By on October 17, 2011


It’s been a while since you’ve heard about our project car’s voyage, unfortunately not much has happened.  Our man in Germany, USAF Captain Mike Solowiow, is busy saving the world…meaning our Sierra sits and waits for a shipping container to finish the journey to America.

Too bad the Sierra is no longer mobile.  Because its UK road tax expired, Mike cannot legally insure it.  Therefore, no more photos like the one above.  That’s right, the Sierra got its Nürburgring cherry popped! In his spare time, Mike is an instructor (yes, really) at this famous road course, so he can probably get away with such actions with minimal detriment to his “car guy” credibility.  So the Sierra sits and waits on a gravel parking spot at the base of the Castle Nurburg…but luckily for me, I have a plan to get him motivated to take action.

Because I have one of Mike’s babies, check out his personal Audi 4000!  How did this happen?

Tony Hoffman, our mutual friend and gifted VW-Audi tech, regularly helps me out at the Houston runnings of the 24 Hours of LeMons.  When I realized the extent of Tony’s Audi connections…including Capt. Mike’s friendship…I asked for a huge favor. I wanted Mike’s Audi 4000 as a LeMons Judgemobile.

Tony happily fulfilled my request.

Sure, Mike has my Ford Sierra, but I get his Audi 4000 as collateral! And while this 4000’s smooth brown cloth interior is a fair trade from the Sierra (Ghia) Chatsworth chocolate velour, my “collateral” needs a fair bit of work to be driven regularly.  So, much like Mike’s German-UK predicament, I shall refrain from driving his car.

But seriously, even though this vehicle’s cosmetics aren’t there, the proof is beyond the pictures:  4000’s are such great drivers!  Sure they aren’t/weren’t terribly easy/cheap to work on, they might have been even worse than any other sedan of its size, but the little Quattro has a tight feel and a sporty demeanor I wish we could see again in a production vehicle.  Well, maybe the modern turbo Subies are close enough for some people…

And have a look at center stack: a minimalist flat black affair with cool lights on the differential locks? Epic win! How do you feel about Audi’s MMI system now, people?

I especially like the name tag above the HVAC controls.  This solves a big problem of mine, chronically neglected in most vehicles.  Now I will never forget what I am driving!

Take your time with the Sierra, Capt. Mike, I’ll keep your 4000 in the meantime. Muhahahahahaha!

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15 Comments on “TTAC Project Car: My Substitute for Love...”

  • avatar

    Had an ’84 4000S, non-Quattro, for 10 years. It was fun to drive. Unloaded it in favor of a ’94 Integra GS-R which, although faster and more reliable, was not as much fun to drive, and lacked the Audi’s cheesy little rocker switch to turn on the minimalist (one speed fits all!) A/C. Tall greenhouses always make for better driving.

  • avatar

    Been wondering where Capt. Mike has been hiding (I can guess…). We owe him a huge debt of gratitude for the work he does. And wow..his 4000 reminds me of my 1985 4000S…beautiful car…when it ran. That car spent more of its time in the shop than on the road, finally tossing a rod as I was going to look at a Honda Prelude (second gen)…oh, the humanity of it all! But I do agree with the desire for a simpler time in cars…getting harder and harder to find that. Maybe that’s why the Fiat 500’s “minimalist” approach is so appealing to me…

    • 0 avatar

      But I do agree with the desire for a simpler time in cars…getting harder and harder to find that. Maybe that’s why the Fiat 500′s “minimalist” approach is so appealing to me…

      Exactly why I like the Fiat 500 too along with its general styling. Most the tech is behind the scenes for the most part.

      It doesn’t hurt at all that it’s such a fun little car to drive.

  • avatar

    I had an ’84 4000S quattro. It was much odder than it looked. Details like the radiator residing next to the engine and the trunk having a plastic liner like a cheap trash can stood out from cars that were externally as conventional. It also only had power windows for the front seat occupants and two sets of front suspension, the rears merely located by fixed tie rods. Manual differential locks were cool though.

    • 0 avatar

      For me and the couple of 5 cylinder Quattros I’ve had, the radiator being set off to the side was a major benefit making the front of the engine easier to service than other models.

