While I was scouring the local LKQ last weekend, I came across a unicorn. More after the break, but see if you can guess what it is from this picture:

Somehow, a Mk1 VW Rabbit had ended up at the junkyard – with my Scirocco’s fuel system in a sad state, I thought that it would be a perfect parts source for the finicky K-Jetronic injection system common to ‘80s VWs. While on the hunt for the elusive Rabbit, I spotted the familiar wedge-shaped prow of what I thought was a C3 Audi down at the end of a row. I had no use for Audi bits, but I’ve always had a soft spot for them (I spent a fair bit of my early life in the third row of a 100 Avant), so I wandered over to take a look.

However, I was sorely mistaken. Rather than being a lowly 100 or 200, this was Audi’s late ‘80s-early ‘90s flagship, the Audi V8. Despite looking almost identical to its C3 brethren, the V8 was built on its own platform, and, as the name suggests, sported a 32 valve quad cam V8, displacing either 3.6 or 4.2 litres, in place of the C3’s inline 5. Driving all four wheels through Audi’s famed Quattro system, and with a fantastically luxurious interior, this was a seriously special piece of machinery.

One of the Audi V8’s defining features was its unique front brakes. In order to increase braking power while maintaining a compact package, Audi turned a disk brake inside-out, using a bowl-shaped rotor to allow the caliper to be mounted on its inside edge, rather than the outside. This way, larger rotors could be used than the 15” wheels would otherwise permit. From what I’ve read, they had a number of shortcomings in practice - the expensive rotors were prone to warping, they were a nightmare to service, and they did not dissipate heat as well as a conventional disk setup. Still, they were a clever piece of engineering, in the classic “how complicated can we make this” Germanic tradition, and I couldn’t resist pulling one of the factory BBS alloys (still in good shape!) to take a photo.

It’s sad to see something as unique and awesome like this in the junkyard, but hopefully, it will give up plenty of its parts to keep others on the road. R.I.P.

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