Affordable Iconic Cars: Audi A8 V8 Quattro

audi A8

I was more a fan of Lock, Stock, Snatch and Bank Job than I was of Transporter. I liked my cockney’s cheeky not suave. And certainly not muscles from Brussels, or in this case, lusty from London. But then I was introduced to Transporter 2 and forgetting all the flexing and martial arts, the car chases and sense of speed finally won me over.

audi a8 w12

Jason Statham, for those uninitiated, played Frank Martin, a driver extraordinaire who delivered some exceedingly dodgy parcels without asking any questions. He had three rules; never change the deal, no names and never open the package. I quite enjoyed the flick, I certainly liked his pad in the South of France but I loved his car, a 2005 Audi A8L W-12. Six litres and  a whopping 444 bhp (331 kW), the same engine found in the VW Phaeton and also in Bentley’s Continental, though in that guise it was given twin turbos. Nevertheless, it was able to propel a car weighing more than two tonnes from rest to 100 km/h in 5.1 seconds and on to 160 km/h in only 12.3.

After a little more digging, it appears that they used both the V8 and the W12 in the movie. Some people out there have noted that the W12 insignia found on the grill appears and disappears throughout the movie, depending on the driving style needed for a specific scene. I’ll take their geeky word for it, which is handy, because I can’t find a W12 from that era available for sale in Australia – the States yes and at very reasonable prices too, but not here.

audi a8 in black

However, there are plenty of V8 Quattro’s available and other than the grill art you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference.   Now, when new, you would have had to fork out almost $200k for this sublime, aluminium laden, four wheel driven machine. Add eight or nine years and a little over 110,000 kms and you can have one in your garage for just over $30k. Thirty bloody thousand!

Think about that for a moment. That’s more than $20k a year in depreciation, which is a terrible statistic if you’d bought new, but it’s marvellous for those of us prepared to wait. Added to that you’d have a better looking car too, compared to the new model available today.   The V8, second generation Audi A8, referred to as the D3, lost a second or so in the sprint to 100km/h compared to the W12 but who cares, 6 seconds is fast enough. This isn’t a WRX, you are not going to wake people up blasting away from the lights in the middle of the night, after blowers hissing away. No, you’re going to waft away cool as a cat, luxuriating in tactile leather, bathed in incredible Bose sound whilst practising your east London vernacular.

So now that I have tempted you, what should you know. Its timing belt has to be changed by 150,000 kms, preferably sooner. This is an Audi remember so anything major will be expensive, so prevention is always better than cure. Ensure that the coolant is red in colour, if not then the wrong mix has been added and who knows what could happen. It probably shows a lazy owner, so steer clear.   All engines leak a little but anything more than that spells danger, especially around the valve covers and head gasket.   Make sure there are no leaks around the power steering pump, steering rack or high pressure hydraulic lines at the bottom of the driver’s side of the engine too.   If you can get beneath the car, A8’s can leak oil at the final drive seal on the transmission and the seal may need to be replaced, which isn’t too expensive. But the seals around the rear differential may need replacing if you see oil splatter anywhere near it. This can be costly as the whole diff would need to come off to replace them.

If the CV boots are torn the whole axle needs to come off to replace them so that adds up.   If you have the chance to take it to a mechanic it would be worth checking the on-board computer fault codes for the engine, transmission and the heating and aircon system, or HVAC.   Inside apparently the heated steering wheel, yes that’s right a heated steering wheel, has a tendency to fail. Hardly an issue in Australia, but its worth noting. The electric headrests had similar problems too, so make sure they move. Press “down” first, just in case, otherwise they might be stuck in the highest position. The glove box too had problems, so ensure that opens and closes.

As always, ensure the car has been regularly serviced and presents with immaculate log books. It may seem ridiculous to spend so much money on a new A8 and not maintain it, but as my old man used to say, assume other drivers are idiots and you’ll probably be the better for it. Dad never had that many friends as you might imagine, but it’s proven to be useful advice on a few occasions nonetheless.

Audi-A8
Courtesy of www.supercars.org

Buyers Guide: Porsche 911 (993)

By: The Car Spy
By: The Car Spy

So Great Aunt Mildred has left you some cash and rather than do the proper thing and save it, or put it towards a mortgage, or buy

the wife that massive rock she always wanted, you have chosen to blow the lot on a Porsche. But not just any Porsche, you have chosen to go back to its air cool days and to those magic numbers, 993.

So to ensure your crown jewels remain intact after you first drive up to your front door, grin fixed wide on your doey eyed face and confront your better half, you want to make sure you are not getting a lemon.

