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

Affordable Iconic Cars: BMW 635CSi

Moonlighting

As far as I was concerned Bruce Willis could never top being David Addison in Moonlighting. As a 16-year-old, I didn’t know that receding hairlines and patterned jumpers could be so cool. I tried to emulate him, but it became obvious that such a look only suited someone 25 years my senior and what self-respecting teenage girl looks twice at a boy sporting a wooly crew neck sweater?

However, David and his employer Maddie Hayes’ champagne coloured BMW 6 series CSI would have looked good on me. God, I loved that car, even though it was brown, and from then on my love affair with the 6 series began. I lusted after CSI’s, and as a teenager it was the first car I ever mourned when the series ended. I remember feeling guilty even contemplating looking at another car.

A few years later I managed to blag my way into the driver’s seat of an M6 at London’s Motor show, making out that I indeed owned a 6 but a lowly 628. I was in need of something a little more nimble on my imaginary trans European driving routes. I kid myself still that I pulled it off, but really, the spots and poor dress sense must surely have been writ large and the salesman took pity on me.

By: Ramin Ekhtiar
By: Ramin Ekhtiar

The last E24 635’s rolled off the lines in Bavaria in 1989, making these cars at least 24 years old. Obviously my favourite would be the M6. They are definitely the most expensive and all came with a manual transmission, which suits me just fine.

Its power figures seem paltry to cars offered today. The M series produced 286bhp (210kW), smaller still if you find a US version with the catalytic converter that was introduced in 1987. The 635 generated only 215bhp (160kW), which is less than a contemporary hot hatch these days. However, the smooth ride, handling and sheer theatre of driving what must surely be the best looking Bimmer they have ever made makes it very much worth it. They were built to be a Grand Tourer, so munched kilometres for breakfast and spat out its driver after hours at the wheel with imperceptible back and leg ache.

Sadly finding an M6 in Australia is nigh on impossible. Most found their way to the States so perhaps it may be worth looking there. You can find the odd M635CSI however for around $38k, though the two I came across today have around 200,000k on the clock. There are far more CSI’s around and range from $20k down to as little $8k. As ever, it is always better to spend as much as you can afford, as going bargain basement may be a double-edged sword.

But, and you must have known this was coming, they can be expensive to maintain, unless you are handy with a spanner. Prevention is always better than cure, remember, so finding a good local specialist will pay dividends.

By: Nan Palmero
By: Nan Palmero

From what I gather, as long as the oil is changed every 8-10,000 km, you can expect the engine to last.

The automatic transmission is probably the weakest link, and often gives up the ghost around 160,000km. So bear this is mind if the car you are looking at has more than 130k on the clock and build the potential cost for a new tranny into your negotiations.

The drivetrain is strong but the drive shaft u-joints probably need some inspection. Regular maintenance, especially on the M6 is important, paying particular attention to valve and timing components.

Rust can infect the seams along the sides of the engine bay, and check the shock towers for any corrosion.

Make sure all electric gadgetry works, such as the windows, seats, lights on the dashboard etc.

All this being said, I still want one and after writing this I am formulating reasons and ways in my head to raid my overdraft, forget I have too many people in my family and trade my Disco in for something more Teutonic.

 

By: Ramin Ekhtiar
By: Ramin Ekhtiar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Affordable Iconic Cars: Jaguar XJ X300-X350

The Equalizer

I live in an apartment over looking a car park. I’m not proud of it mainly because everyone else who lives in this part of Artarmon has a beautiful house, a lovely garden and overlooks a new and expensive car in their driveway. But it’s home and the wife and kids like it. Why I am not so sure, we don’t even have a garage for gods sake.

Anyway, recently someone has started parking his white, colour-coded Jag XJ in the car park. From my expansive deck, if you can call the size of a postage stamp expansive, it looks like an XJ X300 and too new to be a Series III. Staring at it took me back some 3 decades to my youth and a certain TV programme called the Equalizer. I liked the show because of the car. It’s sleekness suited the gritty streets of New York and cosseted the driver from the cold and steaming alleyways the protagonist always seemed to frequent.

Edward Woodward, aka Robert McCall, a retired secret agent, drove a black XJ6 Series III, upgraded in 1986 and again in 1988. It must have been the ’88 version that stuck in my memory because it doesn’t seem as dated in my minds eye as an earlier example. Perhaps it was the drilled alloys on fatter tyres than the standard mid-80’s version wore.

Anyway, I started to think that there were quite a few cars from my misspent youth that I still yearn for, and today the beautiful thing is that they should now be very much within reach.

So lets start with the Jag.

The series 3 XJ6 does look a tad passé now, and after the truly awful XJ40, it did eventually spawn the X300, and later the X358 which is one sexy car. Not that I’m holding out much hope that the latter can be classed as affordable here in Sydney. The UK most certainly but not here, so let’s focus on the X300 and if we are lucky the X350.

By: Jaguar MENA

Plenty of X300’s built between 1994 and 1997 abound, ranging from a mere $8000 up $17000, all either 3.2 or 4 litre versions and mileage as high 230,000.

Moving up a step, there are a few X350’s, the most expensive coming in at $75k for a 4 year old example and representing a saving of over 50% from new. It’s the 2.7 V6 Turbo Diesel version, the same engine as in my Disco, and all the better for it.

For $30k, and definitely within our range, you could plump for a ‘06 model X350 with just over 100,000km on the clock. This one comes replete with the 3 litre normally aspirated engine and so a little more expensive to run.

If we halve that price again, we could get hold of a ’94 X300 Sovereign, the top of the range at the time, with the 4 litre donk and less than 95,000kms on the clock.

Or better still, in WA there is a ’99 XJR X308 with only 101,000km on the clock for a mere $24k. Ok, this is not an XJ6, it’s a supercharged V8 but who’s counting.

So do you see where we are going with this? Absolute luxury and a ride to die for in a rapid limousine is now so much within our grasp it is a little like Tony Abbott, or not funny

But are we about to give ourselves a headache? No, not really, the biggest rule of thumb being to avoid the XJ40. Forums and various Jag enthusiast sites suggest that the factory in Crewe finally brought this elder statesman’s quality and reliability in line with its competitors. Only a couple of nagging doubts exist with cylinder liners and timing chain tensioners. A compression test will help diagnose the first and a rattle when starting from cold will give you a hint for the latter. If ignored it will cost you an expensive engine rebuild, but as ever, seeking a full service history will allay most of your fears.

It turns out the XJ in the car park is an X308 XJR and looks fabulous close up. Hopefully I will hear from the owner shortly and I can regale you with tales of awe.

By: The Car Spy
By: The Car Spy