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Thanks to many Q-Listers, my project is launched...

To Quattro list denizens:

Having discovered your terrific list three months ago, Iíve ravaged the
archives for data, lurked shamelessly, and benefited enormously from
private emails to various members.  Now, a day after finally taking
possession of my í91 CQ, and two weeks after receiving the í91TQ engine
that will go in it, I wanted to take the opportunity to say thanks
collectively for all the advice, inspiration, enthusiasm and vision
resident on the List.   Unless you have the same screwed up time
management priorities as I do, stop reading now.  For others, by way of

Iím a car nut of longstanding (though dusty) credentials.  Iíve had
E-types, an Elan, vintage Alfas, and a 911SC as daily drivers before
marriage, three kids and a real career intervened.  So the last ten
automotive years has been characterized by VW, Volvo(s), Lexus, and most
recently, a J30 Infiniti.   These last were company-paid cars, and when
I finally started my own firm last year, I relished the prospect of
getting something lessÖ responsible.  But what exactly?   It needed to
be reliable enough to leave in the airport parking lot for a week at a
time, preferably without attracting attention, comfortable enough to
take the occasional 4 hour road trip, respectable enough to use for a
client lunch (but not ostentatious), and, to satisfy my own psyche, have
interesting technology and extraordinary performance.   And if it
wouldnít hurt if it were less than $25K.

I thought early on about a ur quattro, a car Iíd admired ever since
nearly being run over by one during a snowy day skiing in Chamonix.
(Maybe it was a Sport, since no ur Iíve seen since has looked or sounded
quite as dramaticÖ)  A quick look confirmed that in the US at least, the
ur is just too old for my requirements.  While perusing Hemmings,
however, I found an ad for a í90 CQ, which piqued my interest, since I
couldnít ever remember having seen one.  I did a net search, found the
Q-List, looked at pictures, and exchanged a dozen emails.  I think it
was Christian Long who first mentioned the S2, and as soon as my search
branched in that direction, I thought Iíd found my car.

It turns out that you donít just import an S2 casually, however.  Using
the net, I found a couple for sale, one in the UK, (no good for obvious
reasons), one in Spain, and one in Italy (í94, $19K thanks to the
ravaged liraÖ).  However, when I called a couple certification houses
(check the DOT web site!), it became pretty clear that conversion to US
spec was going to be, shall we say, cost prohibitive.

But hey, didnít Audi also make some turbo sedans?  And isnít it logical
that they were based on the same block?  A little more inquiry led to
Mark Nelson, I think, who confirmed that a swap is not only not unheard
of but actually accomplished from time to time.  Further networking and
phone calls led to a great guy in San Francisco who invited my to drive
his conversion (300HP, 6-speed).  As luck would have it I was in the Bay
area twice during September, and five minutes at the wheel of this tidy
beast was enough to confirm that I really ought to do this.

More phone calls revealed that the engine to get was the í91 TQ, not an
S4 (Hope you sell that engine, BenÖ.), and theyíre really scarce, so I
bought the first one I found at ABC in Mass.  High miles, but Iíll take
it apart this winter and freshen it up.  The car took longer.  A two
month search of online classifieds, Hemmings, and the big city
newspapers, turned up about 35 candidates.  I visited a bunch of them,
and began to focus on color and feature combinations.  (Red is out, Lago
blue would be ok, donít like that grey interior, black cars look good
but why does everyone have to tint the windows?)  I finally decided
pearl with black was my target.  Also, I had to have an airbag:  this is
a car for real daily use, and Iíve seen too many instances where the bag
made a difference.  So, looking for a late build í90 or í91 CQ, I
visited cars in Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, and New Jersey.
Finally, I met a great guy in Denver, working for the SCCA, with a high
mileage clean í91.  He was owner #2 but only for four months, and the
car had previously enjoyed textbook dealer maintenance from day one
right through 2K miles ago.  New exhaust, shocks, tires (I wouldnít have
picked P4000s, and for what the dealer chargedÖ oh well)   I
orchestrated a layover while on a trip, and negotiated a price after 20
or so laps of the airport access roads.  The next problem was delivery,
but Eric was fortunately headed to Mid-Ohio for the SCCA runoffs.  I
have some old friends, Bill and Ellen who run a B&B next to the track,
so Eric dropped off the car two weeks ago.  I flew into Columbus Tuesday
night on the way back from a trip, took a cab to Lexington, and after a
nightís sleep and a lengthy breakfast with Bill, drove home to NJ