One of the beautiful things about the 993 is that you can at least ensure you arrive in once piece. 911’s of yore have the reputation for filling you with confidence and then on one seemingly innocuous curve, snatching it all away. Its rear end oversteering madly and whatever you try with the wheel, you know you’re heading for that ditch, that tree, or worse.

Porsche decided to alter things for the 993, and bring a 30 year old car up to date and use a rear suspension set up that resembled a double wishbone system, something they called an LSA, Light-Stable-Agile, multi-link set up. This effectively banished the lift off oversteer issues of its predecessor to the history book. Additionally it made maintaining it easier and cheaper, because the whole design meant the engine and gearbox were far simpler to install and remove.

Aside of rocking up in one piece, what else should be considered?

The all-new suspension was strong, but you should ensure that all service work is logged properly.

By: The Car Spy
By: The Car Spy

The body parts were not zinc galvanised, and although a lesser problem in Australia, any signs of rust should tell you it has probably not had a healthy lifestyle. Check the bottom edges around the front and rear screens and also the rear bumper. Up front, like any low slung car, check for damage or corrosion brought about by scraping over bumps.

Brakes are powerful but check the discs are not pitted.

Make sure anything electrical works. Standard Carrera 2’s did not have air-con, so if one is there then that is a bonus.

If the doors make a loud cracking noise when opened fully, it may be wiser to put up with it, but it does tell you the door straps have worn with age and it’s an expensive job to repair. Some owners may have welded the straps to the A-pillar but this has been shown to let rust take hold inside the door pillar and will be costlier still to repair.

If you chose the Targa, assuming it came in under the budget, make sure the roof is watertight and there are no electrical malfunctions and that the wind deflector pops up ok. The soft-top rear plastic screen will deteriorate with age and look a little milky. If you decide to change it, it is better to buy a genuine item as they last much longer.

Make sure the carpets are not damp in the front luggage compartment and whilst in there check that the compressor that is supplied still inflates the tyres (what a great touch).

Much like the Beetle, 993’s employed heat exchangers to bring hot air from the engine to the front and they can get rusty, so check that hot air blows effectively from the heater.

If the budget extends to the Turbo, GT2 or RS, make sure the body additions are present and well looked after. The GT2’s bolt-on arch extensions were particularly damage prone and its doors and bonnet were made of aluminium to save weight but are pretty

By: The Car Spy
By: The Car Spy

delicate, so keep a look out.

Better to go with standard interior trim and colours too, far easier to resell.

Make sure the chassis legs have not been completely sprayed, for Porsche left part of them in a white base coat. If the base coat is not evident then you may be looking at a crash repaired vehicle.

Finally, check all 3 areas where Porsche stamped the VIN (vehicle identification number) matches that in the log book – the metal tag under the petrol tank, the label on the right hand side B-pillar and the left hand lower corner of the windscreen.

Prices

Now to reality. This is Australia and so as usual new prices started higher than almost anywhere in the world and even 20 years on they remain high. There are very few 993’s available for sale it seems so this compounds this issue.

You can find more options overseas. The UK market will throw up nice examples starting from GBP 29,000 upwards but tantalising as this may seem, to have a car shipped over is not cheap – shipping costs, GST, you must show ownership of more than 12 months in the country you are buying the car from and if the price exceeds the luxury car tax threshold, currently a tad over $60k, then you’ve a 33% loading on the amount above the threshold.

By: The Car Spy
By: The Car Spy

Long Termer: Land Rover Discover 3 TDV6

land rover discovery 3
By: The Car Spy

It’s been service time for the Disco. Basic oil change and new air filters. Ignoring the binging and warning light for the brake pads is not advised, certainly not for the few weeks I have done. It means that the pads have chewed up the disc rotors and they need replacing. The wife managed to puncture a tyre and so two new ones have been sourced from Tempe Tyres and a new screeching sound has been heard that points to a problem with the electric handbrake. This could mean a very expensive change if the whole system is up the spout. Hopefully, the handbrake just needs realigning and a quick service. Obviously I’d prefer the latter, for a replacement system costs something like $1600. Ouch.

Whilst removing the wheel Graham Cooper Automotive discovered one of the wheel nuts had been so badly damaged that, if it had been missed, the chances are it would have fused to the wheel completely. So a very difficult and stressful job avoided then, because I know that a puncture would have happened one wet and windy night on a busy road. The family would have been subjected to a tirade so incandescent I would have frightened them for months.

