The introduction of Group B into the World Rally Championship in 1982 was an evolution that was dictated by a general industry move from rear- to front-wheel-drive cars, and it proved revolutionary. Contenders now had three classes to choose: Group N (standard production cars), Group A (modified production cars), and the almost immediately notorious and virtually unbridled Group B (modified sports cars).
Most notably, Group B allowed Audi to compete with its still-new Quattro all-wheel-drive system, which was an obvious boon on varied rally stage surfaces.
The permanent all-wheel-drive system debuted in the Audi 80-based Quattro coupe in 1980, and it quickly came to define the brand. Furthermore, FIA Group B homologation rules meant that only 200 road-going examples of each car were necessary for sale to the public. These light regulations made for intensely competitive racing, as automakers were no longer required to build racing cars based on mass-production models.
Audi campaigned what was essentially a Group 4 Quattro for the first couple of years, before engineers in Ingolstadt, Germany, unleashed a wildly different model, which is now christened Quattro Sport.
Although the Ur-Quattro (“original Quattro” to German enthusiasts) was a dominant force because of its permanent all-wheel-drive system, its heavy monocoque chassis, long wheelbase and balance issues caused by its longitudinally mounted engine proved to be hindrances against such purpose-built racers as the Lancia 037.
Audi’s engineers were told to develop a new model that would address these concerns, and this was something they did in secret, far from the company’s road-car operations. With its wheelbase shortened a meaningful 12.6 inches between the B- and C-pillars, the Quattro Sport was not only significantly shorter than the standard Quattro found in showrooms, but its steel monocoque shell, which was built offsite at Baur, also featured numerous GRP and carbon-Kevlar panels to further trim weight.
As such, the rally Quattro Sport shared very little with serial production Audis (although a more upright windshield that had been cribbed from the workaday Audi 80 alleviated early visibility concerns).
Under the hood, a downsized 2,133-ci, 5-cylinder alloy-block engine with four valves per cylinder was turbocharged to about 450 horsepower in competition tune. A massive KKK-K27 turbocharger rated at 17 psi (1.05 bar) meant that the car’s engine displacement actually required reduction to comply with FIA regulations. Even so, the Quattro Sport competed against cars in the 3,000-cc category.
The car sprinted from a complete stop to 60 mph in just 4.8 seconds, making it one of the quickest cars ever built for road use when it debuted. AP 4-piston racing brakes that had been ventilated and slotted, as developed for the Porsche 917, ensured that extraordinary stopping power was available when needed.
Even if one ignored those impressive numbers, the introduction of the Quattro Sport was still in many ways a watershed moment for rally racing.
With the world’s top drivers on its roster, including the likes of Stig Blomqvist, Hannu Mikkola, Michèle Mouton, and Walter Röhrl, Audi Sport dominated the WRC throughout the 1984 season. The Quattro Sport’s last win came at the hands of Stig Blomqvist and Björn Cederberg, who raced one in early November 1984, at the Rallye Côte d’Ivoire in Africa, where the team also claimed the manufacturers’ title. This outright dominance cemented the car’s legendary stature in WRC rallying.
Audi built a mere 214 Quattro Sports, most of which were sold to select customers via specialized dealers. In Germany, the car ultimately retailed for more than 200,000 Deutschmarks, which was a substantial sum that bought owners more than a taste of competition-proven performance.
The road-going models boasted a more-reasonable 302 horsepower and 258 foot-pounds of torque, but they were no less aggressive to drive than their racing counterparts. Advancements such as a selectable ABS system allowed drivers to specifically tailor the vehicle to a variety of road conditions.
With their nine-inch-wide Ronal alloy wheels, the Quattro Sports had a light but darty demeanor that proved daunting for novice drivers. As contemporary media reviews indicated, its turbo lag was profuse but workable, making the car hardly forgiving to drive. The Quattro Sport commands as much respect for its hidden technology as it does for the drivers who piloted it to the checkered flag.
The road-going 1984 Audi Quattro Sport offered here is without a doubt one of the finest examples extant, if not the finest. The American-based seller bought the car from its first owner, noted Japanese collector Yoshikuni Okamoto of Kobe. At this time, it currently has just 8,300 km (5,157 miles) showing on its odometer, which are believed to be from new. Notably, Quattro Sports were not officially imported to the United States, making them even scarcer on these shores.