We spotted a rare 1984 Audi Quattro on the sylvan streets of Burlington, VT the other day and had to think if we’d ever seen another one of these “in the wild” before. Our research finds that a mere 664 of these purpose-built all wheel drive rally cars were imported to the US over the course of five model years and it’s a safe bet that crashes, rust (see our example’s hood) and mechanical issues have claimed the bulk of these over the past three decades.
Audi’s much vaunted “quattropermanent” four-wheel drive system, mated with a 2.1 liter five cylinder turbocharged motor made for all-weather not-so-cheap thrills thirty years ago. These little stormers were priced at $35,000 when new which translates to something like $80,000 today.
Quattro was a specialty car that helped define Audi as a no-holds-barred race and rally presence. It was a halo car for the full Audi line that parent Volkswagen did its best to establish in the face of entrenched in Deutschland hergestellt competitors Mercedes-Benz and BMW.
Audi’s four-door standard bearer in those days was the 5000 and here we see a nicely preserved ’86 5000S in front of a Victorian manse with a relatively recent Audi TT roadster, painted to match the house, in the driveway. VW almost withdrew the brand from the US market after a 1986 CBS 60 Minutes piece delved into a series of mysterious wrecks caused by “unintended acceleration.” Down went Audi sales and, at just about the same time, Toyota introduced its luxury Lexus brand to fill the gap, giving MBZ/BMW a run for the (big) money. In recent years the “unintended acceleration” badge of shame has been hung on Lexus. How’s that for karmic justice?
Maybe you’ve wondered about the four interlocking rings that are Audi’s logo. Contrary to popular belief, this is not an appropriation of the symbol of the Olympic Games but, rather, a representation of the four marques that came together to form Auto-Union in 1932, a big year in German history on many levels. That aggregation of DKW, Horch, Audi and Wanderer continued — with a bit of an interruption in the early 1940’s — until Auto-Union was acquired by Daimler-Benz in 1958. Daimler dumped the operation on Volkswagen in 1964 with only the Audi brand surviving, at times just barely, to the present day. What a long, strange and, sometimes, unintended trip it’s been.
Just last year Audi posted a video of a current S3 in competition against an ’83 Quattro Sport. Of course, the modern car vanquished the older one.. but only by 12 seconds. It’s a foregone conclusion that Audi will continue to conjure up the old Quattro to underscore its present day badass bonafides even if the originals are few and far between. It’s still a “halo” car after all these years.
If you’re interested in a UR-Quattro (UR = German prefix meaning “primitive/original”) ) we suggest you browse on over to Ebay Motors where an ’83 “barn find” with under 50,000 miles awaits your bid.
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