40 years of the Audi 80 B2: Ferdinand Piëch, Giorgetto Giugiaro, Claus Luthe

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This Audi 80 showed edge in the middle class

40 years of the Audi 80 B2: Ferdinand Piëch, Giorgetto Giugiaro, Claus Luthe-mid-range cars

Because of the grandpa car. With aluminum rims, spoilers, metallic paint and Quattro lettering, the Audi 80 B2 still looks sporty today

Source: Audi

40 years ago, a certain Ferdinand Piëch set out to bring the Audi grandfather brand on a par with BMW and Mercedes. The small limousine helped. Even if nobody noticed that at the time.

F.erdinand Piëch had ambitious goals. Forty years ago, Audi’s new Chief Technology Officer wanted to gradually bring the brand with the four rings on a par with Mercedes and BMW. In other words, to where Audi had already been before the Second World War, when it was celebrated as the figurehead of the technical avant-garde.

To this end, Piëch the just renewed Audi 100 five-cylinder engines donated, which was still an unusual concept at the time. They were powerful engines with a distinctive sound that were also intended to give the second generation of the Audi 80 (B2) and the new noble mid-range Audi 90 (B2) derived from it sporty dynamism.

In the autumn of 1978, the Ingolstadt-based company presented the new generation of mid-range sedans, which had grown significantly in all dimensions compared to the delicately proportioned predecessor: 16 centimeters longer to a total of 4.38 meters and a plus of seven centimeters in the wheelbase to 2.54 meters. That was a clear announcement.

Because that was the dimensions of the BMW 3 Series or Saab 99 reached. The previously closely related – because it was derived from the predecessor Audi-80 – corporate colleague VW Passat was now significantly smaller than its internal competitor. The Audi 80 also scored points with new safety details such as optimized crumple zones. And then there were the angular yet surprisingly aerodynamic shapes of the sedans. Quite a few thought of Volvo or Saab. And that was to be understood as a compliment.

The Urquattro as an image rocket

In fact, the designers of the Audi 80 succeeded in creating an astonishing visual affinity to the larger Audi 100 and 200 models thanks to a six-window sideline. In addition, the representative appearance of the classic notchback sedan was a perfect match for the 1970s – a decade in which automobile size was still great was used as a social status symbol.

At the same time, the designers of the Audi 80 were so far-sighted as to anticipate developments in the 1980s, in which the focus would shift more to technology. The yuppies loved compact models with good driving characteristics, that’s what BMW 3 Series and Mercedes did 190 to top sellers.

The B2 generation of the Audi 80 was not yet at eye level. But it helped to narrow the gap: From the summer of 1981 it was available as an extravagantly equipped CD. And the Audi Coupe and the broad-cheeked Quattro variant with five-cylinder turbo and initially 200 hp, derived from it, were special sensations. Everything with the substructure of the Audi 80 B2.

40 years of the Audi 80 B2: Ferdinand Piëch, Giorgetto Giugiaro, Claus Luthe-Claus Luthe

Upgraded Audi 90 with facelift body. Something like that could be seen very well in the mid-eighties

Source: Audi

But the notchback version also got an upgrade: In November 1982 the Audi 80 quattro 5E appeared – this time with the turbocharged, powerful five-cylinder that had already won many fans in other model series. In the quattro 5E, it was combined with permanent all-wheel drive, as the brand’s second model. A car for technology freaks from technology freak Piëch, who indicated with it where the journey would go. If you wanted more luxury instead, you got it from 1984 in the Audi 90, recognizable by other lights at the front and rear.

Even if BMW and Mercedes were not yet within reach, the Audi now mixed up the non-premium middle class. At times it was even among the top three of the German registration statistics as a whole. During the construction period, almost 1.6 million units of the series were sold, including over 1.2 million four-door sedans.

Claus Luthe and the father of golf

Who were the designers who brought Piëch’s Audi 80 so ingeniously into shape? They were big names in car design. The basic concept of the body was still developed by Claus Luthe. Audi had taken it over from NSU, where he had drawn the Ro 80, at BMW he also created some pioneering models after his time at Audi.

Giorgetto Giugiaro, the creator of the VW Golf, was decisive for the final shape of the Audi 80 (B2), which has since been booked by the group with pleasure. Giugiaro skilfully integrated the wishes of Audi’s safety researchers, who upgraded the new Audi 80 so that it approached Swedish standards.

40 years of the Audi 80 B2: Ferdinand Piëch, Giorgetto Giugiaro, Claus Luthe-Audi 80 B2

Ladies first. Not only the original quattro made headlines for Audi. But also the fact that a woman moved him to the top of the world – the French Michelle Mouton

Source: picture-alliance / ASA

Extended crumple zones required a larger front end, while the doors provided more occupant safety thanks to massive side impact protection. In addition, a new type of release element prevented the steering column from penetrating the interior.

And then of course: Quattro. To this day, the all-wheel drive introduced at the time is almost synonymous with the Audi brand. In the early eighties it was a unique selling point. The development department got it from the VW Iltis taken over and modified, he made the original quattro coupe a serial rally winner and world champion. When Audi was through with the mid-range model series, hardly any manufacturer could afford not to have an all-wheel drive variant on offer.

Even then start-stop

Another revolution was less noticeable, even if it was labeled as the “Audi engine of the future” in Ingolstadt. A 1.8-liter engine, against which, according to Audi, “cars of this class will have to measure themselves in the future”. It was installed, for example, in the 90 hp Audi 80 C, with a regulated three-way catalytic converter from the beginning of 1984, five years before the technology became mandatory.

On the other hand, the Audi 80 “Formula E” was too far ahead of its time. The 85-hp petrol engine already had an automatic start-stop system in 1981, albeit one of the more complex type: when stopping, you first had to press a button so that the engine switched off.

40 years of the Audi 80 B2: Ferdinand Piëch, Giorgetto Giugiaro, Claus Luthe-Urquattro

Audi 80 B2 in the lean original version. Hansjorg Felmy drove through them with something like that as Commissioner Haferkamp "Crime scenes" the seventies

Source: Audi

In order to prevent unintentional starting, the clutch then had to be actuated when starting off and the accelerator pedal had to be touched at the same time. Customers rarely bought the variant, even if it saved almost 30 percent fuel in the city.

The B2 was part of the Audi program for eight years, and has since been modernized with a facelift. In 1986 it made way for a successor, which with its emphatically round, aerodynamic design seemed to be the complete opposite of its angular predecessor. And car magazines also tested it, the B3, against Ford Sierra or Opel Ascona. But more often they put it next to BMW or Mercedes. In the middle class, Audi was at eye level.

9 thoughts on “40 years of the Audi 80 B2: Ferdinand Piëch, Giorgetto Giugiaro, Claus Luthe”

  1. I still like an Audi 90 with a facelift today. Looked out for you a few years ago, but like so many other things "bread and butter"-Model from the 70s and 80s, it has also become damn rare.

    Reply
  2. I still like an Audi 90 with a facelift today. Looked out for you a few years ago, but like so many other things "bread and butter"-Model from the 70s and 80s, it has also become damn rare.

    Reply
  3. I still like an Audi 90 with a facelift today. Looked out for you a few years ago, but like so many other things "bread and butter"-Model from the 70s and 80s, it has also become damn rare.

    Reply
  4. My father’s 5-speed diesel variant was lame, but only needed about 5 liters per 100 km. A typical bread-and-butter car from the early eighties

    Reply
  5. My father had a B2 as a GTE with 112 hp. It was also relatively economical, but as a typical sales representative, my father moved it by 10 to 12 liters.
    At the beginning of the 90s I bought a special model of the Golf 2. Since the VW dealer did not get the papers for the registration, but had already sold my old car, I got an Audi 90 quattro to bridge the gap – when my Golf was registered after about 9 days, I actually didn’t want it anymore.

    Reply
  6. My first own car – 79, then 7 years old and an incredible rust bower. But at the same time an economical, reliable cruiser with long-distance qualities…

    Reply
  7. It’s a bit sensational to portray the age-old Audi B2 like this. The car was very common and popular in the L, CL equipment, with 55 (later 60 HP) or 85 (later 90 HP) motorized suitable for this time, had a very comfortable chassis, excellent noise reduction at the time, plenty of space, great overview . The cars from 1980 onwards lasted for 30 years, they were so easy to assemble and so well made.
    There were those too "were crazy" Variants back then, but not for normal drivers of this car. It is a shame that this wonderful car is depicted so far from its real world.

    Reply
  8. "1970s – a decade in which automobile size was still used as a social status symbol"
    As if it’s different today … The status boxes just got higher, wider and heavier…

    Reply
  9. Many will say that, "what philistines" but i think they are great.

    Reply

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