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

Audi Quattro: The Original

audi ur quattro

The Ur-Quattro

The Ur-Quattro, or Original Quattro, arrived in 1980 and took rallying to a whole new dimension, dominating the sport for over two years. It was the first rally car to take advantage of new four-wheel drive rules and spawned panic amongst its rivals to catch up. This reached fever pitch with the advent of Class B rallying between 1982 and 1986 when such monsters as the Ford RS200, Metro RS4, Lancia Delta S4 and of course the Sport Quattro S1 arrived.

These cars travelled so fast along winding, slippery, often mountainous roads they appeared to defy laws of gravity and adhesion. To give you an idea of how fast Class B became, Henri Toivonen once famously tested his Delta S4 at the Estoril Grand Prix track with a lap time that would have put him sixth on the F1 grid, in a rally car. Turbo’s could be boosted to 5 bars or more and horsepower easily eclipsed 500 in race form. 1000 was apparently quite possible. Now this amount of power is all well and good in a race involving long straights and steady left handers, say NASCAR for instance, or something similarly boring. But on a forest track covered in mud, ice, snow, water, gravel and more often than not involving hairpin bends over blind crests? I am sure you get my drift, no pun intended, these were accidents waiting to happen.

Sadly all too soon for Toivonen in 1986, who flew off a thin strip of tarmac high up a Corsican hillside at speeds barely imaginable, taking his co-driver with him. Overnight the era of the Rally Supercar ended and these powerful machines became obsolete.

However, one sport’s loss became the consumer’s benefit with the opportunity to emulate our rallying heroes by purchasing one of these cars that were only very slightly modified for road use. Lancia sold its Delta as the Integrale, Ford as the RS200 and

Audi with its Quattro. In its original guise it came with a 2,144 cc, 10 valve turbocharged in-line 5 pot engine, or WR as it became known, and it is this example I am about to jump into.

audi quattro

In fact I am about to drive a car whose original owner was none other than

a former Australian Formula 1 driver, and winner of the Le Mans 24 hours, Vern Schuppan.

Sitting low in a its dated but hugely comfortable leather chair, you notice the wheel is set slightly left of centre but the pedals are perfectly positioned directly in front of you and spaced ideally for heel and toeing. No doubt Vern would have been a dab hand at left foot braking, but with Ian from Shannons sitting beside me there was no chance of that today.

The dash ahead of me is pure Audi of old, no different to an 80CD I owned many years ago or a mate’s 90 Quattro. Turning the key and hearing that 5 pot rumble immediately took me back to my teen years and my yearning to own one of these iconic cars. Depressing the clutch I half expect a work out for my thigh, but not so. It’s as light as any modern day car and snicking it into first heralded the typical mechanical clunky feel that all Audi’s had at the time. Not particularly smooth nor solid, but its an Audi, they don’t go wrong.

Pulling away, the sound emanating from those twin pipes still shames any contemporary V8 and considering the car is now 33 years old you’d expect the odd rattle and perhaps some loss in power. Blipping the throttle it doesn’t sound much has past it by, but the lag is more pronounceable than I thought. I have to remind myself this is normal of all early turbos, even of supercars.

Unfortunately the back roads around Artarmon are busy with trucks and traffic lights, but with a hill and some space in front of me, I floor it as much as I dare, half expecting Ian to tut in disapproval. It doesn’t come, and the question concerning its power is answered with a strong surge in second up to 60. Third is some distance away, surprisingly, but fourth is a quick pull back and we’re travelling smoothly, bathed in its inline din.

Sounds good, I shout to Ian. He agrees and I think both of us wish for a local track to delve down and put it through its paces.

 

audi quattro

Sadly the test drive is all too short but it is obvious this car has been well looked after. It rides the atrocious concrete slabs, synonymous of this area, with barely a shudder of disapproval and shakes off the inconvenience of mini roundabouts with the nonchalence of a gorilla swatting a bug. The last one I come to I drop down to second and gave it some welly, with window down and a wall across from me, that noise, the drama, just makes me want to drive this thing further and faster. Shame its not in red though.

The car is being auctioned at Shannons of Artarmon on May 6. Visit http://www.shannons.com.au/auctions for more information.

 

RESEARCH

Check out the Research category for more information about typical costs, repairs and what to look out for, click here:

http://wp.me/P3rCxt-9Y

Recommended Service Centres:

Eagle & Raymond Automotive  – 1/14 Brennan Close, Asquith NSW 2077‎m

(02) 9477 1500
 audi quattro bulge

 

Audi Ur Quattro

According to Ron Eagle of Eagle and Raymond Automotive, Quattro’s in Australia tend not to go especially wrong.

