1972 NSU Prinz 4L

While I usually try my best to focus on bang for your buck cars, today’s 1972 NSU will have difficulty fitting in to that category. It’s not that superminis aren’t valued as there are many who highly prize and collect the diminutive car class. But I’m talking about literal bang, or lack thereof. At 30 horsepower, the .6 liter single overhead cam inline-2 wasn’t the most powerful engine available, but the Prinz 4 was intended to break into markets where the barrier to automobile ownership was not only entry cost, but tax brackets. Namely, this was problematic in the U.K., where the original Mini reigned supreme. The Prinz 4 offered an alternative, albeit a slow one – even weighed down with only around 1,250 lbs, the two cylinders struggled mightily to motivate the car. Acceleration curves depended on what you had eaten for breakfast, but figure it was the strong side of 35 seconds to reach 60 m.p.h.. But this car was about affordability and economy rather than speed, and threw a dose of more upscale-looking class into a segment dominated by quirky designs:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1972 NSU Prinz 4L on eBay

Continue reading

2008 Audi TT Roadster 3.2 quattro

VAG’s decisions on who would be able to shift their own gears have always been a bit confusing, but the period of the 3.2 VR6 is really where this came to a head for U.S. customers. In 2004, Volkswagen brought their hottest Golf (finally!) to our market, featuring the singing VR6 in 6-speed manual only form with the R32. Great, but Audi offered the same platform in slinkier TT 3.2 Quattro form. However, fans of manual shifting were overlooked as Audi opted to bring the top TT here only with DSG. This carried over to the A3 model range, where you could get a 3.2 quattro but only with the DSG box. When it came to the next generation, VAG opted to change this formula. As it had been a fan favorite, you’d assume that the R32 would retain the same layout. But no, Volkswagen removed the manual option and the Mk.5 based R32 became DSG-only. So that would hold true in the bigger budget, typically more tech-heavy TT too, right? Wrong, as in the 2nd generation, Audi finally opted to allow buyers to select a manual in either Coupe or Roadster form:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 Audi TT Roadster 3.2 quattro on New London Craigslist

Continue reading

Two For T: 2001 and 2002 Audi TT 225 quattros

I’ll get this out of the way off the bat; not everyone likes the Audi TT, and yes, it’s not really a sports car. But excusing that it’s not a 911 although it’s similarly shaped, is it really that much of a pretender? Tight body curves that were really avant garde in the late 1990s reveal a beautifully crafted interior with lots of special details to let you know you were in a premium product. Under the hood, in its most potent form the 1.8T was quite capable as well, with 225 horsepower resulting in mid-6 sec 0-60 runs in stock form and punchy delivery. And while the Haldex-driven but “quattro” branded all-wheel drive wasn’t as slick as Audi’s other all-wheel drive systems, it works just fine in most conditions. So let’s take a look at two nice examples of these budget sports coupes:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Audi TT 225 quattro on eBay

Continue reading

2005 Audi TT 180 Roadster

While the Audi TT isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, I really respect the company for launching what was – at the time – a huge departure from it’s standard lineup. Remember, it was nearly 21 years ago that the TT Concept launched at the Frankfurt Auto Show. For perspective, while the Coupe quattro was long-gone from these shores, the B4 Coupe was still in production when the TT was first shown to the public. And when it launched way back in 1998, it was nothing short of a revolution compared to the outgoing model. Amazingly, Audi managed to keep nearly every aspect of the show car for the production model and the TT Roadster replaced the quite long in the tooth but pretty B4 Cabriolet. The new TT Roadster was offered in two configurations initially – hairy-chested 225 horsepower quattro and more hair-dresser 180 horsepower front drive form. Later, the 3.2 VR6 would be added in DSG dual-clutch quattro form only and it was this run that would round out Mk.1/8N TT production a decade ago next week. On its way out, the TT got even a bit more shouty when the company introduced a new color – Papaya Orange – to the lineup:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2005 Audi TT 180 Roadster on Providence Craigslist

Continue reading

2008 Audi TT 3.2 quattro

An interesting transposition occurred in the fast Golf-based platforms between the Mk.4 and Mk.5 chassis. In the Mk.4, the theoretical top of the heap was the Golf R32 and TT 3.2 quattro – both with 250 horsepower on tap from the rev-happy and sonorous VR6 motor, effectively twins under the skin – except for one significant difference. In the R32, in the U.S. that setup was available only with a manual 6-speed, while Audi opted to offer only the new DSG dual clutch transmission. When it came to the PQ5 revisions, it was expected that this would continue – but VAG threw us a loop, because the R32 suddenly became DSG-only and while that gearbox was available in the TT, you could now opt for a 6-speed manual in the 8J. True, the 3.2 was no longer King of the Hill for Audi, a crown that would later be placed upon the impressively outrageous TT RS. And long term, truth told the TT RS is probably the most collectable of the 8Js, but if you love the TT and you’d like something to tide you over until prices become more reasonable in the used market, it’s worth scouring the internet for a 6-speed manual version of the TT 3.2 quattro:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 Audi TT 3.2 quattro on San Diego Craigslist

Continue reading

Honorable Mention Roundup

Time for another Honorable Mention Roundup of the cars we just didn’t have a chance to get to this week. In addition to a few reader submissions in this edition, I found a few affordable performance options that caught my eye. Which is the one we should have spent more time on?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 Audi TT 3.2 quattro at Coventry Motorcar

