Update 8/8/18: An interesting follow-up to the clean V8 quattro I posted the other day, this 1991 V8 5-speed has returned in a no reserve auction format with a $5,500 opening price – down $1,000 from May.
Back to big Audis! The early 1990s were, as I’ve described in the past two posts, a period of change for the Ingolstadt firm as they closed down production on the Type 44 to introduce its new replacement, the C4. That led to a dizzying assortment of models from the one chassis. There was the aforementioned 100 and 100 quattro. You could move up to two turbocharged models, too – the 200 Turbo gave you 165 horsepower through the front wheels, and the new-and-only-for-91 in the U.S. was 200 20V quattro. Europe and the rest of the world got even more options; production lasted right up through 2006 in parts of China, where they even made a crazy long-wheel base 4-door convertible version of the Hongqi.
But the top of the heap for the U.S. market was a derivative of the Type 44, the D11 chassis. Of course, that was Audi’s foray into the top-tier luxury market with its new all-aluminum 32 valve double-overhead cam V8. Body revisions to the front and rear along with flared fenders made the V8 quattro seem like a completely different car to the slab-sided 100. V8s had, and have, serious presence. Big news, too, was that for the first time Audi was able to match its all-wheel drive quattro setup with a new 4-speed automatic transmission.
For die-hard Audi faithful, though, for a short while you could still opt to row-your-own with the 240 horsepower 3.6 liter V8 singing to your right foot. These manual V8 quattros are legendary because of their rarity and that they are the only car Audi brought to market with twin Torsen differentials. The combination of a more rearward weight bias, big and instant torque from the V8 and those clever diffs made for one of the best driving experiences in a big sedan from Audi:
Edit: After selling last year on Bring A Trailer for $5,050 after we featured it in April, the current owner of the 1985 Audi 4000S quattro with some nice modifications has decided it’s too nice for a winter beater. It’s back up on eBay with a $5,000 opening bid and reserve auction format with few changes since we saw it last year, but it’s still one of the better ones out there for sale.
If you like yesterday’s Audi 4000S quattro, finding a later example is likely to be more fruitful for you. About of the roughly 16,500 4000 quattros imported into the United States, roughly three quarters of them – about 12,000 – were the updated 1985-1987 model years. Changes to the package were mostly visual. Outside refreshed bumper covers with integrated turn signals and reflectors smoothed out the look far before BMW caught on to the idea in the 3-series. Aerodynamic headlights replaced the sealed-beam quad-headlight arrangement and a sloped grill eased the transition. In the rear the trunklid dove down to the trim line and held an entirely revised set of lights. Rocker panel covers made the 4000 appear a bit lower than the ’84 model had, though the ride height was unchanged. And a rolling change to flush fitting covers on the Ronal R8 wheels subtly changed the look to more aerodynamic. Inside, electric rear windows replaced the manual roll-up variety, and new door cards with pulls now matched the revamped dashboard. The gauges also changed, as did the locking differential panel. But mechanically under it all, few changes were seen to the workhorse. While numerically speaking you’re more likely to find a later car than the ’84 only style, if one car we cover better epitomizes the axiom “ridden hard and put away wet”, I’m not sure what it could be. Finding any reasonably clean 4000 quattro is a cause for celebration among B2 Audi enthusiasts, and this one sure looks great:
While visually most people would have a hard time telling a 1991 and 1992 V8 quattro apart, there were a bunch of little changes throughout the model if you were paying attention. The easiest change to spot was the BBS RG forged wheels that carried over from the 1991 model. At 15 x 7.5″ with a 35mm offset, they filled out the widened arches nicely. The more pragmatic change was in badging; after two years of no model designation (one with nearly identical looking but very different cars underneath for sale), the company finally decided other people besides the owner should know what they were driving. V8 badges were added to the grill and left rear of the trunk, and a “quattro” badge returned to the right side of the lid. Much less noticeable was a more pronounced exhaust, with twin stainless outlets now emerging straight out instead of the 1990/1 down-turned tips.
