On the edge of the Audi campus away from the beautiful Piazza and it’s glass structures sits an unassuming building that contains some of the greatest pieces of Audi history.
You can’t tell from the outside exactly what’s hidden inside, but once the doors opened up, I knew I was in for one incredible tour. Walking the halls revealed more and more Audi history. I was quickly overwhelmed.
The place is called Audi Tradition, and it uses its network of employees to scour the planet looking for prime examples of cars from the 100- years of the eventful and varied history of Audi AG.
Technically, it’s not a museum at all. It’s more of a storage facility. And it’s not open to the public.
But Audi let me inside.
Follow along on a brief tour with twenty-five of my favorite photographs.
1954 DKW 3=6 Sonderklasse F91 Rallye Monte Carlo
In 1953, Auto Union GmbH premiered the DKW 3=6 Sonderklasse F91 model at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Overlooking its odd naming, the 3=6’s most notable features include a two-stroke engine and front-wheel drive. The two-stroke engine only produced 34 bhp at 4000 rpm. After a series of thrilling wins; including the victory in its class at the Monte Carlo Rally. In 1954, The 3=6 motorsport debut came to a sensational finale when ace DKW drivers Walter Schlüter, Gustav Menz and Heinz Meier made it a one-two-three for the DKW Sonderklasse in the “European Championship for Standard-production Touring Cars”.
DKW Monza, Audi 60
Then the Red 1956 DKW Monza Coupe immediately caught my eye. The DKW Monza was a sports car built on a DKW chassis. It’s named for the world-famous Italian Grand Prix circuit. In December 1956, a team of two Germans and two Swiss drove a DKW Monza around the racecourse at Monza, Italy. With an average speed of 140 km/h (87 mph), doing so, the team of four drivers set five international records.
Audi Sport quattro’s
Turning around there was not one! But four Sport quattro’s all lined up. The car that in 1985 introduced the world to quattro. The white car, recently acquired and will shortly undergo a full restoration by the team at Audi Tradition. Audi will restore as many of the original parts as it can before repainting the car back to the factory specifications.
Audi RS 2, UrS6
The row of Sport quattro’s gave way to two beautiful RS 2s and an UrS6. This was my first time up close and personal with the RS 2, and I was not disappointed. I love the Porsche bits scattered around the car.
Audi RS 2 engine
Audi 60, Audi 75
The Audi 75 also really stood out to me. It’s the first time that I’ve seen one in person, and I loved the shape. It’s also one of the few avants stored here.
Audi 100 Coupe
Before the Audi A7 arrived there was the 1970 Audi 100 Coupe with it’s swept back roof. Though it’s neither a hatch nor a four-door, the Audi A7 designers had made several references to the 100 influencing their design of the A7. It’s still one of my favorite Audis from the 1970s.
Wanderer W-25 Streamliner
We went into great detail about the Wanderer W-25 Streamliner in our collaboration with — Wanderer W-25 Streamliner – #bcotd x aryatara.info. I never thought I would be standing in front of one. The car is beautiful in person and takes you back in time to when racing cars were raw, and the drivers had no technology to rely on. They deal with extreme elevation and weather changes while crossing great distances—almost enough to make the 24 Hours of Le Mans seem like a drive to Burger King. The Liège-Rome-Liège is one such rally. The Wanderer W-25 covered 3500 km (2174 miles) over some of the toughest terrains in Europe. Stopping was only allowed for refueling. One thing is for sure: two drivers, with little sleep and nourishment, would share the journey of a lifetime.
1961 DKW Hartmann Formula Junior, DKW Junior, 1979 Audi 80 GLE Group 2 Rally Car B2
Now for my favorite group of the cars. We took the elevator to the second floor, and as soon as the door slid open I was immediately greeted by the 1979 Audi 80 Group 2 Rally Car. This example is a reproduction of one of the first rally cars that Audi constructed. It is front-wheel-drive and produced 160 HP from a 1.6-liter engine. Audi developed the cars to take part in the 1979 World Rally Championship. This allowed the teams to get up to speed on rallying while Audi developed the quattro behind closed doors. The classic racing DKW F12 Junior Rennwagen, which was a great entry point for my young drivers, sits between the DKW Formula Junior car. Which was the entry point for many youngsters who wanted to enter Grand Prix racing.
1984 Audi quattro, Audi Quattro A2 Rallye Group B, 1983 Audi quattro
Then we move onto the most recognizable of the group. The famous Audi quattro rallye cars. First is the 1985 Audi Sport quattro Rallye piloted by Walter Röhrl and finished second in the 1985 Monte Carlo Rally. 1981 Audi quattro Rallye (Group 4), piloted by Hannu Mikkola, winner of the 1981 RAC England Rally. The 1983 Audi quattro A2 Rallye piloted by Stig Blomqvist and finishing second in the 1983 1000 Lakes Rally Finland.
1985 Audi Sport quattro Rallye
The 1984 Audi quattro engine bay featured some very early carbon fiber on the intake and the baffle around the radiator.
984 Audi quattro A2 Rallye – 1984 Monte Carlo Rally win with Walter Röhrl, 1985 Audi Sport quattro S1 E2 Rallye – Hannu Mikkola winner of Olympus Rally (USA), 1985 Audi Sport quattro Rallye – Pikes Peak 1985 win with Michèle Mouton
The first is the 1984 Audi quattro A2 Rallye piloted by Walter Röhrl, and he finished first overall in the 1984 Monte Carlo Rally. The 1985 Audi Sport quattro S1 E2 Rallye, piloted by Hannu Mikkola winner of Olympus Rally in Washington State. Finally, the 1985 Audi Sport quattro Rallye piloted by Michèle Mouton. She won overall at Pikes Peak with a time of 11:25.39. She was not only the fastest overall in 1985 but also set a record which remains unbeaten to this day by a female driver.
1991 Audi V8 Quattro DTM, 1993 Audi 80 quattro 2.5 DTM Prototype, 1994 Audi 80 Competition
In 1990, Audi developed a Group A competition version of the Audi V8 for competition in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft (DTM) (German Touring Car Championship) series. It’s powered by a 414 bhp, later upgraded to 456 bhp, 3.6-liter V8 engine paired with a 6-speed manual gearbox. Audi used a Torsen with a viscous coupling or planetary gear set with viscous coupling. The front had a viscous limited slip diff, and the rear had a clutch pack limited slip diff. Their differentials all worked together to remove oversteer and allowed the drive to catch a slide when it did happen and allowed the Audi drivers to recover faster than the competition. Stuck never managed to spin the car during any of his 22 races. The car began racing in 1990 with Schmidt MotorSport (SMS) managing operations and drivers Hans-Joachim Stuck, Walter Röhrl, and Frank Jelinski. During the 1990 DTM finale at Hockenheimring, all of the three teams claimed the top three steps on the podium with Stuck winning the title. In 1991, Audi added a second team, Audi Zentrum Reutlingen (AZR). SMS continued with Stuck and Jelinski; AZR raced with Frank Biela and Hubert Haupt. Biela took the title and gave Audi another crown in 1991.
1990 Audi V8 Quattro DTM, 1993 DTM Prototype, 1994 Audi 80 Competition, 1994 Audi Super Touring Car, 1995 Audi A4 Quattro Supertourer
The 1993 Audi 80 2.5 DTM is the only prototype of this car that exists. Construction started somewhere between 1992 and 1993. Its six-cylinder engine produces 388 bhp at 10,500 RPM. But this car never made it to the grid. After a dispute with the German motorsport authority (ONS) about the rules, many teams withdrew from the series.1994 was Emanuele Pirro’s first year with Audi; on the first attempt, he won the Italian championship in his 272 horsepower Audi 80 Competition.
1991 Audi V8 Quattro DTM
The 456 bhp, 3.6-liter V8 engine from the 1991 Audi V8 Quattro DTM.
1994 80 Competition, 1997 A4 quattro BTCC, Audi A4 quattro Supertourer
The 1997 A4 quattro BTCC would be the last year that Frank Biela would compete in the BTCC. Audi expected that he would continue his good fortune that allowed him to finish the 1996 season with more than a 100-point lead over the other competitors. Instead, the car had some retirements and soon Biela would leave the series. Shortly after the BTCC banned quattro from racing. Audi would compete for one season with a front-wheel-drive converted car. But soon after Audi left Supertouring as a works effort and switched to prototype racing and Le Mans.
The Audi A4 quattro Supertourer was unstoppable in racing trim with its quattro all-wheel-drive, advanced aerodynamics, and finely balanced handling. The naturally aspirated engines with an 8,500 rpm limit, and an engine output of roughly 300 hp. This made the aerodynamics critical. Audi spent around 140 hours on a special test car in the wind tunnel to fine tune the outer skin of the A4 quattro Supertouring. Audi entered the A4 quattro Supertouring in seven championship series on three continents in 1996, and it won them all. Italian driver Emanuele Pirro won the German Super Tour Car Cup.
Audi 200 quattro TransAm
Based on the standard 200 quattro, Audi tuned the production 5-cylinder turbo engine to produce 510 bhp and wind tunnel testing produced a very aerodynamic body. But the power wasn’t much compared to it’s large displacement, naturally aspirated V8 600+ hp American touring car competition. The Audi 200, piloted by Hurley Haywood, Walter Rohrl, and Hans-Joachim Stuck made its debut 1988 Trans-Am season. The Audi 200, written off entirely by almost everyone in the pitlane, as it was not considered a serious competitor. But Audi would show the competition that you can have all the engine power in the world, but if you cannot put the power down on the pavement, then it’s not all that useful. The decisive factor was not the power but the best way to distribute it to all four wheels.
Audi, with the smallest displacement and lowest power output, was agiler and had the best traction. It was able to outperform all competition especially when it came to racing in the rain. Haywood recorded the first victory in the #44 Car in the second race at Dallas. By the end of the season, Audi had won 8 of 13 races and had clinched the manufacturer’s championship.
2004 B6 Audi A4 DTM: Team ABT Sportsline (Mattias Ekström), 2006 B7 Audi A4 DTM: Team ABT Sportsline (Mattias Ekström), 2008 B7 Audi A4 DTM: Team ABT Sportsline (Timo Scheider), 2011 B7 Audi A4 DTM: Team Phoenix (Martin Tomczyk)
The 2004 B6 Audi A4 DTM was the first factory developed Audi for the modern age of DTM. Mattias Ekström and team ABT Sportsline were successful right out of the gate.
Unlike the 1991 Audi V8 Quattro, the A4 DTM only resembles it’s A4 road car equivalent only in appearance. Audi constructed the chassis with a space frame, and carbon fiber reinforced monocoque with an integrated fuel tank. It is powered by a naturally-aspirated 460 hp 4.0-Liter V8 engine paired with a 6-speed sequential transmission.
Audi R8R, Audi R8C, 2001 Audi R8 LMP Team Joest, 2000 Audi R8 LMP Team Joest, 2004 Audi R8 LMP Team Goh, 2007 Audi R8 LMP Champion Racing, 2006 Audi R10 TDI Team Joest
The R8R made it’s racing debut at the 1999 12 Hours of Sebring. It would also be the racing debut of Audi racing legend Dindo Capello driving for Joest Racing. Powered by a 550 bhp 3.6-liter twin-turbo V8 engine paired with a six-speed sequential section was another new development. The R8Rs struggled during qualifying and couldn’t break into the top-ten. However, it made up for lack of speed in durability. It was able to outlast most of the competitors who outpaced them. They managed a 3rd place podium finish at their first attempt.
Following the 3rd place finish at Sebring, Audi pushed on and returned to testing joined by the British built R8Cs run by Audi Sport UK at Le Mans in May. The R8Rs were highly competitive for the first time. Audi was able to finish testing in 8th and 11th overall besting Mercedes and Nissan. Come June and the 1999 Le Mans the R8Rs managed to qualify in 9th and 11th. Durability allowed them to outlast their competition from Mercedes, Toyota, Panoz, Nissan, and BMW. The R8R finished in a respectable third and fourth place outpaced by BMW and Toyota. Following Le Mans Audi decided to scrap the R8C and continue with the R8R. The R8R would further evolve into the R8 where it would share only the engine from the R8R.
