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:
Today’s 10K Friday is something a bit unique; instead of a normal comparison between similarly valued cars, I’m going to chart the development of the venerable Audi inline-5. While, due to a dearth of examples, we won’t go back to the very early days of the I5 in the U.S., I’ve rounded up some of the more notable configurations that the engine appeared in the U.S.. Since, save some exceptions like the legendary Quattro and RS2, nearly every used Audi with this motor fits the under $10,000 limit (or comes close to it), that gives us the opportunity to see Audi’s continual technical changes to the inline-5. Though not as memorable as BMW’s inline-6 or Porsche’s flat-6, this motor was extremely important to the company nonetheless and was a character-defining attribute of Audis for nearly 20 years. So, let’s see how they kept it relevant from the 1970s into the 1990s:
While it’s tempting to throw the design laurels for Audi onto the later 200 20V quattro and S4/S6 models as we often do, it’s important to remember that they were really developments of the original Audi super-sedan, the 5000CS quattro. That model was, itself, a development of the earlier turbocharged version of the large sedan, as seen driven in by the father in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The CS quattro brought together the best elements of Audi’s designs; the revolutionary C3/Type 44 aerodynamic and futuristic design which provided excellent looks and fuel economy, the robust all-wheel drive system with locking differentials as seen in the World Rally Championship-winning Quattro and 4000S/CS quattro, and the turbocharged inline-5 that also powered the Quattro and had previously powered the front-drive sedan. But 60 Minutes managed to do a number on late 1980s Audi products, creating a scenario where Audi was nearly removed from the American market. That meant low residual values, and by many these 5000s were viewed as throw away cars for some time. It’s become rare to find good examples, and while this particular one isn’t showroom-fresh it is a reminder that the 5000 was a neat looking and performing package: