It's no secret that originality is prized in classic car circles. Any modification can be expected to have a knock-on effect as far as residuals are concerned, because deviating from the factory spec will be deemed to have spoilt its collectability. It's like not taking your Star Wars figures out of their boxes and playing with them for fear of harming their future value.
But they should. Because cars, like toys, are designed to be used. There's a time and place for pristine static exhibits, of course - but anything displayed with a 'do not touch' sign is not living its best life. Moreover there's a often a good reason for tinkering with a classic car, too, and it relates to just how quickly automotive progress is made.
Because we all love the classic experience, but you don't have to go too far back before a car feels like it doesn't brake very well, doesn't grip very well or doesn't go all that well. Of course, in some instances that's part of the appeal: a fast 2CV or a track-prepped Defender would be daft. Although you needn't look very far to see the popularity of a sympathetic update or modernisation, where the classic look and feel is retained, with modern touches to enhance the experience. Done sympathetically, it's the best of both worlds, especially when the car in question remains desirable enough to not suffer a huge hit on its value.
Which brings us to this Audi RS2. It's covered 124,000 miles and it's now more than a quarter of a century old; for a multitude of reasons you'll have read about 100 times before, it's a bonafide classic. And it's also an Audi 80 Avant. Additionally, while it looks like any other RS2, this one has been subjected to a raft of modifications to keep it fresh and fast in 2020, instead of easy prey for those in Focus ST wagons. It's also still £50,000 - a point to return to.
Get it on boost and a standard 315hp Audi RS2 already feels plenty rapid. This one, thanks to a new turbo, intercooler and exhaust, plus some ECU work, is now making 425hp and 435lb ft, figures not far off those produced by the current RS4. The seller reckons it's capable of 4.2 seconds to 62mph and more than 180mph - who needs to go any faster? That's just the start of the upgrades, too.
The association with Porsche that made the RS2 famous is augmented with GT3 brake calipers, the suspension is now by H&R springs and Bilstein dampers (plus a revised geo set up) and the rear differential has also been rebuilt. All the work (this is far from an extensive list) implies not just dutiful ownership, but also a desire to create something like a 21st century RS2 - and who wouldn't be intrigued by one of those?
So strong is the market for Audi's Avant icon (the 25th birthday last year, just 180 right-hand drive cars etc) that even an extensive range of modifications from standard can't harm its value. The RS Blue car is for sale at £53,995, a far cry from where they sat not long ago but also indicative of the market; even a privately advertised car with slightly fewer miles is still commanding £45k.
That every RS2 you now see is comfortably beyond 100,000 miles yet often looking impeccable despite it is a good sign, the cars hailing from that era of unimpeachable build quality that the German manufacturers are arguably still striving to re-estabish. Nothing of this ilk and age is going to be affordable to run, of course, but we're not going to teach you how to suck eggs; this is an Audi RS2, after all, we know you know. It was making about 150hp per litre as standard...
However, by dint of its modifications and seemingly excellent condition, this isn't just any RS2. It's one that, in theory, should bring the benefits of hailing from the 1990s - size, visibility, relative simplicity - with advancements in performance and handling to bring it more up to date. As combinations for the perfect PH family car go, it looks a hard one to beat. So what do you say? Is the better RS2 one that stays faithful to 1994, or dares to imagine a more potent Audi icon? Get typing...
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