Junkyard Find: 1998 Audi A8

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1998 audi a8

I see so many stunningly depreciated German luxury cars in pretty nice condition at the cheap self-service wrecking yards that they don’t register in my consciousness much more than your typical Sebring or Sephia. These days, though, I’m making an effort to notice such cars, since it seems that many of you thought this big V12-powered BMW was interesting.

I was headed over to the Denver U-Pull-&-Pay last week, in search of some bits for my ’41 Plymouth project, and I resolved to find and photograph a high-end Audi. Sure enough, here’s this clean A8, not as new as I’d like, but still an excellent example of what happens to such cars soon after they get into the hands of their third or fourth owners.

The list price on the 4.2-equipped 1998 A8 was $65,000, or about 95 grand today. 300 horses out of this smooth runner. Don’t postpone the timing-belt replacements!

The body looked to be in good shape prior to the junkyard employees (or maybe the tow-yard guys) ravaging the trunk to get the lock opened.

The interior is nice, of course.

If you know how to work on these admittedly complex machines, you always have a rich source of replacement parts at your local yards. The A8 may be your biggest-luxury-per-buck investment in a cheap used car.

Join the conversation
2 of 110 comments
  • NoGoYo NoGoYo on Aug 04, 2015

    Yesterday was the first time in a long time I had seen an older VAG product. It was a green B4 Passat TDI wagon. ...I don't think I've seen an Audi that's more than ten years old in a very, very long time.

  • Toadroller Toadroller on Aug 10, 2015

    Well now... As an owner of a 97 A8 over the last 12.5 years and 175k of its 245k miles, I have to say that I wholeheartedly agree to all of the above. I love it and, at times, curse the German engineers in Stuttgart. But when I picked it up end of '02, with 73k miles on it at a dealership for 18,900 + 2 for a warranty (I'm dumb, but I ain't crazy) I could have purchased maybe a new Accord with a 4 banger and a stick. I think I'm ahead in that game. It's a better driver's car than an Accord. Wouldn't you prefer to spend your time in a great seat? All told, probably 30k invested. This car is 18 years old now. It still looks modern. It has a built-in car phone(!!) and a cassette deck (which is great for hands-free cell-phone operation with a cassette adapter). Quattro. V8. 'Nuff said. Through the years and the miles, I've replaced the transmission (@104k, under that warranty), tires and brakes, a fuel pump, one set of drive shafts up front (DIY for $130), one set of tie rod ends and a few suspension bushings. And routine maintenance like the timing belt and water pump; a couple of batteries. I'm a break-fix kind of guy, not an "ooh, I have an expensive German auto-car and must keep it pristine" kind of guy. When it breaks I fix it. Oil... at least once a year. Sometimes twice. When things are failing, I wait until they fully revealed themselves. I put in low octane. Have since day one. In short, I abuse it. Today it's a thousand dollar car. I laugh when the state charges me $350 to register it every year based on a percentage of its original retail. "Guys, I could barely sell it for that!" When it dies, it dies. I've received more than my money's worth. It's a toy now. It'll never rust (it's aluminum). Weird Audi stuff that should have gone fritzy never has (dashboard lights, climate control, shocks, abs, sunroof, bun-warmers, electric dimming mirrors, muffler system). Stuff that should be bullet-proof has (headrests, rear sun-screen, heater blower motor, $10 plastic pipe between engine-block and oil cooler*). Every time I fill it up, I'm increasing its resale value. But it still gives me 25mpg on the highway at real highway speeds, 20mpg around town, and the 300hp/300ft-lb. 4.2 V8 with quattro is just a smooth thing of perfection and growl. Relatively fast in its day, it's still relatively fast. It's not slow. In the last six months, it's turned into a bit of a hobby, but I have other cars (including a B6 A4 V6 (145k miles. Pristine) and B6 S4 V8(179k miles, pristine) harrumbah!). The A8 shows its quality after a ride in the others. And when I return from a business trip with rentals of whatever is new, I'm always amazed at the refinement and willingness of this old beast, especially in the dark, cold heart of a -17 degree Maine winter's night, swimming up I95 from Boston to home. So here's to old aluminum in Denver junk yards! If I still lived there, I'd be out picking this one clean this weekend. Look at all those parts! Headlights, rear seats, trim, brake calipers, wheels, badges. Oh my! *http://toadroller.blogspot.com/2015/02/single-bypass-surgery.html

  • Ajla "The upgrade is permanent" 🤔Journos really should be calling out the automakers like Mercedes that are attempting to make this sort of thing subscription only because it obviously doesn't need to be."with a one-time price tag of $1,195"This also shows the poor consumer "value" of Mercedes wanting $1200 per year for a 60hp jump on the EQE350.
  • Dukeisduke Will the next owner have to pay up, too, like with Tesla? What's the starting price of the Polestar 2? I saw a clean used one listed locally the other day, and it was under $50k. I wasn't sure if that was a deal or not.
  • Buickman what about EMFs from riding on a giant battery?is there a vax for that?
  • ScarecrowRepair $1.2M at $1K per car is only 1200 cars, and if you spread that over 5 years, 240 cars per year, roughly one per work day and one more every weekend. Sell another every weekend for the interest. That seems plausible to me.
  • FreedMike There are the guys charging $20000 over sticker for a F150 Lightning. They won’t go broke.