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.
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.
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?