Shoestring7's tdi


While the scope of my ambitions pale into insignificance compared to some of the amazing cars here, I thought keeping a thread going would help with the motivation.

Audi's A2 has always been an attractive proposition. I admire Ferdinand Piech's obsessive engineering-focussed world view that brought it into being, and in my opinion it set the correct template for the future of the motorcar, a future that's been lost in a world of 1500kg hatchbacks and 2000kg hybrid SUVs.

At Le Mans in June 2000, Audi first fielded the closed R8 prototypes that went onto deliver first, second and third places, starting the Joest Audi team's domination of the next decade. Expecting success, they put a big effort into the PR side, and had invited lots of VIPs, putting them up in various hotels around the town. The VIPs were chauffeured around in a fleet of A2's and you quickly became used to their distinctive profile in amongst the local traffic, where they truly looked like they'd been beamed down from the future.

A couple of years later, I bought a silver tdi 75 from the big car supermarket in Slough, and I used it as a frugal commuter for several years (and a parts getter, including one memorable v-max effort somewhere in the north of England down an utterly deserted motorway on World Cup Final day - in the back was an engine and gearbox that later went into a Westfield Seven I was building. ISTR seeing 115mph on the clock on a downhill stretch after a long, long run up) until an inattentive moron in a Nissan slammed into the back of it while I was stationery in a jam. Unfortunately, such was the energy of the impact that I was pushed onto the boom of a skip lorry in front of me. The extensive damage front and back was enough for the insurers to write it off.

A few years later, I bought a nearly new Fsi Sport, which was starting to show the running problems that later became associated with the model. At the time it was still under the manufacturers warranty, and it spent the best part of a year at a main dealer while they tried to work out what was wrong. In the meantime I was given a tired 1.4 petrol to run around it, probably, at around 900kgs the best expression of the A2 concept, but I'll admit I found it underpowered.

More recently, I bought a nice clean late model FSi SE, which I owned for a year before foolishly agreeing to sell it to a chap who made me an offer based on seeing it in the Goodwood car park. At the time, I was able to lease a BMW M140i cheaply through BMW's partner programme, so it sort of made sense, but while the BMW had three times the Audi's power, it wasn't three times the car. Funnily enough, I've tried plenty of other Audis over the years (everything from an 90 quattro to A4s and A6s) and disliked all of them except an R8.

After finding my sporty Mini a real squeeze whenever I needed to carry more than one passenger, I decided there was room in my life for another A2, and started looking for a nice FSi Sport. I like the sports seats, steering wheel and DIS that some with the Sport package, although the 17" wheels would have swiftly been changed for something more suitable to the cratered tracks that pass for roads in my part of West Sussex.
Living on West Sussex's coast has lots of advantages; plenty of sunshine, clean beaches, beautiful woods & hills, and pretty towns, but if there's one downside it's that everywhere else in the UK is bloody miles away. While I don't have a problem with traveling to view the right car, it's possible to waste a lot of time and effort driving miles to see sadly miss-described wrecks. Especially, as I was looking at cars that were 15-20 years old and some of them valued at only a few hundred pounds. Needless to say, in November and December, all the better examples appeared to be in Lincolnshire or Yorkshire.

I looked at a few; a base Tdi that was very tired (and I decided I really couldn't live without a/c), another Tdi Sport that only had 75k miles, but looked as if it had spent most of the last decade stranded in a rainforest being used as a punchbag, such was the assortment of panel dings, scratches, scuffs, dents, mould and mildew. It also had the stiffest gear change of any A2 I'd tried (they're all like that claimed the seller). I also looked at a FSi with Open sky, but it had running problems and an assortment of other issues. I also discussed a couple of possible purchases with A2OC members, but without success.

Then one evening I was pursuing the book of face's marketplace, when I spotted a 16 week old advert for a car described only as an 'Audi A2' located in East Anglia.

The advert was very brief, and amounted to not much more than '2005 Audi A2 diesel, good condition, £2000'. There was another picture too:

Clearly SE leather - and you can spot the heated seat buttons - but that's some colour!

