Four Circles of Hell

The time has come for us to revamp the automotive fleet. Changing priorities (and, I’ll be honest, desires) have us looking to turn over 75% of the cars in the driveway. My Subaru is up for grabs, Declan is on Craigslist now and the wife’s Ford will go eventually, as well. 

The goal is to end up with a tow vehicle (so we can buy a camper), an efficient (possibly hybrid) car for the wife to run around town in and something for me to drive to work and go rally with from time to time. Which means I want another Audi. My fourth Audi. 

There are lots of reasons to want an Audi – I love the build quality and the design has always made me comfortable. My first Audi – a 1986 4000 CS quattro – was a true beater. Bought for $650, I beat the snot out of it on rally weekends for almost three years. My second Audi – a 1991 Model 90 20 valve quattro – never even got registered – it had a motor problem and, when I diagnosed it, decided it wasn’t worth it. Did manage to sell it for what I paid for it, so it was a wash. The third Audi – a 1994 Model 90 quattro – was a tank. And, like the 4000, it was unstoppable in snow of all sorts. (I admit to plowing through 18 inches of snow and a three foot berm at the end of my driveway when I was too lazy to shovel.)

It’s that traction that gets me oddly excited. I’ve rallied all wheel drive cars for more than a decade now. Excepting two events in a Saab 900, every event since 1997 has been with an AWD car – several Audis, Subarus and Mitsubishis. 

Of course, finding an old and cheap Audi is not easy. The small girl child and I headed out to look at two on Friday, both had issues. Issues that could be taken care of, but not at the asking prices. Both would have needed significant discounts and the sellers didn’t seem inclined. Finding the right old car is always hard, but finding a rare old car … well, it is like the four circles of hell. 

  • Circle one is the scary looking car – dents, dings, missing trim, broken parts.
  • Circle two is the scary driving car – loose steering, questionable brakes, ominous clunks.
  • Circle three is the leaky car – puddles or coatings of oil underneath the car or, worse, unidentifiable fluids that have sprayed around the engine compartment.
  • Circle four is the questionable lineage car – most German cars have pretty severe maintenance schedules. They will run forever, but you have to do the maintenance on them.

So I started to wonder – do I really need an Audi again? Could I expand my search into the far more prevalent realm of BMWs, retaining that Teutonic solidity but expanding my options?

But then I see videos like this … and, well, it sort of says everything, doesn’t it?


(Bonus points to anyone who finds the continuity error. Hey, even Audi doesn’t get everything right …)


  1. Snow on the Audi emblem!

    How about that safety chain pulling up out of the snow in front of it though? Sneaky sneaky.

  2. That video is very, very 80s. Sorry that you have to sell Declan, but I guess the family can’t ride in it while you’re towing a camper.

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