On any given Saturday morning you can find a Cars & Coffee event in most American cities. The phenomenon is less than 10 years old, and it’s delightful in its simplicity. There’s no entry fee, no class structure, no judges, and no trophy to take home. It’s just about driving your car and enjoying what everyone else brought. Call it a cruise-in for the Millennial Era. The vehicles and the people you find at a Cars & Coffee tend to be much younger than you’ll find at any other kind of car show. That’s important because it allows you to see what enthusiasts are driving and modifying today. Take a walk through any C&C event, and you’ll see a healthy turnout of recent imports — but not the slammed Honda Civics and Nissan 240SX tuner machines of 10 years ago. Today’s enthusiast is far more likely to turn up in a BMW M3 or an Audi S4.

Practical performance

The reasons to choose an Audi S4 are easy to quantify. Where the prior generation of enthusiasts spent their time and money adding turbos and limited-slip to baseline models, today’s buyer can expect those features to be built-in at the factory — along with all-wheel-drive, a 6-speed transmission (or a dual-clutch manu-matic), and all the creature comforts that go with a European sport sedan. The second-generation Audi S4 gives you an attractive — yet still practical — performance car. The first generation of the Audi S4 — often called the “Ur-S4,” was built from 1991 to 1994. The second-gen S4 was developed as a higher-horsepower option above the basic A4 family car and introduced to European markets in 1997. The first S4 arrived in North America late in 1999 for the 2000 model year, and was met with acclaim. The 2001 model year was the last for the second gen of the S4, which Audi called the B5 chassis. The S4 continued to be produced, but on the closely related B6 chassis with a V8 engine.

A lot of pieces for the price

The ticket price of a 2000-model-year S4 sedan was $37,900. That got you a 2.7-liter twin-turbo V6 engine rated at 250 horsepower, mated to a sturdy 6-speed manual transmission. For comparison, the 1.8-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine in the A4 made just 160 horsepower — or you could get a normally aspirated V6 at 190 horsepower. For 2001, the price of the Audi S4 jumped to $38,900. That was a bargain compared with the BMW M3 at $45,970. The S4 would go from 0 to 62 mph in 5.6 seconds, and in 6th gear you could, theoretically at least, hit an honest 155 mph. Not bad for a glorified Volkswagen Passat. The Audi S4 also gave you quattro AWD, with 50:50 torque distribution and Torsen limited slip in the center differential. The front and rear differentials are unlimited, but the S4 uses traction control to give the effect of limited slip in the rear.

Affordable in middle age, but costly to repair

Fifteen years on, Audis from the B5 era have followed the traditional price walk that leads to affordable street performance and track-day machines. But unlike many competing models of the day, the B5 Audi S4 still looks up-to-date, and the performance envelope competes with modern sports cars at a fraction of the price. One caveat to the affordability scenario is the cost of repair and maintenance. The B5 Audis have a mixed record, with many cars generating huge repair bills in middle age. Buyers must be certain that all scheduled maintenance has been performed because simply replacing the timing belts is an eight-hour job that can run as high as $2,000 — assuming that the belts have not yet failed. Electrical system failures and body leaks are also endemic in Audis of this era.

Lingenfelter street cred

All that brings us to our subject sale, a 2001 Audi S4 that sold for $9,625 at Auctions America’s Auburn sale on May 7, 2016. This car comes from the personal collection of performance legend Ken Lingenfelter, so it’s safe to assume that all scheduled maintenance has been performed — along with a few intelligently selected upgrades. such as the cat-back exhaust and custom wheels. Honestly, it’s not like the S4 needs a lot of extra go-fast parts. This car comes with full dealer service documentation, and that shows attention to detail at a phase of life when such details matter. The sale photos show a perfect interior and a flawless exterior. This is the dream right here. This is absolutely the S4 that you want to own. And it sold for less than $10,000. Perhaps the most surprising thing is that the sale price of $9,625 is not at all out of line for similar cars, although others won’t come with a Lingenfelter pedigree. We’ll call this car very well bought, and note that the second-generation Audi S4 is now a bona-fide Affordable Classic. ♦

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