By on March 31, 2014

10 - 1975 Audi Fox Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNo, this car isn’t this kind of Fox, though it is a sibling of the first Volkswagen Passat aka Dasher. The Fox was the name given to the Audi 80 for the United States market, and we can all be forgiven for not knowing this (as very few were sold). This completely used-up, not-so-quick brown Fox jumped over the lazy junkyard dog after a life spent almost entirely in the East Bay, and now it rests in a self-service wrecking yard about two miles from its owner’s longtime place of employment.
02 - 1975 Audi Fox Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI know this because of the thick stack of Oakland Airport North Ramp employee-parking permit stickers on the bumper.
03 - 1975 Audi Fox Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinLooks like at least 30 stickers here, so we may be looking at a one-owner car.
17 - 1975 Audi Fox Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI thought I might pull this Motometer clock for my car clock collection, but it turned out to be a case full of broken gears. Sadness.
07 - 1975 Audi Fox Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe interior was completely cooked, which suggests that the car spent its entire life unprotected from the California sun.
09 - 1975 Audi Fox Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAccording to Audi tradition, the timing belt should be located where it’s the first thing to get crushed in a minor crash.
05 - 1975 Audi Fox Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOther than the usual California surface rust around the back window, this car is fairly solid in spite of all the bent metal.

I couldn’t find any US-market TV ads for the Fox, so we’ll go back to Germany.

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45 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1975 Audi Fox...”

  • avatar

    I remember both the Dasher and Audi Fox. They looked like they should have been lightweight, tossable cars, if not for the Euro displacement tax disease. I always thought of the Fox as the Rambler American of a decade earlier, if AMC had had a bit more money to spend. Are those eight inch drums? I didn’t think they made them that small.

    • 0 avatar

      An MBA classmate worked for VW Canada at the time the Dasher was introduced. He lamented that the rise in value of the DMark took the price from an originally-planned $3700 to $5000 when it was introduced. Against cars in that price bracket, it was completely uncompetitive. VW knew that when they launched, but couldn’t do anything about it.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s a classic Hartmut Warkuss design, weighing in at a svelte 1800 lbs (in European spec). Warkuss later designed the C2 Audi 100/5000, the B5 Passat and the A4 Golf.

  • avatar

    Great car! In high school, I got to drive a friend’s Fox in the early 80s just like the one in the junkyard. It had over 100k. Still, back in the day, it was zippy, roomy, economical and had great driveability. It was loud at highway speeds (3600 rpm at 60mph will do that), but at least it sounded good–it was not thrashy like most 4-cyl cars of the era.

    And, something I took for granted then, coming from a 75 Nova/80 Fairmont family–it reminds many cars back then had good, in this case, great, visibility!

    That Fox has more character than most anything VW offers today–if I could buy a new car just like that one (or like a new BMW 2002, Opel 1900/Manta, or gen I/II Golf GTI), I’d happily pay $25k for it!

    Thanks for another good memory

    • 0 avatar

      This was one of the cars I wanted in high school. The Deutschmark appreciated, thus sending it out of my price range, so I wound up with an Opel Manta instead. One of my college roommates had one, and it seemed like a very nice drive.

  • avatar

    I certainly remember the Fox: My junior high school gym teacher drove one. ’78 four door, in maroon. It looked out of place in the parking lot among all the Valiants, Impalas and whatnot that the rest of the faculty drove.

  • avatar

    1975 was the first year for fuel injection on the Fox and the only year that the battery was located in the trunk. I have an early clock like the one pictured and one of the clocks from the next style Fox dash plus some cash that I would trade for a few small parts from this car. The ’75 Fox is so elusive that I have never seen even a picture of the trunk mounted battery. Great find! Drive one of these and you will soon be as addicted to them as I am!

  • avatar

    The Audi Fox was easy to like but hard to own. In ’74 I bought a Datsun 610 and kept it for 50,000 miles. Not one flaw or repair. A friend bought a Fox. Over the years practically everything on that car needed fixing. Fortunately, he was willing to tackle complicated repairs by himself, or the work would have been awfully expensive.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      +1 on that. When I was living in Houston, a friend of mine bought a new Fox at about the same time I bought a new Mazda RX-2. His car was constantly in the shop for this or that. (One of the worst problems was the implementation of the ultimate nanny state “safety features” — an ignition interlock with the seatbelts that would not allow the car to run unless the seatbelt was used. I think he also had multiple cooling system issues (kind of a big deal in Houston).

