Boxflare Showdown: M3 v. Quattro

This one has been brewing in my head for some time, and required only two things; the right two cars. I think, in this case thanks to the help of our reader Martin, I might just have the right two candidates. While BMW enthusiasts love to tout the virtue of the boxflared M3, they often overlook the importance of the Quattro. The chunky, Giugiaro-designed Audi made it to the market with its bulging quarters a full 5 years ahead of the M3, yet the DTM star is arguably much better known than the all-wheel drive Rally champion. Both were certainly important to the development of their respective corporate brands; both have illustrious careers as race cars and both are considered by connoisseurs to be the best design of those that followed. Quietly, while the market-star M3 has soaked up the headlines, good condition Quattros have also been appreciating, and with far fewer of them produced than M3s they’re a more rare sight today. They’re also, generally, much older and fewer were taken care of in the way that the M3s were pampered. Add little factory support and an even worse balance of the number imported to North America – only around 10% of the total of North American bound M3s – and it’s a hard match up. Yet, today we have two overall great condition cars to consider. Who wins the boxing match? Let’s start with the odds-on favorite M3:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 BMW M3 on eBay

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Motorsports Monday: Audi Quattro Rally Car

While I’m sure we’ve all had moments of regret, I’ll share one of mine. It involves a crazy story of how close I got to a owning Quattro. Several years ago, my then brother-in-law was really into Toyota pickup trucks from the 1980s, and seemingly was buying every single one on Craigslist. He called me,quite excited, one day saying that he needed a hand picking one up not far from where I lived. As a bonus, he told me, the guy owned an “old Audi race car” that I’d like seeing. This somehow turned into me driving to my parents home to get the car trailer, then back to the guy’s home to pick up this Toyota. The wheels were locked and I had to use the tow straps as come-alongs to tow the wreck of a pickup onto the trailer. Once done, sweaty and annoyed I turned my attention to the boxy silhouette that lay behind where the truck had been. The red and brown stripes were unmistakable in their journey over the flared arches and up over the angular C-pillar; it was an Audi Quattro. And, it was in a horrible state; sitting in weeds, the composite hood was warped and full of holes; no engine lay under where it haphazardly lay. Closer inspection revealed that the flares were larger than normal, too – but it was a bit of a wreck. Proudly the owner told me how he was going to restore this car to it’s former glory as an SCCA ProRally car; I nodded in the knowing way that it was unlikely under his ownership to turn another wheel judging by the pickup I had just dragged onto my trailer. I left, shaking my head a bit that it was a car wasted.

Fast forward a few years and I got a call from my brother-in-law; he had heard from the seller of the pickup who wanted to get in touch with me about the Quattro. I told my relation that I wasn’t really in a place to pay for another car – especially one which looked like that car did. But a call to the owner revealed he was in a spot of bother and needed to get rid of the car. If I simply turned up and dragged it out, it would be mine. Hurriedly, I jumped in my truck and was off to pick up the trailer. About 3 miles from my parent’s home, a loud “BOOM” greeted me when leaving a stoplight. The truck still moved but the transmission was obviously not right. I got underneath to find a large hole in the transfer case; so began my complete hatred of General Motors. I called the owner, disappointed, telling him I couldn’t make it. He, too, was disappointed, but put a call in to another potential party who turned up to pick up the car. I was about 20 miles from classic Audi Quattro ownership, and it slipped through my fingers. True, it was probably a mixed blessing – the car needed a full restoration and would have been a bit of a money pit, and it wasn’t an original factory works car but one that had been converted – but running across a listing like today’s similarly converted car makes me wonder what it would have been like:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: Audi Quattro Rally Car on Race Cars Direct

