Perhaps I’m being harsh in my title. But I have to say, this listing annoys me for a few specific reasons. We’ll get back there soon. Predictably, as it did with Mercedes-Benz Pagodas, Porsche 930s, 80s BMW M products and the original GTI, the quick rising of selling prices for the Audi Quattro has continued to bring good examples to market. Where we used to wait seasons between seeing any at all, today you seem to be able to view at least one pretty good one on the market at any given time.
Today’s furthers the recent line of ’83s I’ve looked at. We saw the $59,000 ask on a modded L041 Black one. Recent bids only hit $33,000, which tells us more where market value lies. We saw more of a project a month later with the Treser’d LA5Y Helios example. At $25,000, it was one of the cheaper examples to come to market recently. Then just last week the stellar L97A Diamond Silver Metallic one popped up. Priced right in the middle of the two at $40,000, it looked like the one to buy of the three.
Today’s ’83 comes in a fourth shade available that year. LA3A Mars Red was shared with the A1 and early A2 chassis Volkswagen GTI and GLIs (along with a few others), but is less frequent to see on the Quattro than the color that replaced it in 1984 – LY3D Tornado Red. It’s more orange in tone and distinctive as a result. This particular example is also claimed to be completely original and from a single owner – something none of the others could boast. Priced at $36,900, is this the one to get as a collector?
It is, admittedly, quite hard to lump the importance of one car into the same category with yesterday’s M3. But if there’s a German car from the same period that deserves to be mentioned in the same breath, it’s certainly the Quattro.
True enough, the U.S. version wasn’t really as quick as you’d expect it would be considering the Deitous stature levied upon it by fans of the brand. But if you looked up “game changer” in the dictionary, an image of the Quattro should certainly appear next to it. So advanced was the thinking behind this car that today it’s still the recipe being followed by many manufacturers nearly 40 years later. And those iconic boxflares that the M3 sprouted? That’s right, they appeared here first. While in some ways the re-work of the design sullied Guigiaro’s clean silhouette, the result was monumental and again the basis for all of the important be-flared WRC fighters that came after. The M3 was only one to copy the style; the Celica Alltrac Turbo, the Escort Cosworth, The Lancia Delta Integrale, the Subaru WRX, and the Mistubishi Lancer Evolution are but a few of the turbocharged, all-wheel drive and box-flared cars that would go on to become legendary in their own right. But the one that started it all has finally gotten some recognition over the past few years. Great examples of the Quattro are few and far between, so when they come to market it’s something very special. And this particular Quattro is really exceptional:
Lost in the sea of Mercedes-Benz R107s is the SLC that is one of those ”Oh yeah, I remember those” cars because honestly, you just don’t see them anymore. I’ve checked them out before, but none like this one for sale in New Jersey. This is the ultra-rare 500SLC 5.0 which doesn’t sound like much right now, but let me explain.
Mercedes-Benz actually ran the SLC in the FIA World Rally Championships and in order to do so, they had the homologate the cars as they ran 5.0 liter V8 SLCs in the races. Mercedes wwas only making the 4.5 liter cars at the time so a 5.0 liter car for the streets was necessary. Like most homologated cars, the production numbers were extremely low with just 1,133 500SLCs being made over a few years. None of these cars were ever made for North America, but somehow there is really nice for sale in America’s favorite state. But the price? All those creme puff 560SL owners will be jealous.
The Quattro is finally getting some market recognition, as automotive collector trends are celebrating both landmark vehicles and rally stars of the 1980s. Of course, Audi’s halo vehicle combined and defined both of these attributes into one package capable of capturing imagination and launching a brand. But with only 664 originally imported to the United States and a fair bit less than that still here today, coming across examples for sale is very much harder than what you see in the Porsche, Mercedes-Benz or BMW market. As a result, it’s cause for celebration every time one pops up, and wallets full of internet cash emerge at the ready to click “Buy It Now”.
In this case, though, not so fast….
Unlike the Porsche 924, the Audi Quattro had no special editions. Outside of the homologation version of the Sport Quattro, there were no gimmicks, no limited models, and very few options. It was a take-it-or-leave-it design. You got a turbocharged inline-5 in front, a 5-speed manual gearbox in the middle, twin locking differentials center and rear, and it only came in Coupe form; no sedan, no four door, no popping rear windows, no convertible, targa or cabriolet. With a high-dollar price tag for its development, perhaps the Quattro would have been a greater market success if it had been available in more options, but the result was that they sold fairly slowly. In 1983, the model year of this particular example, Audi managed to shift only 240 of its $40,000 halo cars in the U.S.. Today, that makes them significantly more collectable than the 924, especially when they’re presented like this car:
Legend generally has it that the Audi Quattro dominated the World Rally Championship and the iconic Group B class of flame spitting, air catching homologation specials. But popular belief is wrong, as though the Audi was successful, it was far from the walk-over that many fans believe it was. The Quattro was challenged at every step; first from the establishment Lancia with the 037 – a rear-drive, mid-engine super-lightweight special. Lancia proved that a lightweight, better balanced design could best the nose-heavy Audi even in inclement conditions and though the four ring’s Hannu Mikkola won the driver championship in the WRC for 1983, it was the Lancia who captured the constructor’s title.
Things got more interesting in 1984, as major modifications and increasing power introduced new players to the field. The season started out where 1983 had left off, with the long-wheelbase Audi Quattro A2 and the Lancia 037 dominating the first eight rounds of the championship. Round 9, though, saw a new, unorthodox design launch. As Audi rolled out their shortened, upright and more powerful Sport Quattro, Peugeot emerged with the diminutive 205 economy hatchback. Yet it was not a front-engine, front-drive design as they’d be seen on the road; stripped, widened, and seriously turned up, the new 205 Turbo 16 was a mid-engine, all-wheel drive turbocharged revolution that would go on to dominate the Group B competition over the next two seasons.
