- The progenitor of all-wheel-drive sports and rally cars—both a testbed and successful launch platform for Audi’s now popular quattro system
- One of fewer than 11,500 produced over 11 years
- Turbocharged 2.1-liter inline five-cylinder engine; five-speed manual transmission
- Benefits from extensive restoration
The Audi quattro is ground zero for all-wheel drive, both in rally racing and (arguably) in road cars. Prior to the coupe’s debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1980, the technology was unheard of in the rally world and scarce, at best, in production cars. “We wanted to create the impression of a car that’s ‘glued to the ground’—with capability rather than elegance in the foreground,” said Audi head of design Hartmut Warkuss at the vehicle’s unveiling. “And this formal concept has justified itself as effective, correct and credible.”
Indeed, the advantages of all-wheel drive and other technical achievements in the quattro coupe, such as improved turbocharging, eventually propelled Audi to four World Rally Championship titles, from 1982 through 1984. The German automaker seized on its racing success to spread the technology across its production lineup, a trend that continues to this day, with Audi’s branded “quattro” moniker— Italian for “four”—now synonymous with all-wheel drive.
Derived from the Audi 80 (called the 4000 in the United States), both rally and production versions of the Audi quattro coupe were developed in tandem, with input from Finnish driver Hannu Mikkola, who would take the car to numerous victories on the world rally circuit, alongside other Audi-factory-team titans, including Michèle Mouton, Stig Blomqvist, and Walter Röhrl. Its revolutionary permanent all-wheel drive system hinged on the use of a hollow shaft in the gearbox to transmit drive force through a center differential to the front and rear axles. Complementing it was a 2.1-liter inline five-cylinder turbocharged engine rated to produce 200 horsepower, a five-speed manual transmission, and a fully independent suspension. Fewer than 11,500 production versions of the quattro coupe are believed to have been made over 11 years.
This example, finished in gray over a black interior with gray houndstooth fabric inserts, benefits from a restoration by Swiss automotive group AMAG, totaling more than 57,000 CHF and completed in 2018, after the current owner acquired it. It included stripping much of the interior and exterior to repair rust throughout the bodywork, and giving the car a complete mechanical overhaul, replacing or refurbishing parts as necessary. Invoices dating back to 2004 accompany the sale.