By on April 30, 2021

In Part I of the D2 Audi S8 story, we covered the foundations of the A8 as Audi attempted a do-over after the V8 Quattro. Today we’re all about S8.

Coinciding with the development of the new 4.2-liter V8, Audi introduced the high-performance S8 to Europe in 1996. All examples were equipped with the 4.2, which was tuned to offer 335 horsepower over the standard car’s 300. 60 miles per hour arrived in 6.2 seconds, down to the Quattro all-wheel drive and the S8’s scant weight of 3,814 pounds. The lightness paid dividends over competition like the BMW 740i, which by comparison weighed between 4,255 and 4,553 pounds.

The S8’s looks were mostly about a sleeper style of performance. Exterior changes for the S8 were minimal and included some badging and special Avus wheels shared with other Audi S models. Inside, the S8 featured a three-spoke sports steering wheel with shift buttons, special gauges, and dark stained walnut trim. Alcantara seat inserts (shown below) were an option, but not often selected. S8 was updated with an increase in power for 1999, up to 364 horses courtesy of an additional valve in each cylinder. New power lessened the time to 60: 5.6 seconds. A visual rework in 2000 modernized the look of the headlamps and swapped the ribbed vertical seat stitching for a horizontal design.

The A8 and S8 remained unchanged for the latter part of their run and ended production after the 2003 model year. 2004 saw the debut of the D3 A/S8, which was in effect the genesis of the big grille design Audi uses to this day. The S8 established Audi as a performance sedan player, and the only large European performance sedan to offer all-wheel drive. It was also a star of the movie Ronin, where it performed some acrobatic stunts not entirely possible with an all-wheel-drive car.

On a personal note, I owned a 2000 A8L from 2009 to 2011, and I can tell you it was a superb car. The 4.2 was an excellent engine with plenty of power and torque and was matched very well to the five-speed auto. Driving around in mixed commuting usage, I’d often see an average of 23 miles per gallon. The handling was excellent, the seats very comfortable, and the fit and finish fantastic.  I sold it in 2011 due to some (apparently unfounded) transmission concerns and got a 2001 GS 430 instead. An elderly couple bought the A8 after they saw it parked on the side of the road for sale, and thought it was a Buick. That car continues its life in southeastern Indiana today in daily driver use and has somewhere north of 200,000 miles on it. But it doesn’t look this good anymore.

Today’s Rare Ride is in spectacular condition, and since 2001 has accumulated just over 28,000 miles. In a taupe color with parchment leather, it asks for a full $25,000.

[Images: Audi]

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39 Comments on “Rare Rides: An Almost New Audi S8 From 2001 (Part II)...”


  • avatar
    FreedMike

    @Corey:

    23 mpg around town in this car is remarkable – that’s what I get in my A3.

    The example in that ad is simply fantastic, which it should be for the ridiculous money they’re asking. A bit more than that puts you in a three-year-old off-lease A6, which is also a damn nice car.

    • 0 avatar

      I was thinking about it earlier, and for the rarity I think $18,000 is plenty. It was a first of its kind and set the tone for the S8, but it’s not the most desirable colors – I wish for darker paint and a black interior.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        I’d go with more like $15,000. By the time you’d be done fixing everything that goes wrong, you might as well have dropped $25,000 on a late-model A6. YMMV, of course.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          About $15K seems fair.
          Although to me this isn’t a car that you’d want to dirve all the time or “fix everything” on.

          I’d say buy it, toss a drip pan under it, do enough compassionate maintenance to keep things acceptable and then sell it off within a year.

  • avatar
    Mathias

    To quote Mr. Shiftright from when he was a host on Edmunds: that’s just the FIRST 25 grand you’ll spend on that car.

  • avatar
    ajla

    It’s nice but it isn’t XJ nice.

  • avatar
    Imagefont

    It looks very nice but after 20 years, everything plastic and rubber inexorably deteriorates no matter how tenderly it’s preserved. A closer look will reveal its age and fluids of every description are about to start weeping from every orifice.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Funny, the plastic and rubber on my ’04 Volvo V70 are pretty much perfect, inside and out. All it takes is keeping it in a garage and a high quality tint job from new. And of course, actually taking care of the car. This is in SW FL where the sun is absolutely brutal too. And Volvos are NOT known for the quality of their interior materials in any way.

      Doesn’t leak anything either at 121K.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    MY00 S8 north of 200K still running today?

    Unpossible. Pics or it didn’t happen.

    • 0 avatar

      I saw it at a local lot in Indiana in 2015 and it had 178k on it.

      My dad sent me a pic of it in a driveway not two months ago, rural Indiana.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Did you do the rear main seals or any of the diff seals or fluids (or trans fluid for that matter)?

        • 0 avatar

          Nope, it was fully up on maintenance when I got it. Came from its first owner up in Columbus who was well-heeled and maintained it religiously at the dealer.

          It did need a new instrument cluster within the first 10,000 miles IIRC.

          BTW I bought it on eBay in August 2008, just over 100k miles for $5,995.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            “It did need a new instrument cluster within the first 10,000 miles IIRC.”

            Ah, an Audi tradition.

            “I bought it on eBay in August 2008, just over 100k miles for $5,995.”

