1999 Logbook I: April 27, 1999 to July 26, 1999

This logbook begins a new record regarding the ownership of my second Audi A4.  Despite the loss of my first A4 I am more than ever an A4 fan and will continue where the prior logbooks left off.

April 27, 1999

I've completed my deliberations with respect to a new A4 to replace my 1997 model lost in my recent auto accident.  Color was the primary question in my mind as I was not at all concerned with what options to purchase this time around.  I knew exactly what I wanted on the car but what color would it be?  I loved the look of my black 1997 A4 but it was so much work to take care of that I am now a believer that a person only owns one black car in their lifetime (I thought this was a cliché but it appears to be true in my case).   I couldn't deal with another car that looked really sharp for a few hours after it was washed but then started showing the slightest amount of dust.

I considered several colors including melange, jaspis green, pelican blue and sable brown.  All of these colors struck my fancy but then after consideration failed to inspire me.  I hadn't originally considered the hibiscus red but gave it a look towards the end.  It was difficult to decide since I could not find all of the colors on dealer lots in order to take a look in person.  I finally chose the hibiscus red because it is a fairly dark red and has what I would call a nice "executive" look.  I almost changed my order after making my decision but stuck with the hibiscus red.  On a recent trip I found a dealer with a hibiscus red on the lot and can say that I am happy with my choice.

Another question was regarding the engine.  I've chosen to stick with the 1.8T since it is less expensive and has proven very capable when tuned.  I wish I could hold out for an S4 but I need a car sooner than they will be available and the cost is a barrier.

As far as options go, I elected to add everything but the cellular phone and Bose stereo upgrade.  I'm forgoing the Bose this time around since over $1000 for the upgrade is very steep and I can still order the CD changer alone from Clair for about $300.  I've added quattro (a given), the sport package (since I want 16" wheels, the sport wheel and the factory sport suspension), sport seats (they are far superior to the standard seats IMO), the all-weather package (I always wished I had ordered it the first time around since there is nothing quite like warming up your but on a cold winter day), the trip computer (what can I say? I'm a gadget freak), and the moon roof.

I really much prefer the original style 5-spoke 16" wheels over the new 7-spoke sport wheels so I'm going to try and swap them with the dealer.  We'll see what happens.  I will likely get 17" wheels fairly quickly but still would rather have the 5-spokes to start.

The dealer I'm working with is Rector Motor Cars in Burlingame, CA.  The salesman I'm dealing with has been great in finding a car to modify to my specifications and get the ball rolling.  He's even been in touch with AoA to make them aware of my situation and see if we can expedite production of my car.   As far as I'm concerned, every little bit will help so we'll see how things go.

As far as price goes, I've gotten $1000 over invoice which is better than my original deal on my 1997.  A unique twist on the deal is that I got in touch with the online auto broker www.carsdirect.com during the time they were advertising their "at invoice" auto deals.  I called the day before they ended the promotion and advised that I already had a deal and a car on order and wanted to know what they could do.  According to the rep they will simply cut the dealer a check for $1000 so that my cost is "at invoice."   Apparently, they were running this promotion and incurring a loss in order to get the company's name out to the public and build relationships with the dealers.  There has been a lot of skepticism about the company but since it is costing my nothing there is no harm in seeing what happens.  Worst case scenario is that I pay my $1000 over invoice.  I'll keep everyone posted.

As far as modifying my new A4 is concerned we'll just have to cross that bridge when we get there.  You never say never. ;-)  A lot of people are probably going to ask me what chip I plan on getting (if at all. :-P ) and the only thing I can say is that I'll have to look at all the available options at the time and decide at that point.

May 17, 1999

So its been about three weeks since my last entry.  Unfortunately, since I'm without the new A4 for the next couple of months, logbook entries will be rather sporadic.  There just really isn't a whole lot to do but wait at this point.  Nothing new has come up since I placed my order so there isn't really anything to share with you.

This time around I'm going to talk about my temporary ride which is a n '86 VW Scirocco.  Its a 5-speed manual and though not as refined as the A4 is still fun to drive.  There are lots worse cars I could be stuck with!

