They say that legends aren’t born, they’re made. There are certain names in the car world that certainly live up to the loft moniker, but when the standard car is so well-received, it’s sometimes difficult to know where to draw the line in making any changes to it. Is messing with that original concept a sin? Or has the passage of time shown us that even quality can be built upon?
One thing’s for certain though: in terms of the world of rallying, few names have been as influential as Audi’s quattro. After one of its engineers witnessed the superior handling of Volkswagen’s four-wheel drive Iltis off-roader in the snow, the decision was soon made to transplant the technology into a road-going car.
Not everything went smoothly at first – after the VW Group’s Development Director lent the prototype to his wife, she complained of the car hopping and being hard to park. This led to a clever centre differential being added which utilised a unique hollow propshaft driven by the gearbox’s primary shaft; power was then transferred to the front wheels through a solid shaft running through the middle of this, and via a normal propshaft to the rear.
The car was an instant hit on the world rally stage, the AWD system providing never-seen-before levels of traction, and a slew of legendary drivers took the wheel during its hugely successful time as a rally car, including Michèle Mouton, Stig Blomqvist and Walter Röhrl. Although the original idea was to make solely 400 road cars for homologation purposes, eventually over 11,000 rolled off the production line.
One of those was the 1982 Ur-Quattro model you see before you. But a bit like the original Quattro’s story, things didn’t exactly start smoothly for Øystein Hansen’s car either.
The car was originally purchased from Ireland and sent over to Øystein’s homeland of Norway in a shipping container. The previous owner had promised that the car was in ok shape with a minimal amount of rust. But when it arrived, things weren’t quite as described…
The body had some serious rust issues, the engine was pretty much useless, the brakes and suspension were shot and things weren’t looking good. Luckily, the car had found its way to the right owner and Øystein – a life-long Audi fan and owner of Hansen Motorsport – set about putting things right.Making things right
After stripping down the chassis and sandblasting it, one of the first decisions was what to do about the engine. Wanting to keep things in the right family, a 2.2-litre lump from an RS2 Avant was sourced – the engine being a derivative of the original Quattro powerplant anyway.
Of course, it was inevitable that it wouldn’t stay stock. A Precision Turbo 6265 snail is mated to a TiAL wastegate and sits on a stainless steel exhaust manifold which throws the used gasses down a 3.5-inch exhaust system. Keeping this system running is thirsty work, so the fuelling system was uprated with bigger injectors, a fuel pressure regulator, two Bosch Motorsport fuel pumps, and a fuel surge tank.
The internals have been uprated with custom Wiseco pistons and Pauter H-profile rods, ARP bolts and head studs, an uprated valve spring set with titanium retainers, and a custom camshaft running off a billet cam gear, all controlled by a 034EFI Stage II ECU. The result more than doubles the engine’s original output of 311hp to a huge 722hp with 855Nm torque (on E85 fuel); way more than even the Group B Sport Quattro S1 E2 used to spit out. Insane.
Of course, with a car that so obviously needs to handle right, you need a decent suspension set-up too, so tasked with the job of keeping the car on the straight and narrow are a set of custom built coilovers, featuring Bilstein dampers and H&R springs, with Delrin bushes, Sellholm anti-roll bars at both the front and back and motorsport-spec chromoly control arms with uniball set-up.
The Urq’s wheels needed to match its performance too, so a set of 18-inch magnesium BBS LMs were fitted, the centres of the lightweight wheels providing just the right amount of contrast to the dark bodywork.
Inside, a full roll cage provides chassis stiffening…
… extending down to the integral door bars, and a pair of Recaro seats with harnesses keep both driver and passenger firmly planted when the Audi is anything but. The Sparco steering wheel is set on a short ratio rack too, to provide the quickest turning reaction.
With all that power on tap, things happen rather quickly, so a Stack dash does the job of providing the critical information needed at any one time .
The power is transmitted to all four wheels via an RS2 gearbox that’s been fitted with a six-speed dogbox kit and is running rally-spec ratios. In fact, the top speed is limited to just 220km/h but you can bet that’s a pretty ballistic scrabble to that speed!
Of course, the back seats have long been removed and in their place a Jaz fuel cell now resides between the mounting points of the cage.Crash diet
When rebuilding the car, rather than just replacing the standard body panels, Øystein went for a Sport Quattro LWB kit in Kevlar and fibreglass. As well as providing the tough-as-nails look that the car deserved, the aim was always to keep weight down. It’s something the Group B Audi motorsport engineers would have approved of, I’m sure.
The doors, bonnet and bumper have been lightened as well, and the windows replaced with tinted Lexan units, all in a quest to provide the best possible ratio of power to weight. And let’s face it, those arches look damn good too!
Even the rear wing is a carbon fibre Group B number. The result of all these lightweight parts is that the car weighs in at just 1130kg (2491lb) – a whole 160kg less than the original car. Combined with the power output, you can see that the mix of the two is a potent combination, and one that is put to good use on a regular basis – after the two and a half years that the build took to finish, Øystein’s taken it to pretty much every event possible.
Despite the car being built foremost for function, it still manages to look tough and purposeful, helped in no small way by the arches showing the car’s true purpose, but also by a number of small touches too. Things like the tinted front and rear lights, complete with the smoked Audi logo all point towards the car’s aggressiveness.
And that’s just it: while Audi’s engineers created a legend years ago when they first released the Quattro, Øystein’s vision for his car still shares all of the same attributes with the original designers – a nimble, lightweight car that was out to destroy the opposition. While some current takes on old classics butcher the original idea in a way that makes us wince, this modern-day retelling of the classic legend is every bit as exciting as the original.