Cars, like the people that create them have distinct characters. Some of that comes down to the individuals responsible for the design and development and the corporate culture they work in. Other aspects of automotive ethnicity come the places where they were created. Despite the differences between the various German brands, they all share some common DNA, in particular, the way they behave at elevated speeds on highways like the Autobahn. Such is the case for the latest generation Audi A4 that arrived on American shores earlier this year.
Way back in July 1987 legendary rally driver Walter Röhrl strapped into the 600 hpQuattro Sport S1 at the bottom of the 14 mile Pikes Peak hill climb course in Colorado. 10 minutes and 48 seconds after crossing the start line, Röhrl had set an all-time record for traversing the course.
At the time, the entire course was still comprised of dirt and gravel. In the subsequent years, the road to the sky was gradually paved, a project that was completed prior to the 2011 race. That means that Röhrl's record will stand forever.
This July to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Röhrl's record run, Audi will be bringing him and the car back to Colorado to run the course again.
While I wasn't in Colorado in 1987, I did see the record-setting Quattro in April 2008. I was on a trip to Germany with Audi to drive the then-new A4 Avant and one of our stops was at company headquarters in Ingolstadt. In a remote corner of the sprawling Audi complex was a non-descript 6-story building known as Audi Tradition.
Over near the main factory, Audi has its Forum where customers come to eat gourmet meals and pick up their new cars. A small selection of historic Audi vehicles including race cars and concepts are usually on display in the museum area of the Forum.
However, much of the really cool stuff is in the Tradition building which like GM's Heritage Center is not open to the public. Stashed in this building are several hundred Audi, Auto Union, Horch, DKW and NSU cars and motorcycles that span Audi's 100+ year history.
On the second (or maybe it was the third floor) was a certain white Quattro Sport S1, the very same machine that Röhrl took to the record. When we saw the Quattro the turbocharged five-cylinder engine had been removed. We were told that the clutch in the car had failed and twenty years after it raced, the supplier was not in business and there were no replacement parts available. The support staff at Tradition were working on getting new parts manufactured and now it appears they succeeded.
Hopefully, Röhrl doesn't just cruise up the mountain this year and actually puts up a good show even though his run will just be an exhibition. It's always good to see a classic race car come back.
#audi #quattro #audiquattrosports1 #pikespeak #walterRöhrl
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