Modern Classics: Audi Quattro Coupe modern classics
Audi Quattro Coupe. Click image to enlarge

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Canadian Quattro club

By Jeff Burry

Photo Gallery:
Audi Quattro Coupe

Those of us who remember eight-track tapes and cassettes, and who have been referred to as “car guys” over the years, will most likely remember the Coupe produced by Audi during the 1980s. This vehicle was introduced to the world at the Geneva Auto Show on March 3, 1980.

In subsequent years, the folks at Audi produced the Coupe, the Coupe GT and the renowned Quattro version referred to as the Audi Quattro Coupe. The Quattro Coupe also came in a turbocharged version, a vehicle today that is the rarest of the rare – few were ever imported into Canada.

The Audi Quattro coupe was a technological marvel at the time, with its all-wheel drive system, and was wrapped in a sleek-looking “edgy” package. The coupe was considered to have ample seating for four or five individuals while offering a very sporty appearance and ride. It proved to be an agile grocery-getter as well, with plenty of cargo capacity while covering 0-100 km/h in just eight seconds.

Modern Classics: Audi Quattro Coupe modern classics
Audi Quattro Coupe. Click image to enlarge

Designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, and built on the Volkswagen B2 platform, the car was renowned for its solid German construction, comfortable ride and affordability. The all-wheel drive system designed by Audi engineers was a brilliant piece of technical thinking – the use of a hollow shaft in the gearbox to transmit the drive to the front and rear axles. This system provided a very secure and stable ride in poor-weather conditions.

The success of this vehicle can also be attributed to its racing pedigree. Audi, in preparation of the Quattro for the World Rally Championship in 1981, founded a motorsports department three years earlier under the leadership of motorsports director, Jurgen Stockmar.

The Quattro Coupe of the 1980s was considered to be one of the most significant rally cars of its day, and was one of the first to take advantage of the then recently-changed rules allowing the use of all-wheel drive systems in competition racing.

While many critics at the time doubted the success of the all-wheel-drive system, thinking it to be too heavy and complex, the Quattro Coupe was an instant success. It won a rally on its very first outing and, for the next two years, continued to cross finish lines ahead of its competition.

Modern Classics: Audi Quattro Coupe modern classics
John Buffum drives the Mouton/Pons Audi Quattro rally car; photo by Paul Williams. Click image to enlarge

In 1981, Michelle Mouton became the first female driver to ever win a world championship rally, piloting the Quattro Coupe. Today, that very vehicle sits in an Audi museum in Germany, but was recently transported to Canada for Audi’s 2008 Winter Test Drive. For further information on the “Drive” and the actual vehicle, read Paul Williams’ Quattro article.

The Quattro Coupe was the first series production car with a full-time, all-wheel drive (AWD) system and was the predecessor to many of the current AWD Audis that grace the roadways of North America and Europe today.

Sold in North America between 1983 and 1987, the car featured front suspension and sheetmetal shared with the “4000″ series Audi, but offered a unique fast-back style behind the cowl plus a rear suspension with duplicate front-end components (struts and coil springs plus fixed steering arms).

Modern Classics: Audi Quattro Coupe modern classics
Audi Quattro Sport. Click image to enlarge

A very low volume of turbocharged Quattros made their way into Canada. Unofficial figures suggest that in the model years the turbocharged Quattro Coupe was produced, the following numbers make the vehicle extremely rare. 61 units were available for the 1983 model year; 17 for 1984; 18 for 1985; three for 1986, and six for 1987.

Canadian cars were equipped with impact bumpers that housed built-in shock absorbers. These turbocharged Quattro Coupes arrived at dealerships pretty well “loaded,” which included air conditioning, as well as leather upholstery. All vehicles were equipped with a five-speed manual transmission, matched to a 2.1L WX (engine code) engine.

Quattro Coupes designated for Canada vs. Europe, had minor Engine Control Unit (ECU) changes such as lowered turbocharger boost pressure, different camshaft, catalytic converter and lambda stoichiometric fuel control, which lowered the power output to 160 bhp. The cars sold for approximately $35,000 – not inexpensive, however within range of the Audi faithful.

For those who lusted after the turbocharged Quattro Coupes, but whose pocketbooks were a little less “padded,” Audi produced the Coupe GT from 1981 through to 1987. The Coupe GT featured a similar shape and style to the Quattro Coupe but without the sharp edges and widened fender flares.

Modern Classics: Audi Quattro Coupe modern classics
Audi Quattro Sport. Click image to enlarge

Potential buyers of the Coupe GT had a variety of powerplants to choose from. Engine choices during the years the Coupe GT was produced included a naturally aspirated 1.8L carbureted engine, 1.9L, 2.0L, 2.1L, 2.2L and a 2.3L injected inline five cylinder engine producing 130 hp, with a front-wheel drive system. From 1981 to 1987, a total of 174,687 Coupe GTs were produced for both North American and European markets.

In the fall of 1984, Audi made available the option of the Quattro permanent all-wheel-drive system to produce the Audi Coupe Quattro (not to be confused with the turbocharged version) as a new model. The Coupe Quattro was produced with the 2.2L engine.

The Quattro series of models available by Audi at the time began the worldwide craze for performance, all-wheel-drive vehicles. Today, there are any number of vehicles that offer this choice to the buying public. So whether you possess a turbocharged Quattro Coupe or a GT version, you have a vehicle of historical significance. The rarity and technical appeal of this vehicle would most likely make the Quattro Coupe a collectable amongst automotive enthusiasts.

The collector status of these vehicles, however, is somewhat unknown. A few on-line searches turned up a number of Quattro enthusiast clubs, but in searching for available used Quattros to purchase, there were few 1980s models available. This is not surprising given the rarity of the car.

Whether you are a fan of these vehicles or not, one cannot deny that even today these vehicles “stand out” in a crowd, especially the turbocharged version with its flared fenders. Its successful rally car status of the 1980s further boosts its interest amongst automotive enthusiasts and certainly will make it a vehicle of “interest” for years to come.