Project Chronicle

Author: Jeff,

I have now owned the 1995 Audi S6 Avant for about two years, grabbing it in the summer of 2022 off of Martha's Vineyard. While I undoubtedly liked the car - the 5-cylinder noise pushed through the Stromung exhaust is reason enough to love it - the driving experience wasn't good enough to make it an absolute home run. 

My shop in Rhode Island did some serious heavy lifting with getting it prepared for regular road use, including the intense timing belt job, fixing the busted HVAC controls, and refreshing the suspension. However, it was clear they hit a point with it where the S6 needed to move along. The steering felt disconnected from the front end and the clutch action was awful; the engagement point was borderline non-existent. 

I knew it needed a clutch and so I used my new shop here in Annapolis to get it replaced. However, when I brought it back with a serious humming sound from the front end, they flagged the need for new wheel bearings, hubs, and brake calipers, noting all of those pieces were long overdue for replacement.

What a transformation - seriously, You now get to experience just how much sheer grip this car has. I have never been impressed by AWD cars but I've also never driven one with much in the way of horsepower. Decent power plus layers upon layers of grip makes for a very fun drive, and the S6 is a completely different car with these improvements made in the front end. 

Just goes to show you that you never know which single improvement (or improvements) can transform the driving experience from underwhelming to exceptional. 

Author: Jeff,

When I first got the 1995 Audi S6 Avant home and off of Martha's Vineyard, I was giddy with having finally snagged a real deal, a car that was purchased for very little solely because I had the inside track on it coming up for sale. Of course, that euphoria eventually wears off once the realities of a project sets in - it's inevitable. 

The first big bites of maintenance were necessities, and not the kind you necessarily instantly appreciate. The timing belt absolutely had to be done, as prolonging that job risked a grenade-like situation where the belt snaps and the motor is an instant paperweight. Then, the suspension had to be refreshed; the control arms replaced; the HVAC blend box was dissected and repaired, yielding functional A/C. Along the way, a Stromung exhaust was fitted.

As you can see, the improvements gradually became more noticeable, and, quite frankly, fun. But one big job remained that I did not fully appreciate how transformative it would be until it was done - and that is a clutch replacement.

The clutch pedal had always been super firm and the engagement point very late. I knew it was tired, but after having the first job at my new shop here in Annapolis be a clutch, slave, and pressure plate replacement, I can honestly say I love the car all over again. I didn't realize just how bad the old clutch was, and how negatively it was impacting the driving experience. 

It is now a wholly enjoyable car to drive, and outside of a sagging headliner, I can't think of anything else I feel the need to address in the short term. 

Author: Jeff,

One of the final projects completed before I left Rhode Island was to fix some small rust spots on the frame of the Audi S6's windshield. The idea here is that the S6 may very well live outside at times, and any rust currently on the car is likely to get worst with prolonged outdoor exposure.

The job was pretty simple: remove windshield, remove rust, paint, installed used windshield I procured last month. The rust thankfully had not gone deep into the A-pillar but because of the need to do this job quickly and without matching the roof, there's some flaws in the paint. Mainly, there was so much wax on the car from when I was desperately trying to bring the trashed finish back to life, that small bubbles appeared as the paint dried. It's meaningless - I'm the only one who will notice it - and the price paid for the work was more than fair.

The windshield is a nice bonus, as it's a very clean piece of PPG glass that takes the place of another aftermarket windshield that had cracked and had numerous chips. 

It's not the most rewarding project but it will help reduce the possibilty of the S6 beginning to rust as it resides outside. 

Author: Jeff,

As mentioned previously, we've got this big move coming up where I'll be leaving my trusted shop of 10+ years. Accordingly, there are some ugly jobs I've been avoiding that now have to be fast-tracked for fear of not being able to find a specialist willing to take them on, at least not until I establish a few months' worth of track records.

The S6 Avant has had a noisy blow motor since I got it. To fix this, you have to remove the heater box, which requires removing the windshield cowl on the outside and the lower console inside the car. Of course, once you do this, you discover that someone else has attempted this and broken a bunch of clips and arms in the process. The arms are connected to servos that (obviously) adjust air direction and mixture. With at least one broken arm, we had to stop work to order spares from an Audi breaker in New Hampshire.

Then, from the "while you're in there" department, it makes sense to replace the heater hose and heater valve attached to the heater box, which (shockingly) are still available. I ordered those, and we'll do that along with the heater core, in addition to the offending blower motor that started all this nonsense. 

All of this is to say, it's a pain in the ass job without much in the way of pay-off beyond the HVAC not acting possessed. And God willing, I will never have to tackle this project ever again while I own the car. 

