30 years of Quattro: How an Audi 80 wrote car history

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How an Audi 80 wrote car history

30 years of Quattro: How an Audi 80 wrote car history-Ingolstadt

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World premiere in 1980: the Audi Quattro at the Geneva Motor Show.

Source: Audi

30 years of Quattro: How an Audi 80 wrote car history-Audi

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As a ‘modern interpretation of the classic Gran Turismo car’, Audi advertised its first four-wheel drive 30 years ago. In the years that followed, the car moved far more than its ownhave four wheels.

Source: Stefan Robert Weibenborn

30 years of Quattro: How an Audi 80 wrote car history-Ur-Quattro

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The Ur-Quattro behaves suddenly on the road: the power steering and brake booster are at a prehistoric level of evolution.

Source: Stefan Robert Weibenborn

30 years of Quattro: How an Audi 80 wrote car history-Toni Schmucker

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Once warmed up, the 1.3-tonne lightweight accelerates to 100 in 7.1 seconds and still manages a speed of 222 today.

Source: Stefan Robert Weibenborn

30 years of Quattro: How an Audi 80 wrote car history-Toni Schmucker

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The display modules and the steering wheel are the only things that are round in the cockpit. Otherwise, the typical design of the time reigns supreme.

Source: Stefan Robert Weibenborn

30 years of Quattro: How an Audi 80 wrote car history-Toni Schmucker

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A hard chassis is offset by the soft seats with moderate lateral support, but a fascinating eighties diagonal stripe pattern.

Source: Audi AG / AUDI AG

30 years of Quattro: How an Audi 80 wrote car history-Toni Schmucker

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The two differential locks can be activated by pulling a cable.

Source: Stefan Robert Weibenborn

30 years of Quattro: How an Audi 80 wrote car history-Ur-Quattro

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The Quattro lettering has become the trademark of many model generations from Audi.

Source: Stefan Robert Weibenborn

Almost all Audi models 30 years ago were pretty square. For one, however, the number four had a special meaning: The first Audi Quattro was a milestone in the company’s history. Even more: it made all-wheel drive as socially acceptable and popular as it is today.

D.The decisive factor was ultimately a soaking wet meadow. Or rather, what was persistently pushed up the slope watered by the fire brigade near Ingolstadt in May 1978. It was the A1, a prototype in the sheet metal of the Audi 80, which all four wheels drove. The then VW CEO Toni Schmucker was convinced of the crawling skills of the test vehicle and gave his okay: three million marks were made available for the further development of the permanent all-wheel drive in the group, to which Audi has been part since 1964. Years later, the result was the so-called Ur-Quattro, as it was presented on March 3, 1980 “as a modern interpretation of the classic Gran Turismo car” at the Geneva Motor Show.

30 years later, one encounters a vehicle with an outdated, angular face. The Quattro looks a bit deranged with its cube headlights that are not exactly seated. “Somewhere between a Gothic wardrobe and a piano,” was the comparison made by Ralf Friese, the man responsible for documenting the company’s history at Audi, when asked about the wind slipperiness. He can’t think of the CW value. At that time, too, something else mattered. “They wanted to demonstrate what kind of traction this creature has,” says Friese.

The silver original Quattro, built in 1980, 2.1-liter five-cylinder with exhaust gas turbocharger, chassis number 852BA 900 076, starts hesitantly and gives off the smell of gasoline as it rolls out of the hall of the Audi depot in Ingolstadt. Robert Mayerhofer, master of the historical vehicle collection, is wondering what it could be. Inside it smells like an Audi smelled back in the eighties: a mixture of hard plastic and seat cover with a pinch of cold smoke and indefinable nuances. The analog clock is ticking loudly. Anyone who drove the Audi 80 at the beginning of the eighties will recognize a lot.

