Friday, April 10, 2015

3k: Not an LS1: 1988 Audi 90 Quattro, V8 swapped

At the risk of betraying Daily Turismo's very reason for existence, this post features a car that cannot, in its present state, legally shuttle you to work, the golf course, rehab, or your recommended daily showings of Furious 7 (spoiler alert: it doesn't have any Audi 90 appearances). Stripped and swapped, this Audi 90 Quattro is being sold without a title. However, you could tow it behind one of the many haul-worthy rigs we've featured, or make it street legal by wiring up some lights, or invest in mud flaps and take this Quattro to its natural habitat: a rally course. Find this 1988 Audi 90 Quattro racer for sale in Denver, CO for $3,000 via craigslist.

This generation of Audi 90 marked the departure between itself and the Passat. It would be years before the venerable 20-valve, all-aluminum, DOHC inline-five engine was introduced, so this one got by with a 10-valve iron-block unit. This particular 90 has traded that 130-horsepower mill for a 4.2-liter DOHC V8 from a 1993 Audi, and picked up a stout 140 horsepower on the way. It still powers all four wheels through a five-speed manual transmission and a lockable rear differential.

Appropriately, a low price of just 3 grand gets you into a low-budget build. Clues like the stock steering wheel, relatively low-tech engine bay (a fuel cell, external oil cooler, and lightweight flywheel are the only modifications), and no mention of trick suspension mean that the buyer gets a simple yet capable platform to start from.

All-wheel-drive V8 race cars are about as rare as a college diploma at a WWE event. At your local autocross or drag strip, your competition might be some kid in his dad's Charter R/T AWD. Said kid will have a few more horses than you, but you'll undercut his curb weight handily. Audi 90s weighed just under 3,000 pounds - and that's with a full interior. And that Dodge definitely doesn't have the rally heritage of your Ingolstadt-bred chariot, which has to count for something.

See another engine swap that keeps it all in the family? Email us at

PhiLOL actually likes the tuna here, but abhors structural rust. Save the manuals.


  1. Ridiculous engine swap AGAIN!?! Noooo...will the madness ever end?

  2. It's minor but the "Audi B3" shares many parts with and is a distinct evolution from the "Audi/VW B2" whereas the "VW B3" was a departure from the "VW/Audi B2". The Passat borrowed form the Audi not vice versa.

    Also, seems strange to remove an I5 and install a V8; that's just me.

  3. I think they took the front part of the cage just a bit too far. The front bars usually end at the strut towers.. this thing is probably a bunch of fun in the dirt though.

  4. Yeah, I'm at a loss to understand those tubes through the firewall parallel to the heads.

    Otherwise, not a bad parts combo, those Audi V8s always look about ten feet wide but that's in part because they're quite short, and also quite light.

    For some reason I always thought the Audi fives had an iron block...

    1. Audi homologated a handfull of Al I5 blocks in the urQuattro but the vast and overwhelming majority were Fe.

      The V8 is about the same weight as the I5 but more difficult to make power with (the 20v I5 can do ~350whp stock and ~600whp with rods).

    2. I think it was only the competition Quattros starting in 1982 that had the Aluminium block. The 81 group 4 competition Quattros had cast iron blocks. If you are really curious I can ask the owner of the first competition Quattro and get the definitive answer.


  5. The DOHC 5 cylinder didn't make an appearance until 1990. This car left the factory with the 10 valve 130hp motor, so it picked up a lot more than 100 hp with this swap!
    The V8 probably adds a bit of weight up front vs. the original 10v engine, however it's lighter (and slightly shorter) than the more popular 20v turbo conversion.
    All Audi 5 cylinder engines use an iron block except for the Sport quattro (although many Sports had the bock swapped to iron due to running issues) and in some European markets the 100 came with a 1.9 liter carb'd 5 cylinder with an aluminum block in the early '80s. The current TTRS/RS3 5 cylinder uses a CGI block, and I believe the last generation of TDI engines did as well...but don't quote me on that ;-)

    1. Updated again. I would rate my accuracy of Audi history at one out of four rings. My goodness.


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