Junkyard Find: 1976 Audi 100 LS Sedan

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

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!

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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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...

  • The Oracle Looks like a nice reincarnation.
  • TheEndlessEnigma In '98 a guy I worked with came into work pissed, so pissed he was beside himself, so pissed he was beside himself and they were both pissed. He had bought a Seville the year before for his wife, a very buxom empty headed drink of water that was roughly 20 years his junior (she *LIKED* older men and he wasn't about to complain). He had gotten a call the afternoon before, she was broken down in the less than 1 year old Seville on the side of the NY Turnpike at the Galleria Mall in Cheektowaga. The car quite on her in traffic and it wouldn't start. They got it towed to a nearby Caddy dealer and they started checking out the problem immediately. As he told it, the car already had a little over 20k miles on it so the service manager was pretty concerned about a warranty engine failure, "These Northstar engines are bulletproof!". After about an hour at the shop the service manager comes to talk with them, "Uh, ma'am, when was the last time you had the oil changed"? "Oil change, don't they come with oil when you buy these cars?". Seems the engine seized up, right around 1 qt of oil, with a tar like consistency and full of sparkles, was found in the oil pan. The late '90s, a NorthStar engine, one year and 20k miles......never saw an oil change. Powertrain warranty claim? Refused. Engine replacement? You bet, $9900 in 1998 dollars.
  • VoGhost Quality review. Thanks!
  • VoGhost Love this collective clutching of pearls over a vehicle name not a single commenter will ever see, drive or buy.
  • 28-Cars-Later "Here's why" edition_cnn_com/2018/06/13/health/falling-iq-scores-study-intl/index.html