Just how dominant was it? While the 205 Turbo 16 didn’t look or sounds as impressive as the leaping, massively winged Audis or outrageous turbocharged and supercharged Lancia Delta S4, the chassis balance, power delivery, reliability and driver combination was spot on. The results spoke for themselves; there were 29 races the 205 Turbo 16 raced in WRC before Group B ended – Peugeot won 16 of them. Audi? After the 205 was introduced, they won one. That’s right, Audi only won ONE race outright after Peugeot entered the arena. So while the Sport Quattro might be a legend, it wasn’t a particularly successful car in terms of racing. It may have come from over the border and an unusual source, but when one of the 200 homologation special 205 Turbo 16s comes up for sale, it’s something of an occasion that is worthwhile to look at – and perhaps the hottest hatch ever made:
The Audi Quattro was not nearly as dominant in World Rally as pretty much every article you read says it was. That may sound shocking, but in the years the Quattro “dominated” the WRC, it only won the driver’s and constructor’s championship together one time – in 1984. In 1983, Hannu Mikkola won the driver’s title in a Quattro, but the constructor win went to – wait for it – a rear-drive Lancia 037. In 1982, Audi’s design won the constructor’s championship, but again it was rear-driver Walter Röhrl in an Opel Ascona that captured the driver’s title. Those shortened, screaming, flame-belching bewinged monsters you’ve seen on numerous clips? Well, the truth is they were never very successful, as the much better balanced Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 swept the end of the Group B period up. If you want real dominance in that era, though, you need to look at the Lancia Delta Integrale, which captured every title from 1987 to 1992.
But the Quattro was evocative. The sound was memorizing. And even if the recipe was perfected by other makes later, it was Audi’s design that revolutionized the sport with unfathomable speed and aggression. So compelling was the Quattro, that long after Audi had retired from Rally and was now dominating race tracks, plenty of enthusiasts were trying to recreate the magic on their own:
From what was arguably the least desirable Porsche product from 1985 yesterday, we move on to the most desirable Audi product from the same period. Contrary to popular belief, the Quattro did not pioneer many of the technologies it is credited with. What it did do, though, was for the first time marry turbocharging, full time all-wheel drive and a slinky coupe shape together with just enough luxury to partially justify its $40,000 price tag. For those not quick with inflation numbers, that’s just shy of $120,000 in today’s buying power – about the same as a lightly optioned 2017 RS7. What you got for that amount was surprisingly sparse; a manual sunroof, rear wash/wipe, and electric mirrors and windows – that was about it. Under the hood, the off beat inline-5 produced only 160 horsepower in U.S. trim, and toting around the best part of 3,000 lbs it was far from the performance produced by dollar-for-dollar equivalent models. You’ve often heard the expression that today’s Camry outperforms a 1980s Porsche? Well, a Kia Soul could give one of the U.S. spec Audi Quattros difficulty in a race. Coupled with a reputation for rusting and poor electrics, these expensive Audis were sold in sparse numbers and are a very rare sight today, especially with lower miles and original like this one:
If the end of the the Group B era was the RS200 I wrote up yesterday, the signature car of the rule set still has to be the Audi Quattro. There’s been a renaissance of the history of the Quattro; like the E30 M3, it wasn’t quite as successful at any given moment as fans of each tend to claim. The Quattro was far from dominant in World Rally – but it was evocative, as the close battles with Lancia, Peugeot and Ford produced the legendary sounds, sights and sensations that still send chills up the spines of anyone who sees these cars in person. The noise of the Quattro alone is legendary and the off-road soundtrack to the 1980s. I’d like to think I capture a little bit of that every time I start up my Coupe GT, but though it sounds really neat it’s nothing compared to the raucous screams of the last E1 cars. It was what made the Quattro the legend that it is. Although the WRC cars were a different breed than the road-going luxury versions, still they were simply put the fastest way to cover ground in any weather in the early 1980s. It helped that they were quite good looking, too, in their own chunky way:
Now, before you start shouting at your screen that there’s a blue oval appearing here, I’m aware that Ford is an American-based company. I could go into theatrics about how we’re actually speaking a form of German to attempt to rationalize a Ford appearing on these pages, or I could point out that Henry Ford was awarded the Grand Cross of the Supreme Order of the German Eagle on his 75th birthday – the only American to ever receive this award. Of course, that and Ford’s inclusion in Mein Kampf probably aren’t highlights in the storied history of the family or the company. But it does point towards Ford’s reach across the globe, and indeed the European branch of Ford is Ford of Europe AG, headquartered in Cologne, Germany. If that still isn’t German enough for you, let’s just say that once in a while something that’s partly non-German pops up that we’d like to cover. While usually that’s a Swedish car, today it’s a Ford. But this isn’t just any Ford, okay?
The RS200 was conceived in a world for a world that, by the time it came to fruition, no longer existed. Built to maximize the Group B rules, Ford spanned Europe looking for the best talent to make the RS200 a winner. The body of the car was Italian in design but assembled in France. The chassis and engine designs were perfected by Formula 1 aces in England. It was a winning formula that unfortunately was launched at an time of unprecedented speed and power in the World Rally Championship; a combination that proved deadly. Barely into competition, the FIA changed the governing rules in the WRC and immediately the RS200 was shelved. The result was a few hundred competition ready cars that were hugely expensive with nothing to compete in.
But like the Sport Quattro, 205 Turbo-16, 037 and Delta S4, the Group B cars have all experienced a resurgence in interest in the past decade and appreciation has gone from just a group of oddball, off-beat rally fans to the greater automotive community. The result has been spectacular pricing on models like this 1985 RS200: