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V.I.S.I.T. – Audi 4000 Coupe

Jay Ramey February 5, 2013 V.I.S.I.T. - Vehicles I Saw In Traffic 33 Comments

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This is a different kind of Audi. Before Audi became the Audi of today, and sometime after it ceased being a DKW, Audi was what you see here. The Giugiaro design is a bit boxy and color sensitive viewed through today’s eyes, but it was quite stylish for the time and has aged well overall, even if the design language overlaps with its corporate parent to the point that one could easily picture a VW badge on the grille.

Our readers in Europe know this car as the second-generation Audi 80, but in America we got it with this huuuge model number with a lot of zeros at the end to highlight just how awesome it was.  This was during a time when every self-respecting appliance and household product ranging from exercise machines to laundry detergent got the number 2000 as a suffix to highlight just how modern and 21st century it was. Well, Audi beat them at their own game by multiplying that number by 2, and giving us a whopping Foour Thoouusand sedan and coupe. And while the sedans can still be found on our roads as daily drivers (an increasingly rare sight it must be said) the coupes seem to have sold in much more modest numbers, which made seeing this 4000 coupe a special treat.

Sold in the US from 1980 till 1987, the 4000 came in two engine flavors: a 1.8 liter inline-four called the 4000S, and a 2.2 liter inline-five called the 4000CS. The neato Fuel Injection badge written in cursive on the trunklid of this example indicates that this is the 2.2 liter 5-cyl version, which was good for a respectable 115bhp and came with a manual transmission.

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As you may have guessed by now, North America got a severely truncated choice of engines, and only the better performing ones. The 1.3 liter gas and the 1.6 liter gas and diesels were not available in the US, and perhaps for good reason. Diesel engines had just fallen out of favor as it was Morning Again in America, and the only diesel you needed was in a dually truck. That, and the 1.3 liter gas engine felt all winded out by most accounts.

In hindsight, a billboard boasting the thrifty goodness of a 1.3 liter engine may have done more harm than good for the brand stateside, but the harm would come later. All of this doesn’t change the fact that Audis of the time, with the notable exception of the Quattro and perhaps the GT Coupe, were more or less disposable cars. Or at least they were treated as such.

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The 4000 sedan is now a favorite with Audi enthusiasts, and I’ve seen several examples that have been retrofitted with European-spec trim pieces, including a Euro-spec rear license plate niche. Paint quality was not really a strength of the 4000, so with examples such as these I have to assume they’ve been repainted at some point, unless they’ve been locked in a climate controlled garage all this time.

When was the last time you’ve seen an Audi 4000 sedan or coupe?

  • wisc47

    It's nice, but I think I'd change the wheels to something more suiting of the style.
    <img src="http://images.thesamba.com/vw/classifieds/pix/3515371.jpg&quot; width="600">

    • 1slowvw

      Had a set of these on my old mk2 Golf, wish I hadn't let them go. Unfortunately I was young and wasn't thinking.

  • JayP2112

    4000 Coupe- since college.
    Sedan- not too long ago. A pal bought a pristine CS quattro in Oklahoma, drove it a while then traded it for a Miata to spec out.

    Car ended up with the brother of another pal…
    <img src="http://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/429178_10152112591840635_594658753_n.jpg&quot; width="450">
    EDIT: that Tig was traded in for a Jetta sportwagon TDI last week.

    The US did get the diesel 4000. A high school pal had one and that car turned me on to Audis.
    It was a 4-eye early car sedan. It was nice…

  • dukeisduke

    There was also a version with the five-cylinder and the five-speed manual, called the 5+5. I can remember the first time I saw a 4000, parked inside the fenced area at Forest Lane Porsche+Audi in Dallas, where I bought my '78 Fox. The 4000 hadn't officially gone on sale, and all the emblems on the car were covered with tape.

    As for paint, I didn't have a complaint with the paint quality on my Fox (mine was Colibri Green metallic) – it was one of the few good points of the car.

  • dukeisduke

    And the only diesels in pickups then were the Olds 350 in the Chevy and GMC half-tons.

  • racer139

    Shouldnt it read 20th century?. Its not modern by 21st century stadards. But it has aged well and I would like to own one as nice as this example.

  • When I look at plain-jane '80s coupes like this, I'm amazed how elegant and attractive the simplest body lines can be.

    …Jane may be plain, but she's damn sexy.

    • JayP2112

      Giugiaro's designs in the 70s and 80s were always my favorite. Scirocco, Esprit, even the Eagle Premiere was a good looking car.

      • wisc47

        He even made an Isuzu look sexy.

    • A thousand thumbs up for this comment. I can't zoom in far enough to see read the size of tyres are on those attrocious wheels, I'll bet they're 17s. Point being they look ridiculous. The original 14" wheels looked anything but small on this car when new. Your Town Cow; what does that sit on, 15s or 16s? They look proportionally correct for the car and offer an elegance that seems to have fallen right out of fashion.

      When I was still at Uni I grew increasingly annoyed by the way that prototypes or design sketches were expected, nay encouraged to be drawn with ridiculous, horribly impractical wheels that would probably measure at 26" plus. And then you'd have to create a feasible mechanical package to accomodate them, all so your car looked eye-catching to the cost of terrible ride quality and massive unsprung weight.

      • But why shouldn't student prototypes or design sketches have ridiculous, horribly impractical wheels, when the vehicles themselves are expected, nay encouraged to be ridiculous and horribly impractical?

        • Yeah, that's probably why I work at a dealership rather than for a design team somewhere. My coursework didn't have enough LSD in it.

  • I'd rather refer to it as a two-door sedan rather than a coupe, since the 80 Coupe was the rakish fastback one. This is closer to E30 in execution.

  • Irishzombieman

    I have two personal favorite LeMons cars. The first is a Geo Metro with a CBR1000 motor. Sounds like F1, looks like the car in my back yard.

    2nd favorite is an Audi 4000. The day I saw it at Buttonwillow, the exhaust pipe had broken off right in front of the muffler, and the sound of a completely uncorked turbo 5 going past every minute or two was heavenly. Sounded like a P-51, complete with the awesome Doppler shift.

    • JayP2112

      Was the 4000 painted blue? I think they ran Buttonwillow last year.

      • Irishzombieman

        It was white when I saw it at the December '11 race. Remembering, too, that it was a 4-door.

        /looks up results. . . OLD Fast Auto Race Team & Sons.

        Just the memory of that sound is making my day better.

        • JayP2112

          There is a Blue Goose Team running a 4000q. Prior cars were a CRX and a Mk1 GTi. They're out of Dallas and I know a few of the guys.

  • I don't remember ever seeing a 4000 coupe. I did see a 4000 4-door in Seattle in 2009.

  • Hatchtopia

    That is simple and beautiful. I want it.

  • Metric Wrench

    I wave at him as we pass – an old geezer, driving his faded brown Audi 4000 stick on the twisty roads in the afternoon, wearing an equally faded brown sportcoat and fedora. He's a hero.

  • Brad D.

    I see one every day when I walk out to my driveway!

    <img src="http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8086/8474296224_cc83135319_z.jpg"&gt;

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