Owned by Lars Erik Thorstensen from Norway, this is surely one of the finest and best preserved ur-Quattro’s to be found anywhere on the planet. Restored to an absolute perfect condition displaying a showroom paint job. Its been modified too, and brought up to modern performance standards by the help of it’s younger cousin, the legendary Audi RS2 (developed by Porsche).
Originally born with the sought after 20V engine and Torsen differential, Lars’ 1990 Audi Quattro has been modified to an extent which is quite hard to fully comprehend. The aim was simply to create a fast and competent road-and-track-tool. Before Lars bought the car some 7 years ago, the car went through an extensive restoration. One of the best known Audi Quattro experts in Norway tackled the visuals and mechanics of the car. He spent hundreds and hundreds of man-hours to achieve that factory look and only original body parts were used when possible. The work is covered in several magazines.
Unlike the trend of today, where investors buy up rare and collectible cars only to keep them in their living room to admire, this ur-Quattro is not a garage-kept queen. It proved it’s race track qualities at several occasions already. When on the Nürburgring, it held up nicely with no big mechanical failures and provided action-packed hot-laps. Lars have been on the ‘Ring several times, and when we ask him what it was like to drive the Quattro in the Green Hell, he replies: «Exciting».
The paint job is on another level. Multiple layers of clear coat was applied, which were wet sanded in between, all to achieve that show room finish. It’s virtually free of orange-peel and the depth of the paint is beyond what you’d expect on a 27-year-old car. Even brand new luxury or sports cars can’t match this level of perfection.
When the body was finished and approved, the decision to make the car something truly special, were made. Not exactly unknown to car enthusiasts the legendary Audi RS2 were pointed out as a donor car for a reliable and easily modifiable drive line.
We dive more into the «how’s and wow’s» on Lars’ car in part II.
The story behind the Audi ur-Quattro is something else. Very few cars are this iconic and for Audi AG, it was a god-send gift. Simply put, it arrived at a time and place in the company’s history when they struggled to exist, and in general one can say that their current health can be directly attributed to the Quattro.
The Quattro was simply a new kind of Gran Turismo. This was the fastest way of covering ground in both comfort and style. It was an easy-driven machine too, which explains why it was so popular among Skiers and residents of mountain towns in the Alps.
So, what does «ur» mean?
A quick search online will tell you that it’s the name of the first city built by man (in present day Iraq and in Judaic myth the home of Abraham and Sarah). It’s also used in the German language and mean «original» – the one from Ur. Back when it was launched, the quattro was the quattro and that was that. But since then, so many Audis have been called «quattros» that we call the original the»ur-quattro». Germans often refer to them as «uris».
Audi dealership parts people are fond of asking: «Yes, but what sort of quattro – an Audi 80, 90, 100, A4?». To which you reply: NO! A real quattro!
Released in 1980, the Quattro was of course the first AWD and turbocharged standard car, but it was also the first rally car to take advantage of this new layout. This was allowed through WRC rules changes. The Quattro was nearly undefeatable, making Michèle Mouton, Stig Blomqvist, Hannu Mikkola and Walter Röhrl among the most famous rally drivers of all-time. It was so dominant that soon after its competition debut, all the other major manufacturers competing in international rally racing ditched their rear wheel drive layout and naturally aspirated machines completely, and instead they adopted Audi’s new recipe for superb all-road-all-condition traction and agility.
The Quattro was derived from several sources: The layout of a longitudinal engine, front-wheel-drive-based four-wheel-drive car came from the Iltis; the drivetrain from the Audi 100; the basic platform from the Audi 80 sedan; and the body from the Audi (80) Coupe.
A rally program based on the Quattro was approved, and the Quattro appeared on the Audi stand at the 1979 Frankfurt auto show.
In total, the Quattro production reached only 11,452 cars between 1980 and 1991, ensuring their mystique, and prices, remain high.
Ur-Quattros were built in Hall N2 at Audi’s Ingolstadt factory. But not on a production line since every car was hand-built right to the end. Although Audi’s other production lines operated 24 hours a day and seven days a week, Hall N2 had a single shift of twenty working from 06:00 to 14:00, weekdays only. At its peak, including the janitor and the tea-lady, the whole team numbered 48. Each quattro took seven days and 40 hours of labour to build – with roughly three a day leaving Hall N2. Once completed, each vehicle went through a test programme that is still the strictest Audi has ever used.
Join us part II where we break down all the facts and find out exactly what makes this car so special.