Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Vignettes Vol 3

 Audi S8:

My hatred for Audis was unfounded. I think I knew that all along. To be fair, they weren’t exactly made with electronics that functioned everyday, and most examples I ran into in my line of work were Teutonic abominations. Unlike most German cars, modern Audis had this tendency to completely disintegrate on their first and second owner instead of the third or fourth. These are observations based on the majority of my experiences, of course. But then we went to the high line sale at Manheim Pennsylvania and bought a bunch of things we shouldn’t have. 

One of those cars was an 2008 Audi S8. Black Cherry Pearl with Amaretto seats. It had leather and Alcantara by the yard, and a Bang & Olufsen sound system with the cute pop-up tweeters. It was honestly the best looking car we had on the lot at the time. It also had 95 thousand miles, which is why I said G*s overpaid for it after I told him not to buy it at all. He yelled at me for buying a Quattroporte, but that car made its own fun. Long story short, I didn’t want that S8 there at all. The reason became clear after the car had been there for two months. So one night I decided to take it home.

Well, I didn’t go home really. What I actually did was roll all the windows down on that late-spring Thursday and head into uptown. Charlotte has a dramatic skyline, easily visible from any suburb due to Mecklenburg County’s topography. Coming into town from Independence Boulevard at night gave you this super-moon like, up close view of the well-lit skyline. Beneath it was the S8 floating onto the slip road for I-277, the lightly muffled noises from the V10 fighting with the wind rushing in. 

When I finally made it down onto Tryon Street, I slipped the 6HP in manual mode and thundered between each light, past the blur of drunken faces illuminated by the dim lights of the bars. The car drummed at my soul each time that V10 made it over 4000 RPM, that’s when the offbeat rumble turned into a mechanical ripping noise. It was way more fun than it should have been. I remember many faces would snap to attention when they realised they weren’t just looking at another previous-generation A8 passing by.

I remember I had an all out Sunday once with the local “European vehicle club” on a poker run. Now, the goal wasn’t really to go fast, but that went out the window just as quick as I could hit 100. One special moment was dusting my friend in his Z4 M Coupe from a light. It wasn’t as close as I thought it was going to be either. The AWD traction was great, and the S8 moved like nothing else in its class I’d ever driven. That hefty Audi couldn’t normally be considered light, but compared to all the S-Classes I typically drove it felt like a fucking E63. It had just enough power to get you to troublemaking speeds in rapid fashion. The engine just had this freakish torque curve that I had never felt in a naturally aspirated vehicle before it. It was responsive to the point of being jarring at low speeds sometimes.

Speaking of low speeds, I spent a lot of time in its passenger seat in some drive-thru. One of those times I was allegedly hanging out of the window with a 750 mL bottle of Hennessy with my shirt unbuttoned like a knockoff Biggie. I was told that I yelled out obscene things about excess that Rick Ross couldn’t even fathom. I don’t remember that one at all to be honest. My roommate likes to remind me, I’m pretty sure he was the sober human behind the steering wheel. He shared my feelings about the snappy throttle response at low speeds.

There was another of these I actually remember, that time a friend managed to get the car both airborne and briefly sideways during our drive to the late-night food option. That was the magic of the S8, it was comfortable and just big enough to be the car everybody wants to ride in but would hurtle you down the road like a girl at the club running to the floor when she hears that “Cash Money Records taking over for the ‘99 and 2000.”

I remember G*s got pissed cause I kept putting miles on it. But not one soul even as much as inquired about the car for over a year. I stopped driving it by then but at that point it had 103 thousand miles, so I guess it was even more unsellable then. Oops. I didn’t care really, it was one of the cars I wish I kept for myself in hindsight. It was aggressive, and had an odd exhaust note, but it was also comfortable and had a gorgeous interior. It was more than enough car for a lot of people with a lot of different wants and needs. Yet nobody but me wanted it. Again, I should’ve kept it, but as my father loves to say: “Hindsight is always 20/20.”



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