I recently did a breakdown of the C4 production changes, including the rolling revisions on the ‘1995.5’ models, which I covered in a lovely Magnolia Pearl White:
1995.5 Audi S6
The only real downside to a clean S6 sedan is that, of course, there was also an Avant provided – and who doesn’t love an Avant? This one looks pretty special, and as an interesting counterpoint to the 2021 RS6, let’s look at Audi’s first true big-body S five-door in the US:
Since the 1990s, the proliferation of each premium marque’s “special” brands has become dizzying, and for enthusiasts it seems as though they’ve continuously diluted the performance options in favor of profits. From S-Line to AMG to perhaps the biggest offender, BMW’s M division, companies are badge slapping-happy when it comes to sticking a bigger set of wheels, some special trim and maybe, if you’re lucky, a few extra ponies. And on the surface, this 335d would seem to fit that description perfectly. After all, how could you possibly compare the diesel to that sonorous M3’s S65 V8 that cranks out over 400 horsepower and 300 lb.ft of torque with a 8,400 RPM redline? Pull up to a redlight next to one in this 335d, and the snickering owner would undoubtedly be laughing at the ‘M-Sport’ option package you ticked off. Because you’d think there would be absolutely no way that diesel would produce equal power to the M3.
You’d be right. The M57 under the hood of the 335d doesn’t produce as much horsepower as the M3, at least not in stock form. But torque? It produces more. A lot more.
Starting at a leisurely 2,000 rpms, the twin turbochargers augmenting the inline-6 spool up to a mountain of power. In stock form, the 335d cranked out 428 lb.ft of torque. In fact, it’s so much torque that gets used on a regular basis that the first person I met who had one had already consumed a transfer case on his xDrive model, and he’s not alone. Being a turbocharged model, it was also quite easy and possible to turn up the wick, and yet this classy 4-door can still return 35 mpg. Try that in a M3:
Why would anyone even contemplate paying nearly $80,000 for a 26 year old, complicated and turbocharged Audi wagon? Because of the badge that adorns the front – the magical ‘Renn’ added to the S2 badge, along with the legendary name Porsche scripted below. That meant that this relatively unassuming Audi 80 quattro Avant had been produced in Zuffenhausen on the 959 production line rather than Ingolstadt or Neckarsulm and had added a healthy dose of even more “Sport” to the small chassis. Ostensibly, though the Sport Quattro was the first RS vehicle, the RS2 was the first to wear the badge which has become synonymous with Audi’s speed department. For many Audi aficionados, though the RS vehicles have become much faster and more luxurious, just like the with W124 500E and the E30 M3 Audi has never made a car better in its overall execution than the original. Not that it was slow by any means; Porsche’s massaging of the ADU inline-5 resulted in 311 horsepower – even more than the Sport Quattro had from essentially a very similar motor.
So despite being much heavier than the Sport had been, the RS2 wasn’t much slower; sub-5 seconds to 60 and a top speed north of 160 mph. Along the way, it was capable of bullying everything outside of a supercar; yet this car also established the move from Audi’s 2-door halo vehicle to a long line of fast five doors. Porsche also upgraded the brakes and wheels with Brembo units and 17″ ‘Cup 1’ wheels creating a signature look, and tacked on 911 mirrors for good measure. So, too, was the color signature; original called RS Blue rather than the color name it’s often mistaken for – the later Nogaro – bright blue is still the go-to shade for Audi’s fastest and was just announced on the launch of the new RS6 Avant. Even within its fast contemporaries, this car was legendary, and the upgrades to the motors and wheels spawned an entire generation of enthusiasts to turn up their inline-5s stateside. Now that these cars are legal for importation, a steady stream have been coming up for sale:
As we’ve said before, a few select marques and cars get a pass when it comes to these pages, and one of my favorite exceptions is Volvo wagons. The Sultans of Square went a bit bonkers with turbocharging over a few generations; the 240, 740, 850, and V70 all had relatively high-performance turbocharged versions of their sibling sedans that were both practical and pulse-quickening. But when it comes to the top of the heap, the 850 T5-R and its replacement, the 850R, must certainly be in contention.
Launched around the same time Volvo was curb-hopping its Estate version of the 850 in the BTCC (replete with inflatable dog in the cargo area), the T5-R took a page from the Audi RS2 and E500 book and turned to Porsche to up the ante. Fiddling with the engine tuning resulted in 243 horsepower and 250 lb-ft of torque, and was met with a stiff suspension, 17″ wheels, and interior and exterior tweaks. Like the RS2 with its famous (and often mistakenly called Nogaro) RS Blue, the T5-R’s signature shade was T5-R Yellow. These were quick in period and are still pretty respectable today, though the quite limited production numbers mean you might need to look to other markets to find one:
Predictably, as it did with Mercedes-Benz Pagodas, Porsche 930s, 80s BMW M products and the original GTI, the quick rising of selling prices for the Audi Quattro has continued to bring good examples to market. Where we used to wait seasons between seeing any at all, today you seem to be able to view at least one pretty good one on the market at any given time.
