Welcome to Used Car Face Off, where we find two similar or similarly priced used cars and ask you which one you would buy. Choose wisely!
It's January and it's cold and weather is falling from the sky, which means I've yet again engaged in a debate about all-wheel drive. I say it's unnecessary and a burden on fuel consumption but nice to have sometimes, while others say I'm a useless Californian who doesn't know anything about driving in bad weather and how essential AWD is for grip.
To that end, I present two rather clean examples of all-wheel drive cars from 1985, the year of Back to the Future and New Coke. They may not look like they have a lot in common, but neither are they things you see every day. Unless you live somewhere where it snows a lot and nothing seems to rust.
This has to be one of the most pristine Audi 4000s I've seen in a long time, and that's saying something since it seems like every other car growing up was a 4000 of this era, though, not the 4000CS Quattro seen here. Calling it an early A4 S-line would only serve to demonstrate where it fit in Audi's lineup of the mid-'80s, because the 4000CS isn't like the Audis we're used to now.
It's a 2.2-liter five-pot with just 115 horsepower stock, but it's fizzy and lively and different from the boosted fours and V6s Audi gets nowadays. The seller even made a video that's better to listen to than to watch. What you also don't get today are interiors quite like this, with brown striped upholstery and that awesome pictogram for the Quattro system. The best thing about this particular 4000CS is that it's a 45,000-mile example that was basically stored for 15 years before getting a host of upgrades mostly in the engine and suspension departments.
But one of the reasons a low-mile Audi of this age exists is probably because of some catastrophic failure that sidelined it for many years before an owner decided to sell it. While all of the electrics may work now, that might not last. As tempting as an Audi 4000CS Quattro looks to an egghead like me, it's probably going to be a nail-biting all-wheel drive experience.
That's where this fantastic AMC Eagle comes in. It's a wagon, for a kickoff, complete with wire wheel covers and fake wood sides. It too has an inline engine, this being six cylinders instead of the Audi's five. But this one has an interesting piece of history attached to it, as this 1985 Eagle Limited wagon was owned by the granddaughter of William Randolph Hearst, famous for the Hearst Corporation which owns lots of things you might have read. Apparently, Phoebe Hearst Cooke was chauffeured in this Eagle, which makes you wonder if this is the only AMC Eagle that's ever been chauffeur-driven.
Still, it's one of the most rugged sport utility wagons out there with some of that Jeep heritage seeping in. It's also an oddball choice since it isn't a Subaru Outback or Volvo Cross Country, both of which are much more common these days. But it has one of the most unfortunate interiors out there, finished in brown and as tacky as the Audi is restrained. This really doesn't look like a car from the same year that Marty McFly took a DeLorean through time. Overall, though, I still love these things.
Logic dictates the Eagle because these things are relatively bomb-proof, unlike the ticking time bomb that is the Audi. But no one said I was ever logical about these things, and I'd gladly enjoy the rollercoaster ownership of a 4000CS Quattro and put up with the fragility and relative lack of power for the fun of these old-school five cylinder Quattros.
But are you as logical or would you take the Eagle wagon? And where do you side on the all-wheel drive debate?