Blog : Living the Bangernomics dream – sort of…

Keith Adams

Audi 90

It’s been a while since I had an update on here about my cars. There’s been a bit of a change-around, with the main change in circumstance being moving on my old MINI First, and replacing it with a surprisingly good front-wheel drive Land Rover Freelander.

In other news, my Citroen C6, which I bought in May to replace a lovely Renault Avantime, has been fault free – and, although it’s not technically a Bangernomicsmobile, given it cost me a touch more than £4000, it is 10 years old, which I guess will put it in that category for most ‘normal’ drivers in the UK.

Before I get onto my actual Bangernomicsmobile, it’s worth noting that the Citroen C6 really is a wonderful thing, and I adore it a little more with each passing mile. It’s not perfect – the cruise control doesn’t work, the tyres need changing and the active rear aerodynamic spoiler has a mind of its own – but it manages to make me feel special no matter what journey I’ve been on in it. It’s also loaded with kit, much of which is pretty cutting edge even for a new car, looks like nothing else and has loads of road presence. I’ll be sad when it finally expires.

Citroen C6

My Audi 90 (sorry it’s not a BMC>MGRmobile) is really fulfilling the role of Bangernomicsmobile for me at the moment. It was bought from eBay on a whim back in October, and went for a mere £381 – I think on account on the light description and lack of an MoT. Actually, the description was pretty vague about that and, had I bothered to ask about the MoT status, I might well have not bought it at all.

Anyway, buy it I did, and after collecting it from Stoke-on-Trent the next day along with Richard Kilpatrick, pronounced it reasonably fit. Yes, there was but a day of MoT left on it, the tyres were rubbish, the coolant warning was bleating at me and, for the first 15 miles thanks to a sticking hydraulic lifter or two, it sounded like a dirty diesel.

However, by the time, I’d got it home, the engine was purring smoothly, the coolant warning decided to shut up and all was good with the world. I loved its quiet motorway cruising, tuneful five-cylinder warble on full throttle, solid build quality, lovely door shuts, excellent seats and visibility and the sheer petiteness of it – park this Audi 90 alongside a modern car, it looks tiny, and you’ll know what I mean.

Audi and Montego

The next day, it passed its MoT, and all was even better with the world. The day after that, though, the exhaust system fell off through terminal rot, and I needed to have a new one fitted – as this happened on a Saturday, and Audi 90 exhaust systems aren’t exactly easy to find, it was the following Wednesday before I could use it again.

Since then, I’ve been playing catch-up with the old Audi. Given it’s 25-years old, with not exactly the fullest of service histories, I should have made servicing it a priority- except that work’s been a bit on the hectic side, meaning time’s been at a premium. So, instead, I’ve just been driving it, week after week, without getting near to servicing it.

And, of course, that meant it started playing up. It became almost impossible to start (a new battery alleviated that), and felt like it’d lost power. So, a new distributor cap, leads, plugs and filters have helped – but I won’t be happy until the incredibly rusty fuel filter is ditched at the earliest possible moment. The poor starting, I’m putting down to a dirty cold start valve, or possibly a dodgy engine sensor – but I’ll deal with it from the cheapest end first (by cleaning the CSV).

So, at the moment, it’s a little bit niggling, my return to Bangernomics motoring, but I think it should be fine – and I really do like the thing. The Audi is incredibly anonymous for a 25-year old car, with most people failing to think of it as a classic, but more of a reasonably presentable old smoker. I’m not unhappy with that, because it fulfils my ambition to run a ‘classic’ through the winter – and I suspect I’d feel a whole lot more guilty if it were something genuinely old and noteworthy. I’ll keep you posted – but it would be good to hear your own ‘winter hack’ tales.

Audi engine bay
Easy to work on, but access to some items is surprisingly convoluted

Audi 90 (2)
The miles keep rolling, and it’s slowly getting better. Slowly…

Keith Adams


  1. Audi 90s are superb machines, a well kept secret due to their relative scarcity. I’ve owned 2 of them. The 5 pot is a gem of an engine with enough to power to surprise some moderns.

  2. Those “old” Audi 80’s & 90’s were/are nice looking cars. My Dad owned two. A 1987, then 1989 Audi 80 in white, which were nice vehicles particularly with the extra white colour coding he had added. This was probably the era when Audi emerged as a more premium brand?

    Keiths 90 looks tidy for its age.

  3. @ Hilton D, Audi were always seen as a premium brand in this country, the original 80 being a more upmarket alternative to a Cortina, and the 100 starting to eat into the six cylinder Rover market at the end of the seventies. Also in the eighties as the economy boomed, particularly for the middle class, the Quattro, Coupe and 100 became must haves for well off motorists.

  4. Is the SM anything to do with you Keith? Not exactly bangernomics car but certainly would be in my stable of lottery winning purchases!

  5. An interesting read, particularly about the Audi 90, as I had one entered into the Modern Classic display I organised this year for a large South West-based vehicle gathering. The Modern Classics display covers cars of interest built between 1981 and 1999 which are affordable to buy (i.e. a worth less than £10,000), are not exotic and not found no other car club displays at the show (i.e. no performance Fords, MX-5s, BMWs, Subarus, Porsches, Minis or MGFs) so that we don’t have ‘more of the same’.

