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Tag: Homologation

Winter Project: 1979 Mercedes-Benz 450SLC 5.0

Back in April I took a look at a rare FIA homologation special not too many people know about – the 450SLC 5.0:

1979 Mercedes-Benz 450SLC 5.0

The 107.026s were very limited production cars, with a total of under 3,000 produced in all (1,636 450SLC 5.0s, along with 1,133 500SLCs manufactured in 1980 and 1981). So it’s really neat to see them come up for sale – even when they’re not in perfect shape. Today’s car will need a lot of love to get back to its glorious roots, but is it worth it to do so?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1979 Mercedes-Benz 450SLC 5.0 on eBay

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1979 Mercedes-Benz 450SLC 5.0

When I think of homologation specials, there are all sorts of models that instantly pop into my head. Of course, being an Audi fan, the Sport Quattro is a great example of the insane Group B era. Of course, Group C spawned a whole series of special cars, from the RS200 and Lancia 037 to the Porsche 959. There’s the special 924 Carrera GTS, as well – a car few remember outside of Porsche circles, and one that’s often forgotten even by them. Then there’s the great period of DTM specials – the “Evolutions” of the M3, 190E and V8 quattro that proved Darwin was right, and we just looked at the later 80 Competition. Of course, you can go back even further and look at one of the most special cars ever created – the original Ferrari GTO – to see a very special homologation of a race car. But outside of the big headlines, there are plenty of small production run cars that were created to jump through loopholes, and returning to my original Group B example, we can see one neat car that was created in order to run in World Rally. It’s not a car you’d expect though – it’s the quite heavy and long Mercedes-Benz C107. Mercedes took steps to make it rally worthy, including lightweight aluminum panels in front and back, and of course upped the power with a new aluminum 5.0 V8:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1979 Mercedes-Benz 450SLC 5.0 on eBay

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1994 Audi 80 Competition quattro

The Audi racing program went through some really interesting changes between the late 1980s and the mid 1990s launch of what became one of the more dominant touring cars produced, the A4 STW. Continuously evolving regulations were part of that, coupled with a global recession and cost-cutting measures among many manufacturers. So it was just a few short years between the flame-breathing iconic 1989 Audi 90 IMSA and the death of the turbocharged Audi racing sedans entirely, though there were some interesting steps in between. For example, Audi tried their hand in the France with the 1992 Audi 80 quattro Supertourisme I looked at a few years ago:

Motorsports Monday: 1992 Audi 80 quattro Supertourisme

That car was powered by a crazy turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four. Simultaneously, Audi built a 2.5 liter V6 80 for the German DTM series, though they ended up withdrawing in protest over the series rules, and the car never ran. Quietly, in the background, a more reasonable – and very entertaining – solution emerged. In 1990, the British Touring Car Championship revised their rules to make racing more affordable in the wake of the massively fast and expensive Ford Sierra RS500s. The new regulations were based around production sedans of no more than 2.0 liters and with no turbochargers. This, in turn, led to a series of homologation specials to make cars legal for the new Super Touring regulations, and Audi was happy to take part. What emerged was the Audi 80 Competition quattro – limited to 2,500 units to comply with regulations, Audi stuffed a development of 2.0 16v inline four also found in the European-market B3 Coupe into the B4 chassis quattro, stuck an S2 front end on it and a raised rear spoiler, quattro-script interior and a few other goodies, and sold them to the public:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 Audi 80 Competition quattro on Mobile.de

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Halo Homologation-off: 1980 BMW M1 v. 1986 Audi Sport Quattro

It’s a bit amazing to consider that two of the most significant halo cars in German motoring history – both homologation models intended to lead their respective marques into the next decade – so closely paralleled each other, yet were so very different. It’s but a 35 minute train ride between Munich and Ingolstadt, and in the late 1970s both BMW and Audi wanted a range-topping model to grab attention. But their approaches were radically different. BMW designed a bespoke mid-engine, tube-frame supercar around a basic engine design it already had. Audi, on the other had, took a basic car design it already had and added a revolutionary drivetrain.

Both were styled by Giugiaro. Both had to be built out-of-house; Baur had a hand in each. Both had legendary engineers – Walter Treser and Roland Gumpert for Audi, Jochen Neerpasch at BMW. Both raced, though the series they were intended for were ultimately cancelled. Both launched a brand name – BMW’s M division, and Audi’s quattro (and later quattro GmbH). And today, both are both legends and highly sought by collectors. So today we have an interesting showdown; two prime examples have come to market and are nearly the exact same price. Of course, for that to occur the Audi entrant is the ‘ultimate’ evolution of the Quattro, the Sport model. So let’s put aside the ridiculous $700,000 plus asking prices of each of these cars for a moment, and consider – all things being equal (which they nearly are!), which one would you choose? Let’s start with the M1:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1980 BMW M1 on eBay

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1985 Audi Sport Quattro

By 1984 the writing was on the wall, and the wild formula called Group B was mutating cars as if they had been supplied nuclear-tainted drinking water. Lancia went from the nutty but awesome and pretty 037 to the much nuttier, much less pretty but significantly faster Delta S4; a mid-engined turbocharged and supercharged all-wheel drive wonder. That matched Peugeots effort with the 205 Turbo 16, a mid-engined turbocharged and super-balanced all-wheel drive hatch. The competition was lighter and much better balanced than the Audi was, and all-wheel drive was no longer the trump card. The Audis had been fast but also a bit prone to understeer something that wont surprise anyone who has driven a 1980s Audi. Additionally, they were heavy compared to the competition even when fitted with special aluminum blocks instead of the road-going cast iron. One last complaint that the drivers had was that the windshield rake meant there was a tendency to have a large amount of glare that distracted the driver and navigators. Plus, Audi was at the limit of what it could develop reliably with the 10 valve turbo motor.

The response was the Sport. To drop weight, Audi chopped the best part of 13 inches out of the middle of the Quattro, making it a two-seater unless your passengers had no legs. They took the doors from the short-lived 4000/80 5+5 2-door and the windshield from the 4000/80, too it was much more upright than the normal Coupe. The flares grew as well, another few inches in girth allowing now 9″ wide wheels with larger 235-45-15 tires. The body was made from carbon fiber and kevlar to help cut weight and was produced by noted special vehicle producer Baur in Stuttgart. And under the vented hood lay what would become the party piece; the 2.1 turbo motor now sporting 20 valves. The result was staggering in terms of road performance; in 1984, the Sport was the fastest accelerating road car you could buy to 60 m.p.h. at 4.5 seconds. Remarkably, 30 years on that would still be considered seriously fast. But it was the belching flames, the wail of the five cylinder and the wild slides that captured the imagination of the world. In rally trim, Audi saw a reported 600 horsepower from the monstrous S1 E2 depending on spec. On the road the Sport only saw half that output, but it also received a special interior to match the special exterior heavily bolstered Recaro seats in special trim and a significantly revised dashboard with more gauges and a new readout. 214 of these special Quattros made it to the road at a somewhat staggering equivalent of $72,000 in 1984 nearly double what the already expensive long-wheel base Quattro cost. As with all of the special homologation cars from Group B, the Sport was a truly special car then and is perhaps even more revered now:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 Audi Sport Quattro at Bourguignon Classics

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