Erik Fuller ©2015, courtesy of RM Auctions
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.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1984 Audi Quattro Sport SWB coupe
Years Produced:1984–86
Number Produced:214
Original List Price:DM203,850 ($80,000)
SCM Valuation:$130,000–$175,000
Tune Up Cost:$400
Distributor Caps:$23.95
Chassis Number Location:Passenger’s side of firewall
Engine Number Location:Right side engine block underneath spark plugs
Club Info:Audi Club of North America, Quattro Owner’s Club
Alternatives:1984–86 Ford RS200, 1980–86 Renault 5 Turbo, 1998 Subaru Impreza 22B
Investment Grade:B

This car, Lot 247, sold for $401,500, including buyer’s premium, at RM Auctions’ Arizona Auction in Phoenix, AZ, on January 16, 2015.

A little over a year ago (January 2014, German Profile, p. 62), we looked at a slightly hinky 1985 Audi Quattro Sport that sold in Great Britain (SCM# 227842) for the remarkable sum of $184,860. The less-than-perfect car carried a cheap respray in an odd color, and visible crash damage, but it set a new high price for the model. At the time, we observed, “The best news from this sale belongs to the other 163 Quattro Sport owners, especially if their cars are unmolested and in good condition.”

Before we talk about how good that news really turned out to be, let’s revisit what makes these cars so desirable in the first place. If you hang around German car circles, you’ve probably seen a mid-’80s Quattro that looks pretty much like this car. But while rare, those Quattros are really no big deal. They are the original “Ur-Quattro” long-wheelbase cars, which were delivered with a normally aspirated 5-cylinder engine good for 160 horsepower. Audi made 11,452 of these, with about 750 sold in North America between 1983 and 1986.

The short-wheelbase Quattro Sport — our subject car — was a different animal entirely.

A rally-winning beast

The Quattro Sport was a pure homologation model built for competition in the FIA World Rally Championship. Audi made just 214 of these cars. One-hundred sixty-four cars were sold to the public at an initial price of DM203,850 (about $80,000), and the rest were dedicated to rally use by Audi or other professional rally teams.

The Quattro Sport offered Audi’s most powerful engine in that series, rated at 302 horsepower out of a turbocharged 5-cylinder DOHC 20-valve engine. The aluminum engine and Kevlar bodywork panels were lightweight, and top speed was claimed at 155 mph. The Quattro Sport also featured the first appearance of anti-lock brakes on an Audi Quattro.

Pure as the rarely driven snow

Which brings us to this particular Quattro Sport. This car was originally sold to a collector in Japan, who then sold it to a collector in the United States some years ago. Apart from the somewhat bizarre addition of a dash-mounted GPS unit, the car is a time capsule, with 8,300 km (5,157 miles) since new. RM informed all bidders that the odometer has not been functioning for an undisclosed amount of time, but the car certainly looks like a roughly 5,000-mile preservation example.

Audi Quattro Sports came in your choice of Tornado Red, Alpine White, Copenhagen Blue, Malachite Green, or black. More than half of total production (128 cars) was red, but the second-most-popular color (48 cars) was white.

The stock trim welting and badging gives credence to the claim that this is original factory paint and an undamaged body. The original owner’s manuals, stock trunk kit with sport seat belts and an original toolkit, along with the original Audi hubcaps on the Ronal wheels, all indicate a car that has been lovingly stored.

Only the patina of rust on the exhaust and turbo plus a bit of less-than-concours cleanliness in the engine bay point to any real use at all. Not even the leather shift knob shows any wear. This car is the mythic white unicorn of Audi Quattros.

So, the question we posed last year — what would a really good example of a Quattro Sport bring at auction? — has been answered, and it’s a cool $401,500. Once again the owners of the other 163 known examples are the big winners. Perhaps the biggest winner is the buyer who took home last year’s example, as it won’t cost a fraction of the difference to put that car right. Owners of conventional long-wheelbase Quattros have reason to crack a smile, too. Their upside potential just got a big turbo-boost. ♦

(Introductory description courtesy of RM Auctions.)

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