The game-changing Audi quattro made its UK debut, in London, in 1980. Here, five former members of the Audi UK Rally Team recall how it changed the world, and we take a look back at the numerous iterations of the quattro rally car.
Harald Demuth – Rally driver
Two-time German Rally Champion Harald Demuth helped develop the quattro, campaigned Group B and 80 versions in the UK and drove an Audi 100 quattro up a snow-covered Finnish ski jump in the famous 1986 Audi television advert.
“I was driving for Toyota in the German Rally Championship when I had the choice to sign for Audi or Volkswagen for the 1979 season. Volkswagen had an excellent record with the Golf, but Audi had no presence in rallying. However, there was a lot of whispering behind hands that Audi had something special waiting in the bush, as we say.
“To gain experience of the sport, Audi began rallying a front-wheel-drive 80. We were telling everyone how good that car was, but what we couldn’t say was that we were developing the quattro, which was just light years ahead of the 80. We tested an early quattro all-wheel-drive system in an 80 bodyshell.
“On the 1982 RAC Rally, I was lying behind Hannu Mikkola in a quattro. OK, the gap was quite big, but I was on course to finish second.
“Then I had an off on the last day and ended up fifth. David Sutton, who was running the Audi UK rally team, came over and asked me if I would drive for him.
“Over the years I drove the Group B quattro and the 80 quattro in the UK. There was a massive difference in the performance, of course. But the handling and the feeling in the corners was very similar thanks to the all-wheel-drive system.
“I also won the German Rally Championship twice in a Group B quattro. I called my car Christine – after the Stephen King book and film of the same name about the 1958 Plymouth Fury that just kept rebuilding itself and could never be stopped. I’d spin off the track and go through a ditch, there’d be a big bang, and I’d think, “This is it – I’ve done it this time!” But my quattro would just keep going, and later when I had a look in the service halt, there would only be a little scratch.”