Update 11/17/19: This Quattro sold for $18,600
Though the basis for what made the Quattro legendary; inspired racey styling, boxflares, turbocharging and all-wheel drive with a near-luxury interior seems almost trite, the Quattro really was a revolution in design. Some ten times more dear than an E30 M3, in recent years the Audi has gained a lot more respect in the marketplace. There are those that say you can’t really compare the Quattro to the M3, or even the 911 – though the pricing was quite similar. But isn’t that the point? In period, the other car you could have bought for the same money was a basic 911. And the market spoke: in 1983, Audi sold some 240 Quattros in the U.S.. Porsche, on the other hand, traded 5,707 911SCs between the Coupe, Targa and new Cabriolet models. There was basically no market overlap with the other two major contenders – the 944 Turbo and the M3. Both those cars, and the 911, were finished to a higher level of quality with better components, arguably, but the real difference was the type of owner who bought the Quattro versus the 911. These cars were built to be used and abused, and many were.
With only 664 brought here in total, and just 240 from the first model year, you’re going to have a pretty hard time finding one for sale at any given time – unlike the other three cars mentioned. That’s why it’s worth taking a look at one of the earliest U.S. chassis, even if it does come with a long list of needs. But that strong potential of heavy needs isn’t slowing bids down…
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:
We don’t often get to look at 1984 Quattros, and that’s for a good reason. While Quattros are rare stateside full-stop with only 664 brought here originally, just 10% – 65 – were ’84 model year cars. Like ’85, ’84 was a transition year as the newer dashboard, 8″ Ronals and a few other minor changes crept into production. LY5Y Amazon Blue Metallic was offered alongside the Helios Blue Metallic in 1983, but for 1984 it became the sole dark blue offered. It’s a very pretty color, and is here coupled were with some nice and common upgrades to the early cars. Most obvious are the addition of European H1/H4 sloped headlights and grill, which give the Quattro a more updated and aerodynamic look. More subtle is the tucking of the impact bumpers which combined with the headlights give a more Euro feel to this example:
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 justÂ 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 RÃ¶hrl 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: