Junkyard Treasure: 2001 Audi S8
Since I flew via Charlotte, North Carolina, to work the 10 annual 24 Hours of Lemons South Fall race, I opted to check out the junkyards around the Queen City before catching my flight home. I learned that Charlotteans buy car air-fresheners by the pound, and I documented some interesting vehicles. We'll get to the Chrysler 300C Hemi and Alfa Romeo Milano later on; today, our Junkyard Treasure is a genuine, numbers-matching 2001 Audi S8.
The S8 listed for $72,500 in 2001. That comes to about $105,000 in 2018 dollars. We can assume that the first couple of owners performed all the required maintenance with near-religious fervor ... but then the years go by, depreciation sets in and someone picks up this car -- a little frayed around the edges, perhaps, but still nice -- for the cost of a 5-year-old Accent. Then some of the advanced technological components begin to wear out. At that point, a car like this is just a single $1,500 repair bill away from the junkyard.
The body and interior look decent enough, so my guess is that some costly S8-only mechanical or electronic component failed. When that happens, just about any potential used-car shopper is going to edge away in terror from a nonrunning German luxury sedan packed with unobtainium gizmos.
The 2001 S8's 4.2-liter V8 made 360 hp, which was serious stuff in 2001 (allegedly, a 550-horse S8 is coming soon). The European S8s could be had with manual transmissions, but this car has the five-speed ZF automatic. Perhaps some brave and ambitious junkyard shopper will rescue this car's running gear and swap it into a smaller 21st century Audi.