Two extraordinary examples of Audi Quattro came to see us at the Yard. Say hello to the Quattro S1 E2 rally car, and the homolgated Audi Sport Quattro.
Folklore is an integral part of any culture. Morbid tales of savage, fire-spitting creatures of old are passed down, frightening and intriguing generations by word-of-mouth, details blurred and facts lost in the murky depths of time.
The automotive world has its own folkloric creatures; ones that emit licks of flame, make unholy noises, and prioritise stark functionality over beauty. They leave an indelible mark on the minds of those who encounter them, so that their reputation precedes them for generations to come. These creatures, though, are very real – welcome to the beasts of Group B.
The Audi Quattro, of course, has its own mythological status – 23 World Rally Championship victories, altering the very course of the sport in the process, will do that to a car. The yellow and white car is a Quattro S1 E2, the final evolution of the Quattro for stage rallying, its career curtailed by a well-documented series of increasingly frequent tragedies along the rally stages of the 1980s.
With the snarling 2.1-litre turbocharged five-cylinder engine turned up to 469bhp, and weighing barely over a tonne, this iteration of Quattro would launch to 60mph in 3.1 seconds on pretty much any surface. The unapologetically functional box flares, towering rear wing and jutting front spoiler, akin to the wings and spiney armour of mythical monsters, mark it out as a product of the height of Group B’s madness.
The red car, meanwhile, is that beast, domesticated. While rivals began producing limited-run mid-engined sports cars thinly disguised as hatchbacks to homologate their competition cars, Audi stuck with the basic Quattro’s front-engined layout.
To keep the rally car competitive against this backdrop, 320mm were chopped out of the wheelbase, and the bodywork pumped up with steroidal menace. Just 214 of these short-wheelbase Quattros were produced as stubby, swollen-arched monuments to the art of making racing cars go faster.
The brief reign of the Quattro, and of Group B, is now a fundamental part of automotive mythos. That makes it all the more incredible to see them in person – the myth made beautifully, vividly real.