A drive down memory lane
For Kai Wilschrei, Senior Manager Technical Service Aftermarket EMEA at NGK SPARK PLUG EUROPE GmbH, classic cars hold a deep fascination. “I had always loved cars but at some point in my youth, I also developed an interest in old cars as well”, says the former car mechanic. “The cars that I used to repair back when I worked as a young mechanic are now classified in Germany as ‘youngtimers’ [as opposed to ‘oldtimers’ which are older]. Similar to the way in which the music and movies you liked in your youth stay with you, there’s certain a nostalgia factor at play for me when it comes to older cars”, he says.
In 2018, Kai became the proud owner of an Audi 90 (B2), a model of car that was built between only 1984 till 1986, making it quite hard to find nowadays. Despite its rarity on the road today, many of his friends and family have displayed certain levels of perplexment as to why he settled on a “car that is not a real ‘oldtimer’”. For Kai, however, there were a variety of reasons for choosing this car.
“My father used to own an Audi 80 from 1986 to 1998. The car brings back happy memories for me. I can even remember, as a 19-year-old, going to the car dealer with my father and picking it out, so I thought that it would be nice to have that model again”, he says. Upon second thought, however, he then realised that an Audi 90 would be even better. “The 90 is the luxury model of the Audi 80. It features the 5-cylinder engine which made the company famous. The 80 only came with a 4-cylinder engine so the 90 is a perfect example of Audi’s ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’”, he says.
A needle in a haystack
With his mind set on an Audi 90, Kai began the task of finding one. Considering, however, that it had only been manufactured for two years during the mid-80s, this was no easy feat. Finally, after much searching, he tracked one down in the south of France after spotting it on an online car-sales platform.
Incredibly, the car was sold by the family of the first owner, whose possession it had been in for 33 years. “The car has a real European history”, he says. “It was originally sold in Belgium, where the owner lived for a period of time. He then moved to the UK where he stayed for ten years before relocating to the south of France, where I was lucky enough to eventually buy it.”
Things have come full circle now with Kai’s Audi 90 – or ‘Blaudi’ (referring to its Copenhagen Blue colour) as he has christened it – back in Germany where it was manufactured. “Coincidentally, it was even built the same month that I turned 18 and received my driver’s licence, so it almost feels like I was destined to drive it”, he says.
Buying a classic car
According to Kai, there are few certain things to consider when buying a classic car. Chief among these is that the car is ‘honest’. “What I mean by this”, he says, “is that the history of the vehicle is known. For example, what parts have already been replaced? Has it been restored before? If so, how many times? How many owners has it had? These are important factors to know. A car that has had a lot of owners, for instance, may present problems. In addition, a car that’s already been restored may look good but often the restorations are only cosmetic”, he informs. Another aspect to look out for is the model, he emphasises, because “some parts may not be available anymore. If these are damaged or missing and you want an original replacement, you may have a problem sourcing them”, he notes.
He also recommends having a restored car “checked by a vintage car expert” before purchasing it, or enquiring if it has received an official certificate. This certificate is made by specialists and is issued after the car has undergone a deep inspection. “The car’s condition is stated on the certificate, so it contains vital information”, he says.
Maintaining a classic car
Just like the human body, taking good care of your classic car is key if you want it to have a long life. Luckily for Kai, Blaudi’s previous owner did just that. “The car was registered and had passed the technical test in France without any problems. When I brought it to Germany, I had no problems with the TÜV [the German technical inspection]”, he says. Thanks to the warm French climate, the car was also rust-free when he got it. It did, however, exhibit some ‘small dents’ and the paint had signs of ‘wear and tear’, “so I put a lot of work in to get it back looking in mint condition”, he says.
Well into its fourth decade, Blaudi is showing no signs of slowing down. “Last year, I took it for a 2000 km ride for one week and didn’t experience any problems, so the car is fighting fit. This is helped by the fact that I only drive it in good weather conditions and never during the winter”, he says.
With his background in car mechanics, it’s no surprise that he carries out “the majority of repairs and maintenance tasks” himself. “I only take it to the garage if I don’t have the specific tools needed to carry out the repair”, he says.
Obviously, this maintenance includes the replacement of spark plugs. “The original spark plugs used in the Audi 90 were ‘long-life’ three electrode plugs. I have replaced these with NGK Iridium IX plugs which offer an excellent upgrade opportunity for older cars and some younger ones, as well. Fitting them as replacement spark plugs assures vintage car drivers of reliable first-time ignition, no misfires and the longest possible service life – with no carbon build-up”, he says.
When asked about the amount of time his car hobby takes up, Kai’s passion for cars shines through when he states that “it doesn’t ‘take up’ any time at all. I give time to it. Repairing and maintaining my Audi 90 is fun. And driving it is even more fun!”, he says. Over 30 years may have passed since he helped his father pick out an Audi 80, but for Kai Wilschrei, some things have never changed.
Next up in our new blog series will be the VW BUG – everybody’s darling.
***If any reader has any information regarding where Kai Wilschrei could purchase dark blue rear headrests for the Audi 90 (B2) that aren’t bleached by the sun, please contact him at: email@example.com***