Save The Avants (And My Sanity)

Nostalgia and I walk a fine line. While I don’t really dwell over the past, there was a particularly enjoyable, simpler time of T44Brian. Remember my first Avant? Of all the daily drivers, it was probably the most unreliable and cosmetically-challenged of them all. But something about that car made me happy. When something broke, I enjoyed fixing it. When I wanted to go on a drive, I took that car. The perfectionist in me needs a break, too, and that’s why our third Avant gets back to the basics.


1991 Audi 200 20v Avant (Production 10/90)

2.2L 20v I5 (3B) | 5-Speed Manual (016)

Lago Blue | Platinum Grey Leather (Sport Seats)

MSRP (With Dealer Installed Accessories): $43,905 Dealer: Paul Miller Audi, Parsippany, NJ

Factory Options: None Dealer Installed Accessories: None

Member of T44Brian Since 10/3/2019 Special Plate: 200-20V

Status: Daily Driver & Ongoing Project

Notable Awards & Achievements: We made it Radwood Boston 2019!

Odd & Unique About This Vehicle: 20v Avants are self-explanatory. While reported numbers from Audi have ranged from 130-170 examples that made it stateside, we’ll settle in the middle at 150.

Name Origin: Franz came pre-named from his owner, who owns a companion Porsche 928, Hans. No need to change a good name.

Franz was originally delivered to Paul Miller Audi in Parsippany, NJ. His second owner owner bought him in New Jersey sometime in 1995 with about 90K miles. As other cars joined the family and priorities of life got in the way, work began to get pushed back. Some refreshments were carried out several years ago – suspension, clutch, other little bits and pieces. The UFOs are gone and replaced with G60s.

Like most other 20v sedans and Avants, these were/are enthusiast vehicles that were driven and well-used by their owners. Now at 223K, Franz is not a stranger to wear and tear. Combined with a New England life and being stored improperly took somewhat of a toll on cosmetics. Rock chips, lower panel corrosion, and a smattering of bumps and bruises are part of Franz’s charm as a surviving 20v Avant. My efforts with cleanup and correction have gone a long way to bring Franz back to a very presentable vehicle that I can drive around without freaking out over impending taps from other car doors and flying objects.

Consider Franz more of a continuation of my first wagon, Wendell.

But since this is the internet and I can’t assume my audience, let me give a brief overview of my history with wagons.

In September 2017, I flew out to DC to pickup Wendell, an ’89 100 Wagon that was two-tires in the grave. Not a usual candidate for me by any means, but I grew to love its neediness and laughable cosmetic issues. A lot of fun road trips (and shameless basic events like leaf peeping and going to Starbucks regularly) were done in this car, and within 10 months I did about 12,000 miles of driving. Then he really started to nickel and dime me with issues, and also began to have transmission problems to the point where I was having problems safely making it home. In late May 2018 he was retired.

The next wagon I picked up outside of Detroit and drove back home over two-days. This was Zygmunt, a 1984 5000S Avant. While maintained well by the previous owner in much better shape than Wendell, he also had his regular issues and enjoyed leaking ATF and other fluids whenever stopped for more than a couple seconds. Not including the 1,000 mile trip home, I probably put 5-6,000 miles on over four months. Zyg was going to receive quite a bit of attention over the 2018/19 winter months to be the main show car for the 2019 season. But that all changed when we were rear ended at highway speed while stopped at an offramp. So since December 2018, the search for a replacement wagon was on.

The third wagon was never purchased as I had a seller who gave me issues and I backed out. This would have been another ’89 100 Wagon, but an even farther trip home from Chicago. I was still recovering from the accident and in hindsight it probably wasn’t the best idea anyways. The same night that deal fell apart, I found Ottmar, our 5000CS Turbo sedan, which got me back on my feet along with 4000S Erlend who were completed for the show season in April 2019.

I don’t want to be negative and say that Ottmar was a “detour” from the path that I wanted to take, but every day of 2019 up until Franz I spent looking for a replacement wagon. And when the searches came up dry, I just continued on with the current cars.

With the new shop being completed, I didn’t really have a project ready to go. I had already gone over the Core-4 cars again and did everything to the point where they won’t need anything except oil changes for a year or two. That’s never good for a person who needs to keep busy. A couple possible candidates had come up for the next project; a Coupe GT, a couple 20v sedans, and some expensive 4000s. Even a 10v 200 Avant, but I didn’t make it in time and it was sold to another party. But I knew that if I didn’t get back into an Avant I really wouldn’t be able to reset mentally from the accident.

And that’s where the idea of trying to get back into a less-than-stellar example came to be: find a car that can be used without too much OCD kicking in, something that WILL need frequent attention, and something that’s new and different from the rest of the cars we already have. I would have bought any wagon truthfully: Franz just happens to be a 20-valve.

We all knew eventually the day would come and I’d finally pickup something like this. Yeah, it took seven years of playing with old Audis to make the jump, but it was well worth the wait.

As of this writing we’re around the two-month mark with Franz. If you’re following along on the Project 20v page, you know a ton of work has already been completed. Issues from rust to flywheel failure have been attended to in some manner. A lot has been learned about these cars, and with that in mind, this won’t be the last 3B to grace T44 HQ.


2019: New Vehicle Purchase

Upgrades and Refreshments:

  • “The Shelf” – 1984/85 Avant Large Rear Spoiler
  • Audi S2 Steering Wheel
  • Euro-Market Votex OEM Front Mudflaps
  • Left and Right Headlight Assemblies
  • Replacement Decals – Anti-Theft Radio, Timing Cover Warning, Speed Warning, ’84 WRC
  • Full Ignition & Timing Belt Service with Upgraded Billet Crank Cog, Knock Sensors, and G4/G28 Sensors
  • Cooling System Service (G11) with new Expansion Tank
  • Restored Platinum Audi Logo Carpet Floor Mats
  • Early Version Audi Logo Rain Tray
  • Full Replacement Zebrano Wood Inlays
  • Rewired and Restored Delta Head Unit
  • 4 New Speakers: 2 Front & 2 Rear
  • OEM Wood Shift Knob
  • Refurbished BBS Center Caps
  • Full Instrument Cluster Refurbishment with 2.0w bulbs
  • Replacement LR armrest, Left B-Pillar trim, Center Console Carpet
  • Replacement 3B Airbox
  • Seatback Magazine Net Refurbishment
  • Flywheel Resurface and New Timing Pin
  • New Front Windshield
  • Throwout Bearing (034)
  • Billet Throttle Cam (034)
  • Various Replacement Lower Moldings