For instance, he has never had to deal with any Turbo issues or even replaced one of his customers clutches. That may say more about the owners than  the car, but it does go to show that even though these cars are now 20 to 30 years old, Audi built them to last.

I am indebted to Bob Jones, probably my only reader and therefore a hugely important person, for sending me the link to Octane Magazine, for some excellent information on what to look out for.

Externally we are rather lucky in Australia that rot, either on the panels or beneath the car, is unlikely, unless of course your Quattro was shipped in from Europe, probably the UK due to right hand drive, after a few years of its life. If it had to endure a number of wintry, salt laden roads corrosion could have set in.

In the current absence of personally collated local data, more of which will be added soon, Richard Dredge’s article for Octane Magazine sums it all up nicely.

The quattro’s in-line five-cylinder engine was built in three forms. First came the 10-valve 2144cc WR unit, followed by the MB in 1987 (2226cc, 10 valves) and the RR (2226cc, 20 valves) from 1989. Most troublesome is the WR, while most reliable is the RR – although the latter unit is also the priciest to buy parts for. That leaves the MB, which gives the best balance of affordability and reliability.

Engine rebuilds are costly but, if looked after, a WR unit will despatch 150,000 miles before it needs attention; expect at least another 50,000 miles from an MB or RR. Hopefully the owner will have changed the oil every 5000 miles, using a synthetic lubricant.They will also have used only Audi oil filters (WR engines have two), which have non-return valves to prevent oil starvation of the top end at start-up.

To allow a low bonnet line the powerplant is canted over, leading to pistons and their rings eroding the cylinder wall and causing it to become oval. It takes a long time for significant wear to occur but, once it has, things get expensive. It’s simplest to find a decent used unit; they’re not plentiful but can be sourced through the owners’ clubs for around £750.

Key WR weak spots include a failed turbocharger, given away by poor performance and blue exhaust smoke – the problem is largely solved on later cars by the use of a watercooled unit. Also listen for ticking from the exhaust manifold as the engine warms up: this indicates a cracked manifold, and new replacements are unobtainable. To check for this you must start the car from cold; if it’s already warm, the manifold will already have expanded.

If you’re testing a 10-valve car that’s unable to run cleanly, it’s probably because of perished or split rubber intercooler hoses. If the rubber is damaged, it’s straightforward to replace them; they cost £30-170 each and there are three of them.

There aren’t any problems specific to just the MB or the RR engine, but there are some which might crop up in any of the three types of unit (and particularly the WR). The first is worn valve guides and hardened valve seals, given away by blue exhaust smoke on the over-run. If the engine has been thrashed, a top-end rebuild could be needed in just 60,000 miles, costing up to £1300.

Look behind the offside corner of the front air dam, at the oil cooler and the unions on its pipes. These corrode, allowing the engine to lose its oil and potentially to seize. Get to it in time and the bill is £200 plus four hours’ labour; leave it and the bill could be £4000 for a full rebuild.

If the engine runs badly or won’t start at all, take a look at the turbo boost gauge. If this gives a permanently high reading it’s because the inlet manifold pressure sensor has packed up; replacements are £150, available only from The Quattro Workshop.

The Bosch fuel-injection system is reliable but the fuel pump can give trouble if the car hasn’t been used much. It’s easy to spot because the engine won’t start but will turn over. A new pump at £150 is the only solution.

Whichever model you’re looking at, ask when the cambelt was last changed. This should be done every 45,000 miles or five years, but it’s not straightforward. The crankshaft securing nut needs a 27mm socket and a torque wrench that goes up to a massive 450Nm (331lb ft).

Transmission

Despite the quattro transmission’s complexity, it’s incredibly durable. Synchromesh may have taken a beating if the gearbox has been abused, but this is easy to spot by trying to change ratio quickly when the box is still cold; crunching means the synchromesh is weak. As a rebuild is nearly £1000, most owners live with it or fit a used gearbox for around £200 – plus 10-12 hours’ labour to fit.

Clutches typically last 150,000 miles unless they have been abused. Accelerate smartly in each gear and see if the clutch slips; if it does, all is not lost as specialists can supply an original equipment Sachs unit for £170. It’s possible to buy even cheaper clutch kits, but don’t be tempted – the Sachs one has proved the most reliable
of the lot.

Finish by checking the diff locks haven’t seized up. They’re vacuum operated and you should ensure that the lights on the centre console go on when the locks are engaged and, just as importantly, that they go out when disengaged. Usually, reluctance to do either means the control units just need freeing off and lubricating.

Suspension, steering and brakes

Quattros tend to be thrown about, wearing out the suspension bushes, which also have a hard time because of the quattro’s torque and tyre grip. The front and rear sub-frame bushes bear the brunt, along with the wishbone bushes, so checking these is essential. Look for split wishbone bushes – a new set is £50 and it’s an easy swap.

If a 20v quattro has been really chucked around, it could be suffering from cracks down the nearside of the rear subframe; a replacement is £800. That’s why most owners use the same from a lesser quattro (such as an Audi 80), sourced from a scrapyard for £35 or so.

The steering should be sharp, with plenty of feel. If not, it’s probably because the wheels are out of alignment, leading to uneven tyre wear. Each corner can be adjusted for camber and toe in/toe out, and it should be checked annually by a quattro specialist.

Moaning from the front wheels as the steering wheel is turned on the move means fresh bearings are required; it’s not possible to detect play by feeling for it while the car is jacked up. New bearings cost £30 per corner and they usually last around 80,000 miles. Replacing them is a DIY job if you’ve got access to a press to get the old units out.

The wheels can get damaged on the inside of the rim, because of their width. With the car on axle stands, get underneath and spin the wheel, looking to see if it runs true. If it’s badly damaged it will need renewing – at over £300 apiece from Audi. It’s more cost-effective to buy secondhand ones and have them refurbished.

On MB and RR models, pull the connectors off the low servo pressure warning switch mounted on the brake servo. With the engine switched off, but the ignition on, attach a continuity tester. Press the brake pedal repeatedly on a two- to three-second cycle – if the switch closes after five or fewer depressions the system’s hydraulic accumulator needs changing, at £250.

The rear brakes can give problems, especially if the car isn’t used much, as the handbrake’s self-adjuster piston rod seizes. The best cure is to fit reconditioned brake calipers at £120 per side (double this on the RR).

Bodywork, electrics and trim

Thanks to plenty of zinc plating on most cars, exterior panels are fairly durable. Pre-1985 quattros, with no galvanised panels, can show signs of localised rust even if they’ve never been pranged. From 1985, various panels such as the wings and bonnet were galvanised – but it’s not possible to say with certainty which panels were galvanised and when, as Audi mixed and matched. Until 1987 the bootlid was made of steel, but after this date it was plastic.

Any post-1984 quattro that hasn’t been scraped should be largely rust-free as at least some of its panels will be galvanised; post-1988 examples are the most durable of all. Original factory stickers on the underside of the bonnet are a clue to an untouched car, as these decals haven’t been available for years.

Sills can rot on the earliest quattros, along with the underside of each door and the wheelarches. All quattros need their wings analysed – especially their seams, which often harbour rust as a result of poor accident repairs. These models were handbuilt at the factory so panel fit should be good on an original car.

Make sure all the instrumentation is working, especially if it’s the digital system fitted from 1983. Then switch the ignition on and check that all the warning lights illuminate – bulbs may have been removed to disguise major problems.

Pre-1983 examples have a simple wiring loom, while later ones don’t. But the latter models are also more reliable because the components were of a higher quality. The most common problem with the earliest cars is corroded connections. Before starting the difficult task of tracing dodgy circuits, however, take a look at the fusebox: the board in it can crack and break the connections. A new one is £50.

On WR models, the synthesised voice should spring into action if the ‘Check’ button is held depressed while the ignition is switched on. Then make sure that all the equipment is working – although it’s rare to find functional heated seats and air-con, as replacement parts are obsolete. Also, replacement wing-mounted electric aerials are no longer available and neither are substitutes.

New interior trim is extinct, so it’s worth paying a premium for a car with a really good cabin. Most parts are available on a used basis, though.

Conclusion

Bridging the gap between classic and modern, the quattro can theoretically be used every day or just for the occasional Sunday run. However, the spares situation is currently poor, with many parts available only secondhand, so clocking up a high mileage could prove very expensive.

Things are less of an issue if you’re buying a mint example, but make sure that’s what you really are getting. Despite the quattro offering huge levels of handling, grip and roadholding, there are plenty of examples that have been crashed heavily. As a result, you must ensure the bodyshell isn’t twisted and that the rustproofing hasn’t been compromised. Uneven panel gaps and strange tyre wear patterns will normally give away the former.

Buying the best you can afford is a good mantra for any motor, but especially so for the quattro. A sorted example is one of the most complete cars ever built – but purchase a dog and you’ll have a serious money pit on your hands.