Guest blog: My first quattro

Major Waffle Audi

Garry Phillips, a new guest blogger on PetrolBlog gives his account of the first time he encountered an Audi quattro in the wild.

In its day, and even now, the Audi quattro still makes grown men stop and listen. When the quattro, (or ur quattro as it is now fashionably referred to), made its appearance it contained a number of memorable automotive features which had never been assembled in a single car - four wheel drive, turbo engine, and 5-cylinders.

From the start it was Audi’s intention to use the car for motorsport, and such was the cars impact on rallying that even today, nearly 30 years later, all the world rally championship since 1982 have gone to a turbo charged four wheel drive car, (with the exception of 1983 when the Lancia 037 Rally won). At first the UK road cars were only available in left hand drive, somehow making them even more special than they already were. In their day not only were they a rare car, they weren’t particularly cheap, or to use a well known beer brands phrase “reassuringly expensive”.

At the time I was just starting out on my own motoring experiences and I was the very proud owner of a 12 year old, Series IIa Land Rover, short wheel base, truck cab with the trusty 21/4 litre petrol engine under the bonnet. To me I was almost half way to having a quattro, even though I was lucky to get 70mph downhill with a trailing wind and you needed a calendar to measure the 0 to 60 time, but I had got four wheel drive.

At the time I would use any excuse I could to either get off road, or use four wheel drive. On this particular day it had snowed, not too much, but enough to warrant t trip out to play in the Landy. It was a late January evening meaning it was already dark and still snowing. The council in those days had the resources to actually clear most of the roads meaning I’d have to head for the hills to get my fix. As I climbed up a steep single track road out of town I could see lights ahead of me, some else out playing, either that, or a farmer out checking his stock.

As I got closer it was clear the vehicle wasn’t moving, as I slowly reached the lights it was obvious that the vehicle was off the road and stuck in a roadside ditch. “Ah ha someone to tow out thinks me, earn a few quid and do a good deed” But no, this wasn’t just a vehicle it was a quattro!! This was the first one I’d seen in the metal and here it was stuck in the snow. As I dismounted the Landy, the door of the quattro opened and out got a middle aged chap with a huge grin across his face, nearly matching the grin on my face. It quickly became apparent that he’d had the same idea as me and was out playing, with less than ideal results. He’d tried the diff locks but road tyres and a lack of ground clearance had beaten him. So out with the tow road, a one very gently pull and it was out. Because of the snow the trip to the ditch had caused no obvious damage resulting in one very grateful quattro driver and one deeply impressed young man.

The quattro was last seen accelerating down the road back into town in a flurry of snow with that customary offbeat 5-cylinder burble filling my ears. With hindsight this little episode showed me that just because someone can afford an expensive car it doesn’t mean they’ve no intention of using it or enjoying it. I just wish more people would.

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