We enjoy the simple pleasures on PH. It’s impossible not to be stunned by the various abilities of a 911 Turbo or a Rolls-Royce Phantom, but there’s really little beating the traditional charm of a V8 and a manual gearbox. Doesn’t matter how it’s housed, we’re interested: could be a Range Rover, could be a BMW M5. There’s just something irresistible about the engine and gearbox combination, even if we’d be the first to admit that some are most certainly better than others.
Trouble is, the whole market is starting to see the appeal in manual V8s; it’s hardly like there’s going to be many more, which, along with everything else right now, is pushing prices up. Even the contemporary heroes, cars like the Mustang Mach 1, can’t be bought for less than £50k (though less special ‘Stangs are of course a bit less). We’ll spare you the pain of looking at E39 M5 prices and just say they’re a lot. Even the Rover-engined TVRs are slowly but surely creeping up.
Now, obviously, nobody is going to suggest that a 2004 Audi S4 is an alternative to a TVR. It’s not even the same calibre of sports saloon as the M5. But where those cars might be tens of thousands of pounds, this old Audi V8 - with a manual gearbox, fewer than 90,000 miles and a recent service - is £6,450. Not a huge amount of money for a car at any time, and especially not at the moment. As far as we can see, it’s the most affordable way into a manual V8 currently on PH. A couple of Land Rovers aside, in fact, this era of S4 is the only way into a V8 manual for less than £10k right now, all the way up until a Maserati 3200GT comes into reach at about £12,000…
It's hardly like this S4 is some tired example, either. It’s being sold with a comprehensive service history, five owners isn’t a lot for a car almost 20 years old, there’s at least one Michelin tyre to be seen and the Dolphin Grey paint has retained its lustre. The interior looks great, too, leather Recaros still in really good shape and the stoic-yet-stylish dash as smart now as 2004. What a set of dials, too - just watching the tacho spin around to 7,000rpm would be half the pleasure.
Though this V8 went on to become more exciting in later A4s and the R8, it was actually first introduced for this S4. The BBK 4.2 didn’t get off to a bad start, either, 4,163cc producing 344hp at 7,000rpm and 302lb ft at 3,500rpm. Brutal enough treatment could get it to 62mph in a little more than five seconds back in the day. The engine remains quite something to look at, too, crammed in behind the lights like Vin Diesel on a packed tube - there’s just so much muscle in so little space.
The nose-heavy handling caused by having a huge engine in a small saloon is ultimately what meant the S4 wasn’t as loved as the RS that followed, isn’t the most coveted modern classic now, and is unlikely to be worth loads in 10 years’ time. Hardly going to be cheap running, either. The flip side is that, right now, the B6 boasts a fantastic V8 engine, a manual gearbox and handsome, chiselled good looks for £6,000 - sometimes the appeal doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that.
SPECIFICATION | AUDI S4 (B6)
Engine: 4,163cc, V8
Transmission: 6-speed manual, four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 344@7,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 302@3,500rpm
Year registered: 2004
Recorded mileage: 88,000
Price new: c. £40k
Yours for: £6,450
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