When you mention Audi nowadays – you think of chic executive saloons, the madness of the RS range and sales managers stopping at service stations on the M4.
If you look past the stereotypes however, there is no denying that Audi have forged a fearsome reputation for creating cars, that when well driven, are hard to beat. And what term is synonymous with the four rings?
Before the 1980s, Audi had been bought, sold and merged numerous times from the 30s until the late 60s. This left the manufacturer with precious little time to pin down an identity. That all changed in 1969 when the dust began to settle and the beginnings of Vorsprung durch Technik was born.
Under the ownership of the Volkeswagen group, Audi started to produce models such as the 100, 80 and the 50. These held particular significance as they underpinned future VW models, the Passat and the Polo/Golf….significant cars that helped position VW as a world beater in multiple sectors.
udi were on the way and then, in 1977, work began on the car that changed everything for them – the quattro.
In an effort to shake the conservative image that was stuck to Audi like a modern RS6 is glued to a corner, they came up with the idea of building a four wheel drive coupe to take part in the revitalised world rally series.
And take part they did.
The Quattro dominated.
It was one of the first rally cars to take advantage of the recent rule change that allowed four wheel drive technology. Audi captured the manufacturers title in 1982 and ’84 announcing in the process that four wheel drive was here to stay.
Throughout the 80s Audi smashed records. The car evolved into the Quattro S1 and then simply into the S1, the model that gave its name to the range of Audi ’S’ cars that still exist today.
By the time the 90s came around, Audi were pumping out exciting, well made models across the range that rivalled the M cars coming out of Munich and the AMG monster that Mercedes had started to perfect. The conservative tag was well and truly gone
If it hadn’t been for Jorg Bensinger, the chassis designer who suggested the quattro, history may have been very different.
Imagine a world where you couldn’t transport the kids, a week worth of shopping and three potted plants back and forth at light speed in your RS4….that is a world I don’t even want to consider…