            I long for the days before we left Earth.

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    They thought it was a Buick?
    I’d be pretty happy if someone thought my Buick was an Audi.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      There are times I wish my Audi was a Buick.

      • 0 avatar

        Your A3 can’t be that costly to maintain, it’s all Golf parts isn’t it?

        • 0 avatar
          Stanley Steamer

          Weren’t they surprised when they tried to register their new “Buick”.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          @Corey:

          The main difference between my A3 and the basic Golf is the engine – it has the EA888 motor, which is shared with the GTI. Water pumps are a known issue, and hit around 50-60,000 miles (which mine did). But I budgeted that in up front, and when I bought it, the car was a completely screaming deal – $19,500 loaded with 27,000 miles, and pretty much everything but Drive Select. As long as you can afford to repair it, the overall ownership cost kind of evens out over time – figure you spend $4,000 or so on maintenance, wear items and repair, and you’re still at about $24-25,000, and this is still a solid car for that money. A GTI would have been about the same, but it wouldn’t have AWD, which I like.

          Overall, it’s cost about what I figured it would, and I’m getting set to sell it.

          But, yeah, if you’re going to buy one of these, figure on spending a decent amount of money fixing it, or don’t buy it.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        I wish Buicks were Buicks.

      • 0 avatar
        SilverCoupe

        My dad got a Buick because he didn’t really want to be seen as a Cadillac owner. I got an Audi because I didn’t really want to be seen as a Mercedes owner. So same sort of thing.

        Interestingly, by ’08 A5 is now thirteen years old, the same age as when I inherited the ’64 Riviera from my dad in ’77. And the Audi has aged a whole lot better. People still stop to admire it.

      • 0 avatar
        Mike Beranek

        One of the reasons I own that Buick is my prior experience owning Audis and water-cooled VWs.
        Here’s some Buick math-
        Paid $3150 in 2017 for a 2004 LeSabre with 104k. Since then I’ve replaced parts but I’m still under $4000 in total investment. Currently at 211k and still running strong.
        That’s a pretty solid investment, and I could probably get 2 grand for it today.
        At over 25k per year, I drive too much for an Audi…or Bimmer…or anything else that’s not farm-tractor simple.

    • 0 avatar
      wolfwagen

      Obviously, they were not car people or people that know the difference between a Buick logo and an Audi logo. Buick has never made anything that looks like an Audi and vice versa. Personally, this is so annoying, I would have never sold them the car because they have no idea what they were in for. They saw a newer shiny toaster and had to get it.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    That is a very pretty and well-kept car, but $25k is just nuts. For that I can get an excellent D3 V10 S8 or a good V8 D4 A8. The D3’s interior was the best in the world when it was built and still looks incredibly modern and beautiful today.

  • avatar
    spamvw

    So your comments about running costs are making me think of this question, I’m DD an ’02 VW product (Jetta TDI wagon),

    What 2020’s car do you see running reliability 20 yeats from now? Lexus? Telsa?

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      I have to say almost none of them. Most modern cars (not all – don’t get pedantic B&B) have biodegradable wiring insulation. There is nothing to stop the process – it is only slowed down in the confines of engine bays and body panels.

      Once the wiring harnesses start to get shorts – the end. It won’t be worth repairing because of the extent of repairs and good luck finding a replacement harness.

      Electronics will be the death of cars 20 years old.

      With only a handful of exceptions, most of what you buy today can make 200K miles before something fatal happens if you keep up with required maintenance, keep it clean and waxed to fight the rust monster, use quality gasoline, and don’t drive it like it is stolen on the daily.

      I didn’t say that list of requirements are cheap.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Tesla depending on how/if the batteries can be replaced.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        Yeah, Tesla, but I’d favor either a 2022 or later refreshed S or X or 2022 refreshed 3. Better everything and if you can get 4680 cells for the battery, even better. Personally, that’s what I’m waiting for myself. Holding off until those cars are in production. I’m also hoping that with more plants, they’ll back off on the line speed.

        I think with these refreshes they’ve finally learned how to build cars. New production techniques and learning from their past mistakes. I could be wrong, but only time will tell. The best bet might be a Model Y produced in the Austin plant with 4680 batteries probably sometime next year. That’ll get you 20 years down the load with minimal maintenance.

        “Tesla depending on how/if the batteries can be replaced.”

        The best bet for that at the moment is to have one of the Tesla independent shops like Electrified Garage source a battery from a wrecked car. Hopefully, the newer cells like the 4680 won’t need it.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I was curious to know if the batteries even could be replaced, or if its something like the car bricks itself if its batteries are updated unless a code is punched in. Based on what you’re saying, they are replaceable.

          I think back to the proverbial middle finger Apple slowly started to give its customers assuming Tesla would follow. Kudos to them if they can deliver the modern equivalent to the Volvo 240 (decades of useful life for multiple owners while helping the environment and screwing planned obsolescence concepts).

  • avatar
    Lynchenstein

    ooooh, I could try to recreate that awesome chase scene in Ronin!

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Endless money pit. Wouldn’t take it for free. Easily spend 25k just to maintain it.

  • avatar
    Norman Stansfield

    If it was only black, I could pretend I was Larry driving it around Paris.

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