There are those that say you can’t really compare the Quattro to the M3, or even the 911 – though the pricing was quite similar. But isn’t that the point? In period, the other car you could have bought for the same money as a Quattro was a basic 911. And the market spoke: in 1983, Audi sold some 240 Quattros in the U.S.. Porsche, on the other hand, traded 5,707 911SCs between the Coupe, Targa and new Cabriolet models. There was basically no market overlap with the other two major contenders – the 944 Turbo and the M3. Both those cars, and the 911, were finished to a higher level of quality with better components, arguably, but the real difference was the type of owner who bought the Quattro versus the 911. These cars were built to be used and abused, and many were.
Today’s example wears LA3A Mars Red that was shared with the A1 and early A2 chassis Volkswagen GTI and GLIs (along with a few others), but is less frequent to see on the Quattro than the color that replaced it in 1984 – LY3D Tornado Red. It appears to defy the odds and be a survivor worthy of a closer look:
Wow. That is all I can say about this one. This of course being a 1995 Porsche 911 Turbo finished in Violet Blue Metallic over a Florence Gray leather interior. It is bold both inside and out as you can see, and for some, an ultimate 911. The 993 Turbo has held steady around the $100,000 for the nice examples with some miles, but this one up in Belgium has just under 27,000 miles. Needless to say, this car is not around $100,000. Not even close.
While we’re on the subject of modified cars, this Quattro that I looked at back in February is back on the block. If nothing else, it’s nice to look back to a time just before lockdown – and the car isn’t bad, either!
Today’s post is not about how revolutionary the Quattro was. I’ve written plenty of those and I’m sure you’re tired of hearing about it. So instead, today’s post is more of a philosophical question.
At what point do modifications become sacrilegious?
There seem to be several camps of automotive enthusiasts; one seems to always be wrapped up in the biggest, brightest, and fastest things to come out. Another group embraces the history of automobiles and celebrates most who love the cars. And then there are the preservation people. They’re a very special group who deem it necessary to fault someone’s vision or personal preference in their expression of automotive enthusiasm.
Perhaps we transit through these groups as we age. I can certainly remember a point in my life where I was part of the newest and fastest group. I can remember moving into the second group as I attempted to modify my car to be a personal expression. And, more recently, I’ve found the appeal of originality much greater. I’ve certainly even poked fun at or criticized my fair share of cars. Which brings us to today’s example of a 1983 Quattro.
Having just looked at a few modded fails, I think it’s relevant to remind ourselves that not all modified cars are in bad taste! And where better to start than one of the most popular classics that people like to customize; the BMW 2002.
A few months back I took a look at a wild Zender-bodied example that pulled it all together rather well, if a bit extreme:
1973 BMW 2002tii Zender Widebody
Today’s example is one year newer and a lot more tame, but no less shouty. This example has undergone the knife and come out sporting Turbo-style flares, an M42 DOHC inline-4, and a host of other mods all draped in Porsche’s Miami Blue. Does it pull it off?
Following up on the recent Callaway Stage IIs, the other best-known American turbocharger of German products in the 1980s was Steve Dinan. Equally highly regarded, Dinan’s products have made their way from a small independent to being offered in BMW dealerships across the country, and the quality of his work is on par with the best independent tuners from Germany – Hartge and Alpina. Dinan has taken on tough projects – turbocharging the S38, BMW’s first V12, and punching out their V10 to 5.8 liters – and come away smiling.
Today, one of his less-exotic historical products is on the market. In this case it’s a 1989 535i that was turbocharged, lowered and stiffened, and given a big set of wheels. It’s the classic recipe, and sure enough, the outcome looks nice. But what makes this car notable is that it was reportedly Steve Dinan’s personal car, and is presented as the poster pinup probably more than a few of us reading about in Car & Driver when new:
As counter-intuitive as it might seem, Porsche made a bunch of automatic 911 Turbos. Specifically automatic 911 Turbo Cabriolets. Why? Well, that is what their buyers want. I know we are all dyed in the wool enthusiasts obsessed with heel toeing and nailing the perfect shift, but there are a lot middle-aged dentists out there who want a convertible Porsche to drive to the Daily Queen on Sunday evenings with their midsize dog in the back seat. Thus, we have a glut of 911 Turbo Cabriolets.