As revolutionary as the sleek aerodynamic styling of the mid-1980s Audi 5000 (100/200) was, we have always had an appreciation for the older “slab sided” C2 version sold in the U.S. from 1978 through 1983. These cars had distinctively Vokswagen-esque styling along the lines of the Rabbit/Golf and the Dasher/Passat, but were markedly upscale of those cars with luxury accessories and more power than their lesser brethren. It was in these cars that Audi’s 5-cylinder motor – which lasted in varying forms through the S6 of 1996 – debuted. These days, however, good slab sides have become very difficult to find, especially with the short-run Turbodiesel motor.
Find this low-mileage example here on Craigslist in Seattle, Washington with an asking price of $3,200.
Mercedes-Benz introduced the first inline 5-cylinder motor in 1974’s 300D diesel, and it was first turbocharged for the 300SD in 1978, resulting in near gasoline-engined performance but with the low stress and economy of a diesel. Audi adopted the inline-5 for their 100/5000 in both gasoline and diesel form, and honed it to perfection over its nearly 20-year run. Without the turbo, both the Mercedes and Audi diesels were barely adequate performers, although not quite as bad with a manual transmission as with the power-robbing slushbox. With the turbo, neither was an Earth-scorcher but at the same time they managed 0-60 times in less than 15 seconds and top speeds near 100mph. Combined with fuel economy averaged in the 30s, these cars made for comfortable highway distance cruising. Interesting, neither the Audi nor the Mercedes turbodiesels wer available with a manual transmission.
White would not be our first choice of color for one of these, but being so few of these in gas or diesel out there, we’d probably just go with it. Besides, the seller reports some key recent maintenance, including the tires (Matching Michelins), timing belt and water pump. According to the seller the car only has 125,000 original miles, although he indicates that the engine and transaxle have been rebuilt. The exterior appears in good condition, and the interior is reportedly very clean but not perfect.
From an international perspective, the C2 5000s/100s were the cars that put Audi on the map – being the first Audi model range that sold in excess of 1,000,000 units worldwide. Those of us steeped in obscure references from pop culture will remember this as the type of car that Dee Wallace (and her elder teenaged son) drove in E.T. the Extraterrestrial. For fans of Oel-motor cars, the turbodiesel 5000s make an interesting and arguably sportier-handling alternative to the venerable Mercedes 3.0 turbodiesels of the same vintage. With regular maintenance and particular attention paid to keeping body rot at bay, it should last indefinitely.