Author: Jeff,

Whenever you take a bone-stock virgin example of a car that's historically over-modified and began to modify it, a twinge of guilt may occur. After all, it's a privilege to find a car in stock form that typically represents a horrible buy on the enthusiast marketplace because the modifications ruin an otherwise fine automobile.

Consider me relieved that the small but significant modifications made to the S6 Avant have yielded significant driving improvements. The gorgeous Stromung exhaust not only fit perfectly but sounds incredible - deep, bassy, and glorious. But more importantly, the exhaust combined with the larger aftermarket downpipe has yielded far snappier off-the-line acceleration and it absolutely hauls on the interstate. 

Suspension-wise, the stock components were swapped out for Koni Yellows with H&R lowering springs; meatier Dunlops and a set of Japanese-market Audi RS2 BBS wheels bolted on. At the same time, the front control arms were replaced. The suspension response is night and day over the tired stock components, and grip is what you'd expect for an all-wheel drive car without as much of an understeer penalty as I was expecting. 

Overall, I am really happy with how this car performs, and look forward to keeping it around for some time. 

Author: Jeff,

I dropped off the 1995 Audi S6 Avant today for some upgrades, which I struggled to pull the trigger on. I bought this car for peanuts and it was completely stock. The smart thing to do would have been to sell it for a tidy profit; however, I've always wanted a turbocharged, five-cylinder Audi, and the fact that it was one of the super rare wagon versions made it a no-brainer to keep it. 

The bodywork is rust-free but the paint is tired, so I felt good about the fact that it wasn't a total survivor. It is stock, which is huge considering how many of these cars are over-modified. But given it needs a full respray to look perfect, we're going to go ahead with lowering it a tad and adding some new wheels in a larger size. I went with Koni shocks all around and H&R lowering springs, and a set of gorgeous gold BBS wheels. TIres are the recommended size for 17x8 wheels on an S6, which are 245/40/17.

The exhaust was a work of art, and priced as such; it is made by Stromung and produces a healthy bump in power along with some incredible noise when the AAN engine is uncorked. Stromung only builds a few of these each year, and it is paired with a 3" downpipe from EFI Motorsports in New Hampshire. 

All in all, this is a decent amount of work, but I feel the performance and aesthetic improvements will be worth it - even if I am missing out on a nice chunk of change from flipping it. 

Author: Jeff,

I've been watching a set of BBS wheels for a few weeks on the Japanese parts importing website, Crooober. Despite being predominantly a haven of JDM parts, the site also stocks wheels and accessories for European makes - often for less money than what you'd pay on the local craigslist page.

These wheels were the perfect size for the Audi S6 Avant: 17x8, ET 35. The stock wheels are 16x7, ET 38. These should fill out the generous flared front fenders nicely, and poke just a smidge out the rear.

The wheels will need tires, but I'll cross that bridge in a few weeks. In the meantime, I've been assembling all of the bushings and mounts I'll need to refresh all of the suspension when the Konis and H&Rs go on. 

Author: Jeff,

The paint on the 1995 Audi UrS6 has been a major concern, largely due to it being dull and covered in swirl marks. Some of my buffing efforts have given it some of its shine back, but it still fell well short of where I wanted it to be.

After having Brock's Collision repaint the heavily bumper-bashed bumpers, I asked Mike - the foreman - if they could do anything to help the paint. After putting the car back together, Mike attempted to color-sand the left rear quarter panel before offering an opinion as to whether there was more he could do. 

Amazingly, the quarter panel came back to life. The swirl marks are still there, but the paint is super glossy. This is great news, as the re-finished bumpers stood out like a sore thumb. With Mike tackling every other panel come January in what will likely be a two-day job, the S6 Avant is going to look more like a car that's been loved than a carcass that sat by the sea and had its paint sand-blasted off of it. 

Author: Jeff,

I really have reached my "peak" of how much more work I want done to any one car this year, but I am making an excuse for the S6. The bumpers were awful after years of being bashed around when the owner would leave Martha's Vineyard for his Central Park apartment in New York City. Animals, down there. 

Anyway, my local collision center and friends have taken on a few side projects over the years, and with this being a quiet week for them, they pulled off the bumpers and began the process of fixing them. I say "fixing" because both bumpers had plenty of filler in them, and if you've ever tried to repair bumpers that have already been repaired, it's not easy. 

Making it extra tricky is that the front bumper is specific to the UrS6, owing to its flared front fenders. The only surprise we found (aside from how much filler was already in the bumpers) was the need for a replacement rear bumper shock. We knew this was a possibility as the bumper was pushed in on the left side, and removing it confirmed the shock absorber was completely collapsed. 

The shop may also see if they can sand an obscure part of the paint to determine if there's any chance of bringing it back to life, but I'm not optimistic.