1990 Audi V8 Quattro

I was obsessed with these about a year ago. I thought they were so cool. I still do, but I no longer scour craigslist everyday looking for them. There are just too few in too poor shape to realistically consider as a practical and reliable daily driver.

The V8 Quattro was simply known as just that and not "A8" as its successor was named. It was Audi's flagship sedan from 1988-1993, or roughly the length of the George H.W. Bush administration.

This was a very important car for Audi, perhaps even life-saving. In 1986, the company faced an enormous public relations disaster when 60 Minutes aired a report purportedly showing their Audi 5000 unintentionally accelerating. But the report had been fabricated (so much for journalistic integrity), and the NHTSA eventually found vehicle operators at fault, not the manufacturer. The 5000 was wisely renamed 100 and 200 in 1989.

The damage in the minds of consumers was already done, however. Audi's reputation and sales plummeted, and never recovered to pre-acceleration-debacle-levels until the year 2000.

But in October of 1988, Audi introduced the V8 Quattro, a whole new model to compete with the best of the best. It featured unique sheetmetal, permanent four-wheel drive, a galvanized body and a host of luxury and convenience features.

The most interesting thing about the V8 Quattro for me is the ultra-conservative styling, a collage of rectangular forms. Even the gas lid is square. It looks like some lost Audi concept for super-sedan that never made it out of the boardroom. The angles and proportions are so simple and handsome it's almost too good to be true. It's a more restrained and subtle than the already staid 5000, but the wider track and flared wheel wells give it a more hunkered-down, performance-oriented look. Then the small wheels rebuke the idea of speed and play with perceptions again, making the car look a little nerdy at the same time, too. I love the use of thick black plastic anti-dent trim, headlight wipers, thin pillars and plentiful greenhouse glass providing for excellent visibility.

In early models, power was supplied by a 3.6-liter 8-cylinder engine producing around 247 horsepower, not bad, but not ideal when you factor in a hefty curb weight of 3,774 lbs. 0-60 mph times came in at 7.6 seconds. Handling and overall feel was secure, but acceleration supposedly left something to be desired. I've seen people describe these as sufficient to downright sluggish. Fuel economy was poor as well, at 14 mpg city and 18 mpg highway.

The seller of this example is a small used car dealer and state the mileage as 107,546. They provide no other details. It looks like a typically worn example, but the body seems to have no major flaws. These were, rather amazingly, made of galvanized steel and therefore avoided most rust issues. The real issues come from the car's overall hazy reliability and the cost and availability of rare German parts when things do break.

But for one winter of fun and mostly bank-vault solid driving in the snow? This could be a nice piece for that, and that only. It really is a collector-only car. The A8 that followed was superior in some ways, arguably better looking and more plentiful (and nearly as cheap now). Still, few V8Q were sold, fewer are left, and very few are drivable.

Find it here in New Jersey for $2,995.


  1. What a lazy ass effort to advertise this car! While there are a number of photos, they are hazy and don't provide any of the detail you really want to see. No effort to clean up the car for it's photoshoot either. One line of description is a joke.

    It may just be a lazy or cheap dealer, but the lack of CarFax leaves me thinking they don't want us to know what it says. Pricing suggests some sort of unfortunate history also.

    That said, the V8 was a significant car for Audi, and if this particular one could be rehabbed, it could make a nice winter driver for someone.

    1. Exactly my sentiments. A winter tank.
      These cars always end up at the little used car dealer around the corner. This thing either has a bad accident or 10 different owners, all of them probably not old enough to drive when it first came out and not rich enough to afford the upkeep. But I'm glad the seller has it online at all, so at least I can do flesh it out a little haha.

  2. Lucky to have cheap carfax report alternative where I've been running free vin check and getting my vehicle histories from. Carfax fees are just too much to pay.