FOREWORD: NEW DECADE, NEW GOALS?
Now that 2020 is over, it’s time to get back on track. No, it was not an easy year. Just as I found the confidence to branch out on my own and start my detailing business, the whole world shut down and left me feeling a bit uncertain about what may happen ahead. But it seems I have survived the roller-coaster of highs-and-lows unscathed, and that’s really all that matters.
2019 was a really good year for the Audis. Two high-level restorations were completed thoroughly, but with a little more firepower; as I was determined to get back on track as quickly as possible after a very bad car accident in November 2018 delayed real progress for 7 months. I can’t discount that 2018, up until that point, was also a good year of building up a lot of love for the cars and what I do. But the major success was building the shop, which not only keeps the cars safe, but gives me a real workspace to complete repairs and detail.
Here’s an overview of what to expect from T44Brian in 2021:
T44 HQ: The new garage was completed in September 2019, which houses the “museum” of Audis and memorabilia, but is also the headquarters of T44 Detailing. Yes, I detail by day, and then detail my own cars by night. When it’s busy season I’m at the shop seemingly 25/8.
THE COLLECTION: Erlend, Greis, Edelweiss, Amy, and Ottmar make up the permanent collection of T44Brian. I have poured my soul into these cars to get them as close to perfect as possible, and they’re not going anywhere. Because of all the show cancellations in 2020, most of the fleet moved (a few times) about 50 feet outside when I do my quarterly shop-cleans. I am truly hoping to remedy this and have the cars go out when and where possible, but we’ll have to see how the year plays out.
THE DAILY DRIVER: The new 100 wagon, Zylar, is a proper replacement for 5000S Zygmunt who was lost in the 2018 accident. While there won’t be any 20v Avant action after a string of bad luck with a couple less-than-stellar examples, another FWD, non-turbo driver is about as tried-and-true as it gets. While there is hope that this will be a usable project for the majority of the process, work days or other critical trips are best suited for the Benz wagon.
SHOW CAR HIGHLIGHT: Every year one vehicle seems to do the majority of events, and that’s usually whatever has been recently completed. This year, I’m hoping to get 4000S quattro, Erlend, back out to shows after an overwhelmingly positive response as a Concours select at Historic Festival 37 and eEuroFest 2019 (RIP).
OTHER PROJECTS: Aside from the recent 100 Wagon addition, I’m hoping to not add any other restorations to the docket. Knowing me, this statement won’t hold up for long.
CONTENT: With a lot of time focused to the detailing business and less time on personal projects, 2020 was a bit dull for providing content. I don’t foresee updates and interactions getting to the level they used to be this year, either. That doesn’t mean I’m not reachable – communication is encouraged when you need help or want to know what’s going on. It just may not reach the masses.
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 of 80s captive imports or anything French. 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.
I has known what Type 44s and other Audis were way before dealing with them personally. A Bamboo 100 sedan actually sat outside close to my house and for years when I was a kid, and I would always stare intently at it 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… Wow. I 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 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.
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. 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!