1997 Audi A4 2.8 quattro

Emerging from the sales slump brought on by the recession and actual fake news, Audi solidified its position in the small executive luxury market with its brand new A4 model in 1996. While in truth the car heavily borrowed from the evolution of the B3/4 series and started life with the same flaccid 12 valve V6 that had replaced the sonorous 7A inline-5 for 1993, the A4 was exactly the model Audi needed to redefine its image.

And redefine it did, going from near zero to hero in just a year’s time.

Car and Driver
immediately named the A4 one of its “10 Best” cars, a position it would repeat in 1997 and 1998. Okay, maybe it wasn’t the perennial favorite as the BMW 3-series was for the magazine, but still, that it was mentioned in the same breath was impressive. New sheetmetal was smooth and tight, full of great angles and well-placed curves. The bumper covers were finally integrated well again – something the U.S. specification B4 had inexplicably failed miserably at. Inside was evolution rather than revolution, but the cabin looked and felt upscale and modern. And the market responded to this instant hit; consider, in 1994 Audi sold 12,575 cars in total. In 1996, some 15,288 of just the A4 models were sold. That was before the many variations and improvements Audi rolled out in the B5, too.

Seemingly every year new changes offered refreshment and redesign to the A4. In late 1995 and 1996, you could only get one specification – the 2.8 either with or without quattro. But ’97 saw the introduction of the 1.8T, and the Sport Package got some revisions as well with new Ronal ‘Swing’ 16″ wheels. Today’s Laser Red example has to be one of the better examples out there:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1997 Audi A4 2.8 quattro on eBay

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2001 Audi S4 Avant

Audi brought the S4 Avant to the United States for the first time in 2001. It joined the sedan lineup and offered a follow-up to the large chassis S6 Avant from 1995. This was actually the second S4 Avant, as Europeans had enjoyed the C4-based creation in the early 90s. Audi’s renaming convention therefore created a successor to the B4-based S2 Avant. Instead of the traditional inline-5 motivation, though, Audi had developed a new 2.7 liter version of its V6. With a K03 turbocharger strapped to each side, the APB produced 250 horsepower at 5800 rpms and 258 lb.ft of torque at only 1850 revs. Like all the B5s, Audi’s new generation of quattro used a T2 Torsen center differential and relied upon an electronic rear differential utilizing the ABS sensors. The B5 chassis used the same technology on the front differential as well and was capable of independently braking each front wheel to try to sort the car out through its dynamic stability program.

But the real fun was that it was available as an Avant and with a 6-speed manual. Just over 1,500 were claimed imported between 2001 and 2002 model years, with about 600 of those being Tiptronic equipped. This is one of a claimed 80 Imola Yellow 6-speed manual Avants imported for the model year, and for good measure it’s got quite a few upgrades:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Audi S4 Avanton eBay

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2000 Mercedes-Benz SL320 Edition

I’ve seen some pretty odd and particular special editions over the years. Most of the time it is a cash grab by manufactures during the end of a generation to clear out stock and move aging units before a fresh new model comes. Other times its anniversary editions that make sense, but lots of times are clearly just mailing it in. Today, I have one of these strangest special editions I’ve ever seen.

This is the 2000 Mercedes-Benz SL320 Edition. Not Special Edition, not Anniversary Edition, just Edition. They literally just called it the “Edition.” Why? I have no idea. The even more bizarre thing is there was another special edition 2000 SL320 in the Mille Miglia edition. That car looks exactly the same as this one except for the badges. Someone help me here.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 Mercedes-Benz SL320 Edition at Lancaster Classics

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GCFSB Alumnus: 2002 Audi allroad 2.7T Audi Exclusive Olympic Edition 6-speed

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!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Audi allroad 2.7T Audi Exclusive Olympic Edition 6-speed on eBay

