8 March 2017

Our Cars: Doug Clark swears by German rides – and he Audi know

Doug Clark grew up in the Motor City and saw “new American steel on every street corner.” So it’s no wonder his neighbors’ German-built automobiles stood out. “They had a son, Bernie, who worked on their Mercedes-Benzes, and that gave me a window into cars that were nothing like what I saw on the road. I loved sitting in the garage with Bernie and watching him work.” Doug also enjoyed riding in his grandparents’ 1975 Volkswagen Beetle whenever he visited their summer cottage. “It was small and old and had a manual transmission. I loved the way it sounded and drove. It was fun and direct – so unlike what I was used to.”

Not surprisingly, when it came time for Doug to buy his first car, he was thinking German. “I voraciously read all the buff books, and when Car and Driver did a five-car comparison of Sport Coupes, I was on the edge of my seat. It was Brock Yates, I think, who wrote the piece, and he explained that everyone would be surprised by the winner … the 1983 Audi Coupe GT.” Doug couldn’t afford a GT then, but he found a used one years later, and “it started me on my auto industry journey” – one that eventually led him to Audi, where he worked for 18 years, and then to Hagerty.

Name: Doug Clark

Position at Hagerty: VP Marketing

Years at Hagerty: 2

Vehicle: 2001 Audi TT Roadster Quattro

Why did you choose a 2001 Audi TT Roadster Quattro? During my stint at Audi, I had the honor and pleasure of being the first brand-dedicated PR manager. Over the years I helped Audi rebuild its fortunes in the U.S. with the launch of many vehicles. The one that captured my heart was the Audi TT Roadster. It reminded me of the original Porsche Speedster – clean lines, Bauhaus styling and open-air joy. I got to take journalists to Gubbio, Italy, for the press launch, and Freeman Thomas, the exterior designer, and Romulus Rost, the interior designer, told us all about the inspiration behind the car.

Everything was just right. The Bauhaus design style – where form follows function … the aluminum accents throughout the vehicle. Audi even spent two years developing an anodization process for these to minimize fingerprints. The Amber Red Optic “baseball glove” leather seats were a limited-production option, launched with the 2001 Roadster. There was nothing else like it on the market, and the fact that a German sports car was celebrating the American pastime just bowled me over. I knew I had to have it.

Years later, when I joined Hagerty, I began looking for my first collector car. The journey was short; I knew it had to be the Audi TT – which was also the first convertible that I took my son for a ride in back in 2000.

Repairs and Modifications: It’s been pretty trouble free, only a new timing belt and tires.

Hobby activities: I love attending the weekly Cars and Caffeine events at Hagerty HQ throughout the summer.

Favorite Drive: M-22 near Traverse City, Mich.

Interesting Car Stories: For me, part of finding just the right car was the road trip that my son Jack and I took to bring it home to Traverse City. I found the car in Vermont, and after a number of emails and phone calls, Jack and I flew there to buy and drive it home. Jack and I shared many stories, and the ferry ride across Lake Champlain with the top down in April will always be a fond memory. Since then I’ve relished driving it with my wife, Kim, and my youngest son, Carson. I’ve even taught Jack to drive the manual transmission. Through the entire process I became one of Hagerty’s many happy customers. Every sunny day is an opportunity to enjoy it.