The time has come to replace the compressor for the air suspension. After 2 years of incessant binging I think it has finally given up the ghost. Fair enough really, it’s only a small thing intended to raise and lower a 2 tonne vehicle every time the ignition is turned. It has done so heroically for nigh on 8 years and 272,000 km now. The system works exceptionally well, but the amount of bad press Land Rover have had over its suspension system makes me wonder if a more conventional set up would have been more reliable. Then again, I would not be able to raise or lower my vehicle on a whim, and its off road abilities would be curtailed.

The decision was made because for only the second time in the last 2 years the suspension bottomed out leading the car to bunny hop over anything more substantial than a manhole cover. This in itself is not so much a problem at low speeds, bouncy but manageable. But at 30, 40, 50 km/h + it’s nigh on dangerous, certainly when my wife is driving and the kids are in the car.

IMG_0155As before however, you only need to switch off, let the car cool down for a few minutes and then start up again. The system seems to right itself and you can be on your way. However, just the very next day the same problem occurred, so perhaps it’s telling me something. It’s as if the car can sense that my bank balance is marginally more healthy this month and intends to raid it as soon as possible.

On top of all this the immobiliser key has started to play up and a new one has to be sourced from the UK, proof of ownership spied and a fee to calibrate the software to my car. All up it takes 10 business days to arrive. An 8 year battery life seemed reasonable, but at a cost of $500? There’s much to be said for the simple life and I don’t see my insurance premiums improving with all this electronic gadgetry either.

When you look at the outgoings this quarter, the Disco is proving to be a very expensive car to own. I had budgeted between $2-3,000 for maintenance a year, but costs are exceeding that now. However, let’s put it into perspective. The suspension compressor will last another 5-8 years, the key likewise. If I had not ignored the brake pad warning for so long I could have avoided paying for new discs, and tyres are tyres. If the wife is just a little more careful and stops thinking she’s driving at some monster truck rally, we won’t be having many more puncture incidents. Regular servicing at a specialist, like Graeme Cooper, who doesn’t rip the customer off will help too. So with any luck the next couple of years will be a little more reasonable.

The car feels more planted since the new compressor has been installed and it’s a joy to drive without the binging. The new tyres up front have helped too and now it’s a bit of trial not to play with the settings and raise and lower the car much like those low riders in the States. On a recent trip out with my son, one of his mates called out as we drove past, “cool car,” so I am happy with that, for now.

Stay tuned.

By: The Car Spy

 

Costs this Quarter

Servicing – $275

Front discs and pads, air filter and sensor – $613

Remote Key inc. programming – $480

Air Compressor for suspension – $1360

Labour – $262

Tyres x2 – $500

 

Faults to be diagnosed:

Electronic Handbrake (replacement – $1600) or service ($150)

 

TVR Tuscan mk 1

By: The Car Spy

TVR’s were fast and furious and it is incredible that such a small factory with limited resources could have turned out anything as accomplished as the Griffith, Tuscan, Chimera or Cerbera. Of course these were the culmination of almost 50 years of development under various owners, but the four mentioned above, under the stewardship of Peter Wheeler, were arguably the best they ever made. It’s just such a shame that after almost 25 years he sold out to a 24 year old Russian millionaire, Nikolay Smolensky, who ran the firm into the ground in only 2 years.

As a teenager in the early 80’s I yearned to own a Griffith. It was quite simply the coolest car around. Not only was the modern Griffith, like its predecessors from the ’60’s – the 200 and 400 – a V8 powered 2 seater, it was also a convertible. And to a spotty youth a convertible meant sexy, it meant pulling power. It was so different to anything else, it was ahead of its time. Its shape could grace a motor show today and you’d be none the wiser that it was in fact 30 years old.

But there was a sting in its tail. It was notoriously unreliable. TVR did not have the billions to check and double check its products and the only testing that could be done was by the customer after delivery. Of course the firm learned and things improved but only to a point.

Tuscan Speed Six Mk1

By: The Car Spy

Though a proposed Speed Six Griffith never made production it did evolve into the Tuscan Speed Six and an even sexier shape. The twenty years preceding its arrival had helped TVR to improve its cars and build a brand new engine, the speed six; a normally aspirated straight-6 that was the most powerful ever to be fitted to a production car with 350 bhp (261 kW) up to 405bhp (302kW) as in our Tuscan.

The engine had issues with poor lubrication and cooling. This led to valve gear failure, worn out cam lobes and finger followers. In the case of the finger followers there were reports of poor batch products and some cams were made from substandard material. As such the lobes on the cams wore out quickly. Therefore it is essential to follow a proper warm up procedure and avoid driving the engine too hard before the oil has fully lubricated the engine.

