19 March 2015

The Market for Audi Sport Quattros Officially Goes Berserk

The formerly sleepy market for one of the most dominant cars ever to hit the world rally stage has officially awakened with a vengeance. Just in time for the 35th anniversary of the revolutionary Quattro all-wheel drive system, the market for the Audi Sport Quattro Coupe is up about 250 percent.

The infamous FIA Group B was one of the most competitive and fondly remembered classes in the world of big-time, factory sponsored rallying. Because of the lack of limitations on horsepower and the technology that could be employed, it was also one of the most dangerous motorsports classes of the time—the cars were referred to as “Killer Bs” after several driver deaths. The homologation requirements were also famously low—just 200 cars. Perhaps the best-known of these cars was the short wheelbase, Audi Quattro Sport.

Quattro Sports are exceedingly rare (only 218 were built) and the Sport’s turbocharged 2.1-liter four-valve five banger could produce over 450 hp in competition trim. In street trim —with just over 300 hp — it was certainly fast enough, able to make it from 0-60 in 4.8 seconds, enough to embarrass any Ferrari of the day. It also featured Kevlar body panels and the first use of ABS in an Audi aligned to disc brakes that were derived from the Porsche 917.

Only Audi’s best customers could purchase a Sport Quattro, and like anything else worth having in the early 1980s, Americans had no prayer of getting their hands on a road-legal version. The best drivers on the planet (Michèle Mouton, Stig Blomqvist, Hannu Mikkola and Walter Röhrl) were Sport Quattro pilots and they owned the 1984 World Rally Championships. In short, this weapons-grade rally car has all the makings of a blue-chip collectible with the exception of conventionally pretty looks. (“Purposeful” best describes the Sport Quattro.)

Inexplicably, the car had been stuck in the $160,000-$180,000 range for as long as anyone could remember. Simon Hope’s H&H Auctions sold one at Buxton in the UK in 2003 for $168,345 and Bonhams sold one in Chichester in July of 2013 for a then-record price of $191,873, which adjusted for inflation is about what the H&H car sold for 10 years earlier.

The Bonhams sale did get the punters talking; that car wasn’t a fantastic example and it begged the question of what a really great one was worth in this frothy market. RM’s recent sale of a near-perfect white example answered that question with an exclamation point—$401,500 in Arizona on Jan. 16, 2015. It seems apparent at this point that the Sport Quattro is destined to be the first post-war Audi-badged car to enter the “Million Dollar Club.” When is anyone’s guess, but we’d wager that this car at almost 2.5 times the record price will seem stunningly well-bought in the not-too-distant future.

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