This past weekend I attended another auto-x with some friends from the club and though I did not actually compete I did take the Scirocco out for six "fun runs" on the course at the end of the day.   Boy, what a difference it is to drive a front wheel drive car after having a quattro for almost two years!  Understand that the Scirocco is bone stock and has 13" street tires.  These tires are the kind that are supposed to last a bazillion miles and performance traction is the furthest thing from their minds (do tires have minds?).

Anyway, my first couple of laps were spent getting used to how the front driver handled in turns.  I quickly discovered that with the slippery tires the car wanted to oversteer like crazy.  it was a lot of fun sliding sideways around the course.  I then discovered how easy it was to throttle steer the car to get it where I wanted it to go.  I was having a great time letting the rear end slide around the turns then jumping on the gas to get the front wheels to pull the car forward and out of the slide.  It was a blast!  I wasn't at all worried about my times since these were just for fun but as I learned the dynamics of the car I improved my time on every run and bettered my overall times by more than four seconds from my first run to my last.  I had such fun and with my A4 still a few months away I'm actually considering buying some steel wheels for the Scirocco and putting BFG R-1's on them just so I can auto-x in something while I enjoy my wait.  I don't plan to attend any track events in the Scirocco but the auto-x was fun and I'll likely do it again.

June 01, 1999


So it doesn't look like I've been doing much with the site for the last couple of weeks or so. Wrong! I finally got tired of all the various problems associated with running a site that is stored at two different ISP's (not to mention the excessive restrictions on bandwidth and server storage) so I've relocated the site to a "real" web host. The last week has been spent editing, reconfiguring and relocating the site. A had to "undo" a lot of the fixes that I was forced to use in order to run the site from two different ISP's. Scripts needed to be rewritten for the new environment and my email needed to be reconfigured. It was quite the pain in the rear but it is done now.

If you tried to email me over the weekend your message probably bounced. I apologize for this but the problem has been fixed.

If anyone is using an older browser version you were probably receiving JavaScript errors on my main page. I've fixed that problem so you shouldn't experience this anymore.

I should finally have a page up about the recent NorCal Club drive in Marin. Moving the site has taken precedence but the event write-up should be up shortly (if it isn't already).

The Club's big event for 1999 is coming up this weekend on June 5th at Sears Point. Be there if you can. It will be incredible.

There isn't anything new to report on the new A4. It's on order. Still. I think that once the car gets closer to arrival I will have more info to share. For now, we wait.

A little tidbit of information you might find interesting is related to the commonality of VW and Audi parts. We're already aware that various parts are interchangeable between the two makes. This is especially so considering that the VW Passat is basically an A4 underneath it skin. You may also have already noticed that many parts have both the VW logo and Audi rings stamped on them. Apparently, this applies to their upgraded wheels also. I saw a post about this over on A4.org and did some checking. VW USA (www.vw.com) now has an online store that lists various wheel upgrade options for the new Passat. These wheels are the same wheels as are available for the A4 but at a considerably lower price. See the chart below:

VW Wheel Price (MSRP) Audi Wheel Equiv. Price (MSRP)
Swing 16" $240 Sport Pkg. 7-Spoke $426.50
Tango 16" $240 Audi Tango $331.50 (Clair)
Largo 17" $331.50 Unknown... Unknown...

Quite the difference in price, eh? It appears that it would be more cost effective to buy the VW version of the wheel and replace the VW logo center cap with an Audi center cap. Food for thought. I rather like the Tango wheels and might consider them if they are available in 17". As an alternative, I might even try to swap the stock 7-spoke sport wheels for the Tangos. Hmmmm. I really don't care for the Largo wheels. Kinda plain if you ask me and they look a little too VW.

One final thing (and this is more or less a rant on my part). If VW and Audi are the same company why can't they get together and employ the same web site design firm? The Audi USA page is terrible. The VW site has always been very functional, stylish and easy to navigate. The Audi site is usually out of date and seems to focus more on "looking good" (which it fails to do) than being functional and useful. VW has an online store to purchase OEM options whereas we finally got the Audi boutique not long ago and we get to buy cigar holders. Doh! I guess we see what market demographic Audi thinks is tuned in to the Internet…

June 11, 1999

So the club held our big event for 1999 last weekend and I must say that it was a great time for all. It was a lot of work but meeting up with all our friends was well worth the effort. Now we have to start planning for next year! See the event write-up for pictures and full details.