13 Reader Comments

  • 1
    mac Nashville March 8, 2017 at 17:05
    I ended up with the first TT roadster in Nashville. Drove it off the showroom floor. Looked just like yours but without the baseball glove seats. Beautiful car...expensive to maintain. The dealer, at that time, was terrible. They had about six months with know audi mechanic and I was told that I'd have to go to Atlanta for service or void the warranty. My wife's car was also an under warranty audi. Until last month I have never owned a car that was not a European convertible. I now drive a Nissan LEAF. Audi is, at least in part, to blame. Maybe I'll get another TT roadster as an extra car. Then I would be able to say, "on the average, I own one cool reliable car."
  • 2
    DLQ Jackson, MI March 15, 2017 at 19:23
    I purchased a 2006 black & tan Audi A6 in 2007 with 22,000 miles from an Audi dealership. It was a one owner one-year leased car used by a female driver in Miami FL. It came with two years of free scheduled maintenance/full warranty and an additional two years of limited warranty. Ten years later it enters 2017 with 54,000 miles without ever using the warranty for out of the ordinary issues. The only expense beyond oil changes were battery and tire replacement plus $150 to disable the tire pressure monitoring system after those batteries started dying (in lieu of $1,000 to replace them) and a brake fluid change. To sum it up, it’s been very reliable and inexpensive to maintain. Our likes are many: Love the looks/fit/finish, torque’s good for a V-6 with direct injection, the 6-speed auto is idle for this kind of car, Bose speaker system, Quattro all wheel drive, and the brakes are better than any car we’ve ever owned, a large 16 cf trunk, and finally the cabin is eerily quiet with what seems like zero wind and road noise. It can go 500+ miles on a full tank of gas. Dislikes are few: the Multi-Media Interface is frankly a pain in butt – too many buttons – too many layers – too complex especially if you don’t drive it every day (which I do not). In the normal drive mode there is slight throttle lag but that can be eliminated by placing it in sport mode. Mileage checks show 22 mpg in town and 26 mpg when traveling 75-85 mph. To sum it all up, we are pleased we went with Audi. Our first German car.
  • 3
    Rick Glesner Littleton, Colorado March 15, 2017 at 19:41
    I've owned 4 (actually 3 the 4th is my wife's), 02 Coupe 225q, 04 Roadster 225q, 05 Coupe 225q, and my wife's is a 00 Coupe 180q. They are wonderful cars, easy to work on, easy to modify into sub 6 second cars. I sold the original 02 coupe for the Roadster, I traded the Roadster for a 05 Boxster S...scared me to death the Boxster did (IMS) issues and the price of a engine made me crazy. That was also not my first Porsche (911, 924S, 944S2) so I'm not anti Porsche it just the IMS problem and the ballooning cost of being in the Porsche camp has driven me away. The TT as originally styled my Freeman Thomas is a obvious omage to the 356 and Freeman openly admits that. So for my wife and I we can have our cake an eat it to. Let's face it the car is based on a Golf/VW A4 platform that make repairable by people like me who have good wrenching skills and a unique fun car.
  • 4
    chuck hager w. PA March 15, 2017 at 20:15
    My little brother and I both have 2001 Audi TT quatro roadsters.. While mine is black with black interior,his is dark green(butt ugly)..Fun to drive while delivering 30+ mpg.. Drove across Nebraska at 100-110mph for almost 6 hours...Did not pass many people that day?? But 25 seconds after crossing into Wyoming , was stopped by one of their finest and told (sternly) the speed limit is NOT 80..I had stopped to take a photo of the cowboys sign, at the border, was not in 6th gear yet..when pulled over
  • 5
    Jim Gray Tallahassee, Florida March 15, 2017 at 20:23
    Hello Doug! I hope this finds you well and rested, especially if you were at 'The Amelia' last weekend? What a wonderful, exhausting and amazing job Bill Warner and his team pulled off with the moving of the Concours' Show to Saturday due to weather. Like you, I am the proud owner of an Audi TT Roadster. I went looking for the last Gen 1 (2006) in the Special Edition (1 of 99) and found #66 for sale in Arizona in 2014. It had been well cared for and with the exception of the typical issues with the instrument cluster, which I had repaired, it has been the most enjoyable, reliable and crazy fun car to drive I have ever owned! It now has over 93,000 miles on the odometer and feels as tight and responsive as the day I bought it. Like you, I fell in love with the lines, the Bauhaus style and that interior! That Amber Red baseball optic; hand stitched leather interior. It just may be the most amazing interior I have ever seen. I was sorry to read through Mac's experience with his TT and dealership. I know how frustrating those things can be... I have a theory that this little car is going to have its "day in the sun" and once the secret gets out that the Audi TT Roadster is simply one of the most iconic and classic forms in the past 20 years, the value of them will likely increase considerably and even it doesn't, what a wonderful experience running through that superb DSG gearbox with those paddle shifters and the top down...all four wheels gripping the ground like a thing possessed and the 3.2 liter engine revving away. Simply amazing! Thanks Freeman Thomas and Romulus Rost... Best wishes, Jim Gray
