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:
In just a few years, Audi went from only one S model with very limited production imported in the C4 S6 to three models. Top of the range was the S8, but it shared its running gear and sonorous V8 in a slightly detuned state with the new C5 S6. For Audi enthusiasts, though, big news came with the launch of the new S4.
It was unrelated to the first S4 because of Audi’s renaming strategy in 1995. That meant that the new S4 was based on the small chassis B5, and U.S. enthusiasts finally got a taste of Audi’s M3 competitor. Performance came in the form of a new 2.7 twin-turbocharged V6 30V and was mated to either a 5-speed Tiptronic transmission like its bigger siblings or a 6-speed manual. Like other B5s, the S4 made use of the 4th generation of quattro technology driving all four wheels. This utilized a Torsen center differential with open front and rear differentials, both of which employed the ABS sensors to electronically ‘lock up’ the slipping wheels when a speed differentiation was detected. Like other S models, some light revisions to the bodywork and more pronounced exhaust were present, along with polished mirrors and 17″ Avus-design wheels. Most notable was the large front bumper cover with 6 gaping grill covers which hid the twin intercoolers for the motor. With 250 horsepower and 295 lb.ft of torque, you had an all-weather 155 mph warrior. And, it was available as an Avant:
Because it’s an early 1980s Porsche and the model ends with “Turbo”, it must be automatically unaffordable, right? Not so fast. While the air-cooled market has lost some of its forced-induction steam as of late, few would consider the 930s out there “cheap”. But there is still plenty of value in the transaxle marketplace; and from early 928s to the fledgling 924 Turbo, automotive journalists are pegging these cars as the ones to buy before they, too, head upwards.
The 924 Turbo, or 931 internally, was a huge upgrade from the standard 2.0 924. The addition of a KKK K26 turbocharger and 6.5 lbs of boost did the best part of double the power in Europe – even in U.S. trim, an impressive 140 horsepower was available. Yet they developed a reputation as expensive to run and finicky; when later, equally powerful normally aspirated 944s and even more potent 944 Turbos came along with fewer drawbacks, the 924 Turbo fell into relative obscurity. Today, find a good one though, and it’s a recipe for an instant classic collectable:
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:
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.
Way back in 2015, I looked at a special Allroad – one of ten that were used in the 2002 Sal Lake City Olympics. They were created through Audi’s Exclusive program and were finished in Sprint Blue Pearl Effect. Since they’re so rare, they don’t come up for sale often. But one did come across my desk this week, and it looked awfully familiar. That’s because it’s the same car I looked at back in ’15! So here it is again, about 70k more miles and not quite as pristine as it once was. But it’s still got the desirable 6-speed manual swap, it’s no reserve, and Sprint Blue is always an eye catcher. So let’s take a look at it today!
Well, if it’s not evident already, you know why this one is here. First off, it’s one of just about 1,200 RS6s imported. But the vast majority of those are black, gray, or blue. A little over a year ago I took a look at a rare one that wasn’t – one of five Polar White examples. But in terms of rarity, this one is 250% less likely to be seen. It’s one of a claimed two Imola Yellow examples sold in the US. Some people claim color doesn’t matter, but let’s be honest – here, it does.
After looking at a very shiny, and very expensive, S6 last month, two more very nice examples have popped up for sale with a few less questions – and a lot less in terms of asking price. What attracted them both to me, besides the more approachable asks, was that they represent opposites in many ways. We have a Pearlescent White Metallic with Black leather 95.5 equipped with Speedline Avus wheels, and a Black over Ecru 95 wearing Fuchs. It’s interesting to see them both appear at the same time – so which represents the better deal? Let’s start with the 95.5 first:
In just a few years as the century turned over, Audi went from only one S model with very limited production imported in the C4 S6 to three models. Top of the range was the S8, but it shared its running gear and sonorous V8 in a slightly detuned state with the new C5 S6. For Audi enthusiasts, though, big news came with the launch of the new S4.
It was unrelated to the first S4 because of Audi’s renaming strategy in 1995. That meant that the new S4 was based on the small chassis B5, and U.S. enthusiasts finally got a taste of Audi’s M3 competitor. Performance came in the form of a new 2.7 twin-turbocharged V6 30V and was mated to either a 5-speed Tiptronic transmission like its bigger siblings or a 6-speed manual. Like other B5s, the S4 made use of the 4th generation of quattro technology driving all four wheels. This utilized a Torsen center differential with open front and rear differentials, both of which employed the ABS sensors to electronically ‘lock up’ the slipping wheels when a speed differentiation was detected. Like other S models, some light revisions to the bodywork and more pronounced exhaust were present, along with polished mirrors and 17″ Avus-design wheels. Most notable was the large front bumper cover with 6 gaping grill covers which hid the twin intercoolers for the motor. With 250 horsepower and 258 lb.ft of torque, you had an all-weather 155 mph warrior – and one that could easily be turned up many notches: