5-Speed Wagon: 1985 Audi 5000 S

Scotty GilbertsonBy Scotty Gilbertson

This seemed like such an exotic car to me in the early and mid-1980s. An Audi, in general, was so different than anything that I had ever owned, and in my hometown there weren’t many of them at all. I would love to have one now. This is a 1985 Audi 5000 S Wagon and it’s on eBay with an unmet opening bid of $1,200 and there are six days left on the auction. This one will have to be shipped from Gurnee, Illinois.

This car needs more than a couple of headlights and some touch-up work on the hood. The seller says that the clutch – yes, this is a 5-speed car! – goes to the floor and stays there. They’re predicting that a clutch slave cylinder is the culprit, but unless they’re 100% positive, it could be much worse. Or, it could be something even simpler? Who knows until it’s checked out.

This was, and is, such an interesting shape for a wagon. The sloping back cuts down on the hauling capacity a lot, but it adds an extra funky-coolness to these cars, in my opinion. The body on this car is in great condition with just some peeling clear coat, and this car has “NO rust”! Audi 5000 sales suffered with the infamous “unintended acceleration” claims. In 1985, Audi sold over 74,000 cars in the US, but sales dropped like a proverbial rock and sales wouldn’t rebound to those numbers again until the 2000 model year.

This car has a 5-speed manual, which is a great feature, if everything works correctly; which, in this case, it doesn’t. But, if it’s a relatively inexpensive fix, it’s worth it to be able to shift for yourself. The interior looks like it’s in nice condition, front and back, and also in the rear storage area. There are a couple of cracks on the top of the dash and the headliner has some sort of voodoo doll-like thing going on with what looks like pins holding parts of it up. That’ll have to be addressed, or not. With 152,600 miles, there will be things that’ll need work.

This is Audi’s 2.2L inline-five cylinder that would have had around 115 hp. That’s why the 5-speed manual is so important for driving pleasure. I know, it’s a wagon, how fun can it be to drive?! If things are all working properly, I can guarantee that this would be an enjoyable car to drive. It’s not fast off the line and this one is front-wheel drive so no quattro system. But, if the next owner can sort out the clutch issue and clean up the engine and interior a bit, they’ll have one unique, head-turning car on their hands. Have any of you owned a 5000 S wagon?

 

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Comments

  1. Blyndgesser

    A sublime car to drive, once it’s sorted.

    6+

  2. Mark Member

    Not a wagon but had a 1979 5000s always ran hot. Not a great car and a 1981 5000s diesel, not fast but great car, 5 speed stick, always passed by the gas stations. Sold it for double what I paid. I think one had battery under back seat.

    1+

    • audifan

      Both your Audi 5000s Typ 43 had the battery in the engine compartment, the Diesel under the air filter. There is no room under the rear seat.

      2+

  3. scooter8

    well! you won’t get bump jacked. sure not a masserati. and it’s a stick.(wat dat?) put a dog in the back and you’ll have care free sailing anywhere in chicago.

    4+

  4. MikeG

    My Dad had a 5000 turbo diesel, man did that thing have some torque!! I remember revving her out onto I-5, chirping the front tires into 2nd, blowing the head gasket, and coasting triumphantly onto the side of the highway.

    7+

  5. Wagon master

    The Bosch idle control valve box was defective on all those European cars in 84 and early 85. Audi blundered by blaming the unintended acceleration on driver error but BMW and MBZ performed a quiet replacement “Campaign” thus avoiding lack of confidence in their brands. Yes, these Audi execs are the same VW guys who rigged the diesel smog pollutant output programming recently in their favor. Some people never learn …. unless somebody goes to jail!

    5+

  6. Leon

    Needs euro headlights. Front lights look too Mopar or Ford of that era

    3+

  7. tirefriar

    I had a 5000 Sedan with automatic back in 1990. Bought it used, brown with brown and tan interior. Red backlighting on the dash was the bomb. Shortly after I bought it, trans wouldn’t shift into second until the car was thoroughly warmed up. Took it to the local german car expert whom I knew for few years. He popped the hood and called me over. “see this, this is $1000. and this, this is $1500, and this over here is another grand” he was saying as he was pointing to components under the hood. As much as I loved the car, it was up for sale the very next day. Being in the condition that it was, it found the buyer rather quickly. I never owned another Audi again…but I would not hesitate to buy a wagon such as this with a manual transmission. These look killer in black!

