THESE WERE MY THOUGHTS 12 MONTHS AGO ON BEING REUNITED WITH MY URQ AFTER 10 YEARS :
I cannot now remember actually buying my Ur-Quattro.
Whether I took it for a test drive before making such an important decision is a complete mystery to me and I can only imagine how I felt driving it away for the very first time.
I do remember however exactly where I bought it, but sadly the car showroom which existed on Peter Street in Manchester has now gone, having been replaced some years ago by a rather glitzy city centre nightclub.
I bought my Quattro on the 29th July 1988. A 1984 model, gleaming in Zermatt Silver with 1 previous owner. The sales invoice which I still retain, reminds me that the car was showing 37,974 miles, that I paid £15,095.00 for it and the dealer gave me £3,750.00 in part exchange for my 1982, 75,000 mile fuel-injected Audi Coupe.
Little did I imagine in 1988 that some 28 years later I would still have the car and be taking the trouble to put pen to paper (figuratively) to record something of the highs and lows that are the essentials of Quattro ownership.
Although the details of buying the car are a total blank, I vividly remember that first night of ownership. I drove the Quattro home showed it with pride to my wife and then decided to take it for a spin.
Not far from home is the village of Alderley Edge [derided these days as being the ‘Centre of the Universe’ for footballers’ WAGS]. From the end of the village there is a long winding uphill road towards the ‘Edge’ and on to Macclesfield. I decided to see what the car was capable of ! I knew from that moment if not beforehand, that this was a very special car and that all the hype was justified.
Over the next 25,000 miles or so, I used the Quattro as my every day vehicle. I was working throughout the North West and beyond and so travelling to work was a real pleasure.
Disaster struck just before Christmas 1989 – I think it was an oil pump failure and the engine blew up on me ! The car was taken to an Audi dealership in Salford who had been regularly servicing the car. They dismantled the engine & inspected it, providing me with an estimate for repair which was truly eye watering. I see from the paperwork I have that they called in an ‘Independent Engineer’ who sided with them that it was down to simple wear and tear !
I was simply not in a position to pay dealership prices and after further discussion they put the engine and other moving parts into the boot and allowed me to come and collect it, charging me £257.88 for the privilege.
Somehow I found Michael Broughton, a ‘turbo expert’ who was based on a trading estate in Hazel Grove near Stockport. He took the job on. His handwritten invoice indicates he purchased inter alia, a new cylinder head, crankshaft, con rods and either a new or re conditioned turbo unit. He also fitted a new clutch and charged me £3365.00 for parts, £1037.00 for labour which with VAT came to £5077.51. I had not yet finished paying off my bank loan for buying the car and had to go ‘cap in hand’ to increase the loan in order to pay the repair bill ! Happily the bank manager agreed.
It was only when I collected the car that I found out my expert had decided to paint the engine block red – quite why I will never know !
In spite of the colour, the car appeared to have been restored to its previous [relatively] robust state of health.
The documentation indicates that I continued to use the car on a regular daily basis for the next 3 years or so. By 1993 the mileage had increased to 112,177.
Mechanically the vehicle did not let me down, but I faced a number of mishaps over the years.
One December I was so intent on getting back to Manchester for the Christmas party, that I pulled out of a car park in Stoke on Trent right in front of an oncoming car – that was one year I never made the Christmas celebrations.
On another occasion I had travelled to Blackpool and parked on a main road beside some construction work only to find on my return, that a brick had fallen from the top of the building to land on my bonnet !
In May 1992, after working late in my office in Manchester, I returned to my car to find it had been broken into and the original equipment Blaupunkt radio had been stolen. The marks made by the thief on either side of the console remain to this day.
I replaced it with a ‘face off’ Pioneer unit which cost me £224.93. This now seems an enormous sum for all those years ago.
No doubt it was because of this theft that I decided to have a ‘Gemini’ remote alarm fitted in August 1992 at a cost of £235.00. I doubt such an alarm would deter any determined thief today but nevertheless it remains fitted to the car and remains usable.
The last time I had the car serviced and MOT’d was in March 1995. The mileage on the MOT certificate shows 117,600. I had by then realised the Quattro needed an easier life, or to put it another way, I could not afford to keep it running in daily use.
I must have made that decision in February 1994 because I have documentation which shows that I took out limited mileage insurance with Footman James.
The agreed value on the policy was £6000.00 !!
I was offered storage space in a local barn and was grateful to have it somewhere safe and at a nominal cost. Experience has demonstrated to me however that unless cars are professionally stored, without regular use they deteriorate and die.
That is effectively what happened to my Quattro.
When my wife asked me, what was point of holding on to Quattro I always replied that it was my intention to have the car properly restored, one day. I even put it in those spaces on job application forms, where they ask you to say something about your hobbies etc. [it never seemed to help !]
I first came across ‘AM Cars’ and Adam Marsden in an article written in the Volkswagen Audi Car magazine in the early 90’s. I can’t say precisely what year it was , but it describes Adam Marsden as being 28 years old !! At that time he was based in Chard Somerset. I also have an advert of his from 1994 when he had no less than 5 used Ur Quattros for sale.
I decided to keep the articles for future reference.
It is difficult to be precise when I contacted AM Cars. I believe it occurred about the same time that my son joined the Royal Marines and went to the Commando Training Centre at Lympstone in Devon.
By this time AM Cars had moved from Chard to Illminster and I tried to explain to my long suffering wife the logic of having the car restored nearly 200 miles away, that sending the Quattro to Somerset was actually on the way to Devon so we could always carry on to see our son. She fell for it !
Adam Marsden came to collect the Quattro on a low loader on the way back from the Lake District having travelled up to Cumbria to deliver a Quattro he had just restored. I was home when they came. I had never met Adam Marsden face to face before and I wish now I had taken a picture of them loading up the car and driving off with it.
