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Audi Quattro

Published: 13th Jun 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Audi Quattro
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Fancy owning a motorsport legend? Paul Davies looks at true classics that made their names on rally stages and race tracks, and still provide fine drives today

When the Federation Internationale Automotive agreed in 1979 that fourwheel drive vehicles could take part in the World Rally Championship, they were doubtless thinking of off-roaders such as the quartet of Dodge Ramchargers that would start the 1981 Marlboro Safari Rally. For the record Malcolm Smith and Rod Hall finished 9th and 10th onthat event, but by then things had started to roll in another direction - after the Audi Quattro, rallying would never be the same again. Finnish legend Hannu Mikkola was asked to test a prototype (in fact a 4WD 80 saloon) and told Audi: “when you go rallying with this car, I will drive it.” The Quattro won its first event (the Janner Rally in Austria) within a few days of homologation in January 1981, and the following month Mikkola and Arne Hertz took the car to a maiden WRC victory on the Swedish Rally. From then on the Quattro changed rallying forever. True, Talbot won the 1981 Championship with the Lotus Sunbeam, and Walter Rohrl was Drivers’ champ in 1982 in an Opel Ascona – both two-wheel-drive – but Audi was top Manufacturer in ’82. And to the present day only once (Lancia 037, 1983, manufacturers) has a four-wheeldrive car not won a World title. It wasn’t just the 4WD, proved first on the VW Iltis 4x4, that made the Quattro a legend. The five-cylinder, in-line, engine was near unique, and the turbocharger boosted road car power from 200bhp to 300bhp for rallying. It was big and heavy by ‘80’s rally standards, but power and traction ruled. Others could only follow. Early rally days with the car were fraught. Petrol leaking onto the turbo caused more than one fire - and nearly claimed the life of competitions manager Walter Treser - whilst cunning attempts to improve engine-bay cooling fell foul of event organisers. Still, Mikkola won two WRC rounds and Michele Mouton three, to only just miss out on being the first lady champion. The Finn was top world driver in ’83, and Stig Blomqvist the British champion the same year. In 1984 Blomqvist took the world title for Audi, and John Buffum was US champion in ’85. Audi developed the car well into the Eighties, with evolution versions giving more and more output, the sensational short wheelbase Sport Quattro of 1986 boasting 450bhp (with 20-valve cylinder head) before the suspension of Group B ended the power race. By then the lighter and more nimble Peugeot T16 and Lancia Delta were top dogs. The original intention was to build 400 Quattros to qualify for Group 4 rallying. But the car was also a runaway success with the public - boosted no doubt by that rally image - and no less than 11,452 cars were built before the last proper Quattro* left the production line in 1991. Which is good news if you want to bag a piece of automotive history at a reasonable price - so much so that we’ll be featuring the car in our Classic To Consider series soon! (*Note: The capital ‘Q’ is correct for this model. It was only when four-wheel drive became common through much of the range that Audi adopted the term ‘quattro’.)

Audi Quattro Summary


1981-91: 11,452


Engine: Five cylinder, in-line, with alloy cylinder head. Pierburg fuel injection, KKK turbocharger. ‘WR’ version: 2144cc (200bhp), and ‘MB’ 2226cc (210bhp) with single overhead camshaft and 2 valves per cylinder. ‘RR’ 2226cc (220bhp) from 1990 with dual overhead camshafts and 4 valves per cylinder. Rally engines: 300 - 450+bhp (Sport Quattro E2 at 2110cc).
Gearbox: five-speed standard, six-speed on Sport.
Drive: Permanent four wheels, with centre differential.
Suspension: Independent front and rear with coil springs and struts.
Brakes: Disc front and rear, ABS on later models.
Steering: Power rack and pinion.

Claim to fame

The rally car that started the whole four-wheel drive thing! Not the first turbo powered (Saab did that), but the most effective. Twice winner World manufacturers title (1982, ’83) twice WRC driver (1983, ’84) and numerous national championships. Gave Michele Mouton first Woman’s WRC win (Portugal 1982). Conqueror of Pikes Peak.

Famous names

Franz Wittmann, Hannu Mikkola, Stig Blomqvist, Michele Mouton, Michele Cinotto,Walter Rohrl, Harald Demuth, John Button, Lasse Lampi, Marc Duez, Per Eklund, Malcolm Wilson, Dai Llewellin.

Where to buy

Start with Audi specialists such as Quattro Workshop and the Quattro Owners Club web sites (see below). Occasionally spotted on e-bay and in Exchange and Mart/Autotrader. And Classic Cars for Sale of course!

What to pay

Early 10-valve models from £6000, but expect to pay £13,000-£15,000 for a good 20-valve. Competition cars with history go for a lot more at auction.


Quattro Owners Club:

Classic sport

Sorry, not for historic rallying but join the Slowly Sideways group ( if you get an ex-works or replica.

Maintenance, tuning and sport

The magic (and the value) of the Quattro lies in just what it is. Best leave things alone! Spares are available from both Quattro Corner ( and Quattro Workshop (

Competitive Rating: 9

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