One of the most influential designs of recent decades, the Audi Quattro brought four-wheel drive into the motoring mainstream. Introduced in 1980, the Quattro was based on the outwardly similar coupe’s body shell but used a different floor pan to accommodate its four-wheel-drive transmission and independent rear suspension. Phenomenally fast and sure-footed on the road, the Quattro excelled in international rallying, winning the Manufacturers Championship for Audi in 1982 and 1984 and the Drivers Championship in ’83 and ’84, but its enduring legacy would be the demonstration of four-wheel drive’s advantages for passenger cars. Since then, Audi has gone on to apply its Quattro 4WD system to many other models but only the original (or “Ur”) version is spelled with a capital Q. The rare Audi Quattro Sport was originally manufactured in April 1985 (confirmed by Audi AG) and delivered new to Oman, where it was purchased by Richard Davies on November 13, 1986. It shows no signs of ever being used for competitions. Mr. Davies kept the car in Oman and used it until August 1990. There is a 1990 service invoice and an Omani registration document on file. The car was imported into the U.K. later that same year by Mr. Davies and registered as B702RJF. The current owner purchased the car in August 2001, and it was subsequently resprayed in Proteo Red Mica, its current livery. It has been in storage for the past seven years, the last MoT being issued in November 2006 at 52,554 kilometers (approximately 32,600 miles). The Quattro is currently undergoing engine work (change of belts, etc.) and a partial respray to the front end, where it was damaged some years ago prior to storage. Currently with MoT, the car also comes with Swansea V5C document and a file of supporting documentation.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1985 Audi Quattro Sport SWB Coupe
Number Produced:214
Original List Price:DM203,850 ($80,000)
Tune Up Cost:$400
Distributor Caps:$23.95
Engine Number Location:Right side engine block underneath spark plugs
Club Info:Audi Club of North America, Quattro Owners Club
Investment Grade:B

This car, Lot 269, fetched a princely £116,784 ($184,860 including buyer’s premium) at Bonhams’ Goodwood Revival auction on September 14, 2013. The selling price alone ought to get the attention of every Ur-Quattro owner, as it represents a substantial elevation over any previous publicly disclosed price.

The short-wheelbase Quattro Sport was a classic homologation model. Audi made just enough of these (214) to compete in the FIA World Rally Championship, which the original long-wheelbase version dominated in the early 1980s. The factory reserved 20 Quattro Sports, and just 164 were sold at an initial ticket price of DM 203,850 (about $80,000).

The Quattro Sport offered Audi’s most powerful engine in that series, which was rated at 306 horsepower, out of a turbocharged 5-cylinder DOHC 20-valve engine. The aluminum engine and Kevlar bodywork panels were designed to be 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.

With the short wheelbase and high-strung engine, the Quattro Sport is reputed to be a beast to drive. Still, given the low production numbers, great motorsports history, and general sexiness of the car, it’s not at all surprising that a Quattro Sport such as this one would do well at auction.

What is surprising is that this particular Quattro Sport set the new high-water mark.

Damage and the wrong color

This same car (SCM# 24297) failed to sell for $49,680 at a Bonhams & Brooks auction in August 2001. The current catalog description says the seller acquired it around the same time. In 2001, SCM rated the car at a 1-. This time around, Bonhams estimated the car would sell at £80,000–£100,000 ($127,000–$158,000). The previous high sale of a Quattro Sport SWB was in 2008 (SCM# 116671) at $160,425, and that car was rated as a very nice #2 condition.

While passing years often add to a car’s value, the seller of our subject car seems to have committed several sins that are simply puzzling in the modern era.

The first and most egregious violation is that he treated the car to a paint job in a color never offered at the factory. These cars came in your choice of red, white, blue, green or black. Judging from the previously recorded auction in 2001 — plus the color that survived the overspray in the engine bay — this Quattro was originally coated with Tornado Red. More than half the original production came in that color.

Second, the car was sold while engine and finish work was still pending. The description alludes to front-end damage, and you can see that the front bumper and grille are pushed in and uneven. Unrepaired damage is evident at the bottom right of the engine-bay photo. Beyond that, the car is actually dirty in the photos. You can see better engine bays at any Cars and Coffee event. As it sits, our subject Quattro Sport is at best a 3 condition car.

Mojo trumps perfection

This Audi is no antique barn find where patina confers authenticity, so why not complete the repairs and give it a once-over before putting it on the block? The obvious answer is that the owner didn’t need to do any of that. The Audi Quattro Sport represents the apex of a particular line of performance development, with horsepower and features far above average for the era. If you want some of that mystical Group B mojo, this is the car you have to buy. Check the dictionary for a definition of “well sold,” and you’ll find a picture of this Audi.

The best news from this sale belongs to the other 163 Quattro Sport owners, especially if their cars are unmolested and in good condition. But the news is almost as good for owners of about 11,000 other Ur-Quattros produced from 1980 to 1991. While they’ll never see this kind of supercar price, the value of their cars may have just taken a rally-style jump. ♦

(Introductory description courtesy of Bonhams.)

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