Junkyard Gem: 1999 Audi A4 1.8T Avant Quattro

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There was a time when green station wagons could be found everywhere on American roads (despite certain unfounded superstitions about green cars), though few of them had manual transmissions and even fewer boasted forced induction. By the end of the 20th century, wagons of any sort had fallen out of favor, but Audi ignored the fin de siècle longroof naysayers and offered American car shoppers the A4 Avant just in time for the collapse of civilization so many expected as a result of the Y2K Bug. Naturally, you could get your 1999 A4 Avant in glorious green — your choice of Cactus Green Mica, Jaspis Green Metallic or Tropic Green Metallic — and that's what we've got for today's Junkyard Gem.

Sometimes it's hard to tell why a certain vehicle ended up in the knacker's yard, but there's no mystery with this one. A thick stack of weathered parking tickets from the City of Denver under the wiper told the story, and examination of the tickets revealed that all of them were issued for failure to move the car for street sweeping… in one of the Mile High City's snootiest old-money neighborhoods.

Back in 1999, a brand-new A4 Avant would have been perfectly at home in such a neighborhood (if a bit on the affordable side), but once the hood and one fender have been switched from Cactus Green Mica components to junkyard-obtained Volcano Black ones and a couple of decades have gone by … well, you can bet that residents of those Gilded Age mansions were spraining fingers rage-dialing the Denver County Vehicle Impoundment hotline and demanding that something be done about this eyesore.

So, let's talk about this car's happier times, when it was new and had an MSRP of $26,440 (about $47,680 in 2022 dollars). You could get the A4 sedan with front-wheel-drive that year, but the wagon was available only in all-wheel-drive configuration.

Audi offered Americans two engine choices in the 1999 A4 Avant: a 2.8-liter naturally-aspirated V6 with 190 horsepower or a turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder rated at 150 horsepower.

This car has the turbocharged I4. I expected the curb weight for the 1.8T to be much lower than that of its V6 sibling, but it scaled in at just 33 pounds lighter.

Both the 1.8T and 2.8 versions had a five-speed manual as the base transmission, but most American buyers opted for the Porsche Tiptronic automatic (at a cost of $1,075 extra, or about $1,940 today). This car has the proper five-on-the-floor, a setup never available in the Ford Country Squire or Plymouth Custom Suburban (though those wagons were available with three-on-the-tree column-shift manuals for some model years).

Personally, I'd say that the five-on-the-tree column-shift manual is ideal for a station wagon, because it gets you a nice overdrive top gear plus the shifter location clears space for a wagon-correct front bench seat. Sadly, Audi didn't consult me on the subject, and this car has the usual shifter location and bucket seats.

The A4 went onto a new platform for 2001, letting us know the old century was gone forever.

When you grow up yearning for a vintage motorcycle, only to be seduced away by the new A4 Avant.

Even the German Eye in the Sky cannot look away when it spies the A4 Avant.

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