Some things are greater than the sum of their parts. This principle applies in reverse to Mrs Shed. If she was any greater, she'd be Wolverhampton, and that position is taken. The idea of surprise X-factor appeal above and beyond expectations does apply to cars, though. By no means all of them, mind. Just the odd one that, if it was presented to you as a heap of parts, you'd say 'meh', but if you then reassembled it, you'd go 'ooh'.
Shed reckons that the Audi TT falls squarely into this category. Before July of this year, there had been no Shed TTs: now we've had three, and this is the first Roadster to appear here. Even in 2018, the TT has still got more than a hint of special about it, which is remarkable really when you consider that this year it celebrated its 20th anniversary, and that you can count the major changes it's gone through in that time on the fingers of one woollen mitten. And it's especially remarkable when you remember that, beneath the highly distinctive body style that is largely responsible for the TT's specialness, it's basically a gussied-up Audi A4. Only a right misery guts would argue against the notion that the TT design has worn pretty well.
The electrically-operated ragtop squeezes out the Coupe's two back seats, but if you can put up with that small reduction in practicality there's not much to fear here. £1350 for a low-mileage 180hp quattro with the Haldex 4WD system, no obvious body scabbing, and a full MOT ticket with comfortingly non-scary MOT history sounds good to us.
This specimen dates from 2000, so it's an early Roadster (they were launched in summer '99). You wouldn't want a really early Coupé, or at least not one that had somehow fallen through the recall procedures carried out after a spate of high-speed accidents on European roads had claimed the lives of five people, including a former East German rally driver. The fix in 2000 was a boot spoiler (free) and the retrofitting of electronic stability systems (not free).
How dodgy was the pre-fix TT? Well, in February 2000 German car mag Autobild magazine tested modified and unmodified versions of the 225hp all-wheel-drive TT Coupe against BMW's Z3 2.8, Porsche's Boxster, Subaru's Impreza GT, VW's Golf V6 4Motion and er a 1988 Porsche 911 Carrera (?). The unmodified TT propped up the group on handling control, scoring a measly if not actually shocking 2 out of 10. The 'fixed' ESP TT by contrast scored 10 out of 10, whizzing it up to first spot alongside the similarly-equipped Golf V6.
It looks like the headlight lenses on this one will be needing some attention in the not too distant future, but no structural problems have ever been noted by the MOT inspector. TT rust is relatively rare, despite the Mk1s being steel-bodied: Mk2 TTs had more aluminium. Scuffed TT alloys are very much not rare thanks to the bodystyle's unique tumblehome design.
Annoyingly, we're missing the number of previous owners. Nor is there any mention of service history, but the slowly-accumulated 107,000 mileage all checks out and suggests it's mainly been used as a fair-weather toy. You'll have to go to Pembrokeshire to view and maybe buy it, but that's a lovely part of the country and if you do snaffle it you'll have a nice opportunity to find out why road testers have been so complimentary about this car for so long.
Being a curvy A4 at heart, a 1.8 TT of this vintage will have most if not all of the quirks with which VAG four-pots have been historically associated. In 2007, a class action lawsuit was successfully lodged against the VW Group of America for premature timing belt failure on the turbocharged '99-'03 1.8 engines used in the TT, A4 and Passat. Belts, tensioner and the dreaded plastic-impeller waterpump (if it still has that) will need replacing on an 80k/5 year basis at the very least (60k for comfort) if you want to avoid an expensive engine rebuild.
A year after that belt action there was another US prosecution relating to defective instrument clusters on 2000-04 TTs. The giveaways here are inaccurate fuel and coolant temperature readings, along with the usual missing pixels from the pod data panel. Knocks from underneath when traversing bumps probably signify worn front wishbones and/or a tired front antiroll bar. Coils - well, you know all about VAG coils.
On the positive side, the manual gearbox is tough and the clutch should do you for at least 50,000 miles, and up to 100,000 if you're lucky. A new Roadster hood used to be ferociously expensive - up to £5000 - but these days you can pick up mohair aftermarket items with glass windows for under £500.
The vendor calls his car a bargain Xmas present, an odd concept in one respect as anyone minted enough to be able to give their loved one a motor for Christmas would surely not be grubbing around in the murky depths of sub-prime, sub-£1500 motors - or is that just Shed showing his proletariat leanings?
The funny thing is that Mrs Shed is a TT fanatic, owning not one but two early examples of this handsome coupé. Shed has long harboured a secret admiration for his wife's brace of Mk1s. He would certainly swallow his pride if Mrs Shed acknowledged his love for her TTs by giving him one for Christmas.