I pinged a quick note off to the seller on the off-chance it was still on the market, and was quite surprised when a couple of minutes later they replied that it was.
Now, what piqued my interest was that I thought I could spy a brake calliper behind that rear alloy and a red i on the boot...


I tried asking a few more questions of the seller, but they appeared completely uninterested. Eventually, they suggested that I speak to a local garage, which was where the car was now located. It wasn't clear if it was being stored, worked on, or on a sale or return. When I tried calling the garage, the chap there couldn't tell me much more about it either, other than the mileage (128k), the fact that they'd serviced it in August, and the owner had bought another car, and wanted rid of the A2. I could see that the MOT had expired too. I did manage to get them to confirm that it did indeed have rear discs, but other than that and the MOT history (patchy, but no disasters) I had little to go on.

Eventually I decided to make a low (but I hoped not insultingly so) offer, based on the age of the advert, and lack of MOT. I was surprised when it was accepted shortly after.

I asked the garage to give it a MOT test, and I reckoned there were three possible scenarios:

1/ It passed, whereupon I could go and pick it up
2/ It failed narrowly, and I could get the garage to do some minor work
3/ It failed catastrophically, in which case I would either get the car recovered by a specialist, or back ungraciously out of the deal.

In the event, there was another possibility...
I called the garage back a few days later. They told me that the car hadn't started the morning of the MOT, and once a new battery had been fitted, had failed.

No surprises there, but what I didn't expect was that the seller had agreed to fund a new battery and the remedial work needed on the brakes, whereupon a new ticket was issued. Not what I thought had been agreed, but I wasn't about to look a gift horse in the mouth....

Having transferred the agreed sum electronically, I made arrangements to go and collect the car from Felixstowe. Like I said earlier, bloody miles away!

And complicated by the fact that a train journey was the only viable option open to me, which involved a trip through the Tier 4 plague pit that is London - even though at the time both Suffolk and West Sussex were in Tier 2.
Booked a couple of days in advance, the train ticket was only £25, so fully equipped with mask, gloves, wipes, sanitiser and a packed lunch I set off from my local station.

This was a couple of days before Christmas; the train was deserted:


So was the underground:


After five hours and three changes I made it to Felixstowe, and followed directions to what transpired to be a back street garage not far from the station. Here I spotted a familiar profile:
The handover was perfunctory. I checked the oil level (fine), made sure there was tread on the tyres (some), paid for the MOT test, and grabbed the V5 and the handbook. Within five minutes, I was on my way, the previous owner's phone cradle a useful holder for Waze on the iPhone.

First stop was a nearby Shell station, where I filled the car with 38litres of their finest diesel, pumped up the tyres (which varied from 16 - 24psi), bought several varieties of mints, crossed my fingers and headed for the A12 south.
Good story indeed. I remember that one hanging around the FB marketplace for ages, I think it had been reduced from £2500 initially. Glad you got it for a reasonable price with the most pressing issues fixed, and I hope it turns out to be a good'un. Maybe we'll get to see it at a social once we're allowed? The leather will certainly be a talking point - if you can rescue it, it did look rather dry and cracked in the adverts. Someome must have liked the car enough to have the original cloth seats re-covered, they probably paid a lot more for that than an original leather interior secondhand.
I live in Chichester as well, I have a reasonably tatty (cost me £500) A2 that I came by almost by accident and now love.

I've seen some nice A2s around, I often see them on the Bishop Luffa school run in the morning, definitely another silver one like mine and I think I've seen a blue on as well.
As you might expect from a rather neglected example, the car does have issues, some of which emerged during the trip home. At least I made it the 150 or so miles back to Chichester, and while trundling along the A12, M25 and A24 I was reminded of the unique character of the tdi A2s; the feeling of lightness being propelled by a small but torquey engine, and the way the low drag bodywork continues to freewheel through the air when you lift off. It's unlike any other small car I've driven, bar possibly some of the 1litre Japanese and Korean hatchbacks. However they also feel cheap and under engineered.

First problem was the coolant temperature, which barely rose about 75 degrees centigrade (about 1/4 of the way around the dial when ambient temperatures were around 9 degrees) the whole way home. It meant the fan was blasting away on the 'auto' setting most of the time, and after a while it became noticeable chilly. ISTR the later tdi's have some sort of auxiliary heater arrangement, but it looks as if a new thermostat is in order.

