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Audi 100s Coupe

Published: 11th Nov 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Audi 100s Coupe
Audi 100s Coupe
Audi 100s Coupe
Audi 100s Coupe
Audi 100s Coupe

Buyer Beware

  • Corrosion is the main issue, especially in Coupés built from 1974; earlier cars were apparently made of a higher-grade steel. Most available cars need some welding, and usually it’s a lot, so unless you can do your own welding, revival could be costly.
  • Pay close attention to the front valance, scuttle panel, rear quarter panels and A-posts as well as the sills. Sunroofs also cause problems; the drain channels block up, leading to corrosion of the A-posts and water leaks through the headlining over the rear seat. Other potentially costly rot spots include the rear axle mountings, the actual subframe and jacking points, while the battery tray rots out.
  • Body panels are extremely hard to come buy – forward of the doors it’s conventional LS saloon but these were changed during the ‘73 facelift. The engine is more durable; 100,000 miles is usual if maintained, and even then only a topend rebuild is usually needed. However, hairline cracks can develop in the head between plugs three and four; usually the result of overheating through sustained high-speed driving, so you’ll need to track down a decent used head.
  • The engine can develop tired valve guides and oil seals resulting in smoking. Tappets can be rattly but shimming cures it although blocks and pistons are hard to come by. When the car came to the UK the engine was derated from twin carbs to a single Solex 32/35 that’s wear-prone and costly to overhaul.
  • One of the Coupé‘s weak spots is its gearbox, which usually suffers from worn synchromesh by 60,000 miles. At this point an overhaul is needed, but parts are hard to find, as are used ‘boxes. Your final check should be for worn front wheelbearings;weak and are hard to obtain. Automatic suits the car well and remains high geared but the ‘box needs watching for leaks (stator oil seal) and a leaking vacuum modulator valve. The former fault allows auto fluid and oil from the diff to mix.
  • Trim for the Coupe is hard to obtain. The cloth trim becomes shabby while items like decorative air vents and early wheel trims are like hens’ teeth.


Fast Facts

  • Driving: 4/5

    Very pleasing, sporty in a mature way although not fast. Handles well.

  • Usability: 4/5

    One of the best oldies for daily driver use. Cruises well and economically

  • Maintaining: 3/5

    Fairly easy to DIY – it’s the body/trim spares which pose problems

  • Owning: 3/5

    Good on fuel and most are VED free. Club/specialist support on

  • Value: 4/5

    Tremendous value if you can find a good one. Will appreciate but slowly

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Okay so it's not really a DBS alternative but Audi's 100S Coupe is as appealing – and cheap, says Alan Anderson

Looks, as they say, can be deceptive. Take the badges away and you’d swear that this German car was of Italian origin, with those svelte lines and muscular haunches over the rear wheels, reminiscent of a DBS; a comparison which doesn’t do this Audi’s reputation any harm at all. A poor persons’ Aston, rather like the Triumph GT6, is a beginner’s E-type – what’s wrong in that? The 100S is a genuine four-seater grand tourer, and now a true classic bargain, given the fact that it’s reckoned that fewer than 50 right-hand drive examples are left. The time to buy one is now.

Which model to buy?

There’s only one model so it’s more down to condition. The 100S was unveiled at the 1969 Frankfurt motor show, although the first cars were not imported to the

UK until the tail end 1971, with automatic fans having to wait well into ‘72. Essentially, it was based upon the competent 100LS saloon – one of the first models to be launched under the ownership of Volkswagen, who acquired the troubled brand from Mercedes in the mid 60s – albeit four inches lower and nine inches shorter. 

Power came from a Mercedes-designed 1871cc ally-headed ohv engine, rated at 112bhp and 118lb.ft, fed via a front-wheel drive chassis. At the back sat a torsion bar dead axle, aided by a transverse rod. Brakes were (inboard) discs at the front, drums rear with servo assistance while the steering was rack and pinion.

Two years after landing in the UK the 100S was revised. Chief mod was to the stern, where the suspension set up from the new Audi 80 was adopted. Cosmetically the grille is narrowed, the rear lights are enlarged and inside head restraints are standardised. Cars imported for 1975 featured stiffer bodyshells using impact bumpers, along with a fresh wheel design.

Negative offset front suspension geometry, again from the 80, was grafted on, while the front brakes were now mounted conventionally outboard. The final Coupés were sold just a year after.

Fewer than 3200 made it to the UK and one of the reasons for this was cost, which at £2496, placed the car above the Triumph Stag and the BMW 2002 Tii. Our home grown Capri 3000E may have lacked the pedigree, but cost £700 less – or about the price of a Mini 40 years ago. Today the car lacks the collectability of, say, the Alfa GTV but is a good, more refined bet.

