Buying an Audi TT Mk1: a winning bet?

Some exceptional classic cars are a cause for regret. At their lowest point, they were affordable. They were almost cheap. Some time later, their value has risen, sometimes wildly, to the point where they can no longer be afforded. We remember those cars that became mythical, the BMW M3, Porsche 911SCs and other Alpine A310, which should have been bought at the right time. Today, one car is catching our attention. Its characteristics and its current valuation suggest that it could have a similar fate.

The remarkable features of the Audi TT Mk1 (8N)

The Audi TT owes its name, according to legend, to one of the first motorbike races, the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy. Following in the footsteps of the NSU 1000 and 1100TT, it is an exclusive sports car. Based on the Volkswagen A platform (PQ34), the coupe (1998) and the roadster (1999) are equipped with a four-cylinder, five-valve-per-cylinder, 1.8 20 V turbocharged 180 hp engine. A higher version with four-wheel drive (optional on the 180 hp model) delivers 225 hp, while the 3.2-litre six-cylinder engine delivers 250 hp at 6300 rpm. There’s no doubt about it, the TT Mk1 is a true sports car. It doesn’t have the mechanical ambitions of Audi’s later RS3, but it does rival the sports cars of its time, the BMW 330Ci, Porsche Boxster and the first Clio RS.
What makes the TT so remarkable, apart from its quality of finish and sportiness, is its design. Presented as a concept car at the 1995 Frankfurt Motor Show, the TT (8N) owes its design to Freeman Thomas and Peter Schreyer of the VW Design Centre in California. It is perfectly balanced and looks timeless. It gives the TT a strong and successful visual identity, a guarantee of value for this type of car. More daring than an S3, with which it shares certain mechanical elements, and sportier than a VW Beetle (also from the VW Design Centre in California), the TT is the best synthesis of Audi’s creativity and excellence at the end of the 90s.

TT Mk1 Values are in the doldrums

The value of cars is specific to each model and to different eras. However, there is a tendency for them to fall in the 15-20 years following their launch, and then, depending on their attractiveness, to rebound for varying lengths of time and to varying degrees. The TT Mk1 seems to be exactly at this point in its post-production history. Too young to compete with the more established youngtimers in its class and too old to attract the most competitive sports car enthusiasts. Its price is around 6000-8000 euros for a basic model in good condition, and around 10000-12000 euros for the most powerful versions with low mileage.
By way of comparison, a Porsche 944, ten years older and with comparable performance, costs around 12,000 euros for a basic version (163 HP) and over 24,000 euros for a turbo version (220 HP). After having stagnated for a decade after its release, the price of this car has gradually increased. To the point where it is not uncommon to find the most exclusive versions of the 944, for example a turbo cup version from 1989 with low mileage, for more than 40,000 euros. That’s how interesting the TT’s profile is. Sporty, iconic and unique in its style, this car seems destined for a bright future on the vintage market.

How to choose your Audi TT MK1

The TT Mk1, which was produced in Gyor in Audi’s Hungarian factories, is a reliable car. It has had its share of breakdowns, like every car, but on the whole it seems to age in the best of conditions. The engine can easily withstand high mileage, which is quite rare for a sports car. There are still a few things to watch out for, including:
  • Recurring problem of ignition coil on 1.8T engines
  • Timing belt and water pump maintenance (replacement approximately every 100,000 km). The timing chain on the V6 3.2 is known to have problems with out of sync. Replacement can be very expensive.
  • DSG gearbox maintenance (change of gearbox oil and filter every 65,000 km or every three years).
  • Fragile anti-roll bar and plastic clamps.
  • Risk of corrosion on roof rails (Coupé), sills, rocker panels and inner wings.
  • Opacification of plastic headlight covers.
  • Fragility of gauges.
  • Wear and tear on the Roadster’s soft top .
The real difficulty lies in the choice of engine. With three engine levels (180 / 225 /250 HP) corresponding to increasing weights, it is not always easy to find the right one. The basic version, the lightest, is a two-wheel drive. With its four-cylinder 180 hp (230Nm), it accelerates from 0 to 100 kmh in 7.4s and reaches a top speed of 220 km/h. The 225CV quattro version (280Nm) is a four-wheel drive as standard. The increase in power translates into better performance, with a gain of more than 1s for the 0-100 km/h. As for the V6, it impresses with its sound and torque. However, the power gain (250hp/320Nm) is not very noticeable (6.1s for the 0-100 km/h), due to the weight gain of this version. It remains to choose between roadster and cabriolet. A matter of taste and use. But also of valuation. In the long term, the cabriolet could value more because of its rarity and its more exceptional use. The roadster, however, has its fans, offering a more pure line. In any case, the TT Mk1 is a future collectible. A true winning bet ?

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