- This first-gen Audi TT has arguably the purest execution of the model’s Bauhaus design.
- Although based on VW Golf underpinnings, the top-spec version featured a turbocharged 225-hp engine, all-wheel drive, and an available six-speed manual transmission, all present here.
- This example also boasts ultra-low mileage with the odometer showing just 15K miles. The auction ends on Thursday, July 6.
Launched in the fall of 1998, the Audi TT is now a quarter-century old, which naturally begs the question: Is this a potential future classic? Underpinned by the same platform as the fourth-generation VW Golf, the TT was practical, quick, capable, and oh, so pretty. This ultra-low-mileage example of the first-gen TT Roadster, complete with a manual transmission and those standout baseball-stitch seats, is up for auction on Bring a Trailer, which like Car and Driver is part of Hearst Autos.
The TT takes its name from motorcycle racing on the Isle of Man. NSU was a car and motorcycle manufacturer that was absorbed by Auto Union in 1969 to form the modern embodiment of Audi, and it was quite successful in motorcycle racing on the Snaefell circuit. Further, the NSU TT was a small, highly tuned rear-engined coupe that may be thought of as analogous to any number of Fiat Abarth specials.
In the mid-1990s, Audi was looking to infuse its lineup with more emotional appeal. The A4 and A6 had established themselves as credible rivals to BMW’s 3- and 5-series and the Mercedes-Benz C- and E-class. But Audi needed a sports car.
Enter the TT, first sketched out as a coupe concept in 1995. Production began in 1998, with the roadster joining the lineup a year later. A year after that, a more potent 225-hp version of the turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine went on sale, and the TT made Car and Driver‘s 10Best list.
“We predict this wonderfully glamorous Audi will eventually join the Cisitalia and Jaguar E-type in the Museum of Modern Art. For now, we simply grin every time we see one,” we wrote.
This example is the more potent 225-hp variant, with Quattro all-wheel-drive and the six-speed manual transmission. Finished in black over Amber Red upholstery, it also has the must-have baseball-stitch leather, like you’re sitting in Paul Bunyan’s game-day mitt. With just 15,000 miles on the odometer and a clean California history, it’s a gorgeous piece of modern Bauhaus design.
Just as it did on its debut, today the TT marks a high point for Audi enthusiasts. And, sadly, also a bookend. The current TT is leaving the market as Audi pivots to electrification. There may be an all-electric successor to the R8, but there appear to be plans for the TT to go EV.
Which is a shame. The TT was Audi’s Everyman sports car—interesting, beautiful, and within reach. A box-fresh vintage version like this example still has those qualities. This auction ends July 6.
Brendan McAleer is a freelance writer and photographer based in North Vancouver, B.C., Canada. He grew up splitting his knuckles on British automobiles, came of age in the golden era of Japanese sport-compact performance, and began writing about cars and people in 2008. His particular interest is the intersection between humanity and machinery, whether it is the racing career of Walter Cronkite or Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki’s half-century obsession with the Citroën 2CV. He has taught both of his young daughters how to shift a manual transmission and is grateful for the excuse they provide to be perpetually buying Hot Wheels.