When I have told people the subject of my latest outing for Haynes, one response has been offered long before any other: ‘Fire up the Quattro!’ That’s because to most people these days, at least in the English-speaking world, the first association that springs to mind with Audi’s groundbreaking, brand-defining coupe is the catchphrase of a slightly thuggish comedy throwback copper, DCI Gene Hunt. Hunt existed in a fictional Thatcherite London but was played with such bravado by actor Philip Glenister that he – and his Tornado Red-painted Quattro – have attained iconic status.
But why was the Quattro chosen as the ultimate emblem of the 1980s? Glenister himself had the answer: ‘As a child I would spend hours watching rallying on Saturday mornings and it was always the Quattro – usually in red and white or a rather strange orange colour -that would be tearing up the field… Everyone agreed: the Audi Quattro would be perfect.’
Not that the real-life Quattro was without a catchphrase of its own – in this case, the infinitely subtler Vorsprung clurch Technik. The phrase was ‘borrowed’ from a faded workshop poster by advertising legend Sir John Hegarty and has endured as Audi’s brand strapline to this day. It has survived pop culture encounters from the likes of Blur and U2 but never sounded better than when drawled lugubriously by Geoffrey Palmer over Audi’s TV adverts of the day.
Today, the word quattro (with a small ‘q’) remains the pinnacle of Audi’s engineering achievements, whether attached to worldbeating touring cars, Le Mans-winning sports cars, sleek executive expresses or imposing SUVs. But it is in rallying that the Quattro set the tone for a story that has lasted for 40 years.
I should like to dedicate this book to the memory of Rodney Clinch, company secretary of VAG in Britain throughout the Quattro’s rallying years and father of one of my dearest childhood friends. Early in 1982, Rodney took three small boys out in the petrol blue press car that Autocar had covered 12,000 miles in… and its pace around the lanes of Northamptonshire leaves us dumbfounded to this day.
My most grateful thanks to so many people for bringing this book to life: Allan Durham at Pro-Tec Motorsport, Andy Dawson and Dawson Auto Developments, Fred Gallagher, Michele Mouton, John Buffum, Malcolm Wilson, Phil Short, Satwant Singh Ghataure, Ari Vatanen, Sarel van der Merwe, David Ingram and Reinhard Klein who were in the thick of the action. Also to Adam Marsden at AM Quattro, Darron Edwards, Nick Barrington, Bob Dennis, John Polson and the Bonhams team, Mark Donaldson, Kari Makela and Jari-Matti Latvala for their knowledge and expertise on the cars today.
Enormous gratitude is also due to the many contributors whose work appears in this book. To Lucy Bamber, daughter of the late, great motor sport artist Jim Bamber, and to her mother, who allowed us to use Jim’s peerless cutaway artwork. To everyone at McKlein for their expertise and extensive archive and the archives of Motor Sport magazine.
To Franz Lang and the IG-Audi Sport veterans for endless fact-checking (all mistakes my own!), Martin Holmes, for wisdom and images and the members of Facebook groups such as Audi Quattro UK, the Audi Quattro Owners’ Club, Group B Today and Group B Rally Legends.
More thanks still to Martyn Pass, Audi’s motor sport PR Svengali, Peter Kober at Audi Tradition, to the press office at Bosch, Tobias Mauler at Porsche AG and Tanya Dempsey at Kudos. To Tim Foster and Rallying With Group B, to the Slowly Sideways community, the Audi Quattro Owners’ Club, Jonathan Gill and MPA Media, Richard Rodgers, Judy and Richard Southwell, Jeremy Walton, Stephen Wright and Staffs Slot Cars, Gareth Jex, Janet Garton, Andrea Seed at Poppyseed Media, Guy Clinch, Kaj Lindberg, Richard Armon, Callum Pudge, Paul Judson, Gary Walton and Lawrence Clift for helping to make this book as good as it can be.
And finally, thanks once again to Steve Rendle and all at Haynes for the opportunity to tell this story, and to my wife and family for tolerating my frequent absences to pursue glorious old rally cars.