My first impressions of the CQ during the eight hour drive?  Well, the
battery was dead, so the trip began inauspiciously with a jump from
Billís pickup.  After a 10 minute hot lap around the local farm roads,
however, the car re-starts just fine.  A quick look at a convenience
store atlas (no Iím not buying yet another one) and I head for the
interstate, New Jersey-ward.  Whatever the 160-odd-hp claimed for this
thing, it just isnít enough, but I knew that already.  Nice interior,
high quality materials, better than the Japanese, and different; more
German.  Especially nice headliner.  But what-ho! Look at all those
steering column stalks!  I prop the owners manual against the steering
wheel and begin at page one.  I figure out the cruise control, seat
adjustment, and a particularly Byzantine radio.  Then thereís this trip
computer, which at first disappoints me:  Iíd been thinking of getting a
Terratrip rally computer and this thing might derail my flimsy
justification.  After an hour or two, however, I begin to suspect the
computer of doing some rather casual rounding, and cheerfully do a
mental survey of the interior for a suitable Terratrip mount.

 My first gas stop reenacts my typical routine with rental cars, (which
side is the filler on and where is the release) but in this case, there
really is no release switch, and I have to resort to the manual again
before ladeling in the high octane.  I wash the windshield, buy a Coke,
and discover for the first time that there are no cup holders.  I refuse
to be cowed by True Believers on this point:  even all out rally cars
ought to have a place to secure a water bottle and for real daily use it
is a necessity.  Back on 76, itís a spectacular day to be driving
through Pennsylvania.  The trees are turning, the sky is clear, and, now
that Iíve found the outside temp guage, I can report that itís 61
degrees.  Iím enjoying the car:  no untoward rattles, tracks in a
straight line, engine sounds good, it revs and develops power very much
like the 16valve Saab, which is to say, at highish RPMs.  These seats
are really superb, a big improvement over the indifferent bolstering of
Japanese cars.  The ride is pleasantly firmer than Iíd hoped, maybe I
wonít want to do much with the suspension after all.  The steering,
however, is a disappointment:  Itís vaguer than it could be given the
design and layout of the system.  Also slow and over-assisted.  Possibly
the high forward weight bias of the car dictates a lot of steering
assist, but Iíll bet the ur gives a better sense of what the tires are
feeling.  Then again, these P4000s arenít what youíd call sharp edged.

As dusk approaches, I get a gift:  The dome light is glowing.  If itís
been on for two weeks (and no one wouldíve seen it in Bill and Ellenís
barn), that might be enough to run the battery to zero.  I celebrate the
prospect of not needing to chase down a short by stopping for a quick
dinner at the Country Inn in Lancaster County.  Shredded pork sandwich,
30wt. fries and apple pie.

Now itís truly dark, and for the final two hours homeward, I catch up
with the front Iíve been following, and into some rain.  These
headlights really are weak as per numerous Qlist complaints.  Also, half
of my dash switches fail to illuminate, including the radio dial.  Oh
well.  I spend the rest of the trip mentally reviewing what Iíve learned
to date about the engine swap, and worrying again about misc. bits and
pieces Iíve left behind on the 200TQW donor car.  Iím conscious of the
enormous transformation the swap makes of the car, and eager to get down
to business.  Realistically, though, Iíll be lucky to even begin before
spring, unless I found some highly sympathetic local mechanic with a
sense of humor, intrigue, adventure, and philanthropy.

I arrive at home at 9pm, half an hour past bedtimes.  However, there is
gratifying excitement over the "new car" and so we go for a quick tour
of the neighborhood where the Audiís switchgear, upholstery, glass and
hardware get their first real test (I can tell by one glance that none
of the carís prior owners had kids).  By the time we make it back to the
house, the ski bag is all over the inside of the car and weíve
established that the rear seatbelts will fit over the front headrests if
you really pull.  High praise for the car by the younger set, mitigated
only by the grumpy observation that the rear windows donít go down.
("Why would anyone make a car like that?")

Well,  although I may be writing now only to myself, let me say again
that Iíve really appreciated the advice and direction of those of you
whoíve contributed to my decision to embark on this project.  Iím sure
Iíll have multiple opportunities to cast myself before the mercy of your
collective Audi wisdom before this project is over.

Best regards,

Brandon Hull
í91 CQ