There was a Hibiscus Red A4 in attendance at the event. It is the first A4 in this color that I have seen in a long time and was really beautiful. It is such a rich, dark red and is almost a burgundy color. I like it a lot (I'd better since that is the color of my new A4!). I've seen small examples of the color but it has been a while since I've seen the color in all its glory. Very nice. With the onyx interior the car is going to look incredible and one thing about this color is it appears to be quite rare. There doesn't appear to be many hibiscus red A4's out on the road (at least this is the case in my neck of the woods).

I called my salesman yesterday to check the status of my new A4. It is currently in "D" status and scheduled to move from "D" through "E" to "F" within the next few days. It looks like my car will be on its way within the next couple of weeks. Estimated delivery is mid-July. I'm getting pretty excited. It will be nice to drive an A4 again. The Scirocco is fun but it sure isn't an A4!

On item of particular interest that came from my conversation with my salesman has to do with the availability of the new Symphony Audi stereo unit. This is apparently the new double-DIN stereo that will be standard in all U.S. A4's for the 2000 model year. The Symphony incorporates an in-dash CD player and a cassette deck. Here is a picture. Apparently, all of the latest production A6's that are arriving at the dealer are including the symphony unit instead of the single-DIN Concert AM/FM cassette. This is of interest because the A6's that are arriving are STILL 1999.5 model year cars! What this means (and I'm crossing my fingers and thinking happy thoughts) is that there is a possibility that Audi has done a production line change and that we may be seeing the new stereo on all new Audi's currently in production including the A4. I don't have to tell you that that would be SWEET! There is no guarantee that this is what will happen but we can always hope. I guess we'll just have to pay attention to how new A4's arriving at the dealer are configured.

One of the prizes at the Club's Sears Point Exposition this past weekend was a set of 17" wheels donated by Autobahn International in Oregon. They are the Porsche Cup style wheels and I have to tell you that they looked incredible in person. I have been fairly intent on the Borbet type T wheels but I think I've had a change of heart. These Cup style wheels look really nice. They weigh about 25 pounds each in the 17" X 7.5" form. I could have picked up a set for a good price over the weekend but held off since I want to wait until the car arrives first. It would be torture to store the wheels in the garage for another month or so and to not have a car to put them on. Talk about teasing myself.  Here are a couple of photos of the wheel. The Audi version has the Audi rings as a center cap instead of the Porsche logo.

July 02, 1999

OK, its been about a month and I've finally updated the site.  I attended a NASCAR race for the first time ever and had a great time.  Read about it and see pictures by visiting the race write-up.

I have great news!  I have in my possession the VIN number for my new A4.  It is built and waiting to be loaded on the ship.  I'm still not sure whether or not the cars for California are coming into San Diego or Houston but I expect it to arrive by the end of this month.  I can't wait!  It will be nice to be back on the road again in a new A4.

In preparation for my new A4's arrival I placed an order yesterday for a new set of wheels and tires.  I elected to buy the Porsche Cup Wheels being sold by Autobahn International.  The wheels are the 17 X 7.5 inch size and I'm having them mounted with Sumitomo HTRZ II 225/45ZR17 tires.  These are about half the cost of the Bridgestone S-02 Pole Position tires and those who have been using them have offered good reviews.  $200+ per S-02 was a little much for me.  Here is another picture of the wheels.  It turns out that they are the same wheel as the Mille Miglia Porsche Cup Wheel.  They are made on the same production line as MoMo and Mille Miglia Wheels.  These are drilled at the factory for an Audi bolt pattern and will have the Audi logo center cap.

I was also seriously considering the Smartire tire pressure and temperature system.  This system puts a transmitter into each tire that senses the pressure and temperature inside the tire and transmits the data to a receiving unit inside the car.  It is wireless and supposed to last approximately seven years and requires no maintenance or hard wiring for the transmitters.  It was pretty cool but in the end I balked at spending over $300 for what is an admittedly neat gadget.  I guess I'll just have to keep track of my temperatures the old fashioned way. :-)

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