Continue reading

2000 Audi TT Neiman Marcus Edition

It’s hard to fathom, but it’s been a full 20 years since the launch of the TT Concept design in 1995. I remember thinking that, along with the Aluminum Space Frame concept car from the year prior, it was going to be fairly unlikely that we would ever receive a production version of the slinky coupe. Styling was inspired by pre-war Auto Union record setting race cars, and inside was a revolution that hinted at some of the stellar interiors that Audis would henceforth be equipped with. It was pretty shocking, then, in 1998 when Audi announced that you’d be able to buy nearly the identical car to the show version. Initially available pre-mass production through the Neiman Marcus catalog in Christmas of that year, the first 100 Audi TTs were all identical. They were 180 horsepower front drive 5-speeds all colored Nimbus Grey with Moccasin Red baseball leather interiors and chrome 6-spoke wheels. Mostly an appearance package with no performance changes, they were nonetheless immediately collectible and in hot demand as the first of a new generation of Audis that hinted at a paradigm shift in the company:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 Audi TT Neiman Marcus Edition on eBay

Continue reading

2013 Audi TT RS

There are two ways to look at the TT RS. Either it’s a very expensive and over complicated Golf, or it’s a really cheap Porsche. Which camp you fall in to probably relates back to your general feelings about Audi’s engineering and platforms, but the VAG group has done a masterful job of filling nearly every conceivable niche with a specific model which suits the needs of a seemingly minuscule group of buyers. Consider, for just a moment, the number of 911 variants that Porsche offers. Not including color and interior variations (and forget Porsche’s individual program for a second), there are 21 variants of the 911 for sale in the U.S. right now. 21. That’s nuts. But that’s about on par with what Volkswagen has done with the Golf – producing not only the many Golf models, but also the Golf-based Jetta, A3, S3, Q3, Tiguan, Touran, Passat, several European Skodas, Seats, and – of course – the Audi TT. But while there are hot versions of the Golf available in a few different flavors, Audi took the TT RS to the next level, replacing the typical 2.0T motor with a 2.5 liter turbocharged inline-5 that hearkened back to the great 1980s designs. Sure, the motor was now transverse, and you can complain about that all you’d like. But the performance of the TT RS is undeniable – 0-60 in 3.6 seconds (with the DSG box), nearly 1 g on the skidpad and seemingly endless acceleration up to 175 m.p.h. from the 360 horsepower 5-pot. And, all of this was available for around $60,000. You also got a revised exterior with go-faster grills and plenty of special looking accents both inside and out. With only around 1,000 imported, exclusivity was guaranteed and these TT RSs are fan favorites already that are likely to retain a strong value in the marketplace:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2013 Audi TT RS on eBay

Continue reading

2002 Audi TT quattro 225 ALMS Edition

You could be forgiven for thinking that the VAG 1.8 liter turbocharged motor was the go-to motor for the company in the late ’90s and early 00s. It appeared nearly everywhere in the U.S.; the Golf, Jetta, GTi, GLi, Passat, Beetle, Audi A4 and Audi TT all received the forced-induction unit. And that was just in the U.S.; go to Europe, and you’d find many more models and even other companies with the venerable motor. You’d also be forgiven for thinking they were all the same – however, a pause for thought would tell you they couldn’t be. First off, there were the drive train configurations; the Golf-based variants have their engines mounted horizontally, while the Audi A4-based cars have them longitudinally. Then there is the output that was available from the factory; the 1.8T started with 150 horsepower and ended with 240 horsepower in the highest output TTs. Immediately, you’d think they had just turned up the boost, but in fact there were a host of changes to the 225 horsepower motors to help sustain the increased pressure. There are, in fact, no less than 13 distinct versions of the 1.8T from that generation. All shared the same basic structure; cast iron block, 20 valve head with a single turbocharger; but details including injection, computers and engine management and breather systems vary in between each of the models. The Audi TT was the only one to offer various engine outputs though; available in either 180 horsepower or 225 horsepower versions, the later of which was pared with a 6-speed manual and Haldex viscous-coupling all-wheel drive. Though heavy, they were nonetheless sprightly thanks to the turbocharged mill. I’ve said for some time now that I think these will eventually be more collectable as they were an important part of the development of the company, yet few remain in good shape. Were I going to get one, I’d opt for one of the 2002 special edition coupes; the ALMS edition, launched to celebrate the American Le Mans Series victory by Audi’s R8 race car. Available in two colors, Misano Red with Silver Nappa leather or Avus Silver Pearl with Brilliant Red Nappa leather, they were mostly an appearance package but also received special 18″ “Celebration” alloys and were limited to 500 examples:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Audi TT quattro 225 ALMS on Craigslist

Continue reading

Future Classic: 2002 Audi TT quattro 225

Without going any farther into detail, I’m aware that the title alone will leave several of you disagreeing with me. Perhaps everyone will. But at the very least, in my mind I really think that the first generation Audi TT is a future classic. It’s hard to look back at the 8N Volkswagen Golf-based with complete objectivity, but if you go all the way back to when this car was first designed – 1994 – you can start to see why there’s an important legacy to the Audi TT. In many ways, it revolutionized Audi’s lineup. There was simply nothing like it before; even the much-loved Quattro was really a carefully re-crafted sedan. But the TT looked bespoke with a slinky body hiding the rather pedestrian underpinnings. Then there was the all-wheel drive system, which introduced the first Haldex all-wheel drive to U.S. customers. Truth told it was mostly front drive and these TTs don’t have the best driving experience that an Audi has ever provided, which I’m sure some detractors will immediately point towards since Audis in general aren’t known as supreme driver’s cars. But to me, the A8, A4 and TT all worked together to save Audi for us here in North America. They created a buzz about the company; for the first time since 1980, they were once again on the cutting edge of German design and desirability and they haven’t looked back since. They made a lot of these TTs so there are plenty to choose from, but this one really stood out to me:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Audi TT quattro 225

Continue reading