Inside there were few changes; minor gauge movement had occurred between 1990 and 1992. Connolly leather seats were now standard (as were nearly all items on the V8), and the wood trim was upgraded. The V8 came standard with the Cold Weather package, sunroof, ABS, and BOSE radio. Gone was the option to row-your-own, as the manual was removed from the U.S. market. However, a light revision to the shift points along with an integral cooler meant that the 4-speed automatic in the ’92-94 models was more robust.
But the big change was under the hood, where a new ABH 4.2 liter all-aluminum V8 met the owner. With 276 horsepower and 295 lb.ft of torque, it was the most powerful Audi you could buy in 1992, and acceleration matched the manual and turbocharged S4. All of this luxury and speed cost; the sticker price was now up to $54,000. On paper, the V8 competed well against the competition from Stuttgart and Munich.
But in the recession of the early 1990s, coupled with the legacy of Audi’s scandals and rocky introduction to the super-luxury market meant the V8 was a slow seller. Despite upgrades, the ’92-’94 sold especially slowly; in total, only 518 4.2 models were sold in the U.S. compared to nearly 3,500 3.6 models. ’92 was the best seller with about half of those – 270 – moving here. Few remain in the condition of this Cyclamen Red Mica example though!
You know when you watch a horror film and the protagonist sees a door ajar with a strange light, noise or smell emanating from behind it? Despite the obvious warning signs and 100% metaphysical certitude of impending doom, they creep towards their demise as if unable to escape fate. As a viewer, I’m often baffled by their behavior.
But then I think about the V8 quattro.
There is nothing – and I mean nothing – that makes the V8 quattro a sensible choice for a car. Parts are hard to find, they seem needlessly complicated, and the reality is that now some 26 years old and vintage, the cutting edge of technology for 1991 is pretty easily outpaced by a Honda Civic. There are prettier, more significant, faster and more economical Audis, if you have the itch.
But like the open door, I’m always drawn to looking at them. So, cue the scary music and dim the lights, because we’ve got a twofer of 3.6 quattro action coming at you!
Timothy Dalton was a pretty forgettable James Bond, and The Living Daylights was an even more forgettable Bond film. Beyond the pretty ridiculous plotline of the cellist turned assassin turned sympathetic refuge and maybe the only woman the protagonist never sleeps with, perhaps the most notable appearance was the Mujahideen in another sympathetic roll. They were, after all, the freedom fighters trying to kick out the Western baddy-of-the-decade Russians – never mind that they’d basically become the Taliban in short order, or that the CIA was funding guys like Osama bin Laden to be over there fighting and training alongside them. If you leave the serious lapse in global politics out of the movie, the best part was probably the two Audis you forgot about. James used a 100 quattro Avant for survaillence, but when he needed a quick getaway, it was a really slick looking Stone Gray Metallic 200 quattro with some particularly awesome BBS RS wheels under lightly flared arches. In European guise, it was not a car we got here, with the slab-sided 5000 carrying the torch in 1987 – the year the movie premiered. There was a 35 horsepower difference between the European variant and what came to us, too. That was rectified in 1991, though, when Audi very nearly recreated the look of that James Bond car in the 20V version of the 200. With flared arches, 15×7.5 forged BBS RG wheels and a new, double over head cam turbocharged 3B motor producing 217 horsepower channeled only through a manual gearbox and all four wheels, the 200 finally became a chariot worthy of a super spy. Audi also moved in a new direction minimizing badging; the rear window had a “quattro” script defroster and in front the quattro badge adorned the grill, but as with the 1990 V8 and Coupe models, no other model designation was present. You either knew what you were looking at, or you didn’t. Most didn’t, since these expensive Audis didn’t sell particularly well in the wake of Accelerategate, but those that got them bought a treasure of potential and great build quality:
For the best part of two decades, Audi’s signature color was one of its most expensive options. On some models, in fact, Pearlescent White Metallic was the only optional extra you could select. From the original Quattro to the top tier S8, Audi bathed its most expensive models in the multi-stage dynamic paint color. As with most used older Audis, they’re all fairly affordable and offer – generally each in their own way – good value for the initial investment they represent. If you want to maximize the amount of German car you get for your money, look no further. Today I’ve arranged to look at a series of them, ranging from nearly the beginning to the end of the run. Which is your favorite and why?