    We had a lovely white Audi 90 booked in and it attracted a lot of interest from show visitors, many of whom could relate to it and also see its appeal as a car that could be used on a daily basis. Even better was how affordable they are. Sadly, as with other entries which included a Fiat Ritmo, Renault Fuego, MG Maestro 2.0i, Sierra LX and Volkswagen Polo G40, is how rare they have sadly become.

    • The VW Polo G40 had problems with a low-reliability of the expensive engine supercharger unit which may well explain their rarity

  6. @ David 3500, the reason the Fiat Ritmo/ Strada has vanished, except for a handful of 130 TCs, is the car’s awful build quality and rust protection and weird styling. I suppose if a survivor was to appear, the golf ball like styling could prove a talking point.

    • This is most definitely the reason why we no longer see them.

      Despite this, it is always great to see something from the 1980s which at that time was a common sight on the roads and many people will remember, but is sadly now a rarity.

      Affordable, family cars such as this which served as an important part of family motoring for the masses are definitely more interesting than some of the more expensive supercars and luxury saloons of that same era, in my eyes.

  7. This is true. My father bought a new Strada in 82, it needed welding for it’s second MOT and was given the last rights by the MOT tester at 7. Fiat being paid for the Lada tooling in recycled Russian steel apparently doomed their entire 70’s and 80’s production!

  8. @ Neil, I knew someone who bought a Strada 75 in January 1980, when the car was being advertised constantly for its high technology assembly. Sadly Fiat never got round to rustproofing the car correctly and within six months, rust was developing on the wheelarches. Also it squeaked constantly at speed and felt very flimsy. He traded it in at a big loss for a Volkswagen in August 1980.
    The only interesting thing about the Strada, apart from its radical/ugly styling, was it came with a three band radio when most cars had two. This meant those wanting to listen to Radio 3 clearly had VHF instead of 247 metres MW.

  9. Another rare Fiat from the 1980s,the Argenta.
    The exotic Italian machines were more plentiful back in the early 1980s!
    Could the name have anything to do with it?
    I believe it was launched in 1982.

  10. @ Howard, it was launched during the Falklands War, which hindered sales, also the quality was so bad someone used to send a letter to Terry Wogan every week about what had happened to their Argenta, usually something falling off or breaking. Its main claim to fame was it used pull down sun visors that were made out of tinted plastic and an aerial built into the roof.
    Another Fiat rarity, which actually sold better, the Regata, their rival to the Vauxhall Cavalier. Last time I saw one of these was a very battered example in Perth, WA, ten years ago, where drier weather probably stopped it rusting.

  11. IIRC the Argenta was a reworked 132, which failed to shake off the big Fiat jinx, though from a bangnomics point of view this meant they could be picked up cheaply after a few years.

    The Regata was a Strada with more conventional saloon & estate bodywork.

    The Tipo had a galvanised chassis as a selling point like the Audi 90, & was also helped by being a “big Uno”, but are very hard to see in the UK now.

  12. Given a little TLC, the Audi 90 should go on for some years. What mileage does it have on it? An old acquaintance had an Audi 80 2.0 petrol (previous model to yours) that passed 180,000 miles before the engine finally gave up the ghost. Given that he ritually abused it, I would expect that your 90 could potentially manage to pass the 200k mark. It is a properly usable classic. So very tempting!

  13. @ ExPatBrit, an awesome car, Citroen paired up with Maserati to make a supercar and it looks damned good even now. Not forgetting the Citroen C6, a French limo that would make a really good alternative to a Jaguar XJ.

  14. I am pleased you like the C6. I thought about getting one but V6 petrol ones were impossible to find so I bought a 2004 Jaguar XJR instead! It now has 183,000 miles on the clock.

  15. Ah, the Fiat Strada, horrible things and ugly as Sin (although I have never met him personally).
    I remember the tagline well, or at least the less tactful version “Built by robots, driven by morons”. My mother had an Uno which spat its exhaust out and was a foul chemical toilet blue colour but wasn’t so bad to ride in.
    Am I missing something or is the engine on that AUDI far over to one side of the bay yet a longitudinal mounting? Garage owner in my parents village has a 1987 in white but the bigger 100?, in better than showroom condition on a private plate. I would bet that car is as near perfect as it could get. It’s a real shame so many small garages have gone as well as the proper mechanics who understood the concept of fixing something, not just throwing parts at it.. At the customers expense naturally.
    Ah, the happy memories of Renault electrics, dodgy alternators and fuel pumps that switch off on sharp bends, and Citroen used alot of the same suppliers…

  16. I had a 1993 2.3e Cabriolet which is fantastic. Its a daily driver so some parts are a tad shabby but on the whole its a clean car that is cheap to run. I would be interested to hear what mpg you get from this Keith – I get circa 30 – 32 mpg on a mixed driving route (using Super Unleaded whilst enjoying the engine’s capabilities. As for “classic car stares”, there are a few here on the Fylde coast but not that many (yet – hopefully!!)
    #modernclassic – I will enjoy reading the updates here and in Modern Classics magazine!!

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