Barn Fox: 1977 Audi Fox

This red Fox isn’t something that I could see Redd Foxx driving, and it’s a long way from being a junker (ok, enough with the Sanford and Son references). This is a 1977 Audi Fox, which was known as an Audi 80 in areas other than North America and Australia. This barn fox is listed on eBay with a current bid of $200, but the reserve isn’t met. There is a Buy It Now price of $1,975, which seems like a bit of a lost opportunity; shouldn’t it have been $1,977?

This car was originally owned by a person in Iowa, a state that knows a thing or two about barns. It’s now located in East Peoria, Illinois, a city that I really like for some reason, maybe it’s the history of the Caterpillar Company. This Iowa/Illinois Audi is “90% complete”, but there’s no mention of what’s missing, it looks complete to me. Maybe someday it can look like this again! The Audi Fox was in North America (US and Canada) from 1973 to 1979, or from the end of the hippie era to the heart of the disco era. The Audi 80 had a much longer lifespan. This is the 56,450th Audi Fox made that year and the Audi Fox/80 was only the second car to be designed and manufactured under Volkswagen’s ownership. And, we’ve probably all seen a few Volkswagon “Fox” vehicles over our collective lifetimes, some of you may have even owned one? I think it’s a crisp, clean design, classic Audi (or, VW?)..

It’s unfortunate that we were saddled with those huge bumpers, or that our vehicles were. Although, some of us do have bigger bumpers than we used to have. Other markets had much nicer bumpers, at least design-wise. This car is in “very fair condition” but will “require work to get it running and driving”. You can see a sizable dent in the right rear roof area by the rear window, ouch. Luckily, it was “Ziebart protected“! I think being stored inside did much more to preserve the body on this car than being Ziebart protected did; or maybe the combination of the two helped. I prefer the earlier single-headlight cars, but I wouldn’t turn one of these later cars away.

The interior looks decent, I’m surprised to not see the seats all torn up by mice after being stored in a barn for so long. Those critters ruin so many vehicle interiors. The seats look perfect, at least tear-and-condition-wise, but they could use a deep-cleaning. I would be inclined to strip this interior and check (and, most likely treat) the floors, maybe adding some Dynamat and a new fitted carpet set. Thankfully it has a 4-speed manual transmission, that’ll help the fun-factor once you get it back on the road again.

She’s a bit dusty, no? Also, a bit rusty, no? I store my winter vehicle from April through early-November and it gets a little rustier every year under the hood, just surface rust like this. I don’t know what could be wrong with this 1.6L inline four-cylinder, but at one time it had around 83 hp. This car has a bit over 107,000 miles on it, hopefully it can be brought back to life by an Audi enthusiast. Speaking of that, are there any fans of these early Audis out there?



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  1. Coventrycat

    A school chum had an identical one in the early eighties. Neat car, but a bit of an oddball. It’s the only one I think I’ve seen in the last 35 years.

  2. Thorsten Krüger

    Here in Germany, 35 to 40 years ago, I have seen many of them (Audi 80) every day. It was at that time the midclass car every 3rd teacher and office staff member drove. They wrecked 98% and today you see only one in a year, if you are lucky.

  3. angliagt

    I’d be interested in the trailer behind it.
    It’s a Coleman Versatrailer.They were perfect for
    hauling a load behind a small car.1/2 ton rated,with
    a tilt bed.
    I still have mine that I towed with my SCCA
    Showroom Stock Fiesta.With that short tongue,you
    could drive as fast as you were able to.
    Now,it sits outside,awaiting a hitch for the
    MGB GT,Midget,B210,or Anglia 105E.

  4. rdc

    I had the 1974 VW Dasher version of the Fox. Worst car I ever owned. It had an automatic with a carburetor. Never ran well. mechanically unreliable and very noisy on the road. We traded in a perfectly good 1971 Oldsmobile Cutlass for this trash during the gas crisis. Stupid.

    • John P

      I will echo this comment.. Had a ’74 Dasher Wagon with the 1.7 and automatic transmission.. Most reluctant acceleration I’ve ever felt in a vehicle–and sounded horrible too.. After fussing around with the carb and ultimately replacing it–I almost got it reliable.. Reliable enough to drive it 90miles to its new owner who drove it to New York from Chicago a few years ago.. Horrible quality paint on the VW’s from that year too. (but the interior was in phenomenal condition–don’t get it.. )

      • rdc

        Yep, the carb was the main problem. Seemed it w. ould not go anywhere in cold weather unless you warmed it up. VW was too cheap to go to fule injection.

  5. Thorsten Krüger

    Seems, that the German technology of this phantastic engine (doesn’t matter if carb or injection) was not constructed for american garages and mechanics…..😉
    It is really not a problem to let them run smooth and powerful.

  6. MikeG

    On a related note, I remember the German specialist I went to for years in Seattle had a bundle of what looked like dynamite on the shelf. The paper label wrapped around it read, “100LS Repair kit”.

  7. EU Broker

    Had a girlfriend in college who had a blue one of these. Had the same engine as the VW Rabbit if I remember correctly. The head warped at some point which I swapped out myself with one from a junkyard, don’t remember it being particularly difficult to work on.

