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Ur-Ur-Quattro: 1979 Volkswagen Iltis

Conventional enthusiast wisdom would say that if you want an older, sturdy German off-roader, you want a Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen. However, that stance completely ignores a very important vehicle in Audi and Volkswagen’s history – the Iltis. The story is multi-faceted, but it boils down to two different stories; Volkswagen’s need for a replacement for both the Type 181 (“Thing”) and DKM Munga, and the birth of the legendary Audi Quattro. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Volkswagen consolidated the various Auto Union brands into a revised Audi lineup – the result of which was an opportunity to replace Mercedes-Benz as the German military vehicle supplier, a lucrative contract. To do so, Volkswagen built a new Type 183 vehicle using spare parts from the lineup of vehicles it now oversaw – the chassis was in large part based upon the earlier Munga, and the mechanical components based upon the Audi 100. The second story goes that in winter testing of some Audi and Volkswagen products, snow covered roads seemed to be the undoing of all but one of the lineup of cars brought along; the new Iltis simply left the other cars behind and impressed engineers Jorg Bensinger and Walter Treser (yes, that Treser), who theorized that the drive system could see road use. The result was the blueprint for the Audi Quattro that would debut in 1980, but not before Audi and Volkswagen won the Paris-Dakar Rally in 1980 with an Iltis. While the Quattro legend would take Audi to a whole new level in the 1980s, not much appreciation is given to the father of the Quattro – they’re rare to find for sale but offer a neat alternative to the normal off-roader:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1979 Volkswagen Iltis on eBay

Year: 1979
Model: Iltis
Engine: 1.6 liter inline-4
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 75,480 km (46,901 mi)
Price: Reserve Auction

1979 Volkswagen Iltis- offroad vehicle. This is a military style vehicle that is Volkswagens version of a soft top jeep. This vehicle has front and rear locking differentials. It has a professional installed 1.6 liter diesel conversion done by a local VW specialist in Las Vegas. The timing belt and water pump were done at the time of the conversion. The mileage is 75,840 kilometers. The vehicle starts, runs, drives, shifts and stops like it should. The top and seats are in nice condition. Upgrades include racing seats for the front (stock rear flip seats are included but not shown in the photos). Custom front bumper with winch. Hi lift jack and tow wiring for rear. Custom tow bar that can be easily attached to tow the Iltis. It has 225/75/16 tires and steel wheels currently mounted. Stock wheels/tires come with the sale. The fuel gauge is not working. This is unique and rare offroad vehicle.

Today, the Iltis is even more rare to find than the Quattro – in part because they built even less originally, and many have fallen by the wayside. Like the Quattro, they were quite expensive and even though a road-going version was offered to the public, not many were bought. Today’s example appears to be in great shape, and has undergone a diesel engine transplant that should leave it running for some time. You’re not buying a Bentley, so you should expect a pretty rough and tumble ride from the rather basic Iltis – much like an early G-Wagen. But if you want to stand a little apart from the crowd and own a neat part of both Volkswagen and Audi’s history, look no further.

Plus, it has an axe holder under the hood. You know, to settle off-road disputes with trees and on-road disputes with other drivers. How awesome is that?