Lately, we’ve featured a succession of posts relating to automotive style in the Nineties here at Question of the Day. We started out discussing the best of the best from America, Europe, and Asia. Then, last week, we moved on to the Worst Ever awards from America. Many of you said I was nuts for disliking the refreshed Lincoln Mark VIII. While I still don’t like the VIII post-’96, I’ll agree the Buick Skylark for 1992 would’ve been a better selection. There, happy?
Let’s see if I can get my European selection to be a bit more agreeable to all you connoisseurs of things Nineties.
It’s the end of an era. Earlier this year, Mercedes-Benz announced the death of the SLC (formerly SLK) roadster, and today Audi announced it will do the same to its own two-seat roadster and four-place coupe.
The TT first appeared in late 1998, bringing youthful excitement and distinctive design to the brand’s sedan-heavy lineup. It also served as an excellent rival to the SLK, which bowed a couple of years earlier. Thanks to dwindling sales and Audi’s push for electrification, the recently refreshed TT is now doomed.
It’s not the only gas-powered model that could disappear from the lineup, either.
Following in the footsteps of last week’s Karmann Ghia article, it seemed natural to take a look at two other lesser-known German alternatives to Volkswagen’s Type 1 Beetle and the ‘Beetle-in-a-suit’ Karmann Ghia.
Like the Karmann Ghia, both were attempts to capitalize on a new and expanding market for automobiles in Germany during the postwar economic boom times. That meant that the models had to incorporate existing technology, yet also appeal to a crowd increasingly interested in performance and style. However, both had to be at least somewhat economical and practical as family cars.
The result was a series of interesting and mostly forgotten air-cooled, rear-engine, rear-drive sedans, coupes and convertibles from both BMW and NSU.
Most luxury roadsters are related to a practical, rear-wheel-drive sports sedan, but Audi prefers to march to a different drummer.
Since its inception in 1998, the Audi TT has been based not on the A4, but on the Volkswagen Golf. The original TT was the product of Audi’s best and brightest and it not only blew minds at its debut for its design, it was a hoot to drive as well.
The second generation of the TT on the other hand, failed to impress. It’s not that it was a bad car, it just didn’t excite me like the first generation did. The handling was good, but BMW’s Z4 and Mercedes’ SLK were more fun. The exterior was bolder and meaner than the original, but the interior was too “VW Golf” for the price tag. Every time I sat in one I would say to myself, “Something is missing.”
As luck would have it, Audi’s engineers were also searching for that “something.” And they found it.
TTAC Commentator Ronman writes:
Hi Sajeev and Steve, hope all is well. I have a query for a friend. He is a photographer in California, and has recently felt the urge to buy a convertible. His requirements are kind of eclectic with a sort of tight budget.
Here it goes: he wants a convertible so that he can enjoy the sun in his neck of the woods, he wants one that drives well with some decent power and with the top down he would like to be able to use the car for tracking shots and the like. He would prefer a hardtop for safety reasons (theft) as some of his gear might be in the car at times. Also since his budget spans from 12 to 16k, he would prefer the used car he is going to ultimately buy not be a pocket burner in terms of maintenance. So a model that can be acquired with extended warranties would be preferable.
He’s already tested a 2002 SLK280, but he’s wondering what would be nicer on the mid term, the SLK, a similar vintage Boxter, or Audi TT convertible. I had advised him about the presence of the Honda S2000, Mazda MX5 (he said it’s too girly), and the Pontiac Solstice or Saturn equivalent (not sure if those slot in the budget) however he did mention that if it’s worthwhile he would try to up his budget somewhat. a 2 seater convertible is not a strict thing but it is preferable. So what do you and the B&B think?
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- Verbal Back in the 90's there was a bumper sticker that said, "Would you drive any better with that cell phone up your a$$?"
- FreedMike On the one hand, it doesn't look good. On the other hand, not releasing the car into the hands of the general public until the obvious bugs are worked out is a good idea for a brand new company. Time will tell.
- FreedMike I do take phone calls using Car Play if I'm not in traffic; it's a little bit of a distraction, but not much. I think it's certainly within an acceptable risk margin if you're not in heavy traffic. Back in the old days when I had a manual car and no Bluetooth, I never used the phone while driving at all.
- FreedMike I guess some folks are just bound and determined to drive around with a grenade in their steering wheel.
- FreedMike Bit dear, but these might have collector appeal, particularly one with 20,000 miles (assuming that's not a doctored figure) that hasn't had the full "whip" treatment.