It popped up on my social media feed that I’ve owned this car for two years now! Anyone who knows me will tell you that I rarely keep cars very long but, when I do, it’s because they’re really grown on me – or they’re a tough sell. This particular Audi 80 came my way when its previous owner, David Robertshaw, got in touch saying he needed to move it on.
I’m so glad he did because this little Audi’s been a little bit of a lifeline for me over the past two years, especially during the pandemic. It’s allowed me to reconnect with my classic car mojo after a succession of unreliable Citroëns, while being an absolute joy to work on. It’s been my companion when I’ve been sad, it’s kept my hands busy when we’ve been locked down and – just like I did on my first Audi 80 back in the early 1990s – it’s been fun fixing and upgrading,
Spending time in this car has had me thinking a lot. For one, this high-mileage example doesn’t have a single matching panel in terms of colour, and there’s more rust on it than I’d like, but it looks good from ten feet, I don’t mind jumping in it and parking it anywhere, and other drivers seem to like it, given that it must be one of the very few Audis out there that gets let out of side roads. Ah, yes, the joys of classic car ownership.
It’s one of those cars that always (and I mean always) have people asking me – it is a five cylinder? No, it’s not. At that point, they shrug dismissively. Ah well, their loss. No, it’s mere 80 CL and develops just 85bhp. It follows my car buying doctrine that, to get the most bang for your bucks, never go for the top model in the range – yes, I’ve missed out on GTis, Turbos and all manner of other cult cars, but I’ve had fun along the way.
This one of three Audis I own and, trust me, I’ve had plenty of stick along the way. Yes, I do use the indicators. No, I don’t tailgate people. And you absolutely never find me not letting someone in. But there is a solid reason for these gentle barbs from friends: Audi drivers really do seem to be the worst on the road.
It wasn’t always this way. Who can forget Audi’s TV ad narrated by Geoffrey Palmer, explaining how the Schmidts, the Muellers and the Reinharts would head for their summer villas by car? The Audi 100-owning Reinharts arrived first thanks to their aerodynamic Audi 100, which at a ‘steady 56mph slips along for 750 miles on a single tank of fuel.’ And summing it, he said, ‘If you want to get to the beach before the Germans, you better buy an Audi 100.’
I reckon sometime between the time of the launch of original A4 and the TT, Audi’s image changed – in the late-1990s when the world’s axis shifted and company car buyers stopped going for Mondeos and Vectras, instead buying premium German. In the 1970s, drivers in a hurry drove Cortinas, in the 1980s, they switched to Cavaliers, in the 1990s they went for BMWs and, since then, the mantle has been passed to Audi…
Which makes this brilliant advert, below, rather poignant. Aired in the aftermath of the launch of the A4, it portrayed an aggressive yuppie in an Audi before concluding that it wasn’t the car for him. The irony is that judging by the number of aggressively-driven Audi A3s and A5s, if this advert was recreated for 2021, this would be exactly the sort of car for him…
Does that make them worthy of all the barbs from my Citroën and Rover-driving friends, though? Of course not! As well as my Audi 80s, I also have a 2002 Audi A3 1.8T Quattro and, looking at that today, it’s a compact and subtly-styled car that just gets on with the job of being a fast hatchback without drawing any attention to itself – just how I like them.
That car really should fit into the era of the aggressive Audi, but it really isn’t. And it costs considerably less to buy than the equivalent Golf GTI does these days. So, I’m not going to let the antics of a few rogue fellow Audi drivers stop me enjoying my cars, even if there are now some British rivals on the fleet vying for my attention.
Instead, I’m going to jump back into my Audi 80, go for a little drive, and celebrate just how good this car has been to me during the pandemic. Money can’t buy that. Here’s to more time in it – I wonder if it’ll last another couple of years? Hope so…