Derived from Italian for ‘four’, quattro is a word synonymous with Audi the world over. The designation began nearly four decades ago when Audi introduced a model that changed the face of world rallying – and spawned a generation of four-wheel-drive offerings that are now the cornerstone of the company’s product range
WHY IS IT SPECIAL?
When changes to the rules in world motor sport allowed the use of four-wheel drive, Audi was quick to respond with a development of the Audi 80 Coupe that incorporated the running gear of the Volkswagen Iltis cross-county vehicle. This combination proved unbeatable: Hannu Mikkola, Michele Mouton and Stig Blomqvist dominated the World Rally Championship for the next two years as the future of the WRC was catapulted into a new direction. It was Audi’s first four-wheel drive production car and originally marketed with a lower case ‘q’, much to the irritation of journalists and copy-editors, and was responsible for introducing Audi’s characteristic ‘four rings’ logo decal along the body sides. The first quattros are now commonly known as Ur-Quattros, the ‘Ur’ being German for ‘original’.
THAT CLASSIC COOL FEATURE: THE SOUND AND THE FURY
With permanent, 50:50 split 4wd and a turbocharged 2 144 cm3 five-cylinder engine, anyone who witnessed one driven in anger – Sarel van der Merwe and Geoff Mortimer rallied variations of the model in SA in the mid-1980s – will never forget the threatening thrum of the engine, the chattering of the pop-off valve on the overrun and the car’s outrageously grippy handling characteristics. Mind-blowing stuff. And as a result of the competition successes, road-going versions became highly desirable. TV fame was achieved by a red Quattro driven by DCI Gene Hunt (played by Philip Glenister) in the popular BBC TV drama series Ashes to Ashes aired from 2008 to 2010.
CAN YOU GET IT TODAY?
The Ur-Quattro was launched at the 1980 Geneva Motor Show and with minor upgrades was built up to 1991. Homologation rules dictated only 400 need be produced for the road, but such were the favourable road test reports and the love for Group B rallying of the era that eventually around 10 600 were manufactured. A few were imported to SA and there may be a couple still tucked away. In the UK, early road-going, 10-valve Ur-Quattros sell for the equivalent of R 350 000, later 2 226 cm3 models slightly more, while post-1989 20-valve examples double the amount.