The Automotive Graveyard
I saw an ad recently in one of those little “Coffee Mate” flyers that have become so popular in coffee shops of late. It advertised an automotive auction. “Classic Cars!”, it shouted. “Many Beautiful Rare, Antique and Collector Cars!” My interest was clearly piqued.
I looked at my significant other with the look of a child who’s just seen a giant sign reading, “FREE CANDY!”. To her credit, she seemed just as interested as I (although she may have been faking it), and we started to peruse the list of cars. It looked impressive. Many Bel-Airs, Parisiennes, some early-60s pickups. But then, on the list, something caught my eye: A 1990 Audi Quattro Coupe. Be still my heart!
It took surprisingly little convincing, and she agreed to get up early on a Saturday morning with me, and drive all the way out to where the auction was happening. We were met by a cold, damp, windy morning at a farm, not an auction yard. An extremely festive young man handed me a bidder paddle that had been constructed of a tongue depresser and a piece of purple construction paper with a “27” written on it in magic marker. My confidence was not exactly skyrocketing.
The auction, it turns out, was being held in the back of an old Dodge Dakota, where they had mounted a large wooden desk, complete with an office chair, and a pair of large bullhorns on the cab, connected to a CB-style microphone.
Now, I may perhaps be naive. I’ve seen the Barrett-Jackson auction a few times too many, and I always kind of assumed that some effort would be made to, I don’t know, demonstrate which car you were referring to, or show it in a positive light. Apparently I was dead wrong.
The auction occurred as the truck slowly drove around a field full of old rusting hulks that used to be cars. The auctioneer, rather than calling out a lot number, would point to one of these hulks, and say something like, “I think that was an old Belvedere. Who wants it for a thousand? No? Seven-fifty? Nothing? Okay, moving on.” Needless to say, I tired of this quite quickly.
I wandered on ahead of the morose procession of bidders, slowly shuffling silently behind the Dakota like condemned prisoners on a chain gang, and went searching for some gold nugget in what was, it was quickly becoming apparent, a huge field of vehicles good for little more than scrap. Specifically, I was looking for my Quattro Coupe.
A Quattro Coupe, you see, shares an almost-identical wheelbase with a Corrado, and indeed the Corrado was originally designed to be an all-wheel-drive car, thus explaining the large transmission hump in the centre of the car, running the full length back to where a rear differential should be. There have been many people who have converted them to a longitudinally-mounted all-wheel-drive car with great success. I was feeling more and more optimistic as I wandered through this pile of decrepit cars that perhaps, just perhaps, I’d be able to find a Quattro Coupe in bad enough shape that I wouldn’t feel bad about gutting it for all its running bits.
To make a long story short, a tidbit of information for the auctioneers. This is an Audi Quattro Coupe:
This is NOT an Audi Quattro Coupe:
The day was not a total loss, however. I did bring along my better camera, so I wandered around snapping photos — while my unbelievably patient significant other very nearly froze, while wandering ahead and suggesting photos that she thought might turn out well.
Yes, that story was a long-winded eloquent way of saying, “Here! Have pictures!”