HOW IT ALL BEGAN (AND WHY IT CONTINUES)
What started as a harmless summer project before attending college in 2013 has fortunately/unfortunately taken over a lot of what I do. I was always a car guy, but it wasn’t until actually owning one that I paid a ton of attention to Audis. Raised mostly with Fords, I had an immediate love of big American sedans stemming from my father’s string of LTDs/Crown Victorias. But true vehicle enthusiasm stemmed from my quirkier side that looked endlessly at pictures and brochures of 80s captive imports or anything French. My Matchbox set was pretty impressive on that front, too. And maybe my love of the 80s was solidified with the viewing of the ’86 Ford Taurus and the ’84 Plymouth Voyager at the Henry Ford Museum as a kid. Where I grew up, very little excitement lurked on the streets. The late 90s/Y2K SUV craze was in full-swing, so I truly took any opportunity to go “left-of-center” and learn about more interesting vehicles, past or present. As a kid I was never afraid of walking up to someone at a car show, or even a stranger in a grocery store parking lot, to ask them about their car.
I had known what Type 44s and other Audis were way before dealing with them personally. A Bamboo 100 sedan sat outside close to my house and for years when I was a kid, and I would always stare at it intently from the backseat of whatever moving car I was in, thinking it was so fascinating. Weirdly, it was the only one I had ever seen in person up until I bought my first one. I had never actually seen that particular 100 driving/being used as an actual car. Just parked, collecting a nice layer of crud. Was that maybe a sign that these cars were better left seen and not driven? If that was the warning… I obviously did not heed it.
The problem was, that when I went to go take a look at my eventual first Audi 100, I immediately fell in love with it. Well, actually, I fell in love with the interior first and then the overall “this-is-a-world-I-do-not-know” feeling, not so much the fact that it was basically on its last legs and needed a ton of work. But I took it for a test drive and just knew it was right.
Once the first one was home, I went full-throttle on repairs and learned everything I possibly could about the car. I spent hours online looking up resources and forums, studied the Bentley manuals, and allowed myself to make mistakes and try out different repairs so I could get comfortable with these cars, should I buy another (and we all know the answer to that). My master-mechanic dad helped guide me along (and still does today!) and we tackled a lot of items together. So by the end of a couple months, that dying 100 wasn’t doing too bad at all. And the rest is history… Because so much has happened since then that all the cars have just blurred together in my mind!
FWD, Non-Turbo Audis. What’s the deal with that?
Well, you can’t say I am specifically 10v FWD and non-turbo now, can you? In case you need a reminder: the fleet is/has been pretty diverse over the years.
However, in the beginning, I was comfortable sticking with what I knew. And that meant I knew my FWD, non-turbo, and automatic vehicles very well. I had also cheaply amassed a huge collection of parts specific to 10v vehicles, so maintenance costs were low: which meant a lot as a college student who was stupidly (but blissfully) using them as trusted daily transportation. Just because I’m older and wiser now doesn’t mean I wouldn’t ignorantly take one of these cross-country without a drop of extra Pentosin or a box of relays, either. But as the fleet became less cheap-beater and more preservation/restoration, the cars are only used seasonally. Therefore, quattro is somewhat of a waste of a drivetrain for my purposes, it’s just not a selling point when I’m deciding to add cars to the collection. Which also leads to the fact I am extremely picky nowadays about condition and color combination/options, and to this day, when Turbo/quattro cars come to market, they usually don’t check all the boxes to justify a purchase for the ask.
For my summer road trips, all I really need is mildly-cold AC and a radio with working cassette (can’t let those 80s tapes go to waste). I’m not a speed demon by any means, and the extremely-relaxed nature of my 10-valves paired with a 3-speed automatic fits my driving style well. I like to cruise along, and these are really cars that can do that perfectly.
How do you manage to keep multiple Type 44s in such nice shape and running condition at the same time?
Simply put: I have Super-OCD, and there’s nothing worse than having something not perfect, broken, or close-to-being broken on one of the cars. I devote a huge amount of time to getting things just-right. I could fork over a lot of money and have someone do repairs or fabricate trim bits for me, but what’s the fun in that if you didn’t have a mental breakdown over something trivial? I also spend many hours a day looking for parts online (which has been reduced significantly with saved search abilities), and if the cars need something, I don’t skimp. If parts I need come up for sale that I’ve been waiting for, I BUY THEM! It’s hard to maintain these cars sometimes, even for me. Anytime I’m thrown a bone, I take it. There really is no “sword” to call upon otherwise.
The only exception to the Super-OCD rule is my current and former daily-driven Avants. These were all bought to use, and while I would find myself sometimes going overboard, a lot of things I let go as being the more utilitarian part of the fleet. There has to be one car in the family that can take some abuse without worry.
What’s the endgame for T44Brian? Why do you keep doing what you do?
A couple years ago I would have said all I’m going to do is T44 stuff for eternity. That promise was broken as we now have B2s and B3s, but I’m still a large-chassis guy at heart. I do have to realize I’m not 20 anymore, and there’s not infinite time, money, parts, and other resources to do it all, but I try my best. After being in the 2018 accident I think my dedication to the cars has become stronger. Though nowadays, I prefer to drive something a little safer, and that’s why I’ve called upon my other true love to get me through the daily grind: Mercedes station wagons, specifically of the rusty 210 variety. I truly appreciate other classic vehicles and have considered moving into a Porsche or something of the like at some point (even though my childhood goal was a DeLorean, still somewhat is), but every time I look at one it doesn’t spark the same joy. Long-live 80s Audis, at least in this household.
It’s hard to not want to work on and keep improving the fleet, because they stare me down all day at the shop. A lot of my thoughts are how I can make the cars better, or what I can learn today that might help me down the road. But also, what is something that will help other owners? That’s what I think is the most important thing. My dedication to what I do wouldn’t be nearly as strong if I didn’t face any challenges throughout my years as an Audi guy. I always joke that I’m so far into this that there’s no way out, but that’s because with every car I buy, every headache of a repair or restoration I complete, I willingly and gladly dig myself deeper into the “Classic Audi Abyss.” And, I have a wonderful community of people who have shared their knowledge and experiences with me that I wouldn’t trade for anything!