The garage is typical of North Vancouver; its contents are not. It’s a high-roofed structure, filled with odds and ends, a couple of heavy-duty mountain bikes getting serviced, some scraps of lumber, and the scent of cedar. In the driveway, a Toyota Tacoma stands ready to hit the trailheads – all pretty standard stuff for the West Coast.
But when the garage door opens up on this particular cul-de-sac, it reveals something you wouldn’t ordinary find in North America, let alone North Vancouver. It’s a four-wheeled chunk of obtainable unobtainium, a German ex-pat of mixed parentage that’s made its way across the Atlantic and taken up residence in an environment that’s perfect for the hot wagon. It’s an Audi RS2. The RS2.
This RS2 is interesting both specifically and generally. Firstly, if you don’t know much about this four-ringed forbidden fruit, consider the following. Should you peer closely at the badge on the rear, you’d find that it bears the mark of both the expected Audi, and the unexpected Porsche. Pop the hood and it’s the same thing: there’s that rally-bred turbocharged inline-five you’d expect to find in an early hot Audi, but the intake manifold says “Powered by Porsche.”
Moreover, this is the first of a breed – the very first RS car Audi ever built. We’ve had two full decades of this stuff, and when I say “we”, I mean Europe. Canada got the twin-turbo RS6 sedan for one year, the gloriously naturally aspirated RS4 for two years, and the current RS5 and RS7 have only just arrived. In contrast, they’ve been selling M3s and M5s and Mercedes-Benz AMGs here in all sorts of trims, with relatively good availability.
Despite asserting rally-racing dominance after the introduction of quattro all-wheel drive, Audi didn’t really have anything at the top of the food chain to compete with the big BMWs and Mercedes, so they turned to Porsche, who was just winding down their own project. That was the Mercedes 500E, a V8 bruiser of a cruiser that most of the F1 drivers of the day would buy for high-speed autobahn stuff.
1994 Audi RS2, dashboard. Click image to enlarge
The Stuttgart-based Rossle-Bau line on which the 500E, and the eventual RS2, would be made first produced Porsche’s ultimate supercar, the 959. Now eclipsed, perhaps, by the capability of the modern 911 Turbo, the 959 showed the way forward into the future. Ditto this humble little wagon.
It belongs to one Rob Stevenson, who surely knew he had a keeper, and in more ways than one. He actually bought the car prior to it passing the fifteen-year grey-market import eligibility, and then flew out to the UK and picked it up – on his honeymoon. The happy couple then drove the car all over Europe, including a trip taking his father-in-law back to his small hometown in Germany.
The RS2 was only really a German home market car, although a few trickled out unofficially here and there (but not here). The base for the car was the Audi 80 wagon, which was not a particularly exciting starting point.