The Tuscan had a poor clutch design that could cause some components to fail after only 32k kms and its slave cylinder was definitely sub-standard. So check gear changes thoroughly and if the clutch feels spongy with little resistance, the slave cylinder seals may have gone.

Water ingress was also a common issue; in its combustion chamber leading to the head gasket failing in the engine and into senors controlling EFI warnings and power windows in particular. The ECU in the transmission tunnel has a tendancy to get wet too and this can cause the electrics to stop working. You could, for instance, be stuck inside the car as the door opening buttons are electric. Luckily there are emergency door release pulls beneath the dashboard.

It is also imperative that owners remove the front near side wheel and check the battery compartment every 6 months. One of the bolts in the battery tray can wear through the housing on the charging point causing it to short. The danger here is that it could set the vehicle on fire, so hopefully you will remember where those door pulls are if you’re inside when or if this happens.

Problems from rust are unlikely due to the fibreglass body, but its tubular steel chassis could be susceptible if it spent any time in a UK winter. Its rear screen often pops out, particularly when the targa roof panel has been taken out, mainly because it was slightly too small. They revised the size in the mk 2 and if your mk1 hasn’t had the change, go and source the newer one.

The original suspension was never the best and this can lead to tramlining. Fitting after market shock absorbers could help and the original ‘spider’ alloys have been known to bend quite easily.

For more detailed information visit http://www.mytuscan.co.uk/problems.php

Also check out http://www.pistonheads.com

Both sites are from the UK and considering you will more than likely need parts at some stage, why not go straight to the source.

Typical Costs

I’m still working on these. If anyone has a recommended service centre, please let me know. It seems wise to assume that owning a TVR is not going to be cheap or stress free. Sure you will be the envy of all at most track days or quarter mile sprints but you don’t want to be re-building the engine after each occasion.

Land Rover Discovery 3 TDV6

By: The Car Spy

Discovery 3’s are not a cheap vehicle, that has to be said. They require diagnostic tools for major services and therefore a dealer is often the first port of call. However, costs can be minimised by finding a specialist with the correct equipment. For minor services a local mechanic, such as Ultratune for instance are perfectly acceptable. But if parts are needed it is better to seek out a specialist.

There are a few things to look out for if you are looking to buy a Disco. Firstly a full service record. For the reasons stated above services can be expensive, ranging from $400 up to $1500, so it’s possible a few may have been skipped. The auto transmission needs an oil change every 75,000 kms and it has to be synthetic, which can be pricey. For diesels its timing belt has to be changed every 160,000 kms so for higher mileage examples, make sure that has been done. It’s an expensive job and would be part of the $1500 service. If, like our long termer, it’s eclipsed a quarter of a million kms, then the alternator may pack up, but you should be warned in advance by a poorly charging battery. The air suspension system can have a few problems and may need changing every 4 to 5 years.

Land Rover Addict in the UK suggest a few more areas to check (http://www.landroveraddict.com/features/2011/4/13/discovery-3-buying-guide/)

SUSPENSION

Listen for knocks from the suspension – they eat lower wishbones quickly, and at £300 ($500) per side plus a full alignment check, it can get pricey.

TERRAIN RESPONSE

Make a point of engaging and disengaging all functions when looking at a potential Discovery. If the warning lights and noises come on, you may be looking at a new compressor.

By: The Car Spy

ENGINE

BIG, ISN’T it? You can’t really see much of the TDV6 lump under all the plastic cowlings, but it sure fills the large engine bay well.The 2.7-litre engine is shared, in Land Rover form at least, with the Range Rover Sport and has proven to be generally very reliable. A common problem is the failure of the EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation) valve leading to a loss of power and lots of smoke. A blanking kit is avaliable, but only for Euro 3 engines – otherwise you will have to replace the valve. A criticism aimed at the 2.7 is that it can feel a tad sluggish, and many have been chipped to boost performance.

HANDBRAKE

A COMMON fail point is the electronic handbrake. On well off-roaded examples it can be prone to sticking on or failing completely due to mud and water ingress. You’ll often hear a horrible screeching and grinding as a D3 goes to pull away.

Typical Costs

Alternator  $850 (fitted)

Air Suspension Compressor  $1100 (1400 fitted)

Rear Sway Bars $90

Front Sway Bars $47

Front Wiper Blades $65

Recommended Service Centres

  • Ayers Automotive

15 Ada Avenue BROOKVALE 2100

Phone: (02) 9905 6048

http://www.aauto.com.au

Recommended Forums

  • Australian Land Rover Owners

www.aulro.com