      Simply and quickly un-bolt the upper support; remove the grill and bumper cover. What you’re left with is the entire front of the engine jutting out toward you. Grab a low stool/chair/toolbox situation to sit on and now you have one of the easiest timing belt jobs. The only breach into the cooling system is R&Ring the water pump.

  • avatar

    I was prepared for a Sierra article. I don’t know much about the Sierra, but that face brought back horrible memories of my Merkur XR4Ti. The one article I read about the Sierra raved about the car, but by the time Dr. Frankenstein…er…Karmann rolled it into post-op, it was a truly hideous creature, a pretty face on the outside, but a combo of Yugo reliability, Pinto/Vega design standards,and Trabant-grade materials.
    But enuff about that- how about some more on the original Sierra ?
    Or more about the audi 4000s ?

    • 0 avatar

      The problem (in my opinion, anyway) with the XR4Ti was that it was not-so-lovingly hand assembled under contract by Karmann as you mentioned. So, not only did the car have all the engineered-in issues that all Sierra based cars had, but it also had all the issues frequently found on hand-assembled cars such as poorly routed harnesses, sloppy assembly, etc. Add a heaping helping of crudeness in the form of the 2.3L Turbo engine and you have a recipe for problems.

      If it hadn’t have been for the absolute insistence of Lutz (I believe – if reported history is correct) to have the 3-window (side profile) bodyshell here, the car could have been built on the same line as the other Sierra cars at Ford’s plant in Genk, Belgium, which by that time had the large one-piece rear-side window. The story goes that Genk wasn’t flexible enough to handle the 2-window and 3-window bodystyles on the same line (the 3-window was sold in Europe for a while as the XR4i), hence the assembly work was farmed out under contract to Karmann.

      I have no doubt if they sold the Genk-built cars over here with the non-turbo 4-cylinder engine and a 2.8L/2.9L Cologne V-6 (which were normal powertrain options for Europe) as an option, the cars would have been much more reliable overall – believe it or not, my Scorpio has actually been pretty reliable considering it is now 23 years old.

      • 0 avatar

        Wow there really were issues with the XR4Ti? I was in third grade when my dad worked at a Ford store and brought home a blue XR4Ti demo, and drove it quite a while. I thought it was the coolest car, with that double spoiler on the back!

        I rarely see them anymore, and the above comments tell me why. My dad loved that car, and sang its praises long after leaving the Ford store, and moving onto a Toyota store.

        I almost crashed my car on the freeway recently when I saw a pristine XR4Ti in the lane next to me and I just transfixed on it…it had the single spoiler though.

  • avatar

    Talk about fortuitous timing on this article. I recently revived my semi-pristine 1988 Merkur Scorpio for daily driving duties, at least until they start carpeting the roads with salt around here. I forgot how “alive” and direct the steering is in this car and how much I enjoyed driving it. If I can fix the A/C for a reasonable amount I may drive it next summer too…A/C is an absolute must around here.

  • avatar

    I should really be in the cellar right now either working on my street-going XR4Ti (well, it could be if I finish welding in supports for the rear suspension) or cataloging the “spares package” that came with the future LeMons XR4Ti. I love my cheap Euro Fords!

    The 84 4000S quattro was the best of the non-turbo bunch. Shorter gearing than the later years (I’ve been told), and you could lock two diffs! Most of the ones in New England have rusted away…

  • avatar

    My parents had an XR4Ti back in the 80s that they traded for a 1990 Honda Accord EX, and man I hated that they let the Merkur go:(

    With that being said, I was 4 at the time and didn’t realize how much of a POS it was until I got older and recalled the horror stories of the power window switch catching on fire, the clutch going out at 50k miles, and the turbo dying.

    Neat looking car tho, especially in white with the BBS wheels.

  • avatar

    Is the Sierra still parking there?

    If I have time I might go and look for it this weekend. I actually live near the Nürburg, I can see it from my living room window. :-)

  • avatar

    The post title, “My Substitute For Love”, reminded me of a music critic’s assertion that with Beethoven’s driving rhythms, crescendos and climaxes (musical orgasms), Beethoven was substituting music for love. If the comparison holds, which will be seen as your “masterpiece”, the Sierra or your panther?

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