USP Tax: 2004 Audi A4 1.8T quattro Avant Ultrasport

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:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 Audi A4 1.8T quattro Avant Ultrasport on eBay

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Melange à quattro: 2001 Audi A4 1.8T quattro Avant

Update 9/26/18: This A4 Avant sold for $6,986.

Even though for my the B5 chassis A4 was the beginning of the dilution of the Audi brand, I admit I have always had a soft spot for nice examples. And the first A4 had plenty of things to celebrate. First off, it effectively saved and resurrected the brand in the U.S. from near extinction; consider for a moment Audi sold a total of 18,124 cars in 1995, the same year that the A4 was introduced as a 1996. By 1997, Audi sold 16,333 of just the A4 quattro model alone. As a success, that subsequently meant that there were a plethora of options to be had in the new chassis as production opened up. Soon we had the 1.8T turbo model joining the V6, the V6 was soon revised to have 30 valves, there was a light refresh in ’98 as well and another in ’01, the Avant joined the lineup for ’98, and of course we got a new S4 in 2000.

Considering that for some time there had only been one way per a year to get the small chassis in quattro form, this relatively dizzying array of chassis configurations meant that there are still quite a few nice ones out there to be had. But unlike other cars that have skyrocketing asking prices, a very clean B5 quattro can still be had for a song:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Audi A4 1.8T quattro Avant on eBay

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Audi A4-off Double Take: 1996 A4 2.8 v. 2000 A4 2.8 quattro Avant

Following up on the A8 3.7 front-driver oddity I posted last week, today I’m going to look at a few of the cars that put Audi back on the map. 1996 was the year Audi brought the brand-new A4 model in to replace the aging B4 90. So successful was the A4, and so ubiquitous in the small German executive market today that you’d assume the early examples were far more prolific than they were, in reality.

Still, the A4 is credited with saving the company, at the very least for the U.S. market share. Is it true? Take this into consideration; Audi sold 18,960 A4s from the launch in late 1995 until the end of 1996. Doesn’t sound like much, does it? Toyota, after all sells about 400,000 Camrys every year for the last half-decade – and that’s in a market that very much no longer values the sedan. But in 1995, Audi sold a total of 18,124 cars including those early A4s. Go back a year, and the number was substantially lower; 12,575. Entering into the 2000 model year, Audi crested 100,000 A4s sold in the U.S. market. The proof was in the pudding. By the time the new C5 A6 launched, Audi’s sales had crested 65,000 units a year and they haven’t looked back. 1994’s sale figures represented 0.08 of the marketplace; today, Audi sells a still modest but sustainable 1.3%.

But while Audi and “quattro” are synonymous, like the A8 I looked at, a fair chunk of the early A4s avoided the extra cost of all-wheel drive and came configured as FronTrak models. About 7,000 of those nearly 19,000 1996 A4s were so ordered. The prolific nature of these cars, coupled with typical low Audi residual value, has meant that they’re hard to find in clean condition. So today I have two; one from the beginning and one from the end of the run. While both are white, it’s just about there where the similarities end:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1996 Audi A4 2.8 on eBay

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1997 Porsche 911 Carrera S – Tiptronic S

I will fully admit that I was pretty disappointed when I saw that this 1997 Porsche 911 Carrera S was equipped with Tiptronic S rather than a manual transmission. It looked so promising as I made my way through the initial photos, especially once I realized it wasn’t black, but rather a very attractive dark metallic green (specifically Forest Green Metallic). The color combination was right, the condition of the paint looked phenomenal, and the interior looked clean and in really nice shape. And then the gear shift lever stuck out like a sore thumb. Oh well. I still think this 911 is worth featuring and investigating further, in part because I don’t really see the C2S very often with an automatic (more on that below), but also because there may be buyers specifically on the look out for such a combination. Whether by preference or necessity not everyone wants a manual transmission so here we are and this one really is beautiful.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1997 Porsche 911 Carrera S on eBay

Year: 1997
Model: 911 Carrera S
Engine: 3.6 liter flat-6
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Mileage: 60,155 mi
Price: Reserve Auction

For sale is my beautiful and well-loved 1997 Carrera C2S with Tiptronic S transmission. It’s an ultra rare wide-body 993 finished in special-ordered Forest Green over Cashmere interior. It has a clean MD title and clean CarFax. Non-smoker. Always garaged. No accident. The car has 60k documented miles. I am the 4th owner. This C2S shows extremely well. I shudder to even call this a driver. It is a very clean car from the inside out. It was never abused, no rain, and absolutely no salty roads as evidenced by the corrosion/rust free undercarriage.