The trip can take one afternoon. Then the square should go back to the treasure trove of the other icons of the company’s history: Audi 100 Coupe, Auto Union 1000Sp, old Horch and Wanderer models, etc. The absence of an oil temperature gauge proves that it is originally not a jewel, but rather made for the rough in the cockpit; instead of it, a pointer informs about the boost pressure. But the Quattro should become a jewel for the group. “1980 was the initial spark. It was the farewell to the Biedermann image ”, Friese looks back. "A huge boost to your image."

The Quattro cannot quite prove its capabilities on the winding roads of the Altmuhltal, because its territory is the snow slope, as depot keeper Mayerhofer assures from the passenger seat. But the all-wheel ancestor conveys fun. Shock absorbers seem to be non-existent. Fortunately, at least the soft seats with the moderate lateral support, but all the more fascinating eighties diagonal stripes pattern in iridescent copper-brown-gray, diminish what the chassis passes on to them. Even if it is just the vibration of an asphalt seam.

In general, the coupe drives very suddenly: the power steering and brake booster are at a prehistoric level of evolution, which is reflected in the need for work. A slight swiveling of the ankle is not enough to brake; muscle strength is required. No hint of a finger is enough to steer, the bony steering wheel needs to be firmly enclosed. And the turbo lag is almost none, which the cooperation between the five-cylinder engine and turbo charger releases, goes directly and fairly to the axles in a 50:50 ratio. The differential locks that can be activated via a cable are not used. Slurping noises are heard when the coupling is made, promising: "Something’s going on here!"

Once warmed up, this means a catapult effect for the 1.3-ton lightweight with the accelerator depressed, which is still impressive today: 222 km / h top, acceleration to 100 in 7.1 seconds – these are the values ​​of the old one Data sheet. “With a charge pressure of 0.85 bar and charge air cooling, the five-cylinder turbo delivered 200 hp and a torque of 285 Nm”, it is written. And he can still do it. In curves, it conveys more than stability for a classic car, which according to insurance companies is from its 30th birthday.

In terms of engineering, the hollow shaft installed for the first time was considered an ingenious development. It released the tension in cornering. With the help of the component, it was possible to accommodate the intermediate differential in the transmission housing to save space and weight – that was a prerequisite for the large-scale production of an all-wheel drive compact car. In 1987, after a gentle facelift both inside and out, the most important technical innovation came: the Torsen differential, which continuously distributed the drive forces to the axles as required. It should be mentioned that there were all-wheel drives before. In the switchable version, for example, with Subaru, the Jeep or the Land Rover, and the Range Rover had permanent all-wheel drive as early as 1970. But the Quattro is considered to be the first mass-produced vehicle with constant power distribution on all fours.

His traction properties brought him international rally successes in Group B from 1981, which are associated with names such as Mikkola, Mouton, Blomqvist or Rohrl. In 1984 the Sport Quattro called "the short one" took the stage. Its wheelbase was shortened and it was powered by a 20V five-cylinder with 306 hp. The short boy was not granted any major sporting successes, but in his last evolutionary stage as the "wing monster" S1 he went down in history. Its aluminum unit produced more than 600 hp in some cases. With driver Walter Rohrl at the wheel, the overpowered racing car, which only a few had mastered, waved towards Pikes Peak during the 1987 hill climb in Colorado – in just under eleven minutes. "It was a fabulous time that Rohrl burned into the piste without any driving errors," remembers Friese. The Quattro has become really popular through motorsport.

Initially, only a small series of 400 pieces was planned, which was used to homologate the competition car for the World Rally Championship. The everyday success of the vehicle in the Audi model range that was most expensive in 1981 at 56,815 marks could not have been imagined. By 1991, 11,452 original Quattros had finally rolled off the assembly line. The drive itself turned out to be a great success: around 3.2 million Audis with Quattro drive have been manufactured to date. The all-wheel drive vehicles now account for almost a third of total production. Only the development of the TDI drive brought Audi a comparable breakthrough, says Friese. The original Quattro has held a record since 1991: It is the longest, visually almost unchanged, series-production car in the company.

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