Today’s Nice Price or No Dice Audi TT was set up for the Gambler 500 off-road race until it DNF’d due to a dead ECU. That may make it a tow-away, and a project, but could a cheap enough price also make it a good bet?
Appliance cars — i.e. those that get the job done but don’t leave a lasting impression after having done so — are the real MVPs of the automotive world. We rent them, we get assigned them by employers, and we generally treat them with indifference. After all that, they do their jobs usually without complaint.
Opinions about appliance cars may have changed last Friday. That was when we looked at a 1989 Toyota Camry All-Trac. The Camry has long been the epitome of the appliance car, but Friday’s car had AWD and a stick shift. Those elements elevated it above the norm and, according to the seller, validated its $6,200 asking price. The majority of you seemed to agree, awarding the car and its price a 54 percent Nice Price win.
Friday’s Camry was AWD, a feature that made it stand out from the crowd. In contrast, Audi has long touted its AWD cars — denoted by the Quattro name — as the marque’s core team of players. That makes the Quattro badge on this 2000 Audi TT a wholly expected element, to say the least. The fun begins, however, with the realization that the Quattro badge is the only thing about the car that is to be expected.
First off, this isn’t your average-looking TT. According to the seller, the Audi was used as a daily driver until it was totaled. After that, it was jacked up and jumped on enough so that it could be entered in the annual Gambler 500, the original “cheap fun in the outdoors” off-road race. Big tires, a Mad Maxican front end, and lots of LEDs make up the racer asethetic.
The seller says the outdoor fun ended when an O2 sensor wire was ripped off which, it is explained, caused the DME to go beer belly up. Now the car starts and runs but won’t move since the dead engine computer’s inability to open the electronic throttle. A buyer will need to then tow it away and get a new DME along with the o2 sensors and wiring to fix the original problem and get the Audi back on its feet... er, tires.
Now, I’m not fully on board with the idea that a disconnected o2 sensor can fry a DME. I think it would more likely just go into a standard mapping mode and throw up a light on the dash as an alert. That being said, I don’t admit to being an expert on such things. Suffice to say, the DME is dead and you’ll need to source a new brain to bring the car back to life. You might even need a shop computer or perhaps Ross-Tech’s VCDS to make introductions between the replacement DME and the car.
According to the seller that’s all worthwhile because the car looks badass and has a decent interior to boot. That interior has leather sport buckets and a stick shift for manual gearbox The engine connected to that is likely the 180 horsepower edition of Audi’s 1.8-liter five-valve four. That’s done 200,000 miles, although it’s not explained how many of those were amassed on the street as opposed to in the muck.
I do feel obliged to point a bit of confusion in the ad as to the car’s title status. The Craigslist listing describes it as “clean” but the seller says the car’s Gambling career began after it was totaled. Regardless, I don’t think that anyone interested in the car in its present state is really going to be worrying about the title status.
Prospective buyers will, however, be interested in the price, which is $800. Yep, you can get a running (but not driving) car for under a grand. You’ll just have to figure out how to get it home, what it needs, and how many more LED lights it can hold.
What’s your take on this crazy Quattro and that $800 asking? Does that seem like a low enough price to rise to the occasion? Or, is this a TT that’s just too much trouble?
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