2002 Audi TT 225 Coupe ALMS Edition with 18,000 Miles

I watched this past weekend’s Le Mans with diminished interest compared to the past few years. The loss of the great champion Audi narrowed the likelihood of overall victory to a two-horse race. And within that duo was one horse who, if it didn’t have bad luck, would have no luck at all. To be honest, I was rooting for Toyota to finally come good on their promise of the (gasp) last 30 years of racing at Le Mans.

Of course, the curse of Toyota struck once again and with a vengeance, leaving Porsche to smirk in their pits until an equal fate befell them. It would have been Audi’s year, almost for certain, had some engineers not decided to push the limits of diesel technology.

It brought me back to the golden era of Audi’s dominance; the early R8 period, when the cars seemed unstoppable in endurance racing. So successful was the company in making the leap to Le Mans that they generated a special model just to celebrate; two alternate color options for the 2002 Audi TT 225 Coupe. All were laoded manual quattro coupes only in 225 horsepower form; the only choice you had was whether you wanted Misano Red Pearl Effect with Silver Gray Nappa leather interior or Avus Silver Pearl Effect with Brilliant Red leather. As like the rest of the S-Line models of this period, the TT also got a special set of “Celebration” alloy wheels inspired by the RS4 design. Lastly, you got a commemorative sticker and a membership to the Automobile Club de L’Oeust for a year.

While no performance gains were to be had, these smart looking 8Ns are still among the more favored examples of the first generation TT – and this one might be the best out there.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Audi TT 225 Coupe ALMS Edition on eBay

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2004 Audi TT 225 quattro Roadster

Like the Audi Cabriolet which preceded its introduction, the TT Roadster lives in a strange no man’s land; traditional Audi folks usually aren’t very interested in them, and those from outside of Camp VierRinge (who generally hate Audis to start with) really dislike the TT. Most decry its lack of sport car attributes and claim it’s just a poseur for hairdressers and trophy wives.

That’s a shame, really. The 8N chassis might not make for an M3 killer, but it was a serious step up from the Cabriolet if you enjoy canyon carving. First off, it came with more power – in any configuration. While the B4 had droned on with the reliable but not powerful or exciting 2.8 liter V6, the 8N got turbo power from one of two 1.8T motors initially. Later in the run, as with the R32 they added the 3.2 liter VR6, and yes – you could get that in convertible. Unfortunately in the first gen TTs, the big horsepower came at a cost – it was a bit nose heavy and only available with the admittedly trick but also complicated dual-clutch DSG box here. So, if you’re really in need of the 6-cylinder powerplant, your better bet is to look towards the second generation TT; better driving dynamics were mated with the option for a 6-speed manual there.

But all is not lost on the first gen, because the 225 quattro is the real gem of the lineup. And, it’s quite affordable, all things considered. Towards the end of the run, they were heavily optioned up and even available in some wild colors:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 Audi TT 225 quattro Roadster on eBay

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Tuner Tuesday: 2004 Audi TT quattro 2.5

Rightly or wrongly, the Audi TT has been accused of being a pretend sports car. Usually that criticism is lumped onto the chassis by the regurgitating internet generation; masters of all they have never experienced. Get in to a second generation TT, and you’ll be amazed at how they drive – I promise. But the first gen? Based on the same platform as the Mk.4 Golf, the 8N certainly isn’t as sporty as its replacement, but it’s still a very competent sports coupe. In 225 or 3.2 VR6 form, it’s plenty potent, too. But for some people that just isn’t enough:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 Audi TT quattro 2.5 on eBay

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2013 Audi TT RS Final Edition

Once in a while, a truly special package comes along and is seemingly gone in the blink of an eye. The TT RS was that package for Audi, marrying the fantastic 8J chassis with the outrageous 2.5 liter turbocharged inline-5 and a 6-speed manual. With 360 horsepower on tap driving all wheels and a sticker price below $60,000, it was Audi’s answer to the BMW 1M, and it was a good one. Though the driving experience perhaps wasn’t as “pure” as the Munich monster, the TT RS was a potent alternative that was on par with the competition, if not better. It was a Porsche killer at a fraction of the price.

But it was short lived, only being available for the 2012 and 2013 model years. On its way out, around 30 of the RSs were handed over to Audi Exclusive. Painted special Nimbus Grey Pearl Effect and optioned with the bi-color leather interior, they were also heavily optioned with the Titanium Exhaust package treatment which came with the titanium exhaust, black optics grill and titanium “Rotor” wheels. A special “RS” shift knob was also present, and the total package (which included the Tech Package, as well) upped the sticker price to over $70,000. Today you can have a basically new one for a seeming steal at some $20,000 less:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2013 Audi TT RS Exclusive on eBay

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2001 Audi TT 225 quattro

1I went to college in London in 2000, about the same time that the first generation TT started to appear on British roads. Because my dorms were in a posh part of town, there were always a few of these parked nearby. The car’s styling struck me as extraordinary. It captured something of the millennial zeitgeist: a minimalist, Bauhaus-esque design that artfully blended lines and curves on the outside, with a bespoke-feeling cockpit on the inside featuring splashes of brushed aluminum and baseball-glove stitching on the leather seats. Back then, I had ambitions to become a lawyer, and this was the perfect car, I thought, for a young single man about town. The perfect yuppie’s car.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Audi TT 225 quattro on Albany Craigslist

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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