      That said, it was a comfortable car for 4 and, for its time, got very good gas mileage — something that became important in 1973 with the first “Arab Oil Embargo.” Also with the newly-inaugurated 55 mph speed limit, which was pretty aggressively enforced, the engine’s capabilities were not overly taxed.

      Like the first generation Golf, this was a product of VAG’s early efforts to move beyond the air-cooled rear-engine cars. A good design, poorly executed.

      • 0 avatar

        That’s something I wasn’t around for – when they dropped it to 55, were they out in big numbers to give out speeding ticket$?

        • 0 avatar
          Joe McKinney

          The 55 MPH speed limit was enforced very aggressively. This resulted from a combination of lower speed limits and more effective enforcement.

          The implemetation of the 55 MPH speed limit occured at time when police radar was really becomming commonplace. The technology had been around since the 1940’s, but by the 1970’s traffic radar units had become small enough and inexpensive enough that almost every highway patrol car was equipped with one.

          Highway speed limits were suddenly significantly lower than what drivers were accustomed to and what major highways were designed for. Police now had the technology to cite larger numbers of speeders in a shorter period of time. And, state and local governments found speeding tickets to be an easy source of revenue.

          • 0 avatar

            Thanks, it would have been interesting to live through that time. I’d have been very angry.

          • 0 avatar

            I wasn’t driving until late 1979, but I remember Car and Driver doing an issue on speeding around 1975. There was a diagram of the cars used by every state patrol, livery and all.

            By the time I was doing a lot of highway driving (early ’80s), there was a fair amount of enforcement, but then again, if you had an econobox like I did, who WANTED to do much more than 60?

          • 0 avatar
            Joe McKinney

            Mike, I have the issue of Car and Driver you are thinking of.

            Car and Driver called this four page chart “A Civilian Bear-Spotter’s Guide”. It was published in the December 1977 issue. In addition to the color illustrations of marked cars, the text listed the primary and secondary vehicles and unmarked vehicles used by each agency. It also listed speed detection equipment used by these agencies.

            A second “Bear Spotter’s Guide” was published in the December 2012 issue of Car and Driver. This one was three pages long (smaller illustrations) and included the same info as the 1977 version.

      • 0 avatar
        bill h.

        Having gotten my first driver’s license during the height of the Embargo, I remember the Fox, along with its larger stablemate the 100LS, and the Fox’s cousin, the Dasher (original Passat). I think the embargo oil shortages even motivated a crusty ol’ car guy like Tom McCahill to review this car in Mechanix Illustrated, in one of his late columns before his death. My vague recollection was that he liked it.

    • 0 avatar

      They had an unusual brake system, in that the discs were mounted inboard..close to the transaxle, to “protect the discs from water splash”..what they really did was turn a standard brake job into a cluster-f&*k.

  • avatar

    I know my pal’s had the 1,588 cc engine, fuel-injected, and it had dual (not quad) headlamps, so I think it was a ’76.

    Not sure what kind of issues it had. My biggest complaint was it was noisy over 50mph. Even then, it was not a thrasher that discouraged you from going faster, but it made it hard to converse.

    Compared to the (few) other cars I’d driven up to that point my life, it was fun to drive.

  • avatar

    Back in my tow truck days I towed one of these that had a bad fuel pump. The owner effusively stated how it was the greatest car he ever owned. It would have been about 15 years old at that time.

  • avatar

    Never mind the Audi – that looks like a mid-90’s W124 coupe next to it. THAT car shouldn’t be in there.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    I keep asking…is it even possible to buy a trunklid at a junkyard anymore? It seems as though eight out of every ten cars Murilee profiles, has had its trunk crowbarred open.

    PS – That stack of airport parking permits is fodder for an interesting Crabspirits shortie…

    • 0 avatar

      That might have happened before the car reached the junkyard, and these ARE older cars for which there is little market for parts. Later model and high volume cars have their trunk lids removed and are sold to body shops. Junkyards are now partly recycled parts warehouses.

      The trunk lid on my ’95 Altima got bent, and I found six available online for between $20 and $135. The shop that did the repair charged $40 for the lid plus installation and painting the replacement, salvaging the light, lock and remote release from the old one.

