I have a lot of respect for Bob Lutz and Chrysler in at least one way; in 1989, they came out with the Viper concept, and because of such an overwhelmingly positive response, said that it was going to go into production as is. Of course, that wasn’t true and when the production Viper arrived the next year, it was a lot less hard-edged than the original concept. That’s true of nearly every concept car that goes into production; they’re outrageous for the shows, then watered down for public consumption.
Apparently, no one told that to Giugiaro’s Italdesign when they decided to take their hybrid Audi/Lancia/Spaceship directly to the market. Giugiaro’s company had long been pioneers of advanced and cutting edge designs, but they really outdid themselves with the Aztec. As if taking inspiration from some of the best futuristic designs from the 60s and 70s, the Aztec looked part jet fighter, part rocket ship, and part Star Trek communicator. Indeed, it wouldn’t be surprising at all to have someone like Mark Hamill or Harrison Ford pull up in an Aztec at a movie premier; it was as otherworldly and futuristic as both Hollywood and the sets of Star Wars and Blade Runner. But even if there were more wild designs that you might have seen on the show circuit in 1988, Giugiaro – with the aid of some hefty backing from Japanese capital – was crazy enough to produce road going versions of these cars. What was not surprising, then, was that there was a market for them – though, admittedly, it was as limited as the daily drive-ability of the car. If the complete lack of practicality didn’t cool prospective buyer’s desire to own one, surely the $225,000 entry price did. A bit of an oddity to see anywhere but on posters, there is one for sale today on Bring a Trailer:
There’s no denying that I’m a huge fan of the equally huge Audi S8. However, if I’m completely honest I must admit that the last two generations of S8 haven’t done all that much to impress me. Are they faster than the original? Without doubt. Are they more luxurious, too? Certainly. But to me the D2 S8 was just the right combination of punch, style and presence which somehow has been lost on the newer generations. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t pay attention to them.
Hard to believe though it may be, 2019 marks the year of the introduction of the 5th generation of S8. The new one will undoubtedly carry some time-warp inducing drivetrain just like the fourth generation did. The 4.0T may appear in a bunch of Audis, but when equipped in the S8 – especially the Plus model – it creates a large executive capable of altering physics. With 605 horsepower on tap driven through the predictable ZF 8-speed automatic to all four wheels via the most clever iteration of quattro, Audi claimed a 3.3 second 0-60 time and an electronically-limited 190 mph top speed. This is a 4,700 lb. sedan, mind you, full of all the most beautiful leather,
wood carbon fiber and piano black treatment one could stuff into an electronics suite. This thing, stock on street rubber, will do a standing quarter-mile in 11.6 seconds – .3 seconds faster than a Ferrari F40, for reference.
But for some people, even the Plus edition of the S8 wasn’t enough. Enter Motoren-Technik-Mayer, better known as MTM. Roland Mayer, the eponymous founder of the company, has been at it since the beginning of quattro, and they’re generally considered one of the best when it comes to turning up even already fast Audis. So what did they do to the S8? Well, they named it after a place that calls itself ‘The Palace of Speed’ – Talladega. Does that give you a clue?