2001 Audi R8 LMP1 Team Joest, 2000 Audi R8 LMP1 Team Joest
Following the success of the Audi R8R, Audi debut the R8 at the 2000 12 Hours of Sebring, with an overall victory. Audi prepped the R8 for the LMP900 class at Le Mans and in the American Le Mans Series. The R8 was the first car developed in conjunction with Audi Sport and Joest Racing. In its class, it is one of the most successful racing sports cars having won the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, and 2005, five of the six years it competed in total. Its streak of Le Mans victories between 2000 and 2005 broken only in 2003 by the R8 based Bentley Speed 8. The R8 continued to compete in the American Le Mans Series through the first half of the 2006 season. The R8s final US appearance was on July 1, 2006, at Lime Rock Park, Connecticut, piloted by McNish and Capello. The R8 ended its career in style by winning the race; the 50th American Le Mans Series win for the Audi R8.
2000 Audi R8 LMP1, Race of a Thousand Years
In 2000, This R8, in a unique crocodile livery, won the Race of a Thousand Years in Adelaide, Australia, driven by Allan McNish and Dindo Capello.
2007 Audi R10 TDI, 2008 Audi R10 TDI, 2010 Audi R15 TDI
In response to increased competition, Audi developed the successor to the R8, the Audi R10 TDI. The R10s 5.5-liter V12 produced 650 hp @ 5000 rpm / 811–948 ft-lb of torque + 150 hp overtake assist extra power boost @ 7000 rpm. However, rumors said the engine weighed north of 400 pounds and required Audi to stretch out the chassis to accommodate the larger engine. It still went on to win it’s debut race at the 2006 12 Hours of Sebring.
Emanuele Pirro, Frank Biela, and Marco Werner made history by becoming the first drivers to win the 2006 24 Hours of Le Mans race in a diesel-powered car. The Audi R10 TDI completed a record 380 laps of the La Sarthe circuit, with Pirro at the wheel for the finish.
For the Audi R10s final 24 Hour of Le Mans with the Team Joest and Audi Sport. The Audi R10 is well known from the 2008 documentary Truth in 24 featured the Audi R10s and their battle against Peugeot and Audi Sports attempt to win a record fifth consecutive 24 Hours of Le Mans. For 2009 and 2010 the R10s Team Kolles ran two R10s independently of Audi Sport.
The Audi R15 TDI made its debut in by winning the 2009 12 Hours of Sebring. Three R15 TDIs participated in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2009, under the control of Joest Racing. Audi chooses not to defend their American Le Mans Series, or European Le Mans Series titles with the R15 TDI. However, in its attempt at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Audi was not successful with its rival Peugeot taking the top two spots ending Audi’s five-win streak that lasted from 2004.
The R15 TDI features a 5.5 liter V10 Turbocharged Direct Injection TDI engine. It’s rated at over 590 bhp and 774 lbf·ft torque. The electrical system used a lithium-ion battery, a first for Audi sports prototypes, as well as LED headlights, and a unique system of LED rear lights mounted on the rear wing endplate.
Audi 90 IMSA GTO
Here I saved my favorite for last. The 1989 Audi 90 IMSA GTO, “The race car that broke the mold”.
After previous successes in rallying and in the TransAM series with the 1988 Audi 200 quattro TransAm, which both demonstrated the superiority of quattro and Audi engineering. Eager for a new challenge, Audi took it a step further and entered the less restrictive IMSA Camel GT Championship, they built a tube frame racer with a 700 bhp from the Audi Sport quattro S1 Pikes Peak AWD Group B rally car and covered in a carbon fiber wide body shell. A monster was born!
Driven by Hurley Haywood, Hans-Joachim Stuck, Walter Röhrl and Scott Goodyear. Hans-Joachim Stuck was responsible for seven wins in the 1989 season. However, Audi would skip the endurance races at Daytona and Sebring. Even so Audi lead the championship with 195-points, with Ford in second with 45-points. In the driver’s championship Stuck was in third and Haywood fourth. In 1990, Audi left the American racing series and the 1990 Audi V8 Quattro DTM was born.