    2+

  8. Gordon

    My very first car was a 1987 Audi 5000 S which had every option except for Quattro, Turbo, and fog lights. I bought it in 1999 from the second owner after it sat in their garage for 6 years. Needless to say it was basically still almost brand new with 35k Miles in the clock. It had the nicest leather interior out of just about any car I have ever owned or driven. Sadly, it was an automatic. But that 2.3 Liter 5-Banger provided enough power to put wanna-be Fast and Furious ricers to shame. I also took the muffler off to give it that nice 5-Cylinder noise instead of being almost dead quiet. One other interesting thing is when I did a thorough cleaning of the interior and found the original bill of sale from 1987. The first owner(a little old lady) paid 37K Dollars cash for the car. That was a lot of money for a car in 1987. And to think I only paid 1800 for it 12 years later. Talk about depreciation!! But that 1800 was money well spent on a beautiful, reliable, luxury German Tank.

    I would also like to mention that you, Scotty(can I call you Scotty?), write some of the best articles here in BF. Your vivid descriptions and wording are very entertaining and very on-point. I always look forward to reading your articles when they pop up!

    4+

  9. Gordon

    Here she is(or was)

    4+

  10. SubGothius

    For a few years after college, I had an ’84 5000S wagon with a 5-speed that we nicknamed “The Pod” in honor of it’s sci-fi shuttlepod looks. Some documents that came with the car and a German auto club sticker on the fender suggested it was probably purchased new in Germany by a military serviceman who brought it home when his tour there was complete. The trans ratios seemed a bit odd, each feeling about a half-step lower than I’d expect, aside from the bahn-cruiser tall 5th; I figured it was “Alpine gearing” suited to markets with a lot of steep grades in their terrain like parts of Germany.

    It had quite a spacious cabin with plenty of elbow room, moving down the road with a palpable feeling of well-engineered yet airy solidity that wasn’t so much “carved from billet” as “rigid spaceframe”. Cabin acoustics were fantastic for the stereo I’d installed, a Nakamichi head unit with Hafler amp driving Advent ICT speakers and a Bazooka tube sub. Town driving was smooth and surprisingly taut and agile for its size, but of course it really excelled at scarfing down freeway miles so efficiently it felt as if the wheels retracted into the body to just fly along on jets alone. I particularly remember traveling the width of Iowa through a light snow flurry with Coil’s The Snow EP on repeat the whole way, feeling as if that whole stretch only took an hour or two at most.

    It served me well, needing only expected high-mileage repairs (water pump, clutch and slave cylinder), moved me and all my stuff from Wisconsin to Arizona in a 3-day sprint, until ultimately the silicone gel-filled motor mounts gave out, leading to the trans mounts following suit, and my meager paycheck as a hotel desk clerk at the time couldn’t cover the cost of those parts, let alone shop labor, so I had to give it up. Years later, I picked up wrenching skills to maintain my Lancia, but if only I knew then what I know now (esp. the trick of turning those collapsed mounts into solid ones by simply refilling them with silicone caulk!), I might’ve been able to keep it going. I still miss that car.

    3+

  11. jdjonesdr

    More glass than a Pacer Station wagon.

    2+

  12. Steve

    I had the sedan version of this car. Same color 5 speed. I remember it being a very nice car to drive, reliable, quiet, comfy, and cruised 80-90 mph easy.
    This car was the benchmark for many car companies of that time. You can see Ford “borrowed” a lot for the Taurus, and Eagle just plain copied it.

    1+

  13. rando

    Love the shape. Hate the brand. I don’t believe there was anything wrong with the car that caused the acceleration issues reported. It was even proven that CBS’ hack job was a hoax. The idea of these cars was great. The execution however, was horrible. Quality was like job 999 for Audi. Design a great car with proper engineering, then listen to the money people and backpedal til it was barely a steaming pile. the reliabilty was iffy at best. I know some folks probably had great cars. But out in the “sticks”, where there was no dealer for miles and if you didn’t have a wagonload of money, they weren’t good cars. Still, I think these were great looking cars. Short of the headlights, the design could still pass muster today.

    Put a set of 18s on it with a raised ride height and you have a CUV…just saying.

    0

  14. Daymo

    They were known as the 100 here in Europe and were quite big sellers, especially on the continent. Probably easier and cheaper to source parts over here and ship them to the States!

    2+

    • James Hall

      I was also going to point out the different model number but you bet me to it.
      Ive always had a soft spot for Audi’s. Ive owned a few 4 door sedans and a few wagons ( Avant’s ) Ive also had a few 80 B2 coupes.
      our 2nd car at the moment is an A4 B5 1.9tdi quattro Avant which I wouldnt part with.. I would get rid of the new Seat Leon first..

      0

  15. Rustytech

    These were great cars that were badly damaged by the unintended acceleration reports. I had several customers that drove them for years without any issues. The acceleration issue was later found to be “driver error”. As I recall, it was this issue that later brought about the shift interlock requirements. Another case of the government having to protect the consumer from their own stupidity! I also remember that the clutch slave cylinder was a common failure, so that could be the problem and is a simple fix. Usually it can be found with a simple visual inspection ( they leaked ).

    1+

  16. SubGothius

    My understanding is that it was a combination of idle-control issues and driver error related to pedal size and placement differences among manufacturers.

    A faulty idle control would sporadically raise the idle at improper times in certain conditions, then shifting into Drive would startle the driver with an unexpectedly abrupt takeoff due to the high idle; if that driver didn’t usually drive the car and was more accustomed to driving a GM model, a panicked stab at where the wide brake pedal “should” be in their GM car could wind up missing the Audi’s narrower brake pedal and hitting the gas instead.

    1+

  17. Peter

    I had an 1985 Audi 5000 CSTQ all wheel drive wagon with a center locking differential. It was blast in all kinds of weather. It routinely got 30+ mpg at 80 mph. Sadly it was never the same after a vertical hydraulic ram in front of the Dept of theTreasury in Washington D.C. blew the front end up.

    1+

  18. Jubjub

    When Audi was simply Teutonic and wasn’t misconceived by the general public as a “style leader” like today. Seems everyone thinks Audi’s styling is so slick but it’s more like Playskool with a few extra coats of paint and some uninteresting chrome decorations.

    1+

    • Gordon

      Tell me about it!! I used to work with Audi prototypes in Ingolstadt and they kept getting uglier and uglier. The interiors as well. Except for the A7 and the RS3 sedan. I like those the most. And that RS3 would give a R8 a real run for its money. Fast little car.

      1+

    • SubGothius

      Indeed, I used to admire the clean, geometric, draftsmanlike design of Audis of yore — they even had a print ad slogan something like, “Designed, Not Styled” — but they’ve left me indifferent ever since they introduced the current “tombstone” grille, which seems to me like a contrived gimmick entirely out of character with their “form follows function” design heritage. IMO if they wanted a more distinctive, “premium” looking grille, they should have just enlarged the Auto Union rings enough to become the entire grille opening.

      0

  19. David Miraglia

    Always liked the design of the 1980’s Audis. payed no mind to the unintended acceleration malaky.

    2+

  20. Mike Reese

    I owned one, still have parts for it. Ran like a top – got it used off Ebay for about $500. The guy who had it used it as a work car – I was finding drywall screws, nails and such for months after getting it, and he’d beaten it up pretty good. But it ran, starting up in weather that stymied bigger and newer vehicles. I lost count of how many people I jump started with that HUGE battery located under the rear seat. Finally had to let it go because it wouldn’t pass the emissions road test.

    1+

  21. charlie

    Friend had one, did 375,000 miles, in New England, garaged, well cared for.

    1+

  22. Rufus

    Had a 87 VW Quantum wagon that was the same basic car I think. It was a great car, and quick too.

    0

  23. Dave

    I had one of these cars from 1993-97…When things ran correctly, they were sublimely lovely to drive…Mine had everything you could dream of go wrong with it…I replaced the engine once, the transmission 3 times, the brakes seized in it, the steering rack was replaced twice, the heated seat caught fire one winter night, the ignition system went on the fritz 200 miles from home…and the reservoir that powered the steering and power brakes constantly ran out of juice… I remember being in Memphis with my brother and wanting to go see Graceland…we had enough money to either buy more power steering fluid or tour Graceland…we chose the power-steering fluid… It cost 1000 dollars a month to keep that car on the road, and I owned it for five years (93, 94, 95, 96, 97)…it ate up 60,000 dollars in repairs. Oh, and I might add, the power sunroof turned sideways one time and never again closed properly… It was spirit-crushing…sigh!

    0

    • Mike Reese

      Yeah, that’s essentially why I had to drop mine. After it wouldn’t pass the emissions road test, the amount of cash it would have taken wasn’t worth it – plus, I got sick and wound up in ICU for a week just before I was planning to see if I could fix it.

      0

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