The Audi Quattro – UrQuattro, as it’s known, the “Ur” the unofficial signal for “original” – debuted in the United States in 1982 as a 1983 model. When it arrived here, there had never been anything like it for anything close to mass consumption. This 1983 Audi Quattro is for sale in Mount Kisco, New York, with a starting bid of $12,899.
If you read all the glossy car magazines in the United States circa 1979, it was a really common refrain: Europe had some really cool cars that delivered blistering performance and stunning good looks, but if we got them here, it was years later, and neutered almost to the point of irrelevance.
It had happened with the Volkswagen GTI in 1976, and when the Audi Quattro took the stage at 1979′s Frankfurt Auto Show, it looked to be more of the same.
The Quattro was a sort of parts-bin special. The body was that of the Audi 80 Coupe. Audi lifted the drivetrain from the 100. But the key was Quattro: Years before, Audi built its first all-wheel drive vehicle, the Iltis, a sort of more civilized Volkswagen Thing.
The Iltis featured a longitudinally mounted engine with a unique all-wheel drive system. According to David Traver Adolphus in Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car, Ferdinand Piëch was personally invested in green-lighting the Quattro system in a production sports coupe, to the point that he would demonstrate it himself:
“Piëch arranged a number of impressive demonstrations for VW and Audi directors, usually involving a comparison between a Quattro prototype and a stock front-wheel-drive Audi on a slippery surface, including grass and snow. Piëch was himself also known to take an unsuspecting senior manager for a high-speed drive in rain or snow, selling the project to the terrified executive at high speed.”
Audi built its rally program around all-wheel drive, prepping a Volkswagen Iltis that won the grueling Paris-Dakar Rally in 1980. The Quattro won at San Remo, with Michèle Mouton at the wheel, also recording the first-ever WRC rally victory by a woman for good measure. It went on to dominate at Pikes Peak with Mouton and Bobby Unser behind the wheel.
Here, the Quattro wouldn’t arrive in dealer showrooms until 1982, as a 1983 model year. They were rare. Somewhere around 4,500 front-wheel drive Coupe GTs found owners that year, but only 285 were Quattros. Audi didn’t sell many more in the coming years, thanks in large part to a $35,000 price tag that put it about $4,000 north of the Porsche 911.
This example is in fine condition, but no trailer queen with around 93,000 miles showing on the odometer. The interior of these cars typically falls apart if used under harsher conditions, but this interior shows pretty well.
The dash is a known weak spot in these cars, and this one has a few cracks. The original steering wheel was replaced with a Momo, and it looks like the radio may be missing.
The seller claims the paint may be original and shows some sun fading, but overall, the bodywork looks fantastic. A starting bid of $12,999 and the fact that it comes from a dealer in Westchester County, New York, suggests the reserve is somewhere north of $25,000.