30 Years of Audi quattro Spyder

The 1991 IAA served as the premiere platform for the Audi quattro Spyder. Up to that point, the brand from Ingolstadt was known primarily for well-behaved sedans, forays into the world of rallying in the 1980s and upcoming successes in the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft). But no one expected a thoroughbred sports car from them. In fact, however, Audi was already planning to put this concept car into production. The trade show appearance in Frankfurt was to be used as an opinion poll for this purpose. The quattro Spyder was accordingly close to a possible series production.

Series production opportunities firmly planned

Other concept cars, such as the Mercedes-Benz F 100 or C112, already made their status clear through various details. Reversing cameras, wildly shaped exterior mirrors or joysticks in the interior failed at the time due to approval regulations. Audi therefore ensured that the prototype, which was was painted in Fidji Orange, largely complied with all applicable specifications in the most important markets. For the first time, the Ingolstadt-based company used a body made entirely of aluminium. Above the passengers’ heads, the glass roof could be completely removed and attached to the engine cover. Audi received various pre-orders during and shortly after the motor show.

V6 mid-engine with only 174 hp

From today’s perspective, the quattro Spyder looks like a precursor to the modern R8. However, it operated a full class below it. The power source was a transversely mounted naturally aspirated V6 engine. This 2.8-liter unit was already familiar to brand fans from the then new 100 (C4). Also the Audi 80 (B4), which was shown next to the quattro Spyder at the IAA, received this V6 as its top engine. However, it was always installed longitudinally in the sedans and station wagons (and later in Coupé and Cabriolet). In the quattro Spyder, it transmitted its 128 kW/174 hp via a manual five-speed gearbox to the quattro all-wheel drive system. Audi stated a curb weight of 1,100 kilograms.

Series stop at the last second

Following the IAA, the prototype was repainted to ‘Gomera metallic’ (dark green). Various press photos were taken as the market launch was imminent. Even brochures and information films for the dealers had already been produced. But then the head office of Audi made the heartbreaking decision to stop the project. The reason for this was the enormously high production costs for the aluminium body, which couldn’t be covered by the targeted sales price of 100,000 DM. A higher sales price was considered to be unrealistic. It therefore took until 1994 before an aluminium body was introduced at Audi in series production for the first time with the first A8. A mid-engine sports car didn’t even exist until 2006 with the R8. The quattro Spyder prototype, now orange again, is part of the Audi Tradition factory collection.

Images: Audi