in actuality, you aren’t. The chance is probably more akin to three or four times as likely, if not more. That’s because of the second problem – though the Quattro existed as a cult car since new, the fact is that for a long time they were pretty cheap. Pretty cheap cars generally don’t make collector cars, or at the very least receive collector treatment. You can see that in the M5; cheap for a long time, plenty have high miles and are basket cases though from the start they were touted as collectable. But the Quattro? This was a car intended to live in harsh conditions. Oh, and they didn’t apply any undercoating, or even fender liners. Problem three creeps into every seam on the car.
And then there’s an unpleasant truth: in its original U.S. form, the Quattro wasn’t a stellar performer. Toting around 2,900-odd pounds of early 80s tech, the lag-prone engine developed only 160 horsepower. The result was a car that could be caught off-guard by most economy hatches: 0-60 in 7.9 seconds, the quarter mile in 16.1 at 85. Forget the typical Camry or Accord joke; this is the kind of performance you get today from a Hyundai Accent.
Of course, the Quattro wasn’t about straight-line speed, and cars from the 80s all fall short compared to modern technology. This car, then, is more a time-warp to another dimension. A personal expression of devotion to rock-flinging rally monsters and television stars that liked to do things a bit differently. And those that have survived have been loved by their owners. Often, they’ve been upgraded, too, with later parts that solve the performance gap to their original European form. The result? Wow:
Okay, the third blue Audi in a row and so far I’ve been batting out in terms of cars I’d put in my ultimate garage. While the Audi TT would be on the list, the 180 version wouldn’t be my first choice, and though I wouldn’t kick the S4 out of my bed, I’d opt for a Avant version first. So how about my favorite chassis?
I’ve owned something like 8 or 9 Audi B2s, and though I came very close to owning a Quattro once, my history doesn’t include the illustrious leader of the pack. But a Quattro would very certainly be on my list of ultimate Audis. Which one would I want? Well, if money were no object, I’d probably choose a RR 20V first. The last of the run produced right through the 1991 model year, they were also arguably the best of the breed too; more refined than early models and sporting the 3B 2.2 liter 20V engine we saw in the 200 20V. While 20V conversions are popular, this one was factory. Here’s a link to a nice ’89 that’s for sale for a bit over $100,000.
More affordable are the cars that actually came to the U.S.. It’s a bit of a chuckle, though, as only a few years ago you could pick up a really nice example for well under $20,000. Today, those same cars are trading between $40,000 and $60,000 depending on condition. Here’s a very nice ’84 that comes in right at the middle of that range (and half the amount of the lustful RR) – so how does it stack up?
Update 11/25/18: This S4 sold for $8,302.
Continuing in my theme of the ultimate Audi garage, this post is going to seem a little strange. That’s because if I was going to pick an Audi sedan to collect, the second generation S4 would be pretty low on the priority list. In fact, I’m not sure it would make the top five. Without a doubt the D2 S8, the B7 RS4, the C4 S4/6, the D11 V8 quattro 5-speed, and the 4000CS quattro would all make it higher on the list.
It’s not that the B5 S4 isn’t compelling, with the twin-turbocharged V6 cranking 250 horsepower through a 6-speed manual. Barring the RS4 listed above, a box-stock B5 S4 will outperform everything else on that list in virtually every test. It’s just that the B5 S4 is a lot more desirable when presented as an Avant. So why is this sedan here? A few reasons. First, it’s Nogaro Blue Pearl Effect, and that should get a pass every time. Beyond that, it’s pretty clean, it’s got the unusual but pretty light Silver leather interior, it’s all stock, and it’s a manual. But as an added bonus, it’s also no reserve:
Update 11/20/18: This Audi TT 180 Coupe quattro sold for $6,290.
In its first model year, the Audi TT was only available in one configuration – 180 horsepower Coupe. You could choose between quattro and FrontTrak drivetrains, but otherwise it was fairly limited. As a result, most outside of the Audi rings just referred henceforth to every single TT they saw as just that – a TT. But the naming convention was actually more complicated than that, as Audi steadily introduced more models and configurations for the small Golf-based sporty car. For 2001 came the Roadster model and the turned-up ‘225’ version of the TT which had…you guessed it! 225 horsepower from a massaged version of the transversely-mounted 1.8T. That remained the order of the day for a further two model years until the introduction of the 3.2 model. Although the 180 model continued right through the 2005 model year, this 2002 represents the end of the availability of the lower-horsepower motor with quattro all-wheel drive.
It seems appropriate to follow yesterday’s S8 with this model. In just a few years, Audi went from only one S model with very limited production imported in the C4 S6 to three models. Top of the range was the S8, but it shared its running gear and sonorous V8 in a slightly detuned state with the new C5 S6. For Audi enthusiasts, though, big news came with the launch of the new S4.