  • 6
    Tom Nashville, TN March 15, 2017 at 22:19
    I have a 2002 Audi TT Coupe Quattro with about 60k miles on it. I am the second owner, I bought the car in 2004. The only issue that I have had is the instrument cluster problem that has cropped up on the TTs. I have had mine repaired twice. I love this car and plan to keep it long term. My TT is silver with black interior.
  • 7
    Tim Blackburn Springfield, OH March 16, 2017 at 19:23
    I used to attend the NAIAS in Detroit frequently. I was there in 2000-01 (not sure) when Audi had the first TT roadster on display. It was Dove Gray with the tan "baseball glove" interior. I LOVED it. a few years later, I bought the Maisto diecast model of the same car. Two years ago I found that very same car with less than 40k miles and plan on keeping it 'till sometime after Haggerty will be insuring it.
  • 8
    Porter Brownlee Little Rock, AR March 16, 2017 at 08:32
    I had 2; a 2001 (ironically, a friend ran a red light a t-boned me totaling this one) and a 2003; both quattro 6-speed coupes. Loved the car but the speed with which it went from concept to production showed in some of the maintenance requirements, i.e., the necessity to remove the right front suspension to replace the timing belt. I put near 150K miles on the 03 and found myself spending a grand on the car about every 3 months and sold it. Genuinely loved the car when I wasn't spending money on it though.
  • 9
    Paul Eddleston Michigan March 16, 2017 at 09:06
    Doug, you should come down state and check out my Quattro or Visit Maple city and check out my ongoing quattro rally build.
  • 10
    Mike Dumont Quebec March 16, 2017 at 09:11
    Hahaha! Love the story, but I was more surprised by who wrote it! We worked together for a brief time & enjoyed his great humor & positive attitude! Being retired from Audi today, seeing Doug's post immediately put a huge smile on my face! As for his TT, it's a wonderful car, great performer in it's day & it only needed proper care from the owner & when service was required...any competent Audi technician would do the car & owner proud! I'm happy to see that he own's one, love that model & interior! As for Audi my wife owns a '04 Allroad & she loves it especially with the storms we've had this season, great car! Take care my friend! Kind regards, Mike Dumont
  • 11
    Dave Ottawa Canada March 16, 2017 at 12:37
    I used to rock a 2001 silver coupe and I loved it!!! First and only car ever bought from a dealer, it was a tired used example which I had to drive home for 5 hours on the highway with a fully open driver's window (broken), and constant misfiring ;) Some tweaking and new spark plugs and a great little summer car. I won't say that these are 'fragile' cars but there are certain things that need done. buyer beware when purchasing. maintenance aside though - what an interior and cool exterior look! and fun to drive! :)
  • 12
    JERRY KELLEY FLORIDA March 22, 2017 at 08:25
    Stunned! I just got the twin to Doug Clark's TT except it is Aviator Gray Pearl. After retiring I became an Audi Brand Specialist [Sales Person] and was at the Daytona track with 40 of them for New Product Intro training [We were limited to 120 MPH]. I was hooked immediately for all the reasons stated by Doug. PS-I need door panels for the Amber Red Optic interior or a lead for restoration.
  • 13
    Sandro Toronto, Canada May 5, 2017 at 14:25
    Happy to hear of a few others who also appreciate the Audi 8N here! This car is a of particular interest for me as it was the one making waves in the auto industry while I was studying industrial design. I finally hunted down my promising collectible a few years ago outside of Chicago. It is a 2001 1.8T ( US model sans-tumor bumpers) Roadster finished in Nimbus Grey with the legendary Optik Baseball interior which is the epitome TT best resembling the original concept car. I imported this vehicle into Canada and have been having fun with some light restoration and modifications to make it a fantastic roadster. Some notable refinements have been an upgrade 3.2 front bumper and 3.2 rear exhaust valance. Engine has had it's fair share of challenges with a leak in cylinder head burning coolant along with some other cooling system problems. Hobby car which is starting to show its age i figure...all good. -Sandro

Join the Discussion