When we were asked whether we fancied the task of helping to build one of our long term customers an Audi Quattro, we didn’t need to be asked twice, as let’s face it, precious few cars have ever been as achingly cool, brutal or significant. The Quattro didn’t so much change the rallying game as pick-up, puncture, then chuck away the ball, before chopping down and burning the goalposts! Overnight, a Fiat 131 Abarth or Escort RS looked positively prehistoric overnight.
We were a long way removed from any notions of Group B WRC glory when the time came to commence the project however, not by a long chalk. We began by taking on someone else’s old project, something we tend to avoid doing. The reason we made an exception in the case of the Quattro? Mainly because, well, it’s a Quattro, and really, what more reason could you ever need! The car had already been treated to some of the more drastic surgery involved in turning a Quattro into a Sport – chopping just under 13in from its length and fitting an Audi 80 windscreen.
Sadly, closer inspection revealed the work to be some way off our own high standards, which is why the Kevlar roof, wings, rear panel, bulkhead and various other areas of the bodywork were cut out, which in turn revealed further rot and evidence of accident damage. Wind forward a few weeks more, and we’d commenced a complete strip-down in readiness for a full-on restoration.
Taking the Quattro back to its component parts did at least present us with the chance to add in a new, fully triangulated roll cage. This now stretches from the cabin, along the sills and to the front and rear strut-tops, providing added strength and, should the worst happen, peace of mind. We also ‘tubed’ the inner wings at the same time, adding strength and providing us with mountings for the strut-tops.
The above took a fair old while, though the upshot was that we were able to wheel the shell to the paint booth knowing that it was structurally sound – not something we could’ve ever said before. As for the paint it now wears so well, it’s actually a Lamborghini shade called ‘Grigio Estoque.’
The owner of the Quattro had experienced a number of a disappointing engine failures in its previous guise and as such we were asked to strip it down, something lent further urgency through a mysterious ‘ticking’ at idle. This intensive five-pot archaeology revealed a host of horrors, including a damage crank (which we were fortunately able to save with a re-grind), and most damning of all, an odd piston! Said piston was actually causing the ‘ticking’ by making contact with the valve, albeit just enough to wear the carbon from its face.
It was about this time that the Audi’s owner enquired as to the possibility of fitting the car with a dry sump, which in turn prompted us to make contact with Pace. A suitable kit was eventually assembled and supplied to us, with its tank (along with the radiator and power steering pump) relocated to the boot for better weight distribution.
Since re-assembly some years ago, the Quattro has become one of our most popular builds, which on the one hand is surprising, what with it having been started by someone else. But then it’s also a Quattro, and as such the very mention of the word calls to mind tales of Group B daring-do, of Stig, Walter and Hannu battling against a tide of 205T16s and Delta S4s. Actually, scrap that – we can see why this Quattro has become one of the Retropower ‘poster’ builds!