A Rare 1983 Audi Quattro

This is an original 1983 Audi Quattro that somehow found its way into a barn in Arizona. It remained there since the year 2000 gathering dust before eventually being acquired as part of a real estate auction.

The Quattro is rightly remembered as one of the most influential cars of its time, it’s the vehicle that popularized all-wheel drive for rally, and it made a huge contribution to the world of AWD production cars at the same time.

Fast Facts – The Audi Quattro

  • The Audi Quattro was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in 1980, introducing the innovative combination of a turbocharged engine and all-wheel drive (AWD) to the production car market for the first time.
  • The Quattro, also known as the Ur-Quattro, was powered by a a 2.1 liter inline-five cylinder turbocharged engine with a single overhead cam producing 197 bhp. It was paired with a manual transmission and an advanced AWD system that dynamically distributed torque between the front and rear axles.
  • The Quattro quickly proved its mettle in the World Rally Championship (WRC), changing the sport forever by demonstrating the superior traction and performance of a well-designed AWD system, leading to numerous victories and winning the World Rally Championship in 1982 and 1984, and coming second in 1983 and 1985.
  • Produced from 1980 to 1991, the first-generation Audi Quattro left a lasting legacy on both motorsports and the automotive industry by popularizing AWD technology and influencing the design of future vehicles across multiple manufacturers.

The Importance Of The Primordial Quattro

There had been a few all-wheel drive automobiles before the Audi Quattro debuted in 1980. The first was the Jensen FF from Britain, some other notable early examples were the AMC Eagle from the United States, and the various Subaru all-wheel drive vehicles that followed.

Image DescriptionImage DescriptionThe Audi Quattro was one of the most advanced cars money could buy when it debuted in 1980. It featured a turbocharged, fuel-injected engine and a state-of-the-art all-wheel drive system. Image courtesy of Audi AG.

Though useful, all-wheel drive automobiles were still a niche, and not mainstream in any real sense of the word, with sales figures fare below their 2×4 counterparts. There were four-wheel drive SUVs of course, but for the purpose of this article we’re talking about standard cars with power going to all four wheels, typically without a dual-range transfer case.

The story behind how the Audi Quattro came to be is the stuff of automotive legend. An Audi engineer  named Jörg Bensinger had been testing cars in Finland to gauge their ability to traverse snowy, slippery roads and quickly realized that the Volkswagen Iltis, a military 4×4, was untouchable by any other 2×4 car.

He contacted Ferdinand Piech, Audi’s Director of Technical Development, and relayed the results of their testing. After this he made a critically important request – he asked if he could develop an Audi 80 variant with an all-wheel-drive system.

Fortunately for Audi, Piech had the presence of mind to agree to the project. Bensinger would work side-by-side with Walther Treser, Audi’s Director of Pre-Development. The car they developed didn’t look like much from the outside, it was a small red two-door Audi 80 that they code named “A1” – standing for “Allrad 1” or “Allroad 1.”

It wasn’t until you looked underneath this car that you would realize just how different it was to the regular production version of the Audi 80. The final version of the prototype would use a unique triple differential system to transmit power to all four wheels, without the need of a bulky central transfer case as you would typically find on a four-wheel drive.

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Image DescriptionImage DescriptionIt’s clear that this Quattro is going to need a full restoration in order to get it back on the road.

Audi developed a production version of this all-wheel drive system and fitted it to a new car, they named it “Quattro” after the Italian word for “four.” Enthusiasts have pre-fixed a “Ur” onto the front of the original Quattro name, it’s (Ur is German for “primordial”) and it helps distinguish the first Quattro cars from all those that would follow.

The 1983 Audi Quattro Barn Find Shown Here

Discovering an original first generation Audi Quattro in a barn on a property you just bought may seem like an unlikely pipe dream, but for one Arizona buyer this is exactly what happened.

The Audi is said to have ended up in the barn after it was left there for the previous property owner by a friend. It remained untouched there for 24 years since 2000, sheltered from the Arizona sun and the state’s infrequent rainstorms.

The Arizona MVD issued an abandoned title for the car in 2023, which the current owner has in-hand, and they note that the engine doesn’t start, they also haven’t attempted to turn it over by hand. Given the condition of the car, any prospective buyer should assume that it will need a full restoration including a comprehensive drivetrain rebuild.

Under the layers of dust this car appears to be still finished in its original color of dark blue, with the Audi decal still visible on the door. It has a black interior with diagonal-stitched inserts on the front bucket seats, and as you might expect it’s a left hand drive model with a manual transmission.

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Image DescriptionImage DescriptionHere you can see the 2.1 liter slat-five engine. It’s turbocharged and has electronic fuel injection, a single overhead cam, and 10 valves in total. Power output was 197 bhp and 210 lb ft of torque, and it was sent back to a 5-speed manual transmission, and then out to all four wheels.

These early Ur-Quattros only seem to be going up in value, with good examples now fetching prices into the low six figures. The bidding on this car is now live on eBay and at the time of writing the reserve has not been met.

This car would be ideally suited to someone who’s looking for an interesting restoration project, or for someone who has pockets deep enough to commission a full rebuild. If you’d like to read more about the car or register to bid you can visit the listing here on eBay.

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Images courtesy of eBay Motors

 

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