If there is a silver lining in the COVID-19 pandemic, it is that car manufacturers left without international auto shows and press launches at which to launch new models have become more and more creative about staying in the news cycle by releasing things you likely wouldn’t have seen them do in the past. It seems just this week we have a host of concepts new and old alike revealed to get the gears in your head turning. Given all of this, we figured we’d take a few minutes of our day to render a concept we’ve been thinking of ourselves in order to get in on the action (and also shamelessly promote our current Audi exclusive RS 6 Avant Sweepstakes).
The car you see here is an homage to the long history between Audi and its corporate sibling brand Porsche. These two brands have a decades long history for working together, a partnership that dates back well before the well-known Porsche Audi fusion RS2 Avant, and into the late 1960s when Audi was first making post-war inroads into the United States.
Back in the late 1960s, Volkswagen was introducing the modern post-war Audi marque into the American market via its own distribution system. Lacking much of any market awareness for the four ring brand, the marque was paired with Porsche, sold and marketed via many of the same dealers and under the Porsche + Audi moniker. Period sales literature even includes products from both brands.
Since racing is always part of the story at both Porsche and Audi, it is perhaps not so surprising that there is a track element to this part of their history. Porsche had quickly gotten its über successful 917 outlawed in European sportscar racing, and it began redeveloping an open-top version for the Canadian American Challenge Cup (a.k.a. Can-Am) where the 917’s tech was more than welcome. The initial two cars developed came to be known as the Porsche PA Spyder and where “PA” stood for “Porsche + Audi”. One of that pair marked the 917’s arrival in Can-Am in 1969, piloted by Jo Siffert. It was then purchased by the Vasek Polak racing team who continued to campaign it in Can-Am.
That Can-Am era may be better known for the monstrous 917/30 Spyders that would later replace the 917 PA Spyder, but even most of those campaigned with “Porsche + Audi” branding. Today, that Can-Am PA Spyder is now part of the collection at the Revs Institute in Naples Florida, while the other remains in the Porsche factory collection in Stuttgart where it can often be seen at The Porsche Museum in Stuttgart.
Fast forward to the mid-90s and you’ll find Audi sitting squarely in the middle of a performance car market that was quickly heating up. The era of the turbocharged 5-cylinder engine that had ushered in the brand’s rebirth was quickly coming to a close, and Audi again paired with Porsche for a final sendoff.
Utilizing the about-to-be-replaced B4 80 Avant as a basis, Porsche augmented both the chassis and the engine to new levels. The 20-valve 5-cylinder engine was boosted to 315 hp, with improved hard parts including bigger turbo and unique intake manifold with “Power by Porsche” cast into the top. Exterior changes were also made, mainly Porsche inspired and even Porsche parts bin, including “Cup 1” alloy wheels over Porsche badged “big red” brakes from the 968 Clubsport and “teardrop” wing mirrors from the then current 911 (typ 964). For the front fascia, Porsche also added 911 turn signals and foglights, but interestingly using units from the 911 (type 993) that was just coming to market.
The result was legendary, an Audi Avant that dominated the 90s with its more exotic Porsche styling, bold colors like Nogaro Blue close to Porsche’s own Maritime Blue, and sometimes in Porsche specific colors… maybe not a surprise since Porsche built the cars in Stuttgart.
In period, this massaged Avant could keep pace with exotics of the time, including cars like the McLaren F1 and Ferrari F40. In the hands of period tuning houses like Hohnester, it could even outpace those early hyper cars.
The obvious nod for our rendered drawing is the aforementioned RS2. The formula is simple. Do what Porsche did then, but with modern Porsche styling. Here, we’ve added the center lock 5-spoke alloys and wing mirrors from the outgoing Porsche 911 GT3 RS (typ 991.2), and slightly newer fascia from the Porsche 911 Turbo (typ 992). Of course, we had to leave it Nogaro Blue.
We’re calling it the RS 6 Avant PA Tribute concept – a tribute to not just the RS2, but Audi’s long history with Porsche, and one that draws its roots back to America.
Could Porsche and Audi collaborate on such a car? In today’s world, each of the brands is fiercely loyal to their own design departments so it’s hard to imagine Audi wanting Porsche cues on the RS 6, or Porsche wanting to put their cues on a car that’s not their own. Even still, the brands are at a high water mark in cooperation these days… especially in matters Taycan and RS e-tron GT. Given both are now solidly owned by the Volkswagen Group, it’d be easier now than it was then if someone high enough in the organization wanted to make it happen.
Is there any reality to our vision? No. It was a flight of fancy, time spent messing with Photoshop as an experiment. With the recently revealed Audi RS 6 GTO concept, not to mention the “unseen” Porsche concepts that dropped, and even former Audi design boss Walter de Silva getting in on the action revealing an unseen 2015 Bugatti concept on Instagram, it seemed like a fun way to get in on the action and imagine a car that inspires and yet doesn’t exist. We hope you enjoy it.