(First posted 6/16/2013) This car officially starts the period of my life where one car at a time just wasn’t enough…Like those who say they need a reliable commuter for the week, a truck for yard duty on the weekends or to tow the boat, and another car for “fun”, I suppose I sort of fit that mold. Except I somehow rationalized the need for one two door coupe for the week and then…uh, another two door coupe for whatever else presented itself…
Anyway, I was still happily driving the Buick LeSabre T-Type chronicled last week when I decided to take a look at a car I have always wanted one of, a 1984 Audi Coupe GT. Based on the chassis of the Audi 4000 (my second car) with the drive train from the Audi 5000, and the basis for the well-respected Audi Quattro (Ur-Quattro as it is commonly known), I had always found these to be extremely handsome.
Ultimately, the one that I bought was located in Concord, a city to the north east of the San Francisco Bay. This was back when I thought nothing of traveling 60 miles to look at a car. It also turned out to be one of several cars that I probably should not have bought, if for no other reason than I really did not need it and it just became an additional expense in the end. It would be the first of several “learning experiences” in hindsight, but I never had any real regrets during my ownership.
The car was being sold by a somewhat sketchy repair shop and there were about three people involved on the selling side of the deal which is definitely something I would not involve myself with anymore these days. I drove the car and everything actually seemed fine except the A/C. The seller(s) agreed to fix that and I came back a couple of days later with my money and left with the car, now with functioning A/C.
The Coupe GT was introduced here in 1981, very slightly updated for 1983 with a chin spoiler, black painted bumpers and 14” Ronal alloys, and in 1985 they got the smoothed-out body, integrated bumpers and nicer dashboard and steering wheel just like the 4000 line at the same time. Mechanically there were no major changes throughout the years, except the last of the line, which are known as 1987.5’s in which the engine had a bit more power; however it was still the same basic engine architecture.
In the U.S., these were only ever available as front wheel drive with a five cylinder engine, either with 5-speed manual or an automatic transmission. Interiors were cloth (plaid in the very early ones), vinyl that seems to wear as well as MB-Tex, or leather as an option in the later years (’85-’87.5). The rated power of the 2144cc engine in 1984 was 100hp, with 112lb.ft. of torque. The weight was just over 2500lbs, which made the performance acceptable.
Since the body shell is almost identical to that of the Ur-Quattro (except for the flared wheel arches and the body color bumpers), these are often confused with them however they had neither a turbocharger not the all-wheel drive system of the Ur-Q in the U.S. Some other markets did have a normally aspirated all-wheel drive version of the Coupe GT available however.
The interior was a very nice place to be (for the day), controls were well laid out, seats were very comfortable, and the back seat was much larger than it appears at first glance. Many people figure these are hatchbacks, however that is not the case, the rear glass stays in place, the trunk lid is short and deep and is hinged just below the window. There is no external trunk release, opening it is achieved via a knob on the driver side door jamb. The trunk itself is quite large and very deep, the spare is mounted upright on the left side and the fuel tank, as in the 4000, stands up behind the rear seat.
Mine was white with a tan vinyl interior. Sunroof, power windows and locks were all standard. The front spoiler was most likely off a different one and had been repainted body color, that paint had pretty much fallen off it as you can see in the somewhat fuzzy picture, which is the only surviving shot that I have of it. The rest of the car seemed solid. For driving around town this was great; I enjoyed it and while basically similar (two door coupe) to my Buick, this was in many ways obviously very different. A stick shift makes any car feel different, but it was also fairly light and handled tighter than the Buick even though it had quite a few more miles on it.
I do recall taking this one to Lake Tahoe over a New Year’s with some friends. It turned out a little spooky as we discovered that when four people were in the car and you went over a dip or the road rose and fell, when you were at maximum compression, the floor would make a popping noise just behind the front seat. The noise was very much like those little pressed tin toy frogs from the 60’s and 70’s that had a little metal tab underneath, when you squeezed the tab it made a small “pop” noise that would drive your parents crazy…
We actually stopped the car and looked underneath and felt around the floorboards but everything seemed fine. I still have no idea what it was; the car did not have any visible rust and was not an accident reconstruction, however it did have that weird structural deficiency. It drove fine the whole time, just the sound was unnerving, we wondered if the car was going to break in half!
As far as noises go, for some reason when test-driving it I never tried reverse. Well, reverse worked but made a loud clicking noise as you were moving backwards that varied in intensity with your speed. It always worked and I never looked into it, but it was just a characteristic of this particular car.
Another issue that this one had was that the door seals were in pretty bad shape to the point where some of the material was missing. At highway speeds a good amount of air would leak in, I figured I could replace them, however they were prohibitively expensive at the dealer (for me at the time anyway) and internet resources were still a few years away. So I just lived with it, at least it was California, not overly cold and even in Lake Tahoe it was OK as long as I blasted the heat. I’ve found German cars in general (OK, water cooled ones, anyway) to have excellent heaters, often like having a little pellet stove behind the dash.
I still like these cars very much and was glad to have had the opportunity to own one. Having since driven the Ur-Quattro and even having driven an actual SportQuattro (short wheelbase, very lightweight Kevlar body, 300hp, only slightly more than 200 built for Group B Rally homologation purposes) in France, has only confirmed my belief that these were well-sorted, comfortable, grand touring cars that looked great and ran economically without being ostentatious or overly costly to maintain and repair as long as one was aware that regular maintenance is key to European car ownership. (One day I will have to do a report on how I came to drive that SportQuattro and give my impressions…)
So do I really regret owning it? I guess not in principle, but it would have been better if I had waited for a more perfect one and/or had the budget to take care of some small annoyances. In the end I sold it for pretty much what I had in it to a guy who had moved to San Francisco with an Alfa Romeo Milano that had over a quarter of a million miles on it!