    • 0 avatar

      Good luck finding a key to pop the trunk with and most cars with remote trunk releases are electronic even if someone could be bothered to look for it – ergo, crowbar.

      Everyone’s mission at the self-serve junkyards is to get in and get out with what they need with as little hassle and time as possible while carrying the least possible amount of tools. Nobody cares about the pieces that are in their way that they don’t need so if the trunk is shut and they need access to get to something, like a taillight housing, then that trunk is going to get opened one way or another. jimmied trunks, slashed wiring and demolished trim is the norm for a car that’s been on the yard for any length of time.

      I try to take some care when removing parts but a lot of the clientele appear to be shadetree mechanics who are scavenging parts to fix some hooptie on the cheap – there’s not a lot of incentive for them to take their time and disassemble things according to the factory procedure.

  • avatar

    Typical mixed bag reliability vintage Audi.

    Complete pile or the best thing since sliced bread, sans the powerband revving rather high at average highway speeds and notoriously troublesome gauge clusters (don’t get me started on the completely useless later-model VDO Electronic Clusters).

    BUT… how to tell if your buying a good one?

    Quoth soundover, Jim Cramer’s “Mad Money”:

    Sayeth he: “Don’t buy. Don’t buy.”

    Although I wouldn’t mind an 80’s 5000 Quattro or late 80’s-early 90’s 200 for a winter beater. Wishful thinking.

    • 0 avatar

      My mom liked this car in 1973 and wanted one. I remember going to the Porsche+Audi dealership. Because dad’s Mercedes was such a great car, my mother automatically thought this would be, too. As a little boy, it looked cool to me. Dad’s mechanic told him to run away as fast as he could. So no Fox for us, but maybe we dodged a bullet…

  • avatar

    My first car was a ’78 Fox wagon…I’ve fond memories of stuffing myself and five of my Rugby buddies in it after practice to go for beers & wings every Wednesday night. We had so much weight in there the rear tires would be kissing the fender liners. Drove that car HARD until it spontaneously died Bluesmobile style…gave it a 21 beer spray salute to the great wrecker in the sky. Good times…

  • avatar

    A college friend had one of these. The floorpan under the back seat was perfectly contoured to hold a keg of beer.

  • avatar

    The gigantic “VERGLEICHSFAHRZEUG” license plate in the braking ad just made me crack up. It was half the width of the car! Ah, German.

  • avatar

    My best friend in high school had one of these. Our school was about 20 miles away and we used to race each other full tilt every day on the way to school. Street racing, horribly unsafe, I know. Except he had an Audi Fox, and I had an ’82 Camaro with the carbed 2.8 V6 and a slushbox.

    I don’t think most other drivers we came across had any idea we were racing.

  • avatar

    Old Volkswagen stuff sure is uncommon…

    I see the occasional Mk II Jetta and Golf, but I haven’t seen a B2 Passat in a long time and oddly enough, I have never seen an 88-92 B3 Passat with the cool aero nose.

    • 0 avatar

      I see a Passat wagon with that nose once every couple of weeks. It looks really smooth, but out here in Wyoming, I’d be a little concerned with the cooling capabilities.

      I’m sure VW has a solution to that problem, though.

  • avatar

    I bet the force of the brakes is entirely dependent on the strength of your leg muscles.

    Little bastard probably comes to a halt like a “Tin Lizzie”.

    I’ve seen bigger rotors on early J-Bodies.

  • avatar

    When I started my first auto sales job in 1977 at a Chrysler/Plymouth dealer in New Jersey, the dealer told me to drive a 1975 Audi Fox trade in for about a month before he assigned me a new demo. It was an automatic and I also remember that it was loud when driven at higher speeds. Strangely enough, the last 10 years of my career in auto sales was spent selling new Audis many years later than that first experience with the Fox. I just retired a few months ago and I can verify that Audi has come a long way.

  • avatar


    By the way- slap one of those running horse emblems in the center of that grill, and you will have a similiar front end of the 71-73 Ford Mustang (sans the looong nose).

  • avatar

    My dad bought a new Audi Fox in 78 from a Cleveland Porsche Audi dealer near Hopkins airport. For Dad it came down to one of these or a Scirocco. As he signed the papers on the Audi, a serviceman was checking out a chocolate brown Porsche 928 parked in the showroom.

    Dad’s Audi was a coupe, silver on blue cloth. Manual transmission, hand crank sunroof, VDO gauges with a clock you could hear ticking away in the center console if the engine was off.

    I was 6, so before then, I had no exposure to German cars (Porsche! ) manual transmissions, bucket seats (that reclined with a round black knob), tachometers, am/fm casette players, in-car stereos that sounded nice…Every car that preceeded it had big bench seats, 3-speed column shifters and AM radios with a single speaker.

    God I loved that car. Dad showed me how to drive a stick with it. I can still remember how that car smelled. It was heaven. When he sold it, I cried.

    Later on, we had an 83 silver on blue GTI, hand crank sun roof. The cars were very similar, down to the VDO clock just ahead of the shifter, ticking away.

    • 0 avatar

      My first car was a handed down ’86 Audi 4000S. Eight years newer than your ’78, but it sounds like it the same traits: white with blue interior, wheel adjusted seats, red backlit VDO gauges with the loud ticking second hand, Blaupunkt radio. Even had a second set of gauges for oil pressure, oil temp, and a voltmeter below the radio – pretty unique for the mid 80s. Mine did have power windows, power sunroof, and a three speed auto (much to my chagrin). My 16 and 17 year old self had more adventures than I should have with that car. It was a nice ride, but definitely not without its issues. I most remember having to blast the heat in the summer to keep it from overheating in traffic jams because the electric fan never worked properly.

  • avatar

    Sad to see that M-B 300CE next to it. I wonder what killed it– usually those W124s are pretty indestructible, and the coupes are comparatively rare.

  • avatar

    Dad reluctantly cosigned for my ’79 Fox GTI back in 1984. I bought it used from a Volkswagen dealer in Dover, Delaware. It had the fuel injected engine, a 4-speed with Cool Wooden Shifter Knob, a Blaupunkt factory stereo, and cool black corduroy texture cloth bucket seats.

    I ran the heck out of that thing, marveling at the responsiveness in comparison to my first “car”, a ’69 Dodge truck.It was a light, fun car to drive, and really very good in snow.However, it developed an insatiable appetite for the radiator mounted thermoswitches that activated it’s electric fan. I grew adept at changing them, and even more adept at jumping the wires together to keep the fan on and temp gauge happy.

    I’m still ashamed that I encouraged Dad to take over the payments when I wanted something new- he suffered through commuter traffic for months in that thing with a monster clutch spring before giving up and selling it to a coworker after it blew an air conditioner hose.

    I was a fickle punk kid with cars back then, but I would love to drive that thing one more time.

  • avatar

    This is a pretty classy automobile. I have a copy of Wheels Road Tests from 1976, and one of them is of the 1974 Audi Fox when they first entered the Australian market.

    The reviewers speak very highly of it. Much praise for the performance, build quality, low price despite import duty and fuel economy in comparison it’s rivals (always a good selling point in ’74).

    I also read an article in UK Classic & Sports Car magazine about 70s Barges. They lined up an Audi 100 against a Rover 3500, Triumph 2500PI, Datsun 240K, Vauxhall Ventora, and Volvo 164 among others. “That the Audi’s 1900cc engine can stand up to comparison with rivals of up to 3 liters surly shows the quality of the design.”

    I’ve only ever seen one Audi Fox in NZ. A light blue US import with federal bumpers and it’s fair share of rust spots, currently for sale on TradeMe after being in the owner’s restoration que (read: shed) for 15+ years.

  • avatar

    My first recollection of the Audi brand was the Fox one of my counselors had when I went to summer camp in the summer of 1979. I don’t know how old the car was, but it was brown (what other color is there for a Fox?) and 8 year-old me thought it would be a good place to get some engine grime so that I could dress up like a mechanic for costume day.

    He didn’t think that was such a good idea. Or particularly funny.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    In Canada they used the Fox name on 2 distinct cars.

    In the mid 70’s an Audi. In the mid early 80’s a rebadged VW (Polo?) sold as an entry level vehicle.

    Both had problems with oil leaks and self destructing exhaust systems.

    VW also sold Sciroccos and ‘Dashers’ in Canada in the 70’s. We didn’t own either of those but did own a 3 series and a 4 series as well as 2 Beetles. The 3 and 4 series were both what I believe are called ‘flying brakes’, 2 door station wagons. Not a great idea because most people buying a station wagon have kids so entrance to and from the back seat was compromised.

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