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1983 Audi Quattro

It’s a sigh of relief to see a market correction in classic Audi’s favor. For such a long time, Audis were simply unappreciated; but innovative designs, great looks and solid build quality mean that those who hung on for the depreciation ride are now smiling a bit more. There’s simply more appreciation for the classic Audis now then perhaps ever; even perhaps more than when they were new. That’s because back then, no one knew what they were, really – but today, the legend of Quattro has spread and thanks to the proliferation of internet video, we still get to hear the raucous barking and watch the belching flames from the turbocharged inline-5. This past weekend, I took my Coupe GT out for a ride. I grabbed my cousin and we went to look at a new car for him; a 2009 Subaru WRX. Much like a modern interpretation of the original Audis, it’s apropos that we arrived in an Audi to take a look at it. What was perhaps more striking, though, was the reaction of the Subaru crowd. We showed up to a Subaru speed shop where the WRX was to be view, and instantly once within earshot, all of the crew at the garage came out to see the approaching Audi. It was a genuine show of respect, smiles, and thumbs up from a crew you wouldn’t automatically assume would know their history. Even more shocking, though, was the resounding appreciation they showed for the old car – more than often is seen at Audi-specific events. That’s the legend and the importance of the Quattro:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1983 Audi Quattro on eBay

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1980 Mercedes-Benz 450SLC 5.0

When I think of homologation specials, there are all sorts of models that instantly pop into my head. Of course, being an Audi fan, the Sport Quattro is a great example, but plenty more images pass through my mind, too. Of course, Group C spawned a whole series of special cars, from the RS200 and Lancia 037 to the Porsche 959. There’s the special 924 Carrera GTS, for example – a car few remember outside of Porsche circles, and one that’s often forgotten even by them. Then there’s the great period of DTM specials – the “Evolutions” of the M3, 190E and V8 quattro that proved Darwin was right. Of course, you can go back even further and look at one of the most special cars ever created – the original Ferrari GTO – to see a very special homologation of a race car. But outside of the big headlines, there are plenty of small production run cars that were created to jump through loopholes, and returning to my original Group B example, we can see one neat car that was created in order to run in World Rally. It’s not a car you’d expect though – it’s the quite heavy and long Mercedes-Benz C107. Mercedes took steps to make it rally worthy, including lightweight aluminum panels in front and back, and of course upped the power with a new all aluminum 5.0 V8:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1980 Mercedes-Benz 450SLC 5.0 on eBay

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1983 Audi Quattro

Despite my general love of all-things-Audi, even I have a hard time coming up with good condition examples of the marque from the early 1980s. For U.S. fans, there just isn’t a plethora to choose from. For example, when you search eBay for Mercedes-Benz, Porsche or BMW models and sort by age, you’ll find usually several pages of examples before you get to the 1980s, where inevitably there will be a flood of models. When you switch to Audi, you’ll find three cars – and this is a good week. Fortunately for Audi fans, one of those three cars is the daddy – an original Audi Quattro. Few of these quite expensive turbocharged all-wheel drive Coupes made it to the U.S., and even fewer remain today; as I mentioned in the Coupe Week 1983 Quattro post. There was an excellent example of a low mile Quattro that had been repatriated to Europe, a trend which seems increasingly popular for the model which has more respect in the Fatherland than amongst U.S. enthusiasts. In fact, recently on our Facebook page one of the Quattros I posted prompted an enthusiasts to remark that the boxflared-fenders were reminiscent of the E30 M3 – without any acknowledgement that the Audi came on the scene well before the DTM star. So here’s your opportunity, Audi faithful, to keep one of the better examples of the limited-run Quattro on U.S. shores with this excellent 1983 Mars Red example:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1983 Audi Quattro on eBay

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Coupe Week: 1983 Audi Quattro

I know what you’re thinking from the earlier post; “Really Carter? You’re going to do a Coupe GT and not a Quattro? Don’t be silly! Of course, the legendary and original turbocharged all-wheel drive Coupe is on my list for Coupe Week, and Paul spotted this stunning example on Classic Driver. It may be one of the lowest mile Quattros in existence, and certainly one of the best outside of the museum. While interest in the Quattro has surged thanks to Audi finally acknowledging in their ad campaigns that they made cars before the A4, the truth is that too long the Quattro was an unappreciated giant of automotive design. How unappreciated? Well, even as interest grows we’ve seen quite an odd trend; Europeans have been reverse-importing U.S. spec cars back to Europe. Such is the case with this example; originally a U.S. spec car that is back up for sale after returning to European soil:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1983 Audi Quattro on Classic Driver

