Rare Rides: A 1983 Audi Ur-Quattro - the Start of It All

rare rides a 1983 audi ur quattro the start of it all

The Rare Ride seen here represented an important turning point in the history of all things automotive. A single vehicle which changed rallying and simultaneously made four-wheel drive a more realistic prospect for passenger cars.

Presenting the Audi Quattro.

Audi’s idea to add four-wheel drive to a production car came about in 1977, when one of its engineers noted how the Volkswagen Iltis jeep outperformed much more powerful vehicles in slippery conditions. Project idea approved, the engineers picked a starting point with the existing Audi 80, and set to work.

Ready for the latter part of the 1980 model year, the Quattro was released first to the European market. Featuring the company’s new permanent four-wheel drive system, 197 horsepower from the turbocharged 2.1-liter inline-five engine flowed to all four wheels via a five-speed manual.

The North American market (perhaps as expected) received the Quattro later than other parts of the globe, as the first ones arrived in dealers for 1983. North American Quattros had chunky bumpers, no ABS, and mostly leather interiors. The Audi’s only relative competition in the market space was of course AMC’s Eagle; the first mass production four-wheel drive passenger car.

But passenger car sales weren’t the only goal. Audi had rally intentions for its Quattro, and was able to take advantage of recently changed regulations that allowed four-wheel drive cars to enter the World Rally Championship. The Quattro was the first to use four-wheel drive, promptly trouncing most of the competition. The Quattro placed in the top five for the overall WRC season each year between 1981 and 1986, racking up 23 pole position wins between ’81 and ’85. Audi took home seasonal gold in 1982 and 1984. About that time the competition caught up to Audi with their own four-wheel drive cars, and no two-wheel drive car has won the championship since.

Though Quattro production totaled 11,452 examples between 1980 and 1991, North American models were very scarce. Audi sold the Quattro in North America for only the ’83 through ’86 model years. The United States received 664, and today’s Canadian market Quattro is one of just 99 ever imported. Asking prices of over $50,000 circa 1983 might have had something to do with the low sales figures.

Today’s silver Canadian features a tweedy brown interior, and is in generally excellent condition. Critically, it remained mostly stock, avoiding the low-rent add-ons and edits some Quattros experienced. With around 48,000 miles on the odometer, it’s yours for $40,000.

Edit: It was yours for $40,000. Since time of writing, the eBay listing reached $22,400 (under the reserve) and ended. The Quattro was sold via private sale to a new owner.

[Images: seller]

Join the conversation
2 of 23 comments
  • WildcatMatt WildcatMatt on Oct 09, 2018

    I'm curious how trashed the dash is under that carpet cover...

  • Pwrwrench Pwrwrench on Oct 14, 2018

    The Quattro Turbo was a parts bin special. The turbo and AWD were bolted on the Coupe. Along with the auxiliaries; oil cooler, injector cooler (fan with duct to blow air over injectors), and later cars had an extra electric water pump to circulate coolant after shut off. With all that stuff they were a tough job to work on. The exhaust system in the turbo area was known to come loose regularly and was very difficult to get to. The oil cooler seals leaked a lot. Probably because it was near the turbo and the seals got cooked. Glad I don't have to work on them now.

  • FreedMike Back in the '70s, the one thing keeping consumers from buying more Datsuns was styling - these guys were bringing over some of the ugliest product imaginable. Remember the F10? As hard as I try to blot that rolling aberration from my memory, it comes back. So the name change to Nissan made sense, and happened right as they started bringing over good-looking product (like the Maxima that will be featured in this series). They made a pretty clean break.
  • Flowerplough Liability - Autonomous vehicles must be programmed to make life-ending decisions, and who wants to risk that? Hit the moose or dive into the steep grassy ditch? Ram the sudden pile up that is occurring mere feet in front of the bumper or scan the oncoming lane and swing left? Ram the rogue machine that suddenly swung into my lane, head on, or hop up onto the sidewalk and maybe bump a pedestrian? With no driver involved, Ford/Volkswagen or GM or whomever will bear full responsibility and, in America, be ambulance-chaser sued into bankruptcy and extinction in well under a decade. Or maybe the yuge corporations will get special, good-faith, immunity laws, nation-wide? Yeah, that's the ticket.
  • FreedMike It's not that consumers wouldn't want this tech in theory - I think they would. Honestly, the idea of a car that can take over the truly tedious driving stuff that drives me bonkers - like sitting in traffic - appeals to me. But there's no way I'd put my property and my life in the hands of tech that's clearly not ready for prime time, and neither would the majority of other drivers. If they want this tech to sell, they need to get it right.
  • TitaniumZ Of course they are starting to "sour" on the idea. That's what happens when cars start to drive better than people. Humanpilots mostly suck and make bad decisions.
  • Inside Looking Out Why not buy Bronco and call it Defender? Who will notice?