1988 Audi 90 quattro

The B3 was a much needed update to the very old small Audi chassis in the late 1980s. Although the addition of the 4000 quattro was only a few model years old and the Type 85 B2 had undergone a pretty comprehensive update in 1985, the reality was that it was a chassis which had been designed in the mid 1970s and was antiquated compared to the BMW E30 and Mercedes-Benz W201 chassis, both of which it was out of sync with in terms of launch. While both of those cars were in mid-life in 1986, Audi launched its new B3 platform with a heavily revised, updated and aerodynamic replacement for the popular 80 and 90. This was interesting, as the B2 would continue alongside in production for several years – notably in Coupe form – until the new 2-door was prepared.

The U.S. market’s offerings also didn’t mesh with Europe either in nomenclature or trim scale. The 4000 quattro had only come in one form – 4000S in 1984 and 1985, and 4000CS in 1986 and 1987. They were relatively loaded and all powered by the venerable JT inline-5. However, Europeans had enjoyed several different configurations; the basic 80 and more upscale 90, with many different options. Audi would continue the 4000CS in 1987, but in 1988 the new models rolled out, with two options like the Europeans had. As in the Fatherland, a prospective buyer could get the basic 80 quattro or opt for the more luxurious, upscale 90 quattro. Many of the design elements of the U.S. spec 4000s carried over into the 80 – such as the rear urethane flush spoiler and even the standard Ronal R8 alloys. But the 90 came with nicer bits, such body color bumper covers with integrated fog lights, wood trim inside, a more pronounced rear spoiler and BBS alloy wheels. You could also opt, for the first time in the small chassis, for the signature Audi color of Pearlescent White Metallic paint at an addition charge and power seats on the 90 quattro.

Mechanically, the 80 and 90 quattros were twins until 1990, and many of the options – ski sack, sport seats, heated seats, onboard computer – were shared between the two, but the 90 always felt a bit more upscale than the 80. Power came from the NG 2.3 inline-5, generating 130 horsepower and 140 lb.ft of torque; modest, given the near 3,000 lb. curb weight of the B3 – a result of the many luxuries and new protective technologies Audi introduced in the 90. The 80 and 90 beat the 200 to the market in 1988, meaning they were the first to debut the new second generation of all-wheel drive quattro to the U.S. market. It featured a driver-actuated lockable rear differential that automatically deactived at 15 m.p.h., but the center differential was now an automatic Torsen unit. The B3 also brought anti-lock brakes to the small chassis, as well as body galvanization. It was really a huge step up from the antiquated (if much loved) B2, overall:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Audi 90 quattro on eBay

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1988 Audi 80 quattro

While the move from the B2 to B3 chassis brought many changes to the small Audi lineup, it was also very much a case of ‘meet the new boss, same as the old boss’. Some of the features of the 4000 were gone; you could no longer opt to lock the center differential, for example, since the manual locker had been replaced by a more sophisticated Torsen unit. You could still opt to engage a rear differential lock, but electronics overrode that at 15 m.p.h.. That change was indicative of movement in the marketplace and where the B3 was aimed – slightly more upscale from the B2. Interior quality was greater, and production was broken into two categories as it had been in Europe. Selecting the top-range 90 quattro got you nicer BBS wheels, color matched bumpers and mirrors, a sportier raised spoiler, a better leather interior and wood trim. The downscale 80 would channel more of the outgoing 4000, with savory Serret Velour and a more plastic-heavy interior. They even opted to keep the same Ronal R8 wheels as the old model early on, and the subtle rear spoiler was a near copy of the B2. The more basic 80 was closer in performance to the 4000, too – the luxury and safety items of the B3 meant more weight, and the 90 tipped the scales at nearly 3,000 lbs. Mechanically identical, the 80 quattro was about a hundred pounds lighter and anyone who has driven 80s normally aspirated Audis knows that 100 lbs. makes a difference in performance. Motivation for both was the same NG-code inline-5 that was seen in the last Coupe GT Special Build models, meaning 130 horsepower and 140 lb.ft of torque – smoothly adequate, but certainly never overwhelming. As with the 1988 5000S I looked at the other day, these models came to market at a time of crisis for Audi, and consequently few were sold. Audi’s best year of sales for the B3 quattro twins was 1988 when just over 3,000 were sold – only a handful more than the outgoing 1987 4000CS quattro, and rare for a new model. This Stone Gray Metallic example is one of the few that come to market and looks like one of the better ones we’ve seen:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Audi 80 quattro on eBay

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1993 Audi Coupe

Though it lived a short life in the United States over only two production years in 1990 and 1991, the Audi Coupe both started before that run and continued after in Europe. Along with the rest of the B lineup, the Coupe was refreshed for the “new” B4 lineup after 1992. Most notable in this production cycle of 2-doors was the introduction of the convertible model, the new V6 engine and of course, the fan-favorite S2. However, for those with a more modest budget and interested in better fuel economy, you could still get a EA827-based motor in a 2-wheel drive configuration. Displacing the same 2 liters an with 16 valves clattering away, the 138 horsepower front driver wasn’t much of a match for the girth of the B4, but it was cheaper than the 5-cylinder quattro models:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1993 Audi Coupe on eBay

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Entwicklung 80: 1990 Audi 80 Quattro V8

It was really neat to see the interestingly optioned pre-production Audi 90S V6 last week, but more from a curiosity standpoint. As many noted, what’s the market on a front drive pre-production Audi 90 with 200 miles? It would take a very special and specific fan to be interested in that chassis. The same can’t be said of today’s example. When it came to tuning up the Type 89 quattros, Audi offered a few options; the DOHC 7A motor with 164 horsepower came to the U.S., but European markets also got the stellar S2 in 20V Turbo form. Though both were most common in Coupe quattro form, sedans and even for European customers Avants later were available with the legendary turbocharged mill. However, let’s not forget that technically the 20V Turbo wasn’t the top of the heap in 1989, since Audi had just launched the revolutionary quad-cam all-aluminum 3.6 V8. That motor was the signature mill of the eponymous V8 quattro. Out of the box, the V8 was the most powerful Audi on offer, but the engine package would only be available initially in the D11 chassis, but in 4.2 form it would later be offered in the C4 S4/S6 as well. The first small chassis Audi with a V8 wouldn’t be until the B6 S4, right? Well, wrong, because a few generations prior Audi apparently toyed with the idea in some development 80s:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Audi 80 Quattro V8 on autoscout24.com

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Double Take: 1990 Audi Coupe Quattro

For some time, the B3 Audi Coupe quattro enjoyed a coveted place in the lineup, and many enthusiasts still consider them the high point of Audi design. However, in the market place their star has fallen slightly as newer and faster cars have become more affordable. While for some time a solid example would have cost you well north of $6,000, these low production all-wheel drive hatchbacks seem to have fallen on harder times recently. They have a reputation for being slow compared to the competition – the result of being relatively heavy rather than lacking in the motor department. The 7A inline-5 20V motor is a true gem of a motor, and on the fly these Coupes are quite entertaining to drive. Of course, as with most of the Audi quattros, turbo conversions are popular and the possibilities are near limitless. The B3 chassis also upped the electronic quotient for the driver compared to the relatively simple B2s. Electronic fuel injection, electronically locking (and automatically disengaging) rear differential, a Torsen center differential, electric seats and automatic climate control moved the B3 upscale from the B2, along with added safety features. However, this past year the first of these Coupes turned 25 years old – an age that qualifies them as being antique in some states. Audi only sold a reported 1,730 of these Coupes between 1990 and 1991 model years, and the best (and probably optimistic) estimates put only about 75% of those still on the road today. So, today instead of looking at two modded examples, here are two clean drivers that could be an affordable and unique classic:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Audi Coupe quattro on Washington D.C. Craigslist

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1994 Audi 90CS quattro Sport

If you were looking for a sporty small executive sedan in 1994 and opted to buy an Audi 90, something was amiss. You would have waded through the miring scandal of “Accelerategate” and the media implication that your Ingolstadt-born all-wheel drive wonder would suddenly attempt to go full throttle (preferably, when your husband was opening the garage door….). Okay, so you must have had some understanding of physics, logic, spacial awareness and could differentiate a square pedal from a rectangular pedal and your left from right. That, in and of itself, isn’t all that odd. But then you still bypassed the BMW dealer to look at the Audi; a move which probably surprised even them. After all, in 1994 the E36 chassis was still relatively fresh and won nearly every magazine competition it was entered into. In comparison, 1994 was the penultimate year for the B4 quattro as the new A4 was already on the horizon, and though it had received a refresh in 1992 the now B4 chassis didn’t really offer much new technology or refinement over the outgoing B3. It was dressed up with some newer clothes, wheels, and a slightly more powerful motor, but it was still numerically at a disadvantage to the BMW on several fronts. The V6 produced 172 horsepower – about 17 less than the inline-6 in the E36. That V6 also hauled around more weight than the BMW did, so the Audi was predictably slower in every measure, too. The weight and larger displacement meant it got worse gas mileage. And for the pleasure of this slower, thirstier, older chassis, you paid less, right? No – walk into your dealer and select the 1994 90CS quattro Sport as shown here, and you were going to pay over $35,000 – about $5,000 more than the base price on a 325i sedan. Is it any wonder that Audi only shifted a reported 773 of them that year?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 Audi 90CS quattro Sport on Orange County Craigslist

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Feature Listing: 1990 Audi Coupe Quattro 20V Turbo

In my recent “Gimmie Five” 10K Friday, I charted some of the developments of the venerable Audi powerplant. Though the Eurovan would continue using I-5s in some applications, ostensibly 1997 would see the end of the line for the original configuration with the discontinuation of the S6 even if it’s returned in spirit in the new 07k turbocharged 5 seen in the TTRS and RS3. Those cars are the successors of the original small turbocharged Audis; the Quattro and the S2 coupe and Avant, and while we briefly got the 10V Quattro, none of the later small turbocharged variants came to the U.S.. For enthusiasts that were unwilling to wait for either the new models to launch or the European models to become legally eligible for importation, a popular pursuit has been to recreate the turbocharged package in the small chassis. Adding the turbocharged motor in 20V form instantly transformed the B3 and B4 into performance machines, and with plenty of tunability in the package it was possible to create a really serious package. That tuning has been taken to another level by an entire generation of new electronic fuel injection management which exploits the longevity and stout construction of the inline-5 and makes absolute monsters. Sure, it was impressive that Audi produced versions that managed the best part of 1,000 horsepower in certain tune in the 1980s – but that, of course, was a major manufacturer with near unlimited budget. What’s more impressive is that small tuning firms subsequently have been able not only to match but to exceed those power levels, with companies like 034 Motorsport and Dahlback Racing making 1,100 – 1,200 plus horsepower variants on their own. Even though the B3 chassis is fairly heavy, if you can turn up that boost to high levels you’ve got yourself a rocketship – and this S2 replica certainly has the right ingredients for that recipe:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Audi Coupe Quattro 20V Turbo on Motorgeek

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10K Friday: Gimmie Five – Audi 5-pot-off

Today’s 10K Friday is something a bit unique; instead of a normal comparison between similarly valued cars, I’m going to chart the development of the venerable Audi inline-5. While, due to a dearth of examples, we won’t go back to the very early days of the I5 in the U.S., I’ve rounded up some of the more notable configurations that the engine appeared in the U.S.. Since, save some exceptions like the legendary Quattro and RS2, nearly every used Audi with this motor fits the under $10,000 limit (or comes close to it), that gives us the opportunity to see Audi’s continual technical changes to the inline-5. Though not as memorable as BMW’s inline-6 or Porsche’s flat-6, this motor was extremely important to the company nonetheless and was a character-defining attribute of Audis for nearly 20 years. So, let’s see how they kept it relevant from the 1970s into the 1990s:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Audi 4000CS quattro on Craigslist

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Tuner Tuesday Ersatz S2: 1990 Audi Coupe Quattro S2 Replica

For some time, if you wanted to go fast in a two-door Audi in the U.S., you had to make your own car from pieces of others. Even if you selected the much praised Quattro, you had a fairly heavy car to start with that was coupled to a rather measly 160 horsepower. Unless it’s snowing, a bone stock Ford Fiesta ST will pretty thoroughly stomp all over the legendary boxflared wonder in just about every situation. So people began modifying the turbocharged cars to produce more boost and bring them into line with their European counterparts. Of course, when it came to the replacement for the Quattro, those that waited longingly from 1985 until 1989 for the next turbocharged coupe were greatly disappointed. Sure, the new 90-based B3 Coupe Quattro had 20 valves under the hood – but no turbo came here. Europeans enjoyed several iterations of the turbocharged B3 and B4, including the Porsche tuned RS2, but in North America only the normally aspirated, slightly portly 2-door hatch came here. Again, it was no surprise that as soon as they were outside of warranty, people began to tinker; in this case, making their own S2s out of pieces from their bigger brother 200/S4s. Installing the 20V Turbo into the engine bay instantly transformed the Coupe Quattro from competent cruiser to sleeper assassin:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Audi Coupe Quattro on eBay

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Odd timing or choice? Audi Cabriolet Roundup

Why am I doing an Audi Cabriolet post on Christmas Eve? Well, mostly because it’s a model that we generally ignore. I’m not even sure why – the B4 Audi may not be the most attractive Audi model ever, but I’ve always found the Cabriolet to be the best looking of the bunch that came to the U.S. The sleek lines of the 3/4 view are especially pleasing. With refined good looks and a relatively bullet-proof drivetrain, they should be a common choice for those looking for a cabriolet. Couple that with typical ’90s low residual value for nearly all of the Audi lineup, and you’d think everyone looking for a occasional drop-top would be snapping these up. But they’re not. Perhaps it’s worry about unreliability of older Audis or perhaps it’s the lack of sport offered by the package, but the result is that if you like these 2-door drop top Audis, you can get a pretty good deal on one today:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1997 Audi Cabriolet on eBay

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