Junkyard Find: 1976 Audi 100 LS Sedan

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1976 audi 100 ls sedan

The Audi 100 was the car that made most Americans aware of the Audi brand for the first time. The 100 wasn’t particularly reliable in American hands, to put it mildly, and most examples were long gone by the time the 1980s came to a close.

Here’s a long-neglected ’76 that just showed up in a Colorado Springs self-service wrecking yard.

The mid-grade LS was the only 100 model available in the United States from 1974 through the end of first-generation 100 sales in 1977.

This one was sold new in Colorado Springs, and it will be crushed in Colorado Springs.

The heavy buildup of leaf litter, rodent nests, and twigs in and on this car suggests that it spent at least a decade sitting outside, possibly awaiting repairs that never came.

The duct tape blocking operation of the HVAC controls tells a sad story of flaky 1970s VAG electrical components, and may be an indicator of the (most severe) problem that parked this car forever.

I saw this car while harvesting vast quantities of parts during the All-You-Can-Carry-For-$59.99 Junkyard Sale, so I grabbed these cool-looking fender badges.

Not legal in 1976 California!

These cars were comfortable and reasonably luxurious for the price, and a 95-horsepower straight-four was acceptable power in a 2,531-pound car during the depths of the Malaise Era.

List price was $7,100, which comes to about $31,280 in inflation-adjusted 2017 dollars. For less than half that price, American car shoppers in 1976 could have had a cruder, rougher-riding, but orders-of-magnitude-more-reliable Chevy Nova. In hindsight, the bulletproof $9,172 Mercedes-Benz 230 was worth the extra money to American car shoppers seeking European sophistication and styling.

Exactly like a Cadillac Eldorado or Ferrari Dino!

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  • MRF 95 T-Bird MRF 95 T-Bird on Jul 18, 2017

    These became fairly popular in the suburbs of NYC where I grew up. Some folks had tired of or had bad experiences with what was coming out of Detroit but were not quite in the income bracket for a Benz bought these. A few even moved up to the 1st generation 5000 when it was introduced in 1978. I guess their ownership experience was ok or their experience with the big 3 was so bad that the repairs on these seemed normal.

  • Turf3 Turf3 on Jul 18, 2017

    Really, what I am reading seems typical "reliability" of all cars in that period. I once helped out a damsel in distress whose Audi (I think a Fox) just flat wouldn't run: on most cars of that period after a couple years you could expect the EGR valve to fail open and constantly feed exhaust gas to the intake; OK at speed, but it meant the car would not idle or run at small throttle openings. You could diagnose it quickly by pulling off the vacuum line and holding your finger over it. If the car ran normally, it meant the EGR valve had failed open. My usual fix was to cut a piece of aluminum drink can and slip it between the valve and the gasket to block the hole in the intake manifold, then reinstall the vacuum line on the EGR valve. Fast and easy if the gasket didn't get torn when you pulled to separate the EGR valve from the intake. Unfortunately, all I got from the damsel was a heartfelt thanks, no date...

  • Nrd515 I bought an '88 S10 Blazer with the 4.3. We had it 4 years and put just about 48K on it with a bunch of trips to Nebraska and S. Dakota to see relatives. It had a couple of minor issues when new, a piece of trim fell off the first day, and it had a seriously big oil leak soon after we got it. The amazinly tiny starter failed at about 40K, it was fixed under some sort of secret warranty and we got a new Silverado as a loaner. Other than that, and a couple of tires that blew when I ran over some junk on the road, it was a rock. I hated the dash instrumentation, and being built like a gorilla, it was about an inch and a half too narrow for my giant shoulders, but it drove fine, and was my second most trouble free vehicle ever, only beaten by my '82 K5 Blazer, which had zero issues for nearly 50K miles. We sold the S10 to a friend, who had it over 20 years and over 400,000 miles on the original short block! It had a couple of transmissions, a couple of valve jobs, a rear end rebuild at 300K, was stolen and vandalized twice, cut open like a tin can when a diabetic truck driver passed out(We were all impressed at the lack of rust inside the rear quarters at almost 10 years old, and it just went on and on. Ziebart did a good job on that Blazer. All three of his sons learned to drive in it, and it was only sent to the boneyard when the area above the windshield had rusted to the point it was like taking a shower when it rained. He now has a Jeep that he's put a ton of money into. He says he misses the S10's reliablity a lot these days, the Jeep is in the shop a lot.
  • Jeff S Most densely populated areas have emission testing and removing catalytic converters and altering pollution devices will cause your vehicle to fail emission testing which could effect renewing license plates. In less populated areas where emission testing is not done there would probably not be any legal consequences and the converter could either be removed or gutted both without having to buy specific parts for bypassing emissions. Tampering with emission systems would make it harder to resell a vehicle but if you plan on keeping the vehicle and literally running it till the wheels fall off there is not much that can be done if there is no emission testing. I did have a cat removed on a car long before mandatory emission testing and it did get better mpgs and it ran better. Also had a cat gutted on my S-10 which was close to 20 years old which increased performance and efficiency but that was in a state that did not require emission testing just that reformulated gas be sold during the Summer months. I would probably not do it again because after market converters are not that expensive on older S-10s compared to many of the newer vehicles. On newer vehicles it can effect other systems that are related to the operating and the running of the vehicle. A little harder to defeat pollution devices on newer vehicles with all the systems run by microprocessors but if someone wants to do it they can. This law could be addressing the modified diesels that are made into coal rollers just as much as the gasoline powered vehicles with cats. You probably will still be able to buy equipment that would modify the performance of a vehicles as long as the emission equipment is not altered.
  • ToolGuy I wonder if Vin Diesel requires DEF.(Does he have issues with Sulfur in concentrations above 15ppm?)
  • ToolGuy Presented for discussion: https://xroads.virginia.edu/~Hyper2/thoreau/civil.html
  • Kevin Ford can do what it's always done. Offer buyouts to retirement age employees, and transfers to operating facilities to those who aren't retirement age. Plus, the transition to electric isn't going to be a finger snap one time event. It's going to occur over a few model years. What's a more interesting question is: Where will today's youth find jobs in the auto industry given the lower employment levels?