Conventional enthusiast wisdom would say that if you want an older, sturdy German off-roader, you want a Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen. However, that stance completely ignores a very important vehicle in Audi and Volkswagen’s history – the Iltis. The story is mulch-faceted, but it boils down to two different stories; Volkswagen’s need for a replacement for both the Type 181 (“Thing”) and DKM Munga, and the birth of the legendary Audi Quattro. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Volkswagen consolidated the various Auto Union brands into a revised Audi lineup – the result of which was an opportunity to replace Mercedes-Benz as the German military vehicle supplier, a lucrative contract. To do so, Volkswagen built a new Type 183 vehicle using spare parts from the lineup of vehicles it now oversaw – the chassis was in large part based upon the earlier Munga, and the mechanical components based upon the Audi 100. The second story goes that in winter testing of some Audi and Volkswagen products, snow covered roads seemed to be the undoing of all but one of the lineup of cars brought along; the new Iltis simply left the other cars behind and impressed engineers Jorg Bensinger and Walter Treser (yes, that Treser), who theorized that the drive system could see road use. The result was the blueprint for the Audi Quattro that would debut in 1980, but not before Audi and Volkswagen won the Paris-Dakar Rally in 1980 with an Iltis. While the Quattro legend would take Audi to a whole new level in the 1980s, not much appreciation is given to the father of the Quattro – they’re rare to find for sale but offer a neat alternative to the normal off-roader:
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I’m going to get a bit gushy for a moment, if you’ll allow me. I love the original Scirocco. Considering I’m a huge fan of the similarly Giugiaro designed Audi Coupe, that should come as no surprise. Both the GT and the Scirocco have some odd angles, and arguable aren’t the prettiest designs ever to be penned by the Italians. However, it’s that awkwardness that adds to their appeal for me – they stand out not because they’re perfect, but because simply they stand out and not in a bad way. It’s something that the second generation Scirocco wasn’t able to pull off, in my mind. The short and squat original model, though it lacked the performance of many of the top-tier Volkswagen products, has to go down as one of the prettiest Volkswagens ever made. While they were a popular coupe and in many ways helped to spawn the sedan-based 2-door market that was the rage in the 1980s and early 1990s, not many of the original Sciroccos remain thanks mostly to rust and electrical issues. To me, the best looking of the original models are the infrequently seen “S” models, such as the 1980 which popped up this week for sale. The S was mostly an appearance package but featured a front spoiler, some cool stripes and Recaro seats; it was also only available in three colors in 1980 – black, Mars Red or today’s Alpine White:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1980 Volkswagen Scirocco S on eBay
Just because you want to partake in Coupe Week doesn’t mean that you have to have the deepest pockets. For a modest investment, you can get top-notch designer styling mated to a reliable and economical engine that’s still fun to drive. That’s certainly what Volkswagen sought to achieve with the introduction of its Giugiaro-styled Scirocco. While based upon the pedestrian mechanicals of the sibling Golf/Rabbit, the Scirocco capitalized on a sportier look but was backed up by a substantial racing program undertaken by Volkswagen to promote the car. Despite good looks and a devoted following though, the Scirocco unfortunately has fallen a victim to time, the tin worm and low residual value, meaning few remain in pristine shape unlike the more expensive coupes from Stuttgart and Munich. So it was a special treat when two of our readers sent in dueling 1978 and 1977 Sciroccos this week; one original and one rebuilt. Which is the winner?
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1978 Volkswagen Scirocco on The Samba
While the insane VW vans available these days are a fun fantasy, I much prefer finding the undervalued drivers that have significant upsides. This Campmobile model has a few foibles that should be addressed before it’s a really great self-contained adventure machine, but the low price gives plenty of room for some redemptive reconditioning. In brown, it’s nicely average and original, save the well-chosen South African grill and less attractive wheel covers.