Link for additional photos:
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/5r6c5n1pdrt4d3s/AADqcq19ccBccbItldwTUdRga?dl=0

Interior
The interior is easily 9/10. The instruments and dash are clean, and no fading or cracking. The tan carpet is excellent with no stains or dirty spots anywhere (Yes, even the driver side carpeting). The optional draped leather seating is soft and in overall excellent shape. The driver’s seat has minor outboard bolster wear, not unusual after 60k miles of driving pleasure. Two sets of floor mats come with the car- the original tan mats in very good condition, and new black mats should you prefer some darker contrast. Headliner is clean. All electricals are functional as they should. Driver’s door check-strap repaired prior to my ownership- no issues or odd noises. Heat works great and A/C blows cold.

Exterior
The body and paint are in excellent condition. I meticulously performed paint-correction on the car about 1 year ago to address some minor swirling. To this day, the paint still glistens with deep wet clarity you can only achieve with dark paints. I would rate the exterior 8.5 to 9/10. The car has some paint scratches during removal of the old stone guards. This didn’t bother me enough to warrant repainting the rear fenders. The windshield has no stone damage/crack. All glass are as new. This is a no accident car. All panels are original to the car. The front bumper, hood, and fenders were resprayed prior to my ownership for rock chips. Paint match is perfect! Expel clear bra protects the front end from any future chipping. Seals and trim pieces are in excellent condition. This car was obviously garaged and covered its entire life. Both headlight glass lenses are in great shape. Fog lamps like new. Tail lamps look as new. Wheels are factory original 17” Cup 2s with 225/45 fronts and 255/40 rears, with 80% tread depth remaining. All wheels are in excellent condition with no curb marks. Brake pads and rotors are in great shape. All 4 calipers recently refinished to correct some clear coat peeling so commonly seen at this age. The worn out original suspension was replaced with Bilstein HD and H&R spring combo. Front lower control arm bushings replaced with red Walrods. The handling is fantastic!

Undercarriage
The undercarriage is very clean and dent-free. All wheel wells have been scrubbed and dressed. Drain tubes in the front tub are present.

Mechanicals
This C2S runs like a champ, and pulls strongly in every gear. I would not hesitate to drive this car anywhere. No CELs. It idles smoothly and revs easily throughout the rpm range. It burns little, if any oil at all. I confirm this using the dipstick to manually monitor oil level. The last leak-down test performed at 58,800 miles: All Cylinder less than 5% (receipt included). Original heat exchangers, catalytic converter, and mufflers are in excellent condition. All maintenance is up to date. Valve covers are dry. Timing chain covers have minor seep, 1-2 drops after a drive then none after.
* *Comes with a binder full of service receipts from the previous owner up to and including my ownership.

Options
L22E Special-ordered Forest Green Metallic
LG Cashmere partial leather interior w/black dash
CO2 ?
XE9 Dark Burr Maple handbrake lever
X66 Dark Burr Maple Tiptronic selector lever
X70 Stainless steel doorsill w/model insignia
159 Motor Sound Package
249 Tiptronic Transmission
329 Porsche CR-210
437 8-way electric seat, left
454 Auto speed control
490 HiFi Sound system
650 Sunroof
659 On Board Computer (OBC)
692 6-disc CD changer
939 Pleated leather rear seats
982 Pleated leather front seats
00501 ?
09981 Vehicle transfer to VRS for installation of Exclusive parts
09991 Porsche Exclusive Manufacture program

Notable Maintenance & Upgrades
-30k mile service incl. plugs and belts
-New front rotors/pads @53k miles
-Replaced steering wheel horn pad @53k miles
-SAI port clean out @54k miles
-New bonnet and engine lid struts @57k miles
-Engine Leak-down Test @58k miles
-Replaced A/C and Oil Cooler series resistors
-60k mile service incl. all filters @59k miles
-New wires, plugs, caps/rotors, P/S fluid flush @59k miles
-ISV cleaned
-New alternator/fan/A/C belts @59k miles
-Bilstein HD and H&R springs installed @59k miles
-Walrod front lower control arm bushings replaced @59k miles
-Alignment 4-wheel
-Full brake flush with ATE Super Gold @59k miles
-Rear bumper support bars refinished
-Brake calipers refinished
-Tiptronic ATF service incl. rear differential fluid flush @59k
-Latest Oil & Filters (Mobil 1 V-twin 20w50 and Porsche filters) in Jan 2016 @59,408 miles

Negatives
-Driver seat bolster wear
-Paint scratches under new rear fender stone guards
-Minor timing cover seepage

This well-sorted 993 comes complete with both keys, all manuals, air compressor, tool kit, jack, spare tire, and service history/receipts. Don’t underestimate the value of a well-maintained Porsche. No deferred maintenance $$$. This example is one of the best looking wide-body cars out there. I’ve disclosed everything I know, but PPIs highly encouraged. You will not be disappointed!

Purely on appearance this appears to be one of the better kept 911s that I’ve come across. The current owner clearly has put in a good deal of effort to get the paint looking its best and it shows. I’m sure on closer inspection a few flaws will be visible – this is after all a 20-year-old car with 60K miles on it – but it’s tough to ask for too much more unless you’re looking at an ultra-low-mileage garage queen. That isn’t what this C2S is or should be so I’m impressed. The interior shows a little more wear, but still it looks in fine shape too. This 993 also looks to be well maintained and received a decent amount of servicing around 1K miles ago. The seller reports a small amount of oil seepage and like with yesterday’s 911 a PPI should sort out our level of concern. For someone in search of one of the best 911 models, but who requires (or desires) Tiptronic this looks like an excellent candidate to pursue further.

My other area of interest here is price. I’ll admit I really don’t have a good sense of the value of a C2S with Tiptronic S. I almost never see them for sale. I know it’s lower than a comparable manual-equipped C2S, but by how much? Funny enough, this isn’t the only Tiptronic C2S on the market at the moment. I found at least two others! For a model I so rarely see at all to find three with the more rare automatic transmission is itself strange. So I’m curious about where this auction will go. Were I looking for a 993 this wouldn’t be the car for me, but I’m always interested in where the market lies for particular models and this one is no different. Stay tuned!

-Rob

1998 Porsche 911 Carrera S Coupe Tiptronic

I didn’t entirely intend for this post to run the day after my discussion of automatic- vs. manual-equipped 928s, but it just so happens to have worked out that way. Yet my interest here remains along similar lines and the way we (or perhaps I?) tend to ignore automatic 911s. Granted, with the 911 we’re dealing with a different world than the 928. A manual 928GTS is a rare thing, while an automatic 911 is a rare thing. Also, while the automatic actually may be preferred by 928 owners, with the 911 that’s not the case. But there are owners for whom an automatic does hold appeal so we can’t just totally ignore them. This particular 911, a Slate Gray Metallic 1998 Porsche 911 Carrera S with 17,373 miles on it, makes for an interesting test of the market and the ways in which we ignore certain cars:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 Porsche 911 Carrera S Coupe Tiptronic on eBay

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1998 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet

I don’t usually go out of my way to feature a 911 with Tiptronic, but for whatever reason this 993 really got my attention and more or less seems like just the sort of air-cooled 911 one might look for if a Tiptronic actually was desired. The 993 itself has always struck me as a particularly elegant design within the air cooled world. Some of the more aggressive edges of earlier 911s have been smoothed and the curves accentuated. The color combination of this particular 993 further enhances that elegant look. Add to that the very fact that this is a Cabriolet and I think you have the recipe for a 911 cruiser where an automatic might be preferred. Here we have a Forest Green Metallic 1998 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet, located in Nashville, with Red leather interior and 58,279 miles on it.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet on eBay

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Tuner Tuesday: 2002 Ruf R Turbo Cabriolet

