Now or Never: The V8 Has Arrived

A lot changes in a decade. When I began working with these vehicles, the rad-era reboot was still several years off. You could easily scoop up a decent 80s/90s Audi for a couple thousand dollars. And usually at the bottom of the barrel were V8 quattros. While nicer examples existed then, well-traveled and well-worn was the norm for the market. And even the “nice-guys” could barely break a $4000 ask. With the focus on easier-to-maintain 5-cylinders, even I couldn’t justify a V8 in the collection unless it was something worthwhile.

I don’t like to repeat history too much with the fleet, so when it was brought to my attention that a one-owner, sub-60K example had shown up for the right price, I figured this is probably one of the last opportunities to secure a time-capsule V8. Aside from more Avants, a V8 is the last of the must-own bucket-list cars of the ‘84-‘91 Audi era for me. There are so many subtleties to these over the 100/200 that get me all riled up, and now we have the pleasure to deal with yet another beautiful headache.


1990 Audi V8 quattro (Production 8/89) 3.6L V8 (PT) | 4-Speed Auto (097)

Crystal Silver Metallic LY7T | Graphite Leather Sport Seats

MSRP: $48,835 Dealer: Motorcars P-A, Bedford, OH (now Audi Bedford) 

Factory Options: Sport Seats (No Charge)

Dealer Installed Accessories: None 

Member of T44Brian since 9/25/2021 

Special Plate: STEPOFF

Status: Restoration Complete, Permanent Collection

Personality Profile: A rolling, excessively- thirsty bank vault that never fails to make an impression on anyone. After the initial tap of the throttle promises convincing torque lacking on Audi’s former non-turbo efforts, the honeymoon phase only remains with a heavy foot and a click into Sport Mode. But do we really care when this mostly gutless V8 engine whispers around on the highway and the first-rate appointments are something that would easily embarrass its much more expensive competitors of the day?

Odd & Unique About This Car: US-bound V8s came completely loaded from the factory, therefore the only options available to consider would be sport vs. comfort seats and what color combination you wanted. First year 1990 models began to arrive at dealers in the summer of ’89 and are the only year to use the 6-slot Aero wheels before Audi upgraded to a BBS setup in 1991 (which Lutz is wearing).

Name Origin: German – a pet name for Ludwig, Lutz means “famous battle.”

Lutz was bought new at Motorcars P-A (that stands for Porsche-Audi just FYI – it personally took me a long minute to realize that because outside of Audis… I’m a bit clueless!) in Bedford, OH, to the tune of $44,000 in cash (and yes, the V8 was already deemed a slow-seller as soon as the Fall of ’89). The original owner had mostly stopped driving by 2009, with the odometer reading around 54K miles. Fast forward to the present, and with the owner’s health unfortunately failing completely, Lutz was listed for sale in September 2021 with a little over 56K miles.

Watching the asking price slowly drop over the course of a week, I became slightly enamored with the thought of another road trip to pickup a V8 of my own. With some encouragement from a fellow Audi enthusiast, I decided to call the number on the listing and make arrangements.

Let’s take a moment and discuss a reasonable question: if I’m the Classic Audi Guy, why brush over a V8 for so many years? Isn’t it an important piece of history, which I’m all about?

The truth is, I had a couple experiences dealing with V8s prior. However, these cars were always barn/swamp finds that were part-outs. One of the first Audis I went to go pull parts off of when I started back in 2013 was an algae-infested Glacier Blue/Nautical Comfort Seat example. And then a short time later, a Cyclamen/Travertine donated a ton of stuff to my then Bamboo/Travertine 100, and I felt pretty cool with all of the little leather bits and color-matched pieces on my otherwise darling base-model 400K-mile college shitbox. I was just always put off by ones I’d see at shows that were modified (sometimes poorly, other times to a decent standard). I suppose my desire for a V8 would have been stronger if I could have immersed myself in a viewing of a bone-stock car. A car that I can truly only imagine myself driving.

Now, in 10 years time, plenty of V8s have changed hands and been listed for sale. I was very close to buying examples that were in “project if willing” shape, and a few that were decently clean that I’d be able to handle getting back to nearly showroom condition.

BUT OF COURSE: I’m picky! Duh! I’ll say it’s the fear of working on a new-to-me engine, but it’s really this: my one hold up with any old Audi is if it’s Pearl White. I hate Pearl White. There, I said it. You all seem to like it, and that’s fine with me. But even the nicest originally finished Pearl White Audi with matching Pearl Wheels, the finish is just never going to come back to my intense detail standards. The base coat is always cracked underneath the clear, so even if it was nice, it would still look horrendous in the light. Now, this isn’t to say every clear-coated Audi experienced the same thing, but then if I had to respray it, now we’re talking the whole car to match. Nope, I’m good.

AND THEN: It seems that 90% of the Pearl White cars, which was the “it” color so of course there’s many… have Platinum Grey interior. No. It’s too common. I want a more unique V8 than white on grey. And again – I really don’t prefer gray interiors to begin with for the same reasons above – hard to restore and get right.