It was to be, on my reckoning 9 years before I saw the Quattro in the flesh again.
In that time, my son not only joined the Royal Marines, he completed his 15 months training, was deployed to Afghanistan and returned to the UK to take up a number of postings. As I write he has just given in his notice after nearly 10 years service in the Military.
I did call in unannounced at AM Cars in 2009 or 2010 in order to see the car. My wife was convinced, having heard nothing for the last 3 years or so, that either AM Cars were no longer in existence or else they had somehow duped me into parting with my precious vehicle and that in reality it was all a big scam.
I left my wife in the car and went in. I met Adam Marsden to whom I had not spoken since he collected the car. He was perfectly charming. Finally I asked if we could go into the workshop to see my Quattro, joking to him that my wife thought it no longer existed.
In reply he told me that unhappily I would not be able to see the car. They had not started work on it; that it was stored off site and would only be brought to the workshop when they were ready to start the restoration.
I totally believed him – but what to tell my wife ? Is a lie still a lie when you tell it for the best of intentions ? Probably !
In June 2011, I emailed AM Cars querying whether they remembered me and my visit ‘some time ago.’ As a joke I told them I was worried I might be drawing my pension before I got the car back and might be too old to enjoy it. Many a true word spoken in jest!
I received an almost immediate reply saying they planned to start on my car in early September and that I was welcome to come and see it at any time.
They were as good as their word and the first bill arrived on the 1st December 2011 by which time they had effectively dismantled the car. They had removed and stripped the engine, the suspension, brakes & subframe. The work continued thereafter at varying speeds. For the first 3 months I received a bill every month. Then there was an 8 month gap. They sent me photos from time to time.
There was no way to tell that the pictures they sent me were my car but I trusted them. Adam Marsden asked if I would allow them to return the engine block to its original colour, naturally I agreed.
In the Spring of 2013, there were some hefty bills relating to the prepping and repairing of the bodyshell.
The body shell was not in fact painted until September 2014.
In November 2014 they were refitting the wiring harness, re-hanging the doors, refitting carpets, repairing the frame of the driver’s seat and refitting the seats and the interior trim.
In January 2015 I received a bill for a reconditioned turbo unit and then all went quiet until November when they contacted me to say it was about to go for it MOT and sent me a bill which reflected all the work they had done between August and October in reassembling the car.
I had known from the outset that a job such as this was incapable or being costed in advance; but Adam Marsden had given me a ball park figure, which I had rounded down [as men do] when telling my wife !
This last bill was by far the largest single bill I had received and we had already exceeded the original ball park figure.
Another trip to Illmister was warranted and I flew down to Exeter at the beginning of December, met my son who then drove me up to AM Cars to have a look at the ‘nearly finished’ job.
I was a little nervous at the prospect of seeing where my money had gone. They were working on the car when we arrived. Although not valeted, with its refurbed Ronal alloys and new paint job, it looked fantastic. The interior was also spotless. Although we couldn’t drive it, I started up the engine and the new stainless exhaust sounded magnificent.
As my wife and I were coming to Devon to stay with our son and daughter in law for Christmas, it was decided we would travel down a day early, stay at the Castle Hotel in Taunton and would pick the car up first thing on Christmas Eve before travelling on to Topsham.
I returned home to deal with those chores which I had dreamt of but had wondered whether they would ever come to pass – taxing the car for the first time since 1995 [which first required obtaining a new style Registration Document] and then finding an agreed value insurance policy. Finally I got in touch with Salvador Valiente and sent off my application form to join the Quattro Owners Club.
On the afternoon of the 23rd December 2015 we had just booked into the Castle Hotel in Taunton when I took a call from AM Cars. There was a problem with the car, the engine would not restart when hot. They were working on it and I was to keep my fingers crossed.
About 5.00PM Adam Marsden phoned me to say the car would not be ready tomorrow and they did not want to give it to me unless it was right. I agreed but in truth I was gutted !
In the second week of January I got a call from AM Cars, they had found a problem with Bosch fuel injection system which had required refurbishment, all now completed and the car was ready.
Friday 12th January 2016 I managed to get the day off work and flew down to Exeter early morning. By 11.30AM my son had driven me up to Illminster.
We spent a good hour there, maybe longer. The car was waiting for me outside. It looked brand new. We reminisced over the last 8 years, took photos and looked at Adam’s next projects in the workshop.
He handed me the keys and out we went to the car.
He told me how much these cars were now worth, I reminded him, that over the last 5 years I had paid him more than that !
We left. I drove 400 yards to the nearest petrol station to fill up. As I was stood at the pump filling the car no less than 3 separate people came over to admire it and tell me how much they loved the car.
I had quite forgotten the size of the petrol tank and was gobsmacked at a bill of over £90.00 !
My son and I spent Friday afternoon driving around Devon, we ended up at the Smugglers Inn outside Teignmouth discussing the merits of Quattro driving.
On the Saturday morning I drove back to Manchester. I was on my own. It was like renewing an acquaintanceship with an old lost friend. I loved it.
On Saturday afternoon having returned home it was only fair to take my long suffering wife out for a run. I think she loved it too.
I do not intend for it to be my everyday car but on the other hand past experience has taught me that cars do thrive on regular use. I could not resist driving to work in it on Monday and Tuesday.
Today, I decided it might be sensible to replace the second ignition key, which had got lost in the mists of time. I took the Ur Quattro to the main Audi dealership in Stockport to enquire about getting a blank ignition key. All the mechanics came out to admire the car in addition to the many Audi customers who wanted to take photos and asked if it was for sale !
It’s too early to say, but I think it’s all been worth it