No Reserve Rocket: 2003 Audi RS6

While BMW’s M5 has been the benchmark for performance sedans since its inception in 1985, there have been plenty of challengers along the way that have really pushed the limits of sedans to new levels. The Lotus Carlton, for example, completely changed what going fast with 4-doors meant in the early 1990s. With twin turbochargers slapped on an otherwise unassuming inline-6, the bespoilered and wide-wheeled Opel packed 377 horsepower and could hit 180 m.p.h. flat out in 1990.

That meant the next generation of super-sedans would have to up their game, and constant brinkmanship ensued; the 3.8 upgrade to the E34 M5 hit 335 horsepower. The 500E packed 322, and Audi’s C4 S6 Plus matched that amount. They were still short of the Lotus, though, and playing catch up. Moving into the late 90s, power levels started to go crazy.

The C5 S6 launched in 1999, now with 335 horsepower. The same year, Mercedes-Benz entered with the E55 AMG at 349 horsepower. But both paled in comparison to the new E39 M5 with 400 horsepower – the undisputed king of super-sedans at the time. That would change in 2002 when Audi’s quattro GmbH launched its newest creation. With help from Cosworth Technologies, the new RS6 sported two turbos on the 4.2 liter V8 seen in the S6. The result was an impressive 450 horsepower driven through all four wheels. Giant wheels filled massive flares, at the front huge gulping intakes fed the intercoolers, and special exhaust and gills popped up everywhere. It was the new super-hero sedan and the result was…well, fast. The limited nature and performance potential of these RS6s have meant they’ve retained greater value than the normal C5 range, though they’ve been in steady decline. Today, we get to test the market on a well used example – where do these C5s sit today?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Audi RS6 on eBay

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Tuner Tuesday: 2002 Audi S6 Avant 2.7T 6-speed

Just last week I was baffled by a C5 chassis swap. The seller took a 2.7T twin-turbo motor, a 6-speed transmission, and an Audi A6 Avant to create a unique package. However, in some ways its mission was lost to me; why not just buy an Allroad manual for half the price, or get the nicer S6 Avant with more and better go-faster bits? To answer my question, our reader Andre posted a response with the link to this car. Again, we have a C5 Avant with a 2.7T 6-speed swap. The price is pretty similar. But the base vehicle this time is the S6, with lightweight aluminum panels, flared fenders and bladed doors, great interior and a host of RS6 bits. Does this one accomplish being desirable and justifying the swap better?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Audi S6 Avant on Seattle Craigslist

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2003 Audi RS6 with 11,000 Miles

Outside of some with virtually limitless resources, you can’t go back in time when it comes to cars. Many enthusiasts try, and a few really devoted individuals succeed, in recreating the youth of a car’s life. But to do so, especially on newer cars, is pretty hard. Outside of the material costs of paint, leather and in some cases wood replacement parts, there is the Achilles’ heel of our modern society in general – plastics. New cars have become so heavily reliant on plastics because they’re strong, easily formed to special shapes, and lightweight relative to other products. But, as with the rest of the car, they get old; wear items in the interior of the car are often the most recognizable signs of use and time, but under the hood there’s a plethora of plastic heating up and cooling down. Top that with modern motors with turbochargers and extreme heat load as well as the increasing amount of refinement (read: sound deadening) buyers demand, and the time bomb of slowly decomposing plastic in your super sedan means that reconstructing a heavily used example may ultimately be impossible, but is certainly at least improbable.

That means that if you want what was a top-flight super sedan from a generation ago, you’d be looking for the lightest use possible. And when considering an Audi RS6, few if any come to the market with less use in miles than this one:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Audi RS6 on eBay

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2003 Audi RS6

RS61

For me, the great appeal of the early ’00s era super sedans has always been their relatively restrained styling. Unlike contemporary offerings from M, AMG and quattro GmbH, which are nakedly aggressive and loud, the cars from this period don’t look too different from the underlying models on which they were based. The RS6 is a good example. The C5 platform A6 underpinning the car typifies Audi styling of the time: good looking and functional but a bit staid. I’d be willing to admit that some of the Bauhaus-esque curves and lines give it a little edginess, especially when when viewed from the rear quarter panel, but you have to squint hard to see them. Indeed, Regular Car Review Guy has a bit about the styling of the A4 of the same era being “the future by way of the past,” and I think that the same could equally be said about the A6. This conservatism continues into the RS6, but the deeper front spoiler, flared fenders, 18″ wheels and double exhaust make for a far more muscular look and hint at the extraordinary power that lies beneath. While enthusiasts will know what it is, most other people will mistake it for an ordinary executive saloon. And that’s a good thing. There’s something seriously cool about a car that blends into the crowd, but is nonetheless capable of cracking nearly 200 MPH on the autobahn.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Audi RS6 on eBay

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2002 Audi S8

In many ways, to me the D2 S8 is the last of the great 1980s Audis. But wait, you say – it wasn’t built in the 1980s. It may have shared little design with the original Quattro other than the drivetrain layout and the Vier Ringe on the grill, but at its heart the S8 was the culmination of the mission of the original car – to cover ground at high speed in a luxurious 4-seater regardless of the weather conditions. Now, truth told newer Audis are bigger, badder and faster. Some even look better, though not many in my eyes. They have more technology, power and luxury than ever. So, it would be natural to say that they, too, accomplish the mission of the Quattro – and they do. But, the essence of what was Audi somehow was lost along the way. The D2 S8 didn’t sell in great numbers, but that wasn’t because it was the most expensive option and it certainly wasn’t because it was unattractive or slow. Perhaps it lacked the raw driver connection of cars like the contemporary E39 M5 and the physical grunt of the AMG E55 and S55 models. But as an all around package, the S8 is surely one of the best Audis produced. It’s quick, driver oriented, supremely comfortable, all-weather capable and even (dare I say) reliable relative to other VAG packages. It’s not so tech-heavy that it feels outdated the moment you step in the cabin; rather, it feels like the most up-to-date version of the C4 chassis and that’s generally a good thing. It sounds great, too, thanks to the silky smooth V8 under the hood. The only downside is that with low residuals, locating a really nice one any day of the week is not nearly as easy as finding a clean M5:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Audi S8 on Boulder Craigslist

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2002 Audi S6 Avant 6-speed

The other day it seemed as though I switched sides, abandoning my preferred Audis for the dark star of Mercedes-Benz with the E55 AMG Estate. Don’t get me wrong, I do like the S6 Avant, but perhaps the lack of manual and the mere existence of the hotter and not-for-U.S. market RS6 Avant just takes the edge of the C5 for me. Plus, the transmissions in the Audis are notorious – correctly or incorrectly – for being a bit weak and expensive to replace. The solution? A 6-speed manual converted car, of course! And this particular example even steps up above that single massive advantage with a host of RS6 upgrades as well:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Audi S6 Avant on eBay

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Twin Turbo Terrors – Audi RS6 Roundup

The other day I wrote up two M5s, questioning whether the E34 was a smart decision when the E39 offered more performance and luxury at a lower price point. That’s not the end of the story, though, because the car that created a sensation and helped to once again redefine the category has dropped to historic lows in value. The Audi RS6 wasn’t the first car to offer a V8 in the mid-sized luxury segment, but as with the original Quattro they upped the game by offering not only a V8, but twin turbochargers and all-wheel drive to the mix. The result was a hunkered down Autobahn warrior with 450 horsepower on tap. It was immediately the top dog, and being turbocharged it was capable of even more outrageous levels of power. As with its AMG and M counterparts, it was also quite expensive as the newest piece of kit in 2003; at nearly $90,000, not many could afford the super sedan. But now a little over a decade on, the Audi RS6 has predictably gone through a few generations of ownership and has dropped substantially in value. In part, that’s because the Audis of this generation have some known faults and keeping the twin-turbocharged V8 running in top condition can be an expensive proposition. But if you want to go fast and have one seriously menacing luxury car on the road, it’s hard to argue that anything can do it better for less money today:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Audi RS6 on eBay

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Afternoon Accessories: Audi Dealer Goodies

It’s always nice to spend a few minutes perusing old dealer brochures. Manufacturers spend countless millions on marketing, after all, and we should appreciate their efforts. Today I’ve rounded up some of the dealer goodies that Audi has given out – representing some milestones in the company’s history, no less. There’s the memorable poster celebrating the R8 win of the North American Endurance Championship (remember back when this was a new concept for Audi?), and the dominant RS6s run in the SCCA World Challenge. Then there’s a cool schematic showing the dimensions on the S4. I have a similar one for the Quattro and I love to look at it! Speaking of, there’s also a dealer brochure with a RR 20V Quattro fold out – what a pretty car. And let’s not forget the new – and wildly popular – turn Audi took when it launched the TT. All in all, some neat historic memories this afternoon! What’s your favorite?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: Audi RS6 SCCA World Challenge Poster on eBay

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Feature Listing: 2003 Audi RS6

Up until the early 2000s, Audi always did things a little differently than its countrymen. Critics and enthusiasts have sometimes criticized the designs for not being optimal, overly complicated or ill-timed. But get into a RS car – any RS car – and it’s hard not to be completely thrilled. Audi certainly pulled out the stops for it’s top of the line, quattro GmbH assembled super-sedans and avants; the great details abound. Subtly flared fenders, special bumpers, larger wheels and massive brakes, lowered ride height and signature twin exhaust became the blueprint for the RS4 and RS5 to follow and hinted at the new bar that Audi set, but under the hood lurked something special in the RS6. Like the S6 the power was derived from a V8, but in the RS6 two turbochargers boosted performance to 440 horsepower with torque to match. The power was seamless and unabated; more a freight train that never let up than a rush of power. This car is deceptively fast, so quiet and unassuming it really was the ultimate Q-ship of its time. I was lucky enough to push one of these cars to its limit when new around Le Circuit Mont Tremblant, and while it’s no lightweight sports car, the amount of speed and grip it generates is otherworldly, and it can easily keep up with many cars that should be quicker. Inside you were bathed in luxury; soft touch plastics, warm colors on the dashboard, excellent seats that managed to both be supportive and comfortable. There were small details too that helped to make the RS6 feel even more exclusive; the Alcantara headliner, alternating color piping on the leather, rich wood accents and carbon fiber details that were sprinkled in just the right proportions to make this car the ultimate Autobahn weapon:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Audi RS6 at Sun Valley Auto Club

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2003 Audi RS6

1Q_800

While Paul Walker’s RS6 Avant surfacing online this week was pretty cool, and all I ever want is an longroof RS, the tragedy is still a little close for me to spend much time perusing that listing, let alone contemplate owning that car. For now, the more-accessible sedan will suffice just fine, as even in these insane days of horsepower wars threatening 700hp sedans on the horizon, these 450hp AWD executive saloons are still a force to be reckoned with 10 years on. This example comes in the absolutely-perfect Avus Silver Pearl, which makes all silver and grey cars wonder why they don’t shimmer that way. With just over 50k miles it’s quite a fresh example, and the price shows it.

Click for more details: 2003 Audi RS6 on eBay

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