1996 Audi A6 quattro Avant with 30,000 Miles

Audi’s priorities in the mid 1990s in regards to the U.S. market shifted, as they concentrated their efforts on reestablishing any semblance of market share with what would prove to be the very successful A4. The A4 itself was evolutionary rather than revolutionary, as it incorporated most of its technology from the existing platforms. Similarly, Audi backed away from its venerable turbocharged inline-5 platform; a new V6 had become the go-to option choice in both B4 and C4 platforms in 1992. It was far from sporty, but the combination of moderate V6 power, updated looks with the 1995 refresh of the chassis and legendary build quality resulted in what I consider the most Mercedes-Benz like car Audi built. THe A6 2.8 quattro was luxurious in a Spartan way; just enough power options, but not tech-heavy. It was quiet, comfortable, handsome and capable in a time when it still held the monopoly on all-wheel drive wagons – remember, this was the time when the widespread popularity of SUVs was still a generation away. You could even squeeze seven passengers in to a A6 thanks to the optional rear bench seat. They became vogue with the ski-set, and as a result few appear in the condition of today’s example:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1996 Audi A6 quattro Avant on eBay

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Drop-top Double Take: 1996 and 1997 Audi Cabriolets

Every semester at the culmination of my teaching experience with the college students who have selected my course rather innocently, I let them in on my super-secret double agent identity as your author here. Having suffered through a few too many of my lectures already, most treat the news with about the same amount of enthusiasm and interest as they do when I tell them about the Sudanese Kush Pharaohs – which is to say, none (seriously, it’s a very interesting topic. Egypt basically denies they existed!). But occasionally I get a student who is much more interested in my double-life than in my lecture notes. One such student passed through was perhaps as unexpected to me as I was to him. He nonchalantly aced the class with seeming little difficulty, but upon seeing my announcement regarding German Cars For Sale Blog, he excitedly emailed me about his shared love of Audis. He revealed that he owned a ’97 Cabriolet, which proves two things: first, smart people buy Audis, and second, Audis turn up where you least expect them. And the Cabriolet might be the least expected Audi Audi made – coming from a manufacturer renowned for turbocharged inline-5, manual all-wheel drive coupes, sedans and wagons came a front-wheel drive, automatic only (in the U.S.) V6 2-door convertible. Expensive, a bit slow and soft compared to the competition, the Cabriolet sold slowly with only around 1,000 units moved per a year during its availability here with a total of 5,439 imported through 1998. I think a fair amount of fans view the B4 Cabriolet as the least interesting of the Audi lineup in the 1990s, but to me it’s always been a very pretty and underrated car. In particular, the rear 3/4 view is very attractive and the shape changed little with its progeny. But the unusual nature of the Cabriolet has generally meant that it’s been a pretty big bargain in the used convertible market for the past few years – if you can find a good one:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1996 Audi Cabriolet on eBay

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4 Turbos, 10 Doors and 12 Speeds – Double Take: 2001 S4 Avants

With recent looks at both B7 and C4 S-cars, it was time to take a look at the middle child of the run – the much loved B5. For some time these were considered too heavy and complicated for long-term enjoyment, but a resurgence of interest in the model has been driven by a very active aftermarket that supports them. In the U.S., the most loved models are the 6-speed Avants and we have two to consider here today for a double dose of forced induction family fun. Which would be the 5-door you’d choose?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Audi S4 Avant on eBay

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Nogoff 2: 2014 Audi S4 v. 2015 Audi S4

A good friend of mine rolled up for a visit yesterday in her B8 Audi S4. So much attention has been focused on the launch of the turbocharged M3/M4 that it’s easy to forget that the S4 is still a very good choice in the sport sedan market. If you believe that all Audis drive the same with terminal understeer, you haven’t been behind the wheel of the most recent generations from the four rings, whose clever computers, suspension and differentials have left them turning as well as they go. And they look as good as they go too, with signature top-tier interiors and lovely details. Audi recently offered a brief run of classic Nogaro Blue Pearl Effect on the S4 too, with a special edition that bathed the S4 in the purpley-blue. Today I have two such colored examples to look at – which is the one you’d nog off to?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2014 Audi S4 on eBay

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2000 Audi A4 2.8 quattro Avant

If yesterday’s mellow yellow 323Ci wasn’t the sunshine you’d like to see, how about something a bit more brilliant in design and presentation? I have to say the fascination with BMW wagons and their ensuing high prices sometimes perplexes me, as Audi offered a sporty, manual, all-wheel drive Avant that is great looking, reliable and long-lived and will make you feel pretty special. That’s especially so when it’s optioned in one of the more rare shades available on the B5; in this case, LY1B Brilliant Yellow. I’m sure there will be claims that, like Pelican Blue and Tropical Green, these Easter colors make the jelly bean shaped A4 a bit too festive, but personally I love the look of this Avant:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 Audi A4 2.8 quattro Avant on eBay

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One of One: 1992 Audi 90S Prototype

From yesterday’s end of the run B2 Audi 90, today we have another special feature on a unique Audi. While the B3 heavily revised the safety, aerodynamics, comfort and luxury for the small Audi range, weight went up and power was effectively the same, meaning that the B3 was at a distinct performance disadvantage to the natural rival BMW. Audi did increase the amount of power that the B3 quattros had at their disposal with the introduction of the 7A 20V motor in 1990, but the twin-cam inline-5 wasn’t available in front drive Audis which sold in greater number. That gulf grew wider as BMW upped the power again with the new E36 chassis, now with the best part of 190 horsepower available in the 325i. To answer the competition, Audi heavily revised both its large and small chassis in for the 1991 and 1992 model years. The C4 model was introduced late in 1990 in Europe, and while Audi did away with the 200 model the new S4 ostensibly replaced it with even more sport. But the 100 saw massive changes too, with the introduction of automatic transmissions to the quattro range widening the appeal of the model. Though the V8 quattro had offered that option previously, it was a much more expensive model and the 100 was also available in Avant form. But the big change was under the hood, where a AAH 12 valve single cam 2.8 liter V6 replaced the previous NG/NF 2.3 naturally aspirated inline-5 and MC1/2 2.2 turbocharged inline-5 power units of the 100 quattro and front-drive and 200 Turbo front wheel drive models, respectively.

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 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). 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. And to help promote the new model, Audi brought over a few pre-production models, one of which we have here:

Email Seller: 1992 Audi 90S on German Cars For Sale Blog

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2001.5 Audi S4 Avant

I’ve recently done some comparisons on the sport editions of the B6 and B7 chassis Avants, asking whether packages like the B6 Ultrasport or B7 S-Line Titanium Package justified the premium they commanded over similar non-sport models. There’s another Avant that commands a serious premium in either B5 or B6 form, but in this case it’s not anything to do with being more or less sporty. Mechanically and physically, these specimen are identical to the other models in the run, but it is the color that stops people in their tracks, generates clicks and opens wallets – Nogaro Blue Pearl Effect. The lineage started with the RS2 and its signature shade “RS Blue” which was then continued with the S6 Plus and the B5 S4. It was the color of speed for an entire generation of wagon lovers, so what does that equate to today?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001.5 Audi S5 Avant on eBay

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Ultrasport Version 3.0: 2002 Audi A4 3.0 quattro Avant v. 2005 Audi A4 3.0 quattro Avant Ultrasport

A few weeks ago in my “Avant-off” article, I asked if the premium for the Titanium Package S-Line cars was justified. But comparing a B6 to a B7 can be tough, since there are a fair amount of differences in styling and performance. To equal the playing field more, today I have two nearly identical cars. In this case, it’s a normal A4 3.0 quattro Avant 6-speed against a very similar Ultrasport model. Just like the Titanium package, the Ultrasport package was mostly for looks; you got the Sport Package 1BE suspension, 18″ “Celebration” RS4-style wheels with summer high performance tires, perforated leather 3-spoke steering wheel and shift knob, aluminum interior trim and a quattro GmbH body kit. It was a $3,000 option on top of your already pricey A4 in 2004 and 2005, and came in 1.8T or 3.0 V6 configurations in either sedan or Avant. They’re relatively hard to find, so let’s look at the theoretical premium the package commands today:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Audi A4 3.0 quattro Avant on Worcester Craigslist

