The Audi 5000 Type 44 was a significant car in automotive history, and rightfully recognized as such in the press, but due to their utility, you don’t often see surviving examples on the road. And if you do, they’re often gold front-wheel drive automatic examples that make for a less-than-exciting driving experience, or high-mileage, enthusiast-owned cars that will require significant maintenance. Today’s car has enough pluses to get an Audi enthusiast’s knees quivering – check out this 1987 Audi 5000 Turbo Quattro for sale for $1900 in Reno, NV.
So let’s tick off the list – uncommon red color, check. Manual transmission, check. Cloth interior, check. Turbo Quattro drivetrain, check. Relatively low miles (over 200K is not unheard of for these cars), check. Won’t pass smog, check. Wait, what? While looking sweet on the lot, the dealer concedes this car runs and drives merely okay, and will need work to pass smog. Is this a new catalytic converter, oxygen sensor, or something more grave?
That said, if you’re truly cuckoo over this car, you might not care – nice ones are so thin on the ground that even something as major as an engine rebuild/transplant is probably worthwhile. Assume the dealer has used plenty of Armor-All to get things ship-shape-ish, but there’s some chance the bumper and body trim is nearly as black as it appears to be. The red paint and those aerodynamic 6-spoke wheels, together with the flush headlights on later 5000s, really show how modern and revolutionary these cars were, making the BMW and Mercedes competition look like it was designed in the 1960s.
The interior also looks good, though it was generally pretty hard-wearing. The only issue here is some damage to the driver’s seatback bolster, visible in another picture in the listing. That dash mat likely hides cracks, and the cheesy K-mart steering wheel cover needs to be flung into the bushes at the first opportunity.
Here’s the offending engine – what is wrong with you, engine? 1980s emissions equipment will make it somewhat more painful to work on, but you get that great straight-5 exhaust note if you open things up a little. Good for around 160hp new, it should net you decent 0-60 times and some fun 4-wheel wheelspin on a dirt road. At the price, it’s surely worth a gamble to see if you can get it past smog for the price of a catalytic converter.