[urq] Audi parts for older cars
colin cohen cco
ccohen5 at compuserve.com
Thu Aug 3 18:51:22 EDT 2006
James et al - I cannot dispute anything you say from an enthusiast's point of view and no you cannot have the turbo back as I have foreseen the end of factory support for these cars for some time. This has actually been forestalled by MTM and Lehmann who have both started cottage industries supporting the SQs not only of private owners but also the factory cars.
And its this element that lends financial credibility to Audi's actions. People like MTM, 2B, Blau and others have much greater capability to define what the market needs and what it will pay to support these cars. And while we may be disgusted that the "official" support has ended and believe they owe it to us (even if we have done nothing but buy a few spares and would never buy or could afford to buy a new car from them) - the fact is that these guys will end up serving the market that really exists (willing buyer and willing seller) as opposed to the theoretical market of all users. Many of whom will not care whether their sun visors work or not. You cannot imagine the way in which these large companies attract cost to their operations. When they are forced to deal in small volumes they cannot go out and build or have built small volumes without adding these costs. I have told you that replacement wheels for the SQ E1 cars ended up costing Audi $1200 per wheel. Could they have got the same for less? Certainly but not within the corporate structure of that organization.. I have found a manufacturer in South Africa for example who would build me a set for $300 a wheel. Heavy and not as good a finish (powder coated) as Speedline who built them for Audi in the original materials, but hey if I was into Bling I would do it. Audi is unable to understand Bling any more than any other manufacturer and hence cannot distinguish between what people want and what people need to keep their cars on the road.
Nobody buying a new TT or A4 today gives a hoot about these issues. So there is no loss of trust that matters. If Audi were to stop their support the way (say) Fiat, Renault or Alpha did after they left the US - we might have a credibility issue. But the fact is that the dealers will service your car and if the parts are available will replace them. Those other guys just dumped their dealers and left. So I know how hurt some may feel about this but is this not really a chance to use some of the well known US of A can-do moxie and find a way to make them last. If people can drive around in any car that the factory no longer is a source for parts then are we too precious and helpless not to be able to do the same. Yes it will cost us but we have been living on borrowed time. There are just too few of these cars. My reference to geography BTW was the differences in the models forced by local government approvals. US vs Euro vs Japan, vs Switzerland vs Oz - and then we have CA cars and the rest of the States but there is also Canada. Its a nightmare. What is Audi's liability if they sell you a part in the US that was never installed on a US car (only the Euro models) and you have an accident that might be tangentially related to that part? The plaintiff's bar will force a settlement from the seller and that process is not worth it for the few parts involved. As I suggested before, owners of new RS4s or the incredibly difficult to work on RS6 ought to be thinking about these same issues in 15 or so years !
That you believe the Urq redefined the company is not the belief at Audi any more than VW believes that the Golf did the same for them. Peich may have believed this once and probably still does but the current management is only in the business of building cars to make a profit. If they are unable to justify how the activity is going to sell more cars they do not do it. Even the SQ was built and sold to the public for precisely that reason. They HAD to sell the 165 non race cars because that was the condition under which Peich was allowed to build the thing. Ford, Lancia, Leyland and the Group B builders never made any attempt to sell their cars. You had to beat them bloody to find someone to purchase a car. Ask Larry Vollum because he did. If this "withdrawal" had not happened now, it would have happened soon and actually has happened on many other cars already. But if the Urq is really worth it people will step into the breach and support will develop.
With that said, I think it was Graham who is asserting that the Urq is a collectible because someone is willing to certify is as such. All I can tell you is that in the US it is not easy to get collectible insurance for the Urq or the SQ because they are not recognized as having an international collectible market. They never cross the auction block and when the Urq does it is usually bears some relationship to its blue book value. Even the SQ which has sold in Europe for between $50 and $80K at auction is not accepted for collectible insurance in the US. You can get and pay for Agreed Value but that is up to 5 times more expensive than Collectible cover for the equivalent value. Ask Haggerty.. So no matter who tells me my car is a collectible it does not matter for value purposes unless someone is prepared to rank it at a level commensurate with nits technology, patina and era, which few in the US will consider. So the Urq to this market (and I believe the UK and most of Europe) is just another 1980s car. The 25 year mark will make it a candidate for the road rally touring scene and that will help its value somewhat and maybe attract more parts shops to fabricate the bits that are NLA. But I think it will take longer than that and a much more enthusiastic owner community.
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