Much cheaper, too. Whereas until recently a complete pile of bits used to fetch no more than £200, project cars now sell for closer to £1000, with good Coupés changing hands for £2500 or so. A really nice example will fetch £3500, while the best cars are worth an extra £1000 on top – but there are very few of those around and they come onto the market extremely rarely.

Behind the wheel?

The 100S was a cultured car in its day, possessing good refined performance and excellent cruising qualities. It feels more Mercedes than VW and just as high quality.

Despite yielding just 112bhp, the car was no slouch in its day, although more a rival for a Capri 2-litre than V6. One area where the Audi did punch above its weight was top speed, where that clean shape and tall gearing would see a creditable top speed of 112-115mph, according to tests, while some owners claimed 120mph… but the speedos were known to be notoriously inaccurate!

Handling remains very good. It’s a fairly refined fwd system lacking the fight of, say, a Mini. Despite a lack of power steering, it feels quite crisp and agile when driven with gusto. The fat 185/70 14in tyres grip well and it’s a car that can easily keep up with modern traffic flow.

With more than 60 per cent of the weight above the front wheels it’s a natural understeerer but, as the Autocar test noted, could change to predictable if considerable oversteer when pushed hard. The brakes were rated some of the best anchors for their era.

The 100S is an extremely pleasing classic to drive whatever the speed. As we said earlier, it feels like a Mercedes; solid and functional that’s more comfortable the longer you drive it. There’s plenty of space up front while at the rear it remains tolerable and sociable. Tall gearing means that despite lacking a fifth gear the 100S lops along at the legal limit quietly with plenty more in reserve. In their native Germany they were cruised at their maximum with no ill effects. If the 100S has a downside it’s perhaps a distinct lack of sportiness. The engine note is hum drum and the car goes about its business in a rather nonedescript manner. Which may be a good thing.

The daily option?

The 100S is one of the very few classics dating back 40 years which you can happily recommend as a good daily driver and one that you’ll rarely tire of. The performance and handling we’ve already touched upon, while the Audi is as refined as a Mercedes. The cabin certainly looks like something that Benz would have turned out with its plain functional styling with just mock wood for dash decoration. Despite the lack of power steering, the Audi is quite light to drive and the excellent gearchange is as good as any modern. The pedals are slightly offset on RHD cars but you soon adapt to this and in no way detracts from a very comfortable driving position.

The equipment levels were nothing special even when new (so there’s no central locking, electric windows and so on) but it’s agreeable enough, with cloth seats, an excellent heating and ventilation set up, powerful quad Hella headlamps and good cabin storage space. The boot is also spacious – better than a Capri – although the release is rather hidden behind the driver. If in good order the automatic choke works efficiently, and a well tuned 100S is easily capable of 25-30mpg.

Ease of ownership?

Apart from the scarcity of certain parts, the 100S Coupe should pose no problems to run, although it will never be Capri-easy. There are no greasing points, and routine servicing is every 6000 miles, or annually, and routine replacements are easily obtainable. The only beef may be the ATE front brakes which are mounted inboard on early models, where pad changes are tricky.

General working on the powertrain is good, however, and few special tools are required. Being overhead valve there’s no awkwardness to setting the valve clearances. The ignition used conventional points and so it’s best to fit electronic ignition and forget about replacements and resetting. Given the rarity of body panels and chrome trims, a wise owner should lavish care the bodywork with anti-rustproofing, treating it like an Aston Martin!



Car launched in Germany although doesn't enter UK showrooms until late '71. Based upon 100LS saloon, but on shorter floorpan, and with higher performance from Mercedesdesigned 1.9-litre engine. When cars arrive in the UK original twin carbs are replaced by a single, but with minimal loss in performance.


Mild facelift, chiefly to the frontal include new lights, while inside the interior trimmings are improved. Mechanically the car gains a revised rear suspension taken from the new Audi 80 saloon. To aid professional servicing, computer diagnostic connections for dealer plug in are installed.


A year before the 100S is dropped it gains a reinforced body and an anti-skid front suspension design, again 80 saloon-derived. Further improvements to the interior appointments take place while for '76 a maintenance-free gearbox is fitted while engine economy is slightly enhanced.

We Reckon...

Ok, so saying that the Audi 100S is a cut price DBS is stretching the point somewhat. But, as a rarer, far more cultured alternative to the likes of a Ford Capri, Vauxhall Magnum and the excellent Opel Manta, it makes sense. In fact it's a car we'd seriously consider over an Alfa GTV; the Italian may be sportier but the Audi is more solid, cruises better and turns just as many heads. And when you add the cracking value it's a real surprise that the 100S has been a backwater classic for so long.

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