The 80 is back: Darren's Audi 80 returns

80s cars Audi General Bunk
The 80 is back! The wait is over. Having waited patiently for months, Darren finally gets a chance to rekindle his love affair with his lovely Audi 80.

It’s been a while since the last update on my Audi 80. As far back as 2011, no less. In truth, you haven’t missed much. For 21 months or so from March 2012 until December 2013 the 80 has been on a SORN, tucked away in my garage, being exposed to natural light only to keep things from seizing up.

The reason was financial (isn't it always? - Ed.), with the Volkswagen Sharan swallowing a huge chunk of any available cash. First there was the small matter of buying it in the first place, then - to compound the financial pain - the blessed tax and insurance, too.

As the 80 needed the same - albeit without the purchase cost - it all got a little too much for the bank balance. So the decision was taken to mothball the Audi until such a time when we could afford to run two cars again.

In the end, the insurance was a fair bit less than I was expecting, and a decision to tax the car for six months would spread the cost, as well as being easier to stomach in the short term. But the Audi did need new tyres, so I took the opportunity to remove the tatty alloy wheels and replace them with the standard steelies. Complete with the original Audi 80 wheels trims.

Audi 80 emerges from garage

You can read about my tyre choice elsewhere on PetrolBlog, which will be updated in a couple of months. As an aside, I also found out that my Dad, who was the original owner of the 80, had marked up which wheel trim went on which wheel. Suffice to say, they are now back in their correct positions. Thanks, Dad!

So, with the tyres on, the next step was the MOT. I was bracing myself for a shock, and I certainly got one! A pass with no advisories - amazing! Did they test the right car? Did someone crash the computer when entering the details? I wasn’t going to hang around to find out.

At the time of writing, I’ve taken it for several reasonably long runs, and a few shorter ones to work. Everything is working fine, apart from one strange issue regarding the light surrounding the cigarette lighter,  which stays on unless the lights are on.

Audi 80 on the roads of New Forest

It sounds trivial, but with the light on all the time, irrespective of whether the ignition is on or not, it would drain the battery within a day or so. The short term solution? A fuse has been removed, which also means the interior light and radio no longer work, but it’s not much of an issue. Once time and the weather permit, a further investigation will be undertaken.

Other potential concerns? Well, there’s some rust on the near side A-pillar which has been there for a few years. I think a stone or similar may have removed the paint, primer and galvanising in a small spot and it’s caused the rust. It’ll require attention, whether by myself or a professional, I haven’t yet decided.

Also, there’s a knocking from the front suspension. It could be the top mounts (a weak point of the design) or the bushes, which are coming up to 25-years-old. I was planning on new springs and dampers at some point and may take the opportunity to do the whole lot at once.

Otherwise, all is well with the 80. Having driven only newer machinery over the last year and a half (and I include the Sharan in that) it surprised me how soft the seats in the 80 are and how solid the interior feels. I knew that this period in German car manufacture was dominated by a build quality arms race, but the contrast is stark.

The drives have taken me to places I hadn’t been to in a while. A loop from Winchester, over to Salisbury via Stockbridge, and then down the A36 to the M27 gave the 80 its first proper distance run in almost two years.

Audi 80 out from hibernation

And then over to the New Forest, from Cadnam to Fordingbridge and down to Ringwood on the coldest morning of winter during Christmas, which gave some wonderful views over the frozen landscape.

It’s not a car that will let you push on too much, and to be honest, when the roads are white with frost, you really don’t want push your luck too much anyway.

Next time, I think I’ll head more towards the South Downs via the A272.

Anyway, time to stop waffling and I’ll let you look at the pictures.