Keeping Virginia’s Audi Safe

If you know me, then no explanation is needed for why Amy joined the fleet. Under-appreciated, undesired, but totally unique, the love I have for 4-cylinder B3 80s is something unfathomable from a vocal group of quattro-elitists. But if there’s one thing we can all agree on, B3s overall are tough cars to locate in decent shape. And with my perfectionist ways, I thought one would never make it to HQ, especially with such an incredible backstory.

AMY OVERVIEW

1990 Audi 80 (Production 9/89) 2.0L I4 (3A) | 3-Speed Auto (087)

Papyrus Metallic LY6U | Sepia (Olive/Brown) Serret Velour with Sepia Dashboard and Appointments

MSRP (With Dealer Installed Accessories): $20,765

Origin Dealer: Rietzl Porsche-Audi, Norwell, MA (Now Audi Norwell)

Factory Options: Automatic Transmission, Metallic Paint, Sunroof (Manual, Tilt & Slide)

Dealer Installed Accessories: Plush Floor Mats

Member of T44Brian Since 2/6/2020

Special Plate: 956-AMY

Status: Completed Restoration (Permanent Collection)

Odd & Unique About This Car: Wolfgang Rietzl, who owned Rietzl Porsche-Audi for nearly 40 years, also served as National Service Manager for both Porsche-Audi and VW. Whether intentional or just slip-ups from the factory, several one-off Porsches and Audis stemmed from Rietzl. Amy is possibly an example of this, as Papyrus Metallic paint was not an official North American color option for 1990 model-year B3s, and Sepia interiors were not offered here for the entire run.

Name Origin: Virginia, the original owner, named her Amy after she was given the MA license plate 956-AMY. The original plate remains with Amy today.

Amy was originally delivered to her first owner on May 21, 1990 at Rietzl Porsche-Audi in Norwell, MA. Her caretaker for 16 years was Virginia Foster, a beloved elementary school teacher in town of residence, Hingham, MA. Virginia traded her 1978 Audi Fox at the time of purchase. Meticulous in note-taking and a true Audi lover, Amy was religiously serviced every six months at Rietzl.

Virginia sadly passed in 2006. Her son, Glen, a true car guy with a shop full of unique vehicles and memorabilia, decided to hold onto Amy where she was still maintained and used sparingly for the next 14 years.

In late January 2020, I discovered Amy listed for sale online. While I would have otherwise passed on a B3 purchase at the time, Amy needed a second look based on the realization this was a 4-cylinder base model, the interior looked “off,” and it was “Mom’s Audi.” I got in contact with Glen as soon as I could and arranged to meet him shortly after.

After giving me a grand tour of his garage, all eyes were on Amy. My suspicion that this was a unique color combination vehicle were true: from online I could tell Amy wore unofficial-for-1990 Papyrus paint, but the pictures made things look like two-tone Graphite with dirty Quartz cloth on the inside. However, what stood before me was a crazy rare sea of Sepia. Yes, “Sepia” was the official marketing name for the color. In ETKA, it’s referred less lovingly as Olive/Brown. Why Audi decided to go with this color for production is a little beyond me: Brazil brown looked good in the B2s, but if the intention was to offer a more modern color palette with the more modern B3, this was definitely not it.

I’ll sidetrack a little and explain that we must remember the B3 began production as a 1986 model vehicle overseas, and we didn’t receive it here until 1988. The early models have a few vestiges that show the car was designed much earlier than people think, such as the squared column stalks that are more fit for the dashboard design of a C3 5000. And while 1988 was the inscription/badge font change-over, the ROW models have the older “bubble” lettering. And, if we’re talking 80/80 quattro B3s specifically, it wasn’t until 1990 that Audi decided to paint the front and rear bumpers and filler trims body-color as standard equipment.

One of my 1988 Audi 80/90 Series brochures for the US market gives a small hint that there were bigger ideas and more expansive options planned for the B3 series introduction, such as a Mint Green interior offering. I can only assume that things like this were shelved relatively immediately following a less-than-rapid recovery from the 60 minutes scandal. And even though the 4000 and now 80/90 cars were unrelated to the matter, the bad press unfortunately left a black mark on any of the brand’s efforts to continue moving forward.

Anyways, Amy was certainly unique. We settled on a fair price and the upcoming weekend to pickup and drive her home. Restorative work began immediately with the intent to preserve as much as possible.

With unique Audis from the era comes another challenge to locate proper parts to complete restorations the T44Brian way. The pandemic was also beginning to shutdown the world by late February, and I feared the worst for getting Amy complete in a timely manner. The good news was the 3A “bubble-block” engine shares a lot with other 4-cylinder VW engines of the era – timing components and most sensors arrived without trouble. Brake parts and reservoirs were shared with other Audis, and exhaust components seem to be plentiful as well.

Where I ran into snags was trying to get an Audi Tradition order to arrive at my doorstep. My parts supplier who orders for me unfortunately lives in Spain – one of the hardest hit countries early in the pandemic. All shipments were halted and even Audi Tradition was eventually shut down. This proved problematic for the unique bits – a bumper trim sleeve broke during the timing belt job and no one except AT had one. The LCD clock in the instrument cluster had bled-through: AT is the only place that has the board assembly. These items, along with little retainers and clips unique to B3s were all happily collecting dust in Germany.

Amy was disassembled March 12 and didn’t see completion until July 4. Oops – she was also parked in a pretty high-traffic spot in the shop, too. So it was a huge relief once everything was back together and she was able to move again!

I promised Glen after Amy was back on the road she’d be headed to Carlisle for the only in-person event still being held. I’m a little smarter now and try to drive cars a bit once they come out of hibernation for show season to make sure there’s not a looming issue, and the same protocol was followed. After about a 500-mile road test once Amy was back together, I was feeling confident we’d have a good trip. Everything was good until Day 2 when a stalling issue developed. It was a memorable ride home having to basically coast through cash lanes at tolls, basically throwing money at people and apologizing due to car trouble. While I did play with the mixture a bit on the showfield, ultimately a loose air-plate was causing the problem. If only I knew, we would have solved the problem in 5 minutes! Otherwise, Amy has been good to me so far.

Amy is now part of the permanent collection as a completed restoration. There are no further plans to change/modify for 2021.

Notable Mods & Changes

2021: No Changes.

2020: New Vehicle Purchase

Notable Restoration Items:

  • Full Timing Belt/Cooling System/Drivetrain Service
  • Replacement OE Coolant, Hydraulic, Brake Reservoirs
  • NOS Aero Wheel Covers with Refinished 14″ Steel Wheels
  • Restored Original Floor Mats
  • Refurbished Instrument Cluster (Clock Display, Bulbs)
  • NOS Replacement Seat Net Assemblies
  • NOS Engine Bay Battery Cover
  • NOS Replacement Front Bumper Trim Sleeves
  • NOS Replacement Fender Audi Badges
  • NOS Replacement Front License Plate Bracket
  • Replacement Front Speakers and Reconditioned Rear Speakers
  • Swapped/Upgraded Items & Mods:Upgrade: Chrome “Audi 80” Dash Badge
  • Mod: B4 Automatic Shift Knob (Updated Design with Audi Logo Rings)
  • Mod: Non-Leather, Non-Airbag “Thin” Steering Wheel