Its been almost 4 years now since I bought my A3 VR6 Sportback and retired the A4 4 dr. The hatch is fun and faster but still not even close to the same in the level of sticking to the road. The 1998 B5 Audi quattro was an awesome car to own in terms of grip. Its no wonder it was banned from racing after its two years in the BTCC. I know some of you hate Audi but I can do almost all my own repairs with ease so having two of them was never an issue for me. I let it go after 100k miles and my driving it over 15 years. It had just 140k on the odometer and was 18 years old when I let it go. It was as straight when it left me as the day I purchased it. The second 2000 one we bought with 100k and traded for daughters 12' A4 after it went another 50k miles.
From the start mine had the factory Eibach springs and same rear sway as the S4 but I couldn’t leave that alone. Installed a larger rear bar, wider stickier Yokohama tires, urethane front and rear sway bushings plus a front strut bar making it capable of hitting .93 Gs as tested by a Passport GT2 meter. Even on the same width rubber with a few suspension changes my A3 quattro can’t get past .89 and it complains more.
It loved the white stuff too. I wore out a set of Blizzacs and Conti EWC on that car . On one occasion drove it in about 18" and plowed two miles of powder covered closed road that day when a main road was closed by accidents. Had to stop and clean the grille out twice but it was so cold I probably didn’t need to. The bellypan was packed with snow after that one.
The 2000 the day I bought it for $5k. Spent $1200 on parts and we drove that one too but only for 4 years. It needed brakes, timing belt, a tune, tires and a spring. The timing belt job on either the 1.8T or 2.8 car was about 6 hours of work. A big savings doing them at home.
The older A4 needed more at times. Like the two thermostats within 8 years because one started to stick intermittently. I can tell you its possible to cheat one into the 2.8 without removing a timing belt and do it in under two hours. The secret trick I borrowed was to loosely put a zip tie on the belt and the one cog so I could slide the belt out enough to get clearance to remove the housing.
If you mark the 4 bolt hole positions you can swap window guides in about 45 minutes a window. The unknown secret to doing these cheap is buy the ones for a Pontiac Grand Am or Olds Alero at the local parts store. The Audi regulator were made by Brose same supplier to GM but has guides positioned differently.
On both cars I had to do cam chain tensioner seals, valve cover gaskets and a couple of press in wheel bearings but did them all in my garage at home. Not bad considering all the miles we put on them. Because of potholed Ohio roads I became very good a tie rod ends which can be changed and returned to within 1 degree of alignment specs if you measure well. Once after changing two I had alignment checked afterwards and was only .4 off from perfect. Counting threads and a micrometer were suggested by a master tech friend and over the years I changed 6 outer rod ends (no inners!) within the nearly 280k miles put on the 2 cars. I recall a coilpack on the 2.8, vacuum check valves on both , fuel filters , bulbs etc. Items that any car will need over time.
Being the cars shared some parts with other Audi and VW I got cornered into doing work for a few friends who work in bodyshops and other dealerships. I had somebody else’s car in my garage in my garage about every 6 months to do a job they didn’t want to tackle. It was usually a trade for paint touch-ups, door ding removal or other body/trim related stuff.
Before letting last A4 go I even put on a new set of Ohtsu tires for the buyer on the 98' a week before he took ownership. I had driven the hell out of the prior set of Falkens and still got over 42k miles from a set of 30k rated tires. Its great to have access to a tire machine at work.
There are so many memories of the fun times. Driving in white out conditions to get groceries or the occasional local TSD rally. Here is the time sheet from one of the better finishes we had. A friend drove in this night and I did the navigating when we had one missed turn that had our mileage off by a mile. The car was in about 9 day/night/winter TSD events with one even having dirt and gravel for about 10 miles. It swapped lighting configurations from having two rally lights, factory fogs, high output halogens and aftermarket spots in the place of the fogs on about 5 occasions. The 98 A4 went to Carlisle Import show for 10 years as well as many Ohio Audi/VW or import car GTGs.
If I ever decide to sell my A3 I just might have to search for a hopefully lightly abused B5. It would be a pleasure for me to have another one.