The central locking doesn't. While I could lock the car with the key, when I used it to unlock the car, the alarm got upset until I turned the ignition on. And furthermore on the key front; there is only one...

There is clearly some sort of impediment to the throttle pedal, as near the bottom of it's travel there was a noticeable increase in resistance rather than a stop.

It also became clear (or not!) that the headlights are past their best, once I'd turned off the dualled trunk routes onto unlit single carriageways, it became difficult to safely manage more than 50mph or so. And it was pouring with rain that evening, so I was relieved when I eventually pulled into my driveway at around 6.30pm that evening.

As to the way it went, while the car was happy enough at an indicated 70mph, much faster and it started to feel a little insecure and floaty - there was also a wobble I could feel through the wheel. It's not a priority at the moment, but I suspect the dampers are the ones it left the factory with. I'm always amazed that they are not treated as a 75k mile service item.

The brakes are spongey and pull slightly to one side. I know that the garage paid them some attention to get it through the MOT, but they need more work. The gear change is also slightly on the stiff side.

On the upside, there were no unusual or unexpected noises, there were no warning lights on the dashboard, and the radio and heated seats still work!
A couple of days later I was able to give the car a bit more of a once over. Bodywork looks better than it did in the dealer's forecourt - I think some of the 'scratches' I saw were actually spider webs!

The wheels were also better than I expected; the fronts are kerbed - but I've seen worse - and are fitted with a reasonable Kumho tyres. While the rear wheels are in pretty good, they're fitted with a pair of the finest no-brand tyres;

At this point I'm not sure if I'll look for a pair of good matching 16" rims, or go the 15" route. Perhaps if anyone has anything suitable in the back of their shed they could get in touch.

There was also plenty of evidence of neglect:

Inside was the same story. The heating and ventilation controls show wear - although I've seen worse:

For some reason the light switch is worse - its also missing a fuse box cover (has anyone got one in black?):

I think I might have figured out the sticky throttle; the driver's side floor mat looks to be for a lhd car, and is fouling the pedal. I've ordered some cheap ones off the Bay of Dreams for now, but I'd like some good used OE examples eventually.

The new battery was from a good quality brand, and the locking wheel nut was present:

The alarm isolation switch is missing:

But the first aid kit isn't. There's also a double floor:
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Yes new wheels (Pepperpots!) and good quality tyres needed there - you may find that cures the wheel wobble with no further work needed in terms of suspension?
As usual, the service book had main dealer stamps for the first few years of the car's life, when they started to peter out, being replaced by the occasional invoice.

One thing is clear is that car has been in East Anglia for most of it's life; the original number plates are on the car, the selling dealer's sticker is still on the car and most of the service stamps are for garages in the Royston, Cambridge or Felixstowe area:

Unfortunately I can't see any evidence of a cam belt changed in the last few years, so I'm going to have to find a little man do it locally. They may as well do the thermostat at the same time.

Sadly, while I would be willing to have a go, I just don't have the facilities. I could just about fit an A2 into the garage, but its damp and full of GSA and tools. Outside its little better; where I park is a gravel surface as best and mud at worst. Even getting the car into the air is challenging.

So priorities are:
1. Clean the body and interior. I've got a Furniture Clinic leather care kit on order, and shampoo, clay and wax ready to go. There's also a carpet cleaner I can use.
2. Get the car mechanically reliable and carry out preventative maintenance where sensible.
3. Improve the dynamics; wheels/tyres/suspension/brakes
4. Improve the interior; replace switches, sort out ICE (made a Dension and Bose system)
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I live in Chichester as well, I have a reasonably tatty (cost me £500) A2 that I came by almost by accident and now love.

I've seen some nice A2s around, I often see them on the Bishop Luffa school run in the morning, definitely another silver one like mine and I think I've seen a blue on as well.

My sons were at Luffa, so I did the occasional school run. A A2 makes much more sense than a Q7 when it comes to driving a nipper the 3 miles to school!