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Motorsports Monday: 1985 Audi Quattro Rally Car

Few motorsport images are quite as evocative as the legendary period of Group B; flying machines spitting stones and belching flames as they skirted trees and rocks at breakneck speeds with crowds only inches away. The ever more powerful cars hurtled their drivers in increasingly lighter and more delicate evolutions of cars towards immovable objects – an act which is some cultures would probably be akin to ritualistic suicide. By 1985 the writing was on the wall; it was a deadly sport that needed to be reigned in. But perhaps more than any other period, this is the time that rally fans and motorsports fans in general identify as one of the most memorable and important periods in racing history. Obviously, the big winner of the period from a reputation standpoint was Audi. The car that helped to define and end the period of wild turbocharged excess, the Quattro has obviously been the spawn of many replicas, such as this one for sale today in England:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 Audi Quattro “Group B” Rally Car on eBay

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Double Take: Modded or Stock 1983 Audi Quattros

For some time, the Quattro remained an undercover legend amongst enthusiasts. Saddled with an unfair reputation from media hype and enthusiasts’ misconceptions, the Quattro was remarkably affordable until very recently – especially so when you consider the ascension of other ’80s icons. But Audi’s acknowledgement that they built cars prior to the A4, coupled with some star power from the British show Ashes to Ashes and universal acknowledgement of the car’s impressive stature in the halls of automotive history mean that it’s still a star on the rise – especially in Europe, where the car is seriously coveted. Americans are just catching on in the grand scheme of things – and their delay means that many of these turbocharged all-wheel drive wonders have gone the way of the Dodo. It’s not as if there were many to choose from initially, with only around 11,500 of them produced and a majority of those remained in Europe. The U.S. only saw a few years of importation; a reported total of 664 made it here – and though they’ve maintained a devoted fan following since they were pulled from these shores in 1986, it’s nevertheless been difficult to find good examples of these cars today. They’ve become regarded as quite cool; the mystique of the turbocharged, box-flared World Rally Championship car for the road – the original Quattro is unsurpassed in the realm of cool Audis. Today, we’ll look at a mild and modded example and see which is the one to grab:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1983 Audi Quattro on Craigslist

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1985 Audi Quattro

If the GTi from earlier was expensive for an economy car in 1984, the Audi Quattro was near ridiculous in its pricing; at over $35,000 in 1982, it was more expensive than most Porsche models at the time, including the 911. But the Quattro was the R8 of its day, redefining Audi’s place in the market and introducing exotic performance to a more mainstream crowd. It wasn’t revolutionary in any one particular way; turbocharging and 4 driven wheels has previously hit the market in other applications. But the Quattro combined World Rally Championship performance in an everyday package that could comfortably carry 4 adults with luggage in style. They’ve been legendary since new, but not always appreciated as such – though Audi’s recent acceptance and acknowledgement that it did indeed build cars before the A4 has helped the rising market value of these models. Arguably the most valuable in general are the last model year; updates to the weak point computer and fuse box, coupled with the perfect stance 8″ Ronals and updated interior, along with slightly revised headlights and trunklid meant these were special cars amongst an already rare bunch. Less than 100 made it to these shores, so coming across them today is something of a treat:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 Audi Quattro on eBay

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1983 Audi Quattro

In the spectrum of things you wouldn’t expect to see parked next to a tired Ford Taurus at a second-tier used car dealership, to me an original Audi Quattro would rank pretty highly. Couple the exclusivity of the few that were imported with the avid followers that seem to know the movements of virtually every model and you have a recipe for stalker-status enthusiasts that snap up every good example. And a good example this car appears to be; Tornado Red with upgrade 8″ Ronal alloys in rally white and Euro-lights, but otherwise mostly original condition this Quattro looks like one of the best examples that has come to market recently:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1983 Audi Quattro on eBay

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