    • Thorsten Krüger

      You’re right. Base of the engine is identical to the Rabbit-engines. Knowing a number having 200k mls on the clock.

  8. Anastos

    My grandfather bought one of these in the early 80s. Made it six blocks from the lot and the clutch imploded.

    • Thorsten Krüger

      …. not a surprise in a land with 95% automatic transmission….. manual transmission can’t survive…😉

  9. Paul R

    Junk from day one.

    • Thorsten Krüger

      Automatic transmission? You’re right! 😆

      The body, yes junk after a short period of time, but not the engine/transmission.

    • Randall

      Instead of “finding” this one just leave it “lost”

  10. Sukey

    My friend had when in high school Victoria Bc Canada 1984
    Drivers seat was held up by a 2×4 due to floor rust
    He beat that car to death in short order
    It deserved to be killed
    Total piece of garbage

  11. Thorsten Krüger

    Rust was a serious problem at that time at Audi/VW. Very low quality metalsheet for the bodies.

  12. Howard A Member

    Again, same thing. This car came out when Americans were used to 400 hp and the gas pedal meant business. They drove them too hard and didn’t maintain them properly. Like most European cars, these were good cars, just not meant for the abuse American’s dished out. We saw a few in the mid-west, but VW was still king of the imports at the time. Looks kind of crusty, I’d think the electric’s would be a nightmare. I’d pass on this.

  13. Mike H. Mike H

    I doubt you’d really see Redd Foxx driving much of anything since he died back in 1991. That said, Scotty, I’d agree that he wouldn’t have been seen driving this, but he’d have hauled it around on the back of The Lil Redd Wrecker. . .

    • Mike H. Mike H

      More Redd. Very funny guy.

    • Joe

      Looks like a Bradley GT and a wrecker had a one night stand!

  14. MathieuB

    Excuse my ignorance but does it share things with the VW Fox?
    Engine is transversal as the VW Fox too.

    • Marc D

      Yes, they both share the same platform, the 5 speed from the vw fox makes for a nice upgrade and the electrical system from the vw fox is a vast improvement installed in the Audi fox, but, no body panels will swap over.

      • rdc

        What is a VW Fox? Is that the VW Dasher in the US. The Dasher was made from 1974-78 and then renamed a Passat.

  15. KeithK

    I rember my employer selling one of these to a guy who was obviously high on some psychotic drugs. He left the lot ,came back directly, ranted on about not having a jack. When we showed him the Jack and tire tools he threw them on the ground and sped off all the time the radiator was spewing coolant from beneath. Good times

  16. rando

    OMG. The write up says “90% complete”. I don’t think they were more than 90% complete when new. I had a 79 in this same combination in 84? With an automatic. The trans crapped out one month to the day after I bought it and everything went down hill from there. The elecrical system may as well be British. Actually Lucas electrics were probably better than mine was. It was constantly something. The fuel system would cut out at random. Lovely. eventually I had a garage work on it that was supposed to be good. HTey charged my $300 for work, supposeldy replacing relays and wiring. All they did was jumper the fuel relay. Lesson learned. the brakes eventually gave up working reliably. the HVAC too. It would blow AC up top but keep your feet toasty. I knew where every Dasher/Fox junker was for miles. Owned a Dasher parts car that I used the trans out of.

    BUT…when it was ruinning right, it was a fun little car. Gold digging gf loved it. Made us look like fancy people she thought.

    Also it was a sturdy car. I t-boned a 4 door datsun right in the middle of the doors. Killed the datsun but only popped a piece of the grille loose on the Fox. I tried to love it. I really did. If I had it today, with the help of the internet and skills learned since, I could probably keep it running. But I lost all desire to own anything from VW/Audi/Porsche after that. I say that “Audi” is German for “a fool and his money are soon parted”

  17. RandalW

    I had one in high school, exact color, inside and out. I LOVED this car! It wasn’t fast, but it was really fun for an 18 yo to run around in.

    Mine was a 78′ and had typical electrical Audi gremlins. Lights worked when they wanted to and it would occasionally not start, but if you fiddled with the right wiring, you could get it all working.

    One of the few cars I’ve had over the years that actually was sold for a profit after 3-4 years of ownership. Great memories!

  18. Marc D

    Nice find, if it were closer and did not have a sunroof I might revisit my fist import… its the car I learned how to work on it, perfect? no, but it ran great, handled well, yes, electrical sucked, crappy fuse box. But, being my first import, it has many memories, yes they rust, in the floor near the jack point and rear quarter panels, but the 2 door has a different sunroof system then the 4 door sedan and wagon, parts are hard to find, window seals rot out, but, if one finds a clean one, a built up 1.8 gti motor and a 5 speed from a VW Fox would make this car fun to drive.

  19. rando

    The VW Fox came a few years after the Audi Fox turned into the 4000, I think. It was still a small car, very similar in many ways to the Audi Fox concept. And I think I read somewhere that the Audi Fox platform was the original jumping off point of the Golf/Rabbit/Jettas to follow. THat many of the ideas that came later came from the original Fox/80 platform. I know I read it but can’t remember where. THat was recently – like the last month, I think. And those cars were the seed for the Chrysler K cars? There was a connection between VW and Chryslere wasn’t there? Or I may be making up stuff.

    • rdc

      There was no VW Fox in the US. It was a VW Dasher. Audi had the Fox.

  20. rando

    Yes there was. AFTER the Audi Fox turned to the 4000. From Wiki page on VW Gol…

    The Volkswagen Gol is a subcompact car that has been manufactured by Volkswagen do Brasil since 1980 as Volkswagen’s entry-level car in the Latin American market—where it succeeded the Volkswagen Type 1 (Fusca) and the VW Brasilia. Several variants of the Gol were marketed in North America as the Volkswagen Fox from 1987 to 1993.

    If you read down far enough, it has pictures and text on the NA VW fox.

    • rdc

      Well my mistake, I got confused and must have blanked out all things VW after the terrible 1974 Dasher I had. :)

  21. fordfan

    My bought a 75 v w dasher because gas had gone to one dollar a gallon and his 67 slant 6 valiant signet burned too much gas .he kept it less than a year . It was at the dealer once a week to fix all that went wrong with the car. His car was not an automatic also no a c . I remember him telling me that the radio would play without the key , but the horn would not

  22. Backintheusa

    I looked at one of these in 1974. I still remember telling the Audi salesman that I was also considering the Dasher and he looked down at me with complete contempt and sneered that the VW was an inferior car to the Audi. No way were they the same, he told me; the Audi weighed 100 lbs more because it was made from higher grade sheet metal. I knew nothing about cars at the time (I was trading in my 1971 Vega) but knew enough to get the hell out of that dealership! I ultimately bought a Fiat 124 Sport Coupe. Not the best made car either, but infinitely more fun to drive than the Audi/VW!

  23. John b

    I know a guy that worked for VW at the port of delaware in wilmington. He said the reason These rotted out so bad is because when they came into port, they were parked in a lot where the DOT once kept the salt for tbe salt trucks….

    • Thorsten Krüger

      Then all the ohger produced VW at that time have been shipped after production to this port and the back to Europe.
      the big rust problem based in the use of low quality (cheap) sheet material, bought from Poland/Russia at these days in the 70ths.
      It was always this way of working. Making more profit….. Look at the scandal nowadays.

    • Thorsten Krüger

      Then all the ohter produced VW at that time have been shipped after production to this port and then back to Europe.
      the big rust problem based in the use of low quality (cheap) sheet material, bought from Poland/Russia at these days in the 70ths.
      It was always this way of working at Volkswagen. Making more profit….. Look at the scandal nowadays.

  24. angliagt

    The Dasher is a Fox in Wolfsburg clothing.

  25. Elmer Fudd

    Ooh, Foxy Lady!

  26. Joe

    I had one of these in the late 80s.. What a heap. Though it looked mint, I have never had more problems with any other car I owned lol.

    But I loved it; and what a fun driving car it was!

    Poor mans BMW 3 series.

  27. z1rider

    To fully appreciate just how bad the VW/Audi products from this era were you have to remind yourself how good the original Type 1 (beetle) and Type 2’s were. Those were high quality, durable and reliable vehicles.

    Then VW had to make a wholesale change to front engine, FWD and water cooling. The original Rabbit (Golf outside of the U.S) was a terrible vehicle. While the engine may have been solid nearly everything else was very poor. I once attended a seminar on consumer protection and one of the speakers was from the Texas Motor Vehicle Commission (TMVC). He stated that prior to 1976 or so, the commission was only involved in dealer franchise issues. Overseeing the buying and selling of dealerships and mediating disputes between dealers over trade territory issues. Then came the VW Rabbit. The Rabbit had a variety of problems, but the worst part was the total lack of VW corporate support or involvement in consumer dispute resolution. That forced the TMVC to start to get involved to force VW to stand behind the product. Over time that would lead to,………… the “Texas Lemon Law”

    My personal experience with an Audi 5000 was horrible. The automatic transaxles were notorious for cross contamination of the ATF and the final drive lube. How you ask? The cars of course were FWD but the engines were not transverse. So to make it possible for the front wheels to be positioned far enough forward the power flow had to make a u-turn in the transaxle. Specifically, the torque converter was bolted to the engine flex plate in the usual fashion, but the final drive, (ring and pinion and differential) was sandwiched between the converter and the transmission, which necessitated the turbine shaft had to pass through a hollow final drive pinion gear to the transmission. That is where the U-turn took place, and there were lots of seals required. Those seals would fail and the cross contamination would begin.

    In addition, I have a friend who has for decades made his living restoring and servicing old Mercedes Benz products, primarily 190 SL’s. He comes from a family of foreign car lovers. His father sold XK Jags back in the 50’s. His family bought an Audi Fox from the era of the car listed here and he said it spent more time in the the shop for warranty work than on the road being used.

  28. CarNut from Winnipeg Member

    My parents bought an Audi new in 1973. 100GL. Never had a chance to rust out, even in Toronto and Ottawa winters, as my father got sick of paying for valve jobs and ring jobs. He switched to Gm and Japanese cars after that.

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