Audi Sport quattro 1980-1986 | Four-Wheel Drive | 591hp
The original Audi Quattro was debuted in 1980, taking advantage of rule changes that allowed four-wheel drive in racing. Over the next 6 years there were several evolutionary variations to the model, ending with the S1 E2. The Audi Sport Quattros and the subsequent A1s, A2s and S1s were fairly dominant in Group B, with the cars boasting quite a lot of interesting technology, especially for the time. Due to the success of the original car, Audi gave all other versions and vehicles using the Quattro tag a lowercase q, which is still in effect today. Original big-Q Quattros are now collectors items.
Being the first car to take advantage of a four-wheel drive system in rallying, the Quattro was navigating unexplored waters. Audi did so, however, with great success. After placing 5th in the World Rally Championship in 1981, Audi took first in the championship in 1982 with the quattro. Also notable, driver Michèle Mouton became the first female driver to win a WRC rally in 1981 in the seat of a Quattro. Audi then took 2nd in 1982, 1st in 1984, 2nd in 1985 and then 4th in 1986 after withdrawing from the season. After the end of Group B an Audi Sport quattro S1 powered Walter Röhrl to take the victory at Pikes Peak in 1987.
The car’s success was, in large part, due to the technological advancements Audi crammed into the Sport quattros. The most powerful S1 E2 ended up with a 2.1L 20 valve straight 5 that produced 591hp, the most of any rally car in Group B. The engine redlined at 8600 rpm and featured a turbo that made use of a recirculating air system to keep the turbo spooled up even when the driver was off the throttle. With massively reduced turbo lag, the engine was able to put nearly full power to the wheels at almost all times if the driver so wanted. Mated to 6-speed powershift gearboxes (which were forerunners of today’s DSG technology) and the brilliant quattro four-wheel drive system, the car was set up to win. The S1 featured several changes from earlier versions including a steeper windshield for improved visibility, wider wheels, and, most notably, the wheelbase of the was shortened by over a foot to make the car even more agile and quick. The car also featured an aggressive aerodynamic kit with distinctive wings and spoilers around the car to help increase the downforce of the 2,400 pound (1,090kg) machine. The aero kit shaped the quattro to be the beautifully unique and easily recognizable classic icon it remains today.