So now: back to the story. We have a confirmed Crystal Silver over Graphite Sport Seat Car on the line. I always get nervous when I have to speak to sellers of Audis who probably have no idea what they have, yet it’s my entire world, so I never know exactly how to come off to them. Business casual inquiry… Or manic pixie Audi fan boy? I chose to go with the latter.

I spoke with a gentleman who was assisting in the sale of the car, and of course I had to immediately read him the T44Brian Riot act: “Hi I’m in Connecticut and collect these cars and am not a scammer etc please love me.” After explaining the current state of the car, he said that I’m one of many who are serious buyers. I explained that I was willing to get on a plane *today* and come get it. *I’m* the serious buyer, everyone else can please fuck off.

He paused for a moment, and I began to get nervous.

“You know what, of all the people who have strung me along and looked and made promises to come get it, I think we can make this work.”

I inquired why I had won over his trust that I would follow through with this very sudden plan, and would somehow promise to be in Ohio by nightfall.

Instead of it being an expected “you sound insane” response, it went more like “You’re the only person this entire week who actually followed instructions to call me. Everyone else has bothered me with messages and texts and I’m sick of it.”

So here I am, 11am on a Saturday in late September, scrambling to get a plane ticket to Cleveland. I found a flight, took a shower, packed some plates, some clothes, and paperwork in a backpack and asked for a ride to the airport.

Naturally, the only flight available is to Atlanta, then a quick shot up to Cleveland arriving at 9pm. I called the seller with this information, and he said “I’ll be there pick you up!”

And that’s exactly what he did. He drove me to the car, which was only 5 minutes away from the airport, and the second we pulled up, I knew I hadn’t made a mistake. Lutz was sparkling in the driveway under a set of flood lights on the seller’s garage.

Knowing I would have anywhere from a 8-10 hour drive home, I quickly signed the paperwork and headed out. I stopped at a gas station nearby to fill up the tank, and just inspect the car a little further. I was in absolute awe. It was a V8! And it’s mine! Oh, the temporary moment of satisfaction!

But then for me, the most joyous (sarcasm) aspects of flying out to buy cars sight unseen are that you quickly realize post-purchase you’re driving a 30 year old car home, on date code 2000 Pirellis, and an original timing belt that could snap at any moment. But after regaining your composure regarding the situation at hand, you realize you don’t have a choice either way – the car has to get home somehow and with a few coffee and rest breaks along the way, you’re just going to have to trust that it will be OK.

And Lutz was OK for the entire trip, thank God. I didn’t get too playful with the throttle or make any sudden moves, as I was aware the tires were horrendously dried out and out of balance, and I was also ready to doze off at any moment. With the pandemic, the number of rest areas with services past 8pm on I90, or open at all, were cut in half compared to when I did this exact route with my 5000S Avant back in the Summer of 2018.

Once we arrived home the next day, my work began to track down maintenance parts and the bits and pieces that were broken or otherwise missing. There wasn’t much that needed to be tended to. With some help from Audi Tradition, and a junkyard V8 that I had discovered on accident while searching local yards, we were able to get everything we needed to get a good handle on things. The one part that held us up for a little bit? The tensioner pad for the timing belt job, which is a minute but major part that must be replaced for peace of mind.

Wanting to get Lutz on the road for Christmas 2021, the front end was ripped off and the belt was done, along with anything else I could while I was in there.

The world says the 4.2 motor is the way to go, but I had to have a 3.6 just for fun. And because I chose to buy a first-year car, I have the lovely Aero 6-slot wheels as stock equipment. It works on the car just as it worked on the facelift 100/200, but I had an itch to get the BBS wheels that were made standard for ’91 and beyond. So after a few weeks of searching, a guy in the Bronx had a 58K mile set off a V8 that didn’t work with his B4 Cabriolet’s bolt pattern. What a score – they are absolutely the nicest set I’ve ever seen that still have the original polished lip 95% intact. A little wet sanding back at the shop – and my V8 was complete for my 27th birthday.

I am *so* protective of this car. More so than the 4000. I never knew I would love a Classic Audi as much as this V8. Yes, I’ve allowed it to go to a few shows, and I pulled it out of the garage to take pictures for an article in Hemmings – so those short times when it’s not tucked away I cherish. Let’s see where it goes in 2023.

Notable Mods & Changes

2021-2022: New Vehicle Purchase

  • BBS Wheels
  • Full Timing Belt Service
  • New Floor Mats
  • Refurbished Bose System
  • New Front License Plate Bracket
  • Genuine Audi Telephone Reinstalled
  • Repairs to Bumper Indicator Lenses
  • Full Paint Correction and Ceramic Coating
  • Refinished Wheels and New Tires
  • Replacement Glovebox Light
  • Refreshed Undercoating
  • New Rear Arch Stone Guards
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