Shed of the Week: Audi 100 Avant

People sometimes ask Shed whether his marriage has been blessed with offspring. Shed is pleased to confirm that it has: a daughter called Garden, and two strapping lads, Shiplap and Tool.

Mrs Shed fought strongly against Shed's unusual choice of names, but Shed was adamant, saying that the children would thank him for it later.

He's still waiting for those thanks, but Shed is unrepentant. When it comes to names for cars, he is of the opinion that manufacturers should put a similar degree of imagination into it. They're always bleating that the best words have all been used up, hence the need to use made-up ones, but Shed thinks this is baloney, poppycock and balderdash.

Take Kia's perky little SUV, the Soul. They made an electric version of that. What did they call it? The Soul EV. Great. With only a little thought, someone could have incorporated a solar panel into the roof (existing technology, nothing clever about that). This would have allowed them to call it the Soul-R. Soul-R, Solar, get it? Surely a name worth hanging on to for the future, when graphene has been fully devved up and solar charging becomes the norm. For the name of any performance version, Kia could simply have reversed the 'Soul' and 'R' components.

Well, maybe that's a bad example, but you get the point. This week's SOTW offering, a classic Audi 100 Avant, has got Shed mulling over names. Specifically, why that most German of car companies Audi should have chosen a French word, Avant, for the five-door estate version of its third-generation family barge.

It could have been a lot to do with length. Avant means 'before', or 'in front of', in the Latin 'ante' sense. The German equivalent would have been a bootlid-bending Seinerzeitvoraus. Presumably Audi was trying to convince buyers that the 100 was ahead of its time, which it was. The first Audi 100 of 1968 wasn't so much. It was a quirky choice in the exec market, and an expensive one too, despite the powerplants being a choice of not particularly refined sub-2.0-litre overhead valve petrol fours.

The Mk2 of 1976 was a big advance, not just stylistically but also mechanically. New inline five-cylinder engines - the first mainstream five-pots - in either Type 43 petrol or diesel variations came with the marketing promise of six-pot power with four-pot economy.

But the third-gen model that ran from to 1982 to 1991 was perhaps the most significant 100 of all. In addition to those cool five-cylinder motors that would go on to achieve legendary status in the Ur-Quattro rally cars, plus the clever procon-ten safety system that pulled the steering column away from the driver in the event of a front-on accident, the C3 100 brought aerodynamics to the forefront of motoring. Not to mention the rearfront.

The TDI model launched at the 1989 Frankfurt show received an especially large wodge of praise from the contemporary motoring press. The first production car with a five-cylinder direct-injection turbocharged diesel and full electronic control, it whizzily combined torquey performance with miserly fuel economy. The 100's efficiency was mainly down to its low weight (some models were less than 1,100kg) and its class-leading ability to cleave cleanly through the air. The flared body design with 'flush' window glasses and pinched-in lower side panels created a perched, almost maritime feel that's as distinctive today as it was in the early 1980s. That boaty look is especially marked in the Avant, which is a substantial but somehow still graceful bit of kit.

As the vendor says in his informative spiel, this is a very rare car now. He reckons just seven remain on British roads. That could be the E version he's talking about rather than the 100 Avant in general, but even so, Shed cannot remember the last time he saw a C3 Avant of any description. He wouldn't be that surprised to see one, mind, as they were very well built. The front end is worthy of close-ish inspection as the brakes and suspension take a beating. There was no turbocharger on the 2.0 E, so this is no roadburner with just 113hp, but the mech is pleasingly simple and if you're of the right disposition you should enjoy the easy cruising and the warble of the engine (if not so much the whine of the petrol pump).

Although this example is far from perfect, it's had a lot of money spent on it and looks nicely useable for anyone who may be thinking of treating it to a gentle running restoration. Parts are available from the usual suspects, though some are getting dear now. As it stands, our Shed represents good value for a car that will turn heads and that could eventually get sold to Audi at an outrageous price for use in the heritage fleet.

It's just had a fresh MOT test done, the only advisories of which were a driver's seat that was hard to lock into place and, on the windscreen, a crack at the bottom. Not a sight that is in any way new to Shed.

Here's the ad.

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Comments (126) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Piston-slapper 13 Jul 2018

    Great shed and great write-up!

  • Ahbefive 13 Jul 2018

    That is a total p.o.s.

  • tobinen 13 Jul 2018

    I had a 2.2 automatic one of these. Good car. Very roomy. An excellent SOTW.

  • loskie 13 Jul 2018

    SoulR or RSoul?

    These avants looked massive back in the day, not sure how they compare now, you dont see them much.

  • Wildcat45 13 Jul 2018

    An Audi from an era when they made cars which looked special.and weren't seen in every car park from Plockton to Polperro.

    I like it.

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