The launch of the Audi Quattro at the 1980 Geneva Motor Show was a defining moment, not only in Audi’s history, but for the entire car industry.
1980 was a time of technological transition and the Audi Quattro was a real statement by the German manufacturer that indicated that they were now looking to the future. The reason for this is four-wheel-drive.
The Audi Quattro was the first and only Grand Tourer with permanent four-wheel-drive since the 1966 Jenson FF. However, it was Audi Quattro that truly put four-wheel-drive on the map because it was now available to a wide audience for the very first time. It was also the very first car that fused 4WD technology with a turbo-charged engine contributing to a 0-60 speed in less than 7 seconds – making it one of the fastest rally cars around.
The end result was a car that gave Audi the edge over their competition in more ways than one. Not only did its competitors struggle to keep up in terms of technological advancements, but they also failed to keep up on the race track. As a rally car the Audi Quattro won its very first outing in 1980. This success continued throughout the early 80s while other manufacturers spent years trying to catch up with the technology.
As a road car, the Audi Quattro hit European markets in late 1980 and sales hit the roof! Posters of the Audi Quattro filled teenage boys’ bedroom walls and it is now firmly among the most in-demand Audi classic cars today and has earned its place in the history books.
Did you know?
- The Quattro was inspired by old Military vehicles in Iceland that were spotted gripping ice-tracks with ease while Audi’s test cars were not yet up to the same standard.
- The original Quattro was also known as the Audi Ur-Quattro. The “Ur” means “first of its kind” in German.
- Since the 1980 Audi Quattro, Audi have sold over five million cars with permanent all-wheel drive. Out of respect to the original Quattro models, all subsequent models are labelled with a lowercase “q”. The quattro drivetrain is available within every single Audi range today.
- 1981, Michele Mouton became the first woman to win a World Rally Championship event in an Audi Quattro, having been dismissed previously by her male rivals.
|Car||Audi Quattro aka Ur-Quattro|
|Top speed (mph)||138|
|Engine||2.1L inline-5 cylinder|
The best of 1980
As Britain entered a new decade, the country and western culture as a whole was going through a period of transformation. Although the country was going through a recession, a new wave of creativity was emerging in the music scene while technology and pop-culture from abroad was also beginning to help shape the 80s, as we would come to know it.
The political landscape was changing in 1980 as Ronald Reagan was elected President of the United States, at a time when people were just getting used to Thatcher’s Britain across the pond.
Technology would come to define the 80s and the first year of the decade set the standard. The iconic Pac-Man video game took the West by storm. Another 80s classic would also emerge in the form of the Rubik’s cube, which has gone on to be the world’s best-selling toy… and frustrated children and adults for generations!
Film & TV
The big release of 1980 was the hugely anticipated Star Wars sequel, The Empire Strikes Back, which became the highest grossing film of the year and features one of cinema’s most iconic moments. It’s safe to say that the film shed a new light on the father and son dynamic!
Horror fans will remember 1980 for Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of the Stephen King novel, The Shining. Although initial reactions were mixed, it’s been one of the most referenced films in popular culture ever since.
1980 was a transformative year for music. Bands were becoming more innovative and experimenting more with synthesisers and computers. OMD released the synth-heavy Enola Gay in 1980 while Bowie entered his 80s phase with the much loved Ashes to Ashes.
However, Electro music wasn’t dominating the charts just yet. ABBA, The Police and Barbara Streisand topped the list of bestselling singles in 1980. Going into 1981, John Lennon dominated the news in tragic circumstances after he was killed on December 8th – an event which shook the music world and spurned a new wave in single and album sales.