It was unrelated to the first S4 because of Audi’s renaming strategy in 1995. That meant that the new S4 was based on the small chassis B5, and U.S. enthusiasts finally got a taste of Audi’s M3 competitor. Performance came in the form of a new 2.7 twin-turbocharged V6 30V and was mated to either a 5-speed Tiptronic transmission like its bigger siblings or a 6-speed manual. Like other B5s, the S4 made use of the 4th generation of quattro technology driving all four wheels. This utilized a Torsen center differential with open front and rear differentials, both of which employed the ABS sensors to electronically ‘lock up’ the slipping wheels when a speed differentiation was detected. Like other S models, some light revisions to the bodywork and more pronounced exhaust were present, along with polished mirrors and 17″ Avus-design wheels. Most notable was the large front bumper cover with 6 gaping grill covers which hid the twin intercoolers for the motor. With 250 horsepower and 295 lb.ft of torque, you had an all-weather 155 mph warrior. And, it was available as an Avant:
I don’t think we need much of an excuse to look at a clean Audi S8. But in case you haven’t been paying attention, the D2 S8 is one of my very favorite Audi models. It’s also one that I haven’t owned, and at some point I’d very much like to change that. Unfortunately for me, time continues to march on and I feel as though every day the chances of finding a very nice S8 that is the perfect fit for me becomes more remote.
That doesn’t mean that there aren’t some great ones that come up for sale, though, and today’s example certainly appears to be ticking the right boxes. From the last year of production, this is one of the 100 Ming Blue over Platinum models brought to the U.S.. Since only 300 made it here in total, any 2003 is worth a look, but this one is especially nice – and, shockingly affordable:
While it hasn’t been particularly long since I looked at a B2 – either in Coupe GT or in 4000S form – it has been a bit since we saw a nice example of the fan-favorite 4000 quattro. In fact, it’s been over a year since I looked at the last late-build 4000CS quattro.
Such is the marketplace at this point. The newest example is on the verge of being 32 years old and, frankly, not many have lived glamorous lives. Despite this, they are resilient. I was reminded to the 4000CS quattro when I watched a recent Motorweek featuring the then-new 325ix. While admittedly the E30 packed more power than Audi’s traditional normally aspirated inline-5, to me the 4000 still holds greater appeal and was better in its execution of a reliable all-weather sedan. I won’t go through everything that made these cars special as I have done several times, but if you’re interested you can read about the early or late models by clicking.
Today, both the ix and quattro models are few and far-between. Audi originally sold about 4,000 each model year of the 4-year run of the democratized all-wheel drive system shared with its very rare Quattro brethren, but at a cut-rate price and with exceptionally low residual value (I bought mine at 9 years old with under 100,000 miles for only 10% of its original sticker price), there just aren’t a lot of good ones remaining. Here’s one:
A few of us sat baffled several months ago as we watched auction results come in. The model in question was the E46 330i – in particular, the “ZHP” performance package. The ZHP was basically halfway between the regular Sport package and the M3, utilizing unique body bits and wheels, a slightly hotter motor, and the transmission borrowed from its bigger brother. Your only option for a 4-door performance 3-series in this generation, not many bought the over-$40,000 price tag. What’s interesting is that while these cars were sold alongside the M3 for far less money when new, today they can actually command a premium over the real-deal M.
Case in point – a 33,000 mile Coupe traded for $26,000 earlier this year, and it wasn’t alone. It’s been labeled the “ZHP tax”. There are reasons why a proper ZHP brings M3 money, mind you – they’re cheaper to run and they’re quite a bit more rare than the M, especially in good shape. And BMW wasn’t alone offering them.
Audi, too, had a “Diet S4”. Dubbed the Ultrasport Package, for $3,000 it included RS-inspired “Celebration” 18″ wheels with summer tires, the lowered 1BE suspension that was part of the normal Sport package, a unique quattro GmbH/Votex body kit, and a nicely wrapped leather steering wheel and shift knob. It also limited your interior option to black, and a fair chunk of them appear in Light Silver Metallic – also a popular choice on the S4. Unlike the 330i, the USP A4’s engine choices weren’t upgraded, but you did at least have two – the AWM 1.8T rated at 170 horsepower, or the AVK 3.0 30V V6 good for 220 horsepower. Both were available with choice of 6-speed manual (*5-speed for the FWD models) or automatic, and the basic 1.8T model was about $10,000 less than the 330i. While there was no convertible/coupe USP to compare to the 330i, Audi maintained its trump card on sporty wagons. Just like the ZHP, today the USP A4s command a strong premium in the used market, especially as Avants: