I was speaking to a mate of mine a while back who is a bit mad, let’s just say, when it comes to buying cars. He’s a serial buyer, but not at the ‘Bangernomics’ end of the spectrum. He buys some really interesting high-end stuff. If I listed everything he’s owned over the years I’d need the smallest font ever just to fit it on the internet, but to give you a flavour of the stuff we’re talking about, he’s had a 360 Challenge Stradale, CL600 Coupe, E46 M3 CS, V8 Vantage Volante PoW and Vantage V600. That's a healthy list in and of itself, but you can also add many Range Rovers, mostly petrol L322s (he doesn’t do diesel) and an early two-door Classic.
However, those cars aren’t his real passion. That’s Rolls-Royces and Bentleys – from the era when both were built at Pyms Lane, Crewe. One of those models is an all-time fave of mine (indeed, I sold it to him, along with the 360 CS) and that’s a wide-bodied Continental R Mulliner. What a thing that was. The other mentionable ones include a ‘60s S2 Flying Spur and quite possibly most of the SZs the factory ever built. He’s a bit obsessed with SZs.
Anyway, why am I wittering on about this when this is a privately owned, 2001 Audi S8? I’m getting there, promise. The point of my ramblings was to highlight that Nick is a car man through and through, and a discerning one at that. On top of that, his back catalogue has given him the experience to talk from a position of knowledge, and he’s had not one but two Typ 4D S8s. And it just happens that I asked him not long ago, ‘What was it about the S8 that you liked so much?’
A big part of it was the way the car looks, and I tend to agree with him there. He described it as having ‘elegant, diplomatic looks,’ and there’s no denying that the combined efforts of Chris Bird and Dirk van Braeckel, who drew the A8’s design, produced a good ’un. It looked right from the moment it was launched in 1994, and if anything, it looks better with age. Nick reckoned that it’s the ‘stealthiest super saloon ever made, and would look just at home parked outside an embassy as it would at a Silverstone race meeting.’
Another facet that he loved about his S8s was their nonchalant potency. The 4.2 V8 – here in 360hp guise, up from the original’s 340hp – is free-revving and ‘begging to be unleashed all the time’. And the noise. Of course the noise, which is not fake but a mellifluous, hearty V8 rumble. And I should just point out that this car’s had a sports exhaust fitted up to and including sports cats, just to add a little more audible joy to every drive. It’s a quick car, too of course. From launch, the S8 hit 60mph in circa six seconds, but with the extra power that the factory bestowed upon it from ‘99, that time tumbled to 5.4 seconds.
Yet while the S8 could hold its own in most drag races that’s a bonus rather than its primary purpose. It’s the effortlessness with which it offers up pace that makes it an exemplary long-distance artisan. As Nick said, it has ‘massive long-distance motorway capabilities that I would liken to a four-door Porsche 928’. High praise indeed.
It was also something of an engineering marvel back in the day, thanks to its Audi Space Frame (ASF) chassis. You don’t need me to remind you that the D2 platform on which it is based was an all-aluminium monocoque. This was the brainchild of none other than Ferdinand Piëch, who was always something of a visionary and seems to have a hand in all the most notable Volkswagen Group products from this period and beyond. He wanted to reduce mass to counterbalance the additional heft of the mechanical components attributed to Audi’s quattro four-wheel drive system. It was as long ago as 1982 that he signed an agreement with the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to realise his dream. 11 years later, with some 40 patents filed, the Audi Space Frame concept was shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Remember how stunning that was, dressed in its bare aluminium suit?
This car really is a beautiful spec, with Fern Green metallic coachwork over a light beige leather interior. The pictures are from a previous time when it was for sale at Mark Atkinson specialist cars. If it still looks this good now, and there’s nothing to suggest it doesn’t, then it must surely be one of the tidiest S8s out there. The advert goes into some detail about this car’s original factory spec, as well as the extensive care and attention that’s been lavished on it ever since it left the Neckarsulm plant in Baden-Württemberg. All of us at PH thought it was worth a mention, and with my mate Nick having stated he’d have another in a heartbeat, it would be rude of me not to mention it to him, too. And at £11k, it’s an awful lot of lightweight metal for the money, don’t you think?
SPECIFICATION | Audi S8 (Typ 4D)
Engine: 4,172cc, V8, naturally aspirated
Transmission: five-speed auto, four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 360 @ 7,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 317 @ 3,400rpm
Recorded mileage: 131,000
Year registered: 2001
Price new: N/A
Yours for: £10,995
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