As my colleague here at TTS has pointed out, Old Bastard Winter is inbound on a fast train.
Winter for both of us is a “six of one, half-dozen of the other” proposition. My Minnesota winter is longer and harsher, but we know how to deal with it. Unless the snow is measured in feet… actually, even that doesn’t matter. His Virginia winter is shorter and certainly more temperate, but any amount of the fluffy white stuff cripples the entire system, sending the mid-Atlantic’s residents into delirious spasms of hoarding.
I’ve been window shopping for a replacement winter car since the spring. Schultz, my trusty 1995 Mercedes-Benz E320, is quietly rusting away. If I get two more winters out of him, I’ll consider myself lucky. Knock wood, but at 250k miles he shows no mechanical signs of slowing down. Minus, of course, the momentary transmission burp and a front turn signal assembly excusing itself from the collective. I’ll detail that another time.
Reed set a cap of $3000. I did a nationwide search for “Audi 200” and got this, a 20vTQ out of Indiana. At $3500, it’s close enough to Reed’s dollar amount, but I wouldn’t even argue with the seller. Read on to find out why.
The 20vTQ are fairly rare cars, Audi’s final push to vindicate the C3 body in the wake of 60 Minutes’ attempt to burn the brand to the ground. It looked a lot like your dad’s ‘85 5000S, but it wasn’t. It was much more.
By 1991, the slick sedan body had received a mild refresh, with European-style headlights and flush door handles. The rich interior was the prototype for all Audis to come. Under the hood, the familiar 5-banger got a 20-valve cylinder head and a turbocharger. For a four-door sedan – or its five-door wagon brother – in 1991, 0-60 in the mid-six second range and a top end of 155 mph was nuts.
This example is claimed to be meticulously maintained, and it certainly looks the part. Though not at all my favorite color combination, the paint – in all its Pearlescent glory – shows very nicely, as does the gray leather interior. The seller goes to the effort of actually showing the driver’s seat, which at 236k miles you’d expect to be a little tired. Ditto the dashboard. Neither is actually rough or worn. One can assume all four bun warmers work.
Normally, I would think twice on a modified car. However, one big green flag is the stock stereo, which is kind of a thing for me in terms of having not-hacked wiring. Further, the mods are the ones I’d probably do.
Upgraded brakes? Check. Engine computer software? Check. Suspension? Well, at 236k something would have had to be replaced by now anyway. The aftermarket exhaust seems to hang a little low at the rear, but that’s an easy issue. As much as I love the original BBS basketweaves, I know the tedious nightmare it is to keep them clean. I’ll take this car’s Ur-S6 wheels, thank you.
Other things I like on this 200? No holes drilled for a front license plate. The subtle Audi Sport badge on the trunk (though not the one on the dashboard). The overall feel of the car, in that it’s not missing anything obvious and doesn’t have any glaring blemishes.
I’d like some history on items like the clutch, timing belt, and every one of the myriad suspension bushings, links and CV boots. Being an Audi from that period, I’d be looking at every electrical accessory twice to ensure some level of consistent activity. That said, it’s an Audi. You do the math, as your mileage may vary.
While not on every street corner, clean 200 20vTQs are actually not very hard to find. The ones that aren’t clean are parts cars. Or, they are beaters that nobody buys, and then they become parts cars. The rest, like this example, seem to be loved. Fed a steady diet of parts and labor, they are allowed to achieve galactic miles.
Worth it? I think so.