Idle Fancy: 1990 Audi 90 2.3E

90s cars 80s cars Audi

Welcome back to ‘Idle Fancy’, Petrolblog's new and unexciting series that browses the bottom of the used car market so you don't have to. It's the turn of a leggy five-pot, as Pb falls for a local Audi 90 2.3E.

1990 must have been a good year to be an Audi salesperson. Forget taking a customer through the pros and cons of each model; this was the era of Procon-Ten, four-wheel drive and the genesis of Audi as a proper premium player. Would Herr und Frau Pünter prefer an 80, 90, Coupé, 100, Quattro or V8?

The 90 was Audi’s BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz 190 challenger; outwardly similar to the 80, but notable for its five-cylinder engine, more upmarket spec and heckblende. Range-topping E models featured a boot spoiler, alloy wheels, leather steering wheel and… well, enough with the history lesson.

If you’re after a detailed profile of the Audi 90 (B3), may I direct you to one of the proper classic car mags. This is little more than a tip of the hat to a car I’ve admired from afar for several years. The photo at the top of the page was taken in January 2021, while the one at the bottom was captured two years later. I posted it on Twitter, where it received seven retweets and 132 likes. Because Car Twitter loves a good five-pot. And Audi does very good five-pots.

It would be hard to miss an Audi 90 at the best of times, but this one comes with the added appeal of a white front wing. If the condition of its opposite number is anything to go by, the electro-galvanised body can only resist rust for so long. Audi expected the zinc coating to last eight years, but went on to offer a ten-year warranty, before extending it to twelve.

The 90, registered locally in Devon, has always been on the move when I’ve spotted it, so I’ve been unable to meet the owner and congratulate him on his choice of car. Keeping an ageing Audi on the road must be a challenge, especially one with 218,000 miles on the clock. Parts and servicing aren’t cheap.

I’d also quiz him on the suspiciously clean MOT history. DVLA’s records go back to 2006, since when it hasn’t got a single advisory to its name. ‘G450 TTA’ didn’t turn a wheel between the MOTs in 2022 and 2023, so it must have spent the entire time at the test centre. Either that or the odometer is kaput...

As a 1990 model, it has the more powerful 2.3-litre five-cylinder engine, and although the advert lists it as an automatic, the presence of a gear knob and clutch pedal confirms it as a five-pot manual. In other words, the correct combo.

Yes, the car is tired, but you’d look and feel the same after travelling to the moon and making good progress on the return leg. It also needs a rear axle, but the dealer says the engine “runs sweet” and the catalytic converter is “worth good money”.

Is the entire car worth £495? That’s for you to decide, but having spent the past few weeks in the company of a 2.5-litre Safrane, I’d say that any functioning five-pot car is worth 500 of your pounds. As I write this, the Safrane is staring back at me over my laptop, so I’m unlikely to take a punt on the Audi 90, but with the seller saying it “will be going for scrap if not sold by 30 June”, it could become a test of resolve.

Click here to view the advert on Auto Trader.