If you want to understand why Ruf managed to achieve its own status as a manufacturer in Germany, it can at least partly be explained by considering the R Turbo. Not satisfied with Porsche’s own twin-turbocharged variant of the 996, Ruf made their own. They completely disassembled the 3.6 liter flat-6, reworked a fair amount of the internals including the Variocam system and turbochargers, then revised the electronics by remapping the Bosch ECU. Then they fit this upgraded engine, in keeping with their history, into the narrow-body of the normal 911 Carrera. In order to do this, it required utilizing both GT2 and GT3 parts to make the package come together. You could opt for different states of tune starting with 520 horsepower – some 100 more than the standard Turbo, making the R Turbo one of the fastest cars on the planet. Take a look at the speedometer, for example, which sweeps well past 200 m.p.h.. Yes, the R Turbo could get there, too – with a reported 217 m.p.h. terminal velocity. 0-60 was achieved in under 4 seconds and in between, very little could stay with the thin Ruf. To deal with all of this speed, of course Ruf fit their own suspension coupled with bespoke Speedline wheels and some pretty giant Brembo brakes. On top of all that, you could select new R Turbo as a Cabriolet – something Porsche themselves wouldn’t offer until 2004. And as they always have, the modifications Ruf made were as seamless as the factory bits with accompanying reliability. It made for one quite special package:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Ruf R Turbo Cabriolet on eBay

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Wagon Week: 2010 Audi A4 2.0T quattro Avant

When Audi launched the A4 Avant with the B5 series, it was a bit of a trump card for the small wagon enthusiast. True, the Volkswagen Passat had been available in 5-door form for a few generations, and it VR6 form it was quite entertaining. However, quality of the pre-B5 chassis Passats wasn’t the best, and all-wheel drive had only been available with the Quantum for a few short years in the late 1980s. Audi had offered its unique large Avant platform in both 5000/200 and S6 form, but they were pretty expensive relative to the small cars the company offered. The A4 Avant continued on for through the B7 chassis we saw yesterday; a serious improvement in looks over the rather plain looking B6. When the B8 launched, initially I thought “There goes Audi again, following the formula of making everything bigger”. The B8 was a LOT bigger than the original A4 had been; in fact, park one next to an original A6, and the B8 A4 is dimensionally it was only slightly smaller. There was one key difference, though. Sure, the A4 had been stretched in every direction – but most importantly, you’d find that the wheel base was now the best part of a foot longer than the early Audi platforms. Visually that shortened the notoriously long overhangs of the Audis and offered more legroom to the occupants. Anyone who has ever been in the back of a B5 A4 would certainly appreciate that. Amazingly, too, the new A4 was lighter, and thanks to revised suspension geometry, new and more advanced computers and a torque-laden 2.0 turbo motor, it felt and drove considerably better than any of the previous generations had, too. It even looked really good in my mind. It was an instant success as previous generations had been, making one wonder even more why it went away:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2010 Audi A4 2.0T quattro Avant on eBay

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Convertible Week B7-off: 2009 Audi A4 2.0T S-Line Cabriolet v. 2007 Audi S4 Cabriolet

Audi’s flirtation with chopped top mid-range sedans has always been an interesting one. Starting with the B4 series, Audi combined the front-drive 90 platform with parts of the Coupe platform to create the handsome and understated Cabriolet model. While not much of a performance machine, it was a good looking and reasonably sensible choice for a luxury 4-seat German convertible. It was not particularly sporty though; while Europe saw a range of engines, the U.S. received only front drive 4-speed automatic V6 models. The B4 model long outlived the rest of its siblings, soldiering on until 1998 when it was seemingly replaced by the TT model. The Roadster model wouldn’t be available until 2001, but the promise of an all-new convertible that was much sportier seemed logical. However, Audi returned to the 4-seat drop top market in 2003 with the A4 based Cabriolet model. Based initially on the B6 platform, it then seemed natural that Audi would finally offer a performance variant to compete against the popular M3 convertible; however, unlike the B3/B4 platform which had a Coupe model, there was no A4 based Coupe. To solve this problem, Audi’s skunkworks quattro GmbH undertook modifying the platform to create the 2006 S4 cabriolet.

Now, on the surface, this was a bit strange. Beyond the question of why you need a really fast convertible, you now had the question of why you needed an all-wheel drive convertible. But the Audi offered great looks, a stunning soundtrack and some trick interiors and flashy exterior colors to really help set the S4 apart. But many of the S4s were coupled with automatic transmissions; coupled with the chain problems the V8 heart is now known for, if you want a B7 cabriolet is it now smarter to consider the less flashy models?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2007 Audi S4 Cabriolet on eBay

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