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 Peugeot’s 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 won’t 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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Motorsports Monday: 1985 Audi Quattro Rally Car

Few motorsport images are quite as evocative as the legendary period of Group B; flying machines spitting stones and belching flames as they skirted trees and rocks at breakneck speeds with crowds only inches away. The ever more powerful cars hurtled their drivers in increasingly lighter and more delicate evolutions of cars towards immovable objects – an act which is some cultures would probably be akin to ritualistic suicide. By 1985 the writing was on the wall; it was a deadly sport that needed to be reigned in. But perhaps more than any other period, this is the time that rally fans and motorsports fans in general identify as one of the most memorable and important periods in racing history. Obviously, the big winner of the period from a reputation standpoint was Audi. The car that helped to define and end the period of wild turbocharged excess, the Quattro has obviously been the spawn of many replicas, such as this one for sale today in England:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 Audi Quattro “Group B” Rally Car on eBay

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1985 Audi Sport Quattro

Group B. Perhaps one of the most storied series in motor racing, not only for how it advanced the art of racing, but for the sheer madness of the competition itself. These races put drivers and spectators alike on the edge of disaster, which was demonstrated by some of the most deadly accidents ever seen in motorsport. With the death of Finnish driver Henri Toivonen and his co-driver Sergio Cresto in the Tour de Corse, FIA banned the class and with it the curtain closed on one of the most outrageous racing series in history.

This chapter in motor racing has passed us by, but Group B has had lasting effects on both race and street vehicles, as evidenced by this car, the Audi Sport quattro. By shortening the wheelbase by about a foot between the B and C pillar, the weight distribution over the standard Ur-Quattro was improved. A body of carbon-kevlar kept the weight down and explosive power was on tap via the 2.1 liter turbocharged five cylinder engine, replete with a 20 valve head. Sixty miles per hour arrived in 4.5 seconds, which made this homologation special virtually untouchable in its time. This Sport quattro is on offer in Stuttgart, Germany.

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Year: 1985
Model: Sport quattro
Engine: 2.1 liter turbocharged inline-5
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 58,000 km (~ 36,039 mi)
Price: €250,000 (~ $326,650 USD)

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 Audi Sport Quattro on Mobile.de

Numbers:
 
The Audi Sport quattro was produced in a quantity of 220 units, for a further 4 copies of items were produced. The production was made up as follows:
4 pieces assembled in separate parts, which were not completed
    (Specification of Audi Motorsport)
134 pieces in tornado
48 pieces in Alpine White
21 pieces in Kopenhagenblau
15 Units in Malachite
2 pieces in black
89 of the vehicles in the color tornado came in the free sale.
6 vehicles were prototypes, test vehicles were 19 and 20 specimens were used as a rallying cars of Audi Motorsport itself.
 
Extras:
 
– Only 175 vehicles were delivered to customers worldwide
– Production period 1984-1985
– This vehicle is at our customer order

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Given its limited production and position at the top of the range, one could almost liken the Sport quattro as the R8 of its day, albeit with back seats. Then again, it might be a bit of an unfair comparison, at least for the Sport quattro. This was one of the cars that the quattro legend was built on and to this day, really has no equal. With final competition spec models glancing 600 horsepower from the turbocharged five cylinder engine, it’s not hard to see why. After Group B was disbanded, the Sport quattro story was not over. This car had one last shout, going on to win the Pikes Peak Hill Climb in 1987 at the hands of Walter Röhrl.

With their storied past and present day desirability, these Sport quattros are valued quite high, reaching into list price territory for some new R8 models. Recent auctions have seen these cars fetch anywhere between $75,000 and $150,000. As nice as this is, I would say the seller has priced this one above market. For those needing a reminder of what these all-wheel drive wonders are capable of, here’s a video of one in action at the 1000 Lakes Rally:

-Paul

Italian Audi Insanity

One of our readers from Italy was kind enough to call attention to a trio of astonishing Audi Quattros for sale online in Italy. We’ve posted some pretty nice Quattros in the past, but these three turn the four-ringed insanity to 11.

First, we have an Audi Quattro Treser hardtop convertible. “A what!?” you say? I know… though I featured a Treser coupe a while back, I had not seen Treser’s convertible creation before. The coupe’s standard hardtop was absolutely mundane compared to the folding weirdness of this Quattro. Walter Treser was the head of development for the UrQuattro and went on to create his own aftermarket Audi business; the success of the parts business allowed him to get even more creative with things like this pre-Benz SLK convertible hardtop. An elegant convertible with the top down, things get a bit weirder when you push the Autobot button… it kind of looks like a Subaru Brat with a tonneau cover. Funky styling aside, I can’t argue with the rarity and inherent coolness in having a coachbuilt UrQuattro. I can argue that there are better places to spend ~$65k though…

1984 Audi Quattro Treser Convertible for sale on automobile.it

We’ll turn the needle up closer to 11 with this next Quattro, another Treser, and a cabriolet at that; but why not throw in a massive widebody kit and some Testerossa-style side strakes for good measure? Instead of a brat, this looks like a stepside truck. With the same funky 2+2 top up, 2-seater top down system, you can bring the family along, as well as hide them when it gets nice out and you need some Italian bird to notice your Ferraudi. Luckily the 2.1 I5 has been brought up to spec too, pumping out 340hp over only 25k km. 78 grand for some truly rare strange.

1985 Widebody Treser Convertible Audi Quattro for sale on automobile.it

Here’s where I say the amp went past 11 and got all Marty-in-Doc’s-Garage on me, a perfect red Sport Quattro, 1,050km (652 miles!) on a 220-hp S2 swap. While cool, the Tresers seem cut out for a specific kind of drug dealer, whereas the only thing the Sport Quattro is addicted to is winning. Decipher the German/Italian ad if you can; something about the Sport’s trick Kevlar roof and some other mild mods. The only way this car could kill it any harder would be if Hans Dahlback himself had modified it. 220hp should be plenty of fun, but the S2 can easily attain much more. Lively on that tiny wheelbase, the pitbull of the Quattro family.

1985 Audi Sport Quattro for sale on automobile.it

The range of $65-$80k for these things makes me think either a) These are even rarer in the rest of the world than I realized or b) cars are extremely expensive in Italy due to taxes and whatnot. I’m guessing it’s a mixture of both. Regardless, three very cool and unique takes on the UrQuattro (though I could only drive the red one).

-NR