Junkyard Gem: 1987 Audi 5000 S

U.S.-market Audi sales climbed steadily in the 1980s, and the third-generation Audi 5000 (known as the Audi 100 outside of the United States) was a big part of that success. Then, in 1986, “60 Minutes” aired the infamous “Out of Control” report about the 5000’s alleged propensity to put itself into gear and crash into stuff at full throttle. U.S. Audi sales went into the crapper straight away, and they stayed there for years. Here’s one of the ’87s that did sell in the aftermath of the unintended acceleration debacle, spotted in a California wrecking yard.

The 5000 was big, comfortable, futuristic-looking (sporting flush glass long before most of Audi’s competitors), and lent an air of European sophistication to its American drivers. Sure, 5000s broke down frequently, but daily-driving cutting-edge technology comes at a price.

Just 82,699 miles, and the interior is in excellent condition. Perhaps this car was driven sparingly and religiously maintained, or maybe something expensive broke 20 years ago and it sat in a garage until now.

I am assuming that there was a heart in this sticker, not a skull-and-crossbones or other non-love-related symbol.


Audi recalled all the automatic-equipped 5000s extant in the aftermath of the unintended acceleration drama, installing these stickers on the gearshift consoles. Sure, the problem was more likely to have been caused by drivers mixing up the pedals than by mechanical failure (unlike, for example, the all-too-real “park-to-reverse” defect in 23 million vehicles that Ford didn’t have to fix, a few years earlier), but Audi’s fixes may have saved some lives.

Here’s an Audi PR film about the issue, released about the time today’s Junkyard Gem was rolling off the showroom floor.

Audi dumped the 5000 name for the 1989 model year, calling these cars 100s and 200s.

There’s a lot of interesting automotive history in your local U-Wrench-It yard!

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