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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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1967 NSU Prinz 1000

I’m somewhat ashamed to admit that my wife and I get some pleasure from watching the television show Hoarders. Thankfully I don’t believe that we’re in danger of being categorized as people who hoard anytime soon, but the show holds a certain fascination for me. One of my favorite games watching the show is to try to identify the cars that almost inevitably litter the yards of some of these hoarders. Discarded, covered in mountains of trash and sometimes partially disassembled, it’s always a bit of challenge to attempt to correctly identify what make and model that individual decided to hoard. It’s usually complicated by the fact that many of them are obscure cars from the 1960s and 1970s, such as this NSU Prinz 1000. Few were originally sold in the U.S. and even fewer remain in serviceable condition today. Looking through the photos provided by the seller, though, only reminds me of that game I play against myself; without the brochure, build plate and the two older photos of the outside of the car, go ahead and try to figure out what you’re looking at:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1967 NSU Prinz 1000 on eBay

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Tuner Tuesday Turbo Quattro Coupes: 2004 TT 3.2 quattro HPA Turbo and 2009 R8 4.2 Heffner Twin Turbo

When they launched the original Quattro, Audi redefined how performance could be packaged. With supercar performance but day to day practicality, the Quattro established a niche that made Audi unique amongst not only German manufacturers, but indeed the automotive world. Since then, however, the idea of all-wheel drive and turbocharged platforms have spread not only to sister companies Porsche and Volkswagen, but indeed to Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Porsche, Opel and even outside Germany to Japan. So Audi once again redefined its packaging; in the case of the TT, they brought expensive styling to the masses, and in the case of the R8, they brought supercar performance and packaging to a 911 budget. But it’s not just Audi that has raised its game; tuning firms are held to much higher standards then they were in the 1980s. Go back and look at some early Callaway turbo setups, for example, and you’ll see what was cutting edge in the 1980s – levels of fit and finish that just aren’t acceptable today, along with driving characteristics not suitable to most owners. Computerized engine management has transformed what is possible in the tuning world to the point where today’s packages often retain OEM-levels of driveability with otherworldly performance on tap. Two great examples of this can be found in HPA’s turbocharged Audi TT and Heffner’s twin-turbocharged Audi R8:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 Audi TT 3.2 quattro HPA Turbo on eBay

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10K Friday Super Drop-Top Edition: Cabriolet v. TT v. S4 v. Cabriolet v. Beetle v. Eos v. S2 v. Boxster v. M Roadster v. M3 v. 500SL v. CLK55 AMG

Okay, hang on folks, this is a long one – what’s the most class, speed and style that you can get for $10,000 these days in German motoring? I’ve lined up some of the examples of just how much you can buy – which is your favorite?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1997 Audi Cabriolet on eBay

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Motorsport Monday: 1967 NSU TT 1200

It’s not often that you get to see an NSU these days, especially in the United States. It’s even more rare to find an NSU race car in the U.S.; but especially rare would be the cars that have substantial race history. In the case of this car, that history includes being raced since new – something very few cars can claim. Want some history? This car was extensively upgraded to a 1200CC motor some 47 years ago. Take that, Porsche crowd! The TT was renowned as a good racer, with plenty of balance, braking and light weight to make good use of its relatively modest power output. Looking ready to hit the track still nearly 50 years later, this TT is for sale today on Ebay:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1967 NSU TT on eBay

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