Parting Ways With An Old Friend

My 1996 Audi A4 Quattro

So there have been several posts lately about a beloved car making its way back home after being parted with a loving owner. Well today I part with a long time friend or dare I say family member, my old daily driver and she hasn’t even left my ownership and I’m already regretting the decision to sell. This is my 1996 Audi A4 Quattro and she has been with me for the last 9 years. She got me through more years of school than I care to acknowledge. She has been more than a car, she has a personality and a drive to keep going that I haven’t experienced in any other car I’ve ever owned. We don’t normally talk about our daily drivers around here, but she has been such an amazing car and a huge part of my life that I felt I needed to write a tribute to her and all she has been through.

Quattro Logo

My Audi started life as a special order in California. The original owner wanted the then brand new A4, but they wanted it in Pearl White with dark blue leather, a five speed, and Quattro All-Wheel drive. After a few years of use the owner ordered a newer Audi and traded her in. From there she made her way to Texas before finally ending up in Colorado. Much of that time from the first owner to me is a mystery, but from what I can tell she spent most of her time in the care of an older lady who commuted in the Denver Metro area. I’ve been able to find records that at one point she was in a pile up, which required the replacement of the front and rear bumpers plus most of the engine bay. The story of how I came across her is almost as interesting as the mystery of her previous life.

1996 Audi A4

I stumbled on my Audi almost accidentally. During my high school years I bounced around from car to car, starting with an ’87 Mazda RX-7, than an ’89 Nissan 240SX Coupe, followed by a Mitsubishi Montero and eventually an absolutely terrifying Eagle Talon TSi AWD. By the time I was 17 I had experienced more close calls than I should have, so I decided to get something more conservative. My parents were more than excited about that prospect, so we headed down to our automotive mecca, Denver Colorado, more specifically the infamous road known as Colfax. At the time Colfax was lined with used car dealers for miles and one could drive for days just looking. I only had one day to find and buy my new car though, so we hit just the mostly densely populated parts of Colfax. Two years earlier I had bought my RX-7 from the back lot of a very questionable car dealer, so we went to that area first. I test drove a countless number of cars ranging from VW R32s to Saab 900 Turbos, but nothing I drove was the right car. Now if you have ever purchased a car in Colorado you probably know two facts, dealers can’t sell cars on Sunday and they hate it when they have to send a car to the auctions. It’s important that you know and remember these facts as they played a massive role in me buying my Pearl Beauty.

Audi A4 Quattro B5

It was nearing 7 o’clock that Saturday evening and I had almost given up hope of ever finding the right car, so that’s exactly what I did. For some reason my parents thought that taking me to Casa Bonita would cheer me up, so we headed that direction on Colfax. That’s when I spotted this Audi wedged in a gated car lot. I hollered at my father to pull over, which he abruptly did nearly causing an accident in the process. There she was up on a display rack! I ran into the dealership and demanded that they let me take her for a test drive. Now remember it was almost closing time on a Saturday night, they really didn’t want to move the dozen or so cars blocking her in, but the temptation to make a sell got the best of them I guess. I hadn’t even gone a full block when I knew this was the one.

Audi at the Big Horns

I went back to the dealer to try to strike a deal. They initially wanted $10k, but quickly dropped it to $8k without me even asking. This got me thinking, “why would they drop it so quickly?” I began quizzing the dealer as to its history and what they were going to do with it, that’s when he made his greatest mistake. He admitted to me that Monday morning she was to be sent off to the Bull Pen (or auctions). That’s when I knew I could get him down to what my high school wages could afford. I offered him $5k, but he immediately declined the offer, but countered with $7.5K. That’s when I made my case. We both knew that no one else would make him a better offer in the few minutes before closing time, the dealership wouldn’t be open the next morning, and if the car went to auction he would likely get half my offer. I told him I could do $6k cash and I’d be out of his hair as soon as he finished the paper work. He reached out to shake my hand and the deal was done.

1996 Audi A4 interior

I remember the 6 hour drive home and the massive smile that was on my face the entire time! I had the car I had been dreaming of, even if I didn’t realize it at the time. It was practical, good looking, luxurious, offered enough performance to keep me entertained, but was still safe. As they say, the rest was history. It hasn’t always been smooth sailing though. She has had her share of problems, but never anything serious. I had a bad run in with a crooked mechanic, who decided to steal parts off of her for a buddy’s car. I had a truck back into her at an intersection and who then tried to blame it on me. I even had a teenage girl drive right into the back bumper in a parking lot. She cried so much I decided it wasn’t even worth dealing with her, which in hindsight was a dumb choice.

1996 Audi A4 rear end

For the most part my Audi has provided me with countless smiles, a few good dates, and lots of laughs with some good friends. She even taught me the basics of drifting, spinning cookies, and how to achieve and maintain a perfect apex spin, all on snow and ice of course. And all she has ever asked from me in return has been regular maintenance, some Mobil 1, a power steering pump, a few sets of tires, and a new suspension. And that is why she has held such an amazing place in my heart. How many cars can say they survived a week of 75 below zero weather in Laramie, Wyoming? Or that they pulled not one, but two 4x4s out of snow drifts? She really has been a great car and thinking about not having her this winter almost brings a tear to my eye. I just hope my new daily driver can fill the massive all-wheel drive shoes of this little Audi! Speaking of my new daily driver, well take a look at her below.

My 2004 Mazda Rx-8

That’s right! I decided to take the plunge and buy a sports car. Now this isn’t just any sports car though, this is a 2004 Mazda RX-8. If you remember at the beginning of this story I mentioned an RX-7. Well after having nearly killed myself countless times, all to the wonderful sounds of a rotary engine, I decided it was the right time in my life to get another one. This time around I don’t plan on being as stupid, but the RX-8 has enough modern safety features to keep my alive and safe if I do something dumb. So far she has been an absolute blast to drive and has already brought plenty of smiles. Her perfect balance and low weight make her one of the best handling cars I’ve ever driven. I’m sure I will need a good set of snow tires for the winter, but I think it can handle the mild Boise winters without anything too special. So I say farewell to an old friend and welcome a new member to the family. I just hope that if my Audi’s new owner decides to sell her in the future, that they will give me first dibs. Who knows, maybe in a few years my old gal will have found her way back to me! I hope I didn’t bore you with my tale, but hopefully I have brought back some good memories of a past car you still miss. Let us make this post a memorial to all the great cars we have loved and lost!

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Comments

  1. Michael S

    Your going to miss that Audi. I was hot for an R-8 when they first came out. I convinced the dealer they should let me rent it for a week. I was timed out by the end of 3 days. I bought a 1993 Porsche C4 Targa. I put 105k on the Targa and parted ways 2 years ago..

  2. fatty

    I know what you mean.
    I have been driving same chevrolet pickup for 20 years.
    Just would not feel right if she was not here.
    Lots of memories with my late father in that old girl.
    She has inline six and gets 19-20 mpg too.
    Thats better than most new trucks.

  3. David C.

    How much are you selling it for? How many miles on it?

    • Josh Staff

      Hi David, the new owner took delivery today. She had 157,000 miles and I got $2k all said and done.

  4. scot

    ~ Great car – great story – sad goodbye – and I hope the RX8 is everything you want it to be.

    Bore us? Not hardly !

    • Josh Staff

      Well thanks for the kind words Scot! I just about cried when I handed the keys over to the new owner. To make myself feel better I went for a quick drive on some of my favorite twisties and let me say the RX8 made most of the pain go away.

      • scot

        ~ What a great price. I hope you do get first dibs!

  5. paul

    Nice Audi, nice Mazda, & Boise Idaho sure looks great, someday I need to take a trip out your way.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Guess Josh should have mentioned that he is still in Sheridan. Boise is great, but Sheridan is a hidden beauty! I lived just below those mountains and I’m sure missing it today!

  6. Mark F

    Nice photos, especially that top one.

    • Josh Staff

      Thanks Mark F! I don’t get to put my photography skills to use as much as I’d like, but given how special this car is to me I thought she deserved a true photo shoot. Maybe I should put together a post about taking photos of your own cars? It’s really not that difficult if you know the right conditions to shoot in and what settings work best on your camera! What do you guys think? Would you be interested in learning more about how I took these photos?

  7. Mark

    It is hard for some people to understand but a car can be your best friend, I have had my fair share of car friends. I guess if your a car guy or gal you would understand.

  8. NOSLEEPATALL

    I have a 72 350SL that I have been trying to sell. I saw a used car dealership by me with a few nice Audi’s for sale or trade on the lot but, since my younger brother has an Audi Allroad I decided against getting one.

    He has been paying big garage fees for all the maintenance on it so far. I do all my own mechanics so that doesn’t worry me. It’s just the price of the parts that keeps me away from Audis :(

    • Josh Staff

      Yeah parts were a bit pricey for mine until I discovered that many of the parts are interchangeable with its vw cousins. Some stuff is Audi specific but anything that has an equivalent vw parts number can usually be found pretty cheap. I installed a fantastic performance suspension under mine for a fraction of the price of the OEM setup. The shocks and springs were sized for the vw 4motion vr6 and lowered the car a half inch all around. It improved handling massively with only a small impact on ride quality. The power steering pump cost me $89, so the parts are out there if you hunt for them. Labor on the other hand is pricey, but doing it yourself isn’t a problem. I replaced the power steering pump in less than 2 hours.

      • NOSLEEPATALL

        Yeah I have a friend with a R6 I do believe? Wasn’t available in the US when he got it so he imported it. He already has a Level10 trans built for it, down pipes and a Tune done to it. He was telling me about the parts from lesser models that he could interchange the parts on it with.

        He has since bought a new R32 and tuned it and is thinking about selling the Audi picking up a Porsche of some distinct form? Must be nice to have stupid money to do stuff like that :P

  9. ScrapIron

    If you liked it so much, why sell? Buy the Mazda and enjoy BOTH. I’ve had my car for 47 years and would never intend on selling it because of a “change in lifestyle” Both cars are nice but strange story……………..?

    • Josh Staff

      I wish I could have, but finances and logistics necessitated letting it go. I have limited parking space as it is and I just didn’t see any feasible way of getting the RX8, my Fiat 124 Spider, and the Audi all moved to Boise. I’m sure I could have pulled it off, but it just seemed costly and time consuming to coordinate. In hindsight I should have kept it, but the deal is done and she is at her new home now.

  10. John E

    I had an Audi once, an 85, great car until I was driving it from Lake Tahoe to Reno when the turbo went out and the speedometer rolled back several hundred miles. I had recently bought it, so I was able to get most of my purchase price back from the seller, but not everything.

    Your story was not boring at all, good share.

  11. Mohamed Ragab

    Thank you for sharing with us this lovely story good start and perfect end

  12. jim s

    you owned a lot of nice cars. always wanted to own an rx7 or 8. thanks for sharing.

    • Josh Staff

      Yeah I’ve had some fun cars over the years. The RX7 and 8 both are standouts from the group. The 240SX wasn’t too bad after I installed a new suspension, but it just didn’t handle like the RX7. The Eagle Talon was my least favorite. I swapped the engine and transmission out with a JDM Galant VR4 with the G16 turbo. It had so much power it would spin all 4 wheels. It was exciting, but terrifying. I sold it the first chance I got and never regretted it.

  13. Tim H

    Interesting, I just noticed that songs and smells can take me instantly to a special time in the past but not cars. With cars it’s “what can you do for me now”. I am a little sad for cars I sold cheep that now are valuable like my 67.5 Datsun 2000 that I sold for about 20% of current value but now I am having fun with my 90 turbo Miata.

  14. Mark H

    My wife takes exception to your RX-8 winter hopes. She bought an 04 New. It was NOT a winter car by any stretch of the imagination. Tons of fun on a dry road, loved high revs and twisty canyons. Oh yeah, and high speeds. 140 in Utah for quite a stretch. Now she has an Infinity FX 35. Different but still a blast when you get the urge. Enjoy the Mazda, just have a slick road back up driver and do not bother to buy snow tires.

  15. Car Guy

    Wow, I just sold my black 1996 A4 2.8 liter 5 speed last summer, It had 400,000 kms on it, And honestly, I miss that car. your story brought back fond memories.
    Honestly they were well built cars, but I am pretty meticulous with maintenance.

    I am on to my third AUDI but it is just not the same.

  16. Dale

    I don’t understand you Audi lovers. I bought a new 1974 100LS and it was a piece of crap. It burned oil and left me stranded on a 1000 mile trip.

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