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1993 Audi 90CS

Following up on Andrew’s Mercedes-Blah and my interesting because of obscurity 4000 5+5, here’s one of quite a few relatively forgettable Audis. In the small chassis, Audi continued to offer two different chassis levels for the newly introduced for 1992 B4. Carrying over from the C4 range was the same 172 horsepower 2.8 V6, powering either all four wheels or the front wheels only. Few mechanical changes were made to the quattro models versus earlier inline-5 models, but the front drivers received more refinement from a trailing arm torsion beam axle instead of the previous Panhard rod design. Outside, new front and rear fascia was mostly expressed by integrating the hood and grill to match the C4 design. Fender flares increased, new contoured hoods offered more character, and different bumper covers updated the look slightly. New wheel designs were also incorporated into the B4 quattro lineup, with 10 spoke Speedline-made wheels being standard and optional Ronal “Sport” 5-spoke wheels, both in a slightly greater 37mm offset as opposed to the 45mm offset of early B3 models (with the exception of the Coupe). Front drivers came standard with 6-spoke Ronal ‘Aero’ wheels. There were plenty of other minor changes inside and out that added up to a very different and more refined feel versus the earlier B3. But Audi needed to provide some time for U.S. dealers to relaunch the new 90 model range. So, while in 1991 you could buy either a 90 quattro 20V or 80 quattro, in 1992 there was only a 80 model available – no 90s were sold. This coincided with the lowest sales figures for the small chassis Audi had recorded. The new 90 would launch here in late 1992 as a 1993 model in both quattro and FrontTrak form. Mostly people only remember the front-drive 90s in their Cabriolet form, but soldiering on was the 90S/CS as well:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1993 Audi 90CS on eBay

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2019 Audi RS5 Sportback

In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m a huge Audi fan. Some Most consider this a huge flaw. But the company has emerged from fringe technology fighting to compete with the established giants in the 1980s to be the standard for interiors and, even in some cases, performance in a daily driver. And as a result, they’ve become incredibly popular. For some reason I can’t fully identify, as they’ve become more popular I’ve become increasingly disenchanted with the brand. They all look broadly similar, they all are way too complicated, and they all are way out of my price range.

But once in a while one pops up that grabs my attention. I live by a port that delivers new Audis and Volkswagens, and ride my bike by the long rows of oh-so-boring white, grey, silver, silver-grey, off-white, black, black-grey, grey-black, and charcoal SUVs that pile into this country. But last year I caught sight of a green RS5. I never stop to look at these cars, but I stopped to look at that one. It was damn impressive, and I internally applauded the buyer who sat down and refused to buy a black car. On top of that, they refused to put black wheels on it, too.

Lo and behold, I found its four-door twin this week:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2019 Audi RS5 Sportback on eBay

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2001 Audi S4

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:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Audi S4 on eBay

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More Than Just a Tribute: 2001 Audi S4

Update 11/13/19: Despite showing as sold for over $34,000, this RS4 clone was relisted with a $32,500 Buy It Now.

On the other end of the spectrum from Audi’s U.S. spec B5 S4 was the monster which left me, and most fans of the marque, frustrated. That’s because Audi skunkworks quattro GmbH partnered with corporate acquisition Cosworth Engineering to create the legendary RS4. The same 2.7T motor from the S4 suddenly developed not 250 horsepower, but 375. Arches flared. Mouth was firmly agape. Seats were huggier. Wheels were bigger. Suspension was lower. It was wagonier. It was all around a better car in virtually every way.

So it should come as no surprise that its lack of importation didn’t stop enthusiasts from trying their own hand at the mods. And because of the turbocharged nature of the B5 S4, it was a little bit easier to achieve similar results to Audi. So here we have a B5 RS4 ‘Tribute’, but one that not only added the OEM body pieces and turned up the motor. Because under the hood hides not 375 horsepower, but punched-out 3 liter V6 churning 700 horsepower – at the wheels, mind you. Welcome to ‘The White Beast’:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Audi S4 RS4 Tribute on eBay

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2001 Audi S4

The B5 S4. On paper, its a car that I should like a lot. Coming from the modest 4000 quattro, Audi produced what should have been a monster on paper; a 2.7 liter twin-turbocharged V6 rated at over twice the power of the old inline-5s mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. 6-spoke Avus wheels carried on the late 90s design in 17″ form, with deeper but still subdued body additions and more grills hinting at the better performance of this A4-based creation. Twin polished exhaust tips, Xenon headlights, deeply bolstered sport seats and plenty of technology also came along from the ride, too.

But for me the B5 S4 sedan was never super exciting. Perhaps that was because it was instantly popular. What I remember annoying me more, though, was that it really seemed like Audi could have produced stronger performance. After all, it generated only a few more horsepower than the last favorite at launch, the already out-of-production E36 M3 was the match for the performance of the S4 due to its lighter weight. And that was in turned-down U.S. spec! More sharply notable was the launch at the same time of the S8, and the S4 was some 90 horsepower down on that model. Yet get behind the wheel of one, and suddenly it wasnt a lack of grunt you were noticing. It was how well the package pulled together. It rode well, it had a glut of usable torque thanks to the small twin turbos ability to spin up so quickly, and the fit and finish inside was leagues better than the E36 was. And while you could stick snow snows on an E36 and make it through winter just fine, as a year-round commuter car the S4 made a lot more sense while simultaneously being a much better sleeper. It was a Q-Ship; admittedly, not the biggest or fastest one out there, but certainly an undercover speed agent. These cars developed a cult following, so it’s still possible to find nice examples, such as this Casablanca White over Onyx 6-speed:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Audi S4 on eBay

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1994 Audi 90CS quattro Sport

Update 12/3/19: This Audi 90CS quattro Sport is listed as sold for $7,900

Audis nomenclature took an interesting turn once again in the early 1990s. From the B2s 4000CS quattro the only way the car was available at the end of the run, Audi had introduced the tiered 80/90 quattro for the B2 model range. That culminated in the 90 quattro 20V, but even though the run of the B3 was short in the U.S., by 1991 the model was already 6 years old for the European market. Audi then skipped the 1992 model year for the 90, offering only the holdover 80/80 quattro while it readied the 90s replacement. That replacement wasthe 90. But strangely back again was the S/CS model designation in this new chassis, the B4, which was a heavily revised B3 chassis with some new sheetmetal and trim.

But the big news was new engines; gone was the NG and 7A, last of a long line of inline-5s that had populated the noses of small Audis since the late 1970s. In its place was the AAH 2.8 liter 12 valve V6. Rated at 172 horsepower and 184 lb.ft of torque, on paper it was the superior motor to the double-overhead cam inline-5 it theoretically replaced. But the power delivery and experience were entirely different. While the peaky 7A encouraged you to explore the upper realm of the rev counter, the AAH wasnt particularly rewarding at the redline. Where it was superior was in low-end torque and its smooth power delivery, and though the cast-iron V6 was no lighter than the inline-5, its shorter overall length meant that some (okay, only a bit) of the nose-heaviness that had plagued the B2 and B3 series was forgotten.

But the CS quattro moniker only lived a short two years in the U.S. before it, too, was replaced by the last-year oddly-named Audi Sport 90 quattro. ’94s are equally strange, being termed the ’90CS quattro Sport’. These were also some of the slowest-selling Audis in a history of not particularly prolific sales; Audi shifted only 718 1993 models and barely more in 1994 at 773. Youre much more likely to find a last-year model, as the Sport 90 quattro and the slightly lower-spec 90 quattro accounted for nearly as many sales as the 93 and 94 years combined. As with the prior B3 90 quattro, the Achilles heel of the B4 was the price. The base price for the 90CS quattro in 1993 was nearly $33,000, and add your taxes and a few options and you were close to a base M3 in ’95.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 Audi 90CS quattro Sport on eBay

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