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2003 Volkswagen Passat GLX V6

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As I prepare my departure from the Washington, DC region next year, one skill at which I’ve become quite adroit during my stay is the ability to know my audience. Sometimes it’s best not to interject personal opinion around here unless you want to start a war. But you know what? Given it’s the holiday season, I felt like I needed to spread some cheer. Or, in this case, grief. And it’s directed squarely at Volkswagen and their discriminatory and downright disappointing product decisions which they have taken in the US market. I’ve got a short list of grievances to air, so let’s run down the list:

1. Please don’t create a whole subset of models specific to the US market. Sure, tastes differ across the globe, but individuality is king. Not only that, “global” models will save development costs.

2. Tell the product planners over at Audi that we need less SUVs, more Avants and a halt to the removal of manual gearbox options year on year. You might not have noticed, but we witnessed another three-pedal death with the redesigned 2016 Audi TT.

3. Audi needs to rethink their move in not bringing the A3/S3 Sportback stateside. While not as hideous as the Mercedes-Benz CLA, not everyone wants to do yoga moves to get in the back seat of a small sedan like the A3 and S3 or lose the convenience that comes with the larger load bay of a hatchback.

4. The Volkswagen Routan. If the person who gave this model the green light is still employed with Volkswagen, they should stand trial for a crime against humanity. Is it any wonder this badge engineered turd only lasted five years? Bring the Transporter/Eurovan back, please. Those who enjoy the great outdoors will thank you.

5. US Scirocco sales should commence. Immediately. Your argument that the Scirocco would cannibalize GTi sales is invalid, Volkswagen.

6. Let’s talk about the 500 pound elephant in the room that is the Volkswagen Passat. The car which led the VW renaissance in the US almost 20 years ago is now nothing more than a German Ford Taurus. At least there was a diesel option with a 6-speed manual before the emissions fiasco this year, but now the oil burner has been removed from the lineup. Additionally, not everyone who opts for a new Passat with a manual gearbox wants the bare bones trim level. Let those who enjoy the manual gearbox choose all the options they want, please. If there’s a silver lining in all of this, it is that we can still buy the attractive Passat CC (but I’m guessing not for long).

7. Will we ever see the Volkswagen Polo in the US? The Polo GTi would be a worthy competitor to the current MINI Cooper S, which has gotten hideously large. Also, how about the Passat Alltrack for kicks? This would give the Subaru Outback a run for its money and you would certainly grab the interest of the VW faithful still running the few Quantum Syncro Wagons left.

I’m sure there are other complaints which I might have failed to address. To be fair, it’s not entirely Volkswagen’s fault, as the rules and regulations to sell a car in the US would make dictators of a one party state cringe. Needless to say, the old adage holds true here: freedom defined is freedom denied. One thing is certain, though. I almost feel as if the diesel emissions scandal that shook VW to the core in September is, in a sense, a bit of karma for a car company which strayed too far its roots and lost some of its most loyal customers in the process.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let’s dial back a few years when you could still get a well equipped Passat with a manual gearbox. This 2003 Passat GLX V6 hasn’t even cracked 60,000 miles yet but harkens back to a time when the Passat was the darling of the mid-sized segment. This was the car that brought Audi levels of luxury to the masses.

Click for details: 2003 Volkswagen Passat GLX V6 on eBay

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Motorsports Monday: 2000 Audi S4

Why does the Audi S4 not get more attention on Motorsports Monday? Well, for most the generally heavy platform coupled with the forward bias of the relatively heavy motor doesn’t equal track excitement. Motivation has never been a problem with Audi’s fastest small chassis cars, but braking and turning aren’t where the excel – especially compared to the competition from Munich and Stuttgart. However, a recent ride in my stripped-out and stiffened-up Audi left me the best part of an inch shorter and thinking. Going to the track is such a great time, but there must be a better balance between the 95% of the time that the car isn’t at the track to the 5% it is – if you’re lucky. And while in all out track performance, it’s hard to argue with the E36 chassis as the best value going, the B5 S4 is a compelling alternative to have plenty of fun in between – and, year round:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 Audi S4 on eBay

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