Find of the Day: 1987 Audi 200 quattro Trans Am Prototype and Test Car

photos: Hemmings

There has been reproductions and tributes in the past but this…this is the real thing. This is a 1987 Audi 200 quattro Trans Am, 1 of 5 built. Driven by the likes of Hans-Joachim Stuck and Walter Röhrl. Here’s the ad:

EXTERIOR- white with Audi motorsport colours
ENGINE- 5-cylinder aluminium in-line engine, KKK turbo charger with intercooler (2.8 bar boost pressure), 510 hp
CONDITION- Excellent
  • Unique prototype and test drive vehicle for Audi’s participation in the 1988 TransAm racing series in the USA 
  • Test and set-up drives by Hans-Joachim Stuck and Walter Röhrl, who also drove the TransAm series for Audi 
  • Significant contribution to Audi’s TransAm success in 1988 
  • Detailed documentation on the vehicle 
  • Handover to the buyer with personal attendance of Walter Röhrl (!) and including a professional instruction 
  • Rare opportunity for a real motor sport milestone 

This Vehicle and the TransAm Racing Series 

This Audi 200 quattro TransAm race car is the very first and one of only five examples built for the SCCA TransAm racing series in the USA for the 1988 season. Hence, it was Audi’s first factory race car for circuit competitions since the 1930s.

From 1981 to 1986, Audi was extremely successful with the Audi quattro and the Audi Sport quattro in the World Rally Championship with prominent drivers such as Walter Röhrl. However, the Group B vehicles became increasingly radical and difficult to handle, so that Audi withdrew from its Group B rally involvement in 1986. Subsequently, the intention was to demonstrate the performance of the quattro all-wheel-drive in circuit racing as well and at the same time to strengthen the struggling market position in the USA, where (European) rallying had little audience effect anyway. Under genius Ferdinand Piech the plan was born to use Walter Röhrl’s spectacular success at the Pikes Peak Hillclimb in 1987 to enter a car in the renowned TransAm racing series in the USA. A competition for proven American big-block cars with up to 700 hp, which only had the body shape in common with production cars. The German racing legends Walter Röhrl and Hans-Joachim Stuck acted as leading experts and test drivers for Audis TransAm project and also drove the races in the USA later in 1988. Moreover, the American Hurley Haywood was signed on as the third driver to link with a well-known US racing figure. Finally, Audi had a prestigious team of two Le Mans winners and a rally world champion. 

The vehicle TransAm 1 (TA/1):
The TransAm regulations were very broad and did not exclude all-wheel drive. As time was too short for a completely new development, Audi decided to specify a few near-production 200 quattro models for the TransAm. The vehicle offered here, internally named TA/1, was built up in 1987 at the Neckarsulm site by the Audi Motorsport department as a prototype and test car. It was the base concept for the specifications to be developed and tested together with the drivers Stuck and Röhrl. Compared to the US cars that had been common until then, Audi competed with a five-cylinder engine with a displacement of only 2,144 cc. Thanks to a turbocharger with 2.8 bar boost pressure it produced approx. 510 hp. Power was transmitted by a manual 6-speed gearbox and permanent all-wheel drive. Although car TA/1 did not actively participate in the TransAm races in the USA, it made a significant contribution to Audi’s sensational TransAm success in 1988 as a prototype and set-up car under the drivers Röhrl and Stuck. This glory is still remembered by many North American and European motorsport fans today. As Audi had decided not to continue competing in TransAm in the 1989 season, TA/1 (as well as TA/4) was sold to South Africa. There it was entered by Team Audi Sport South Africa in the “Westbank Modified Championship South Africa” (1989 to 1994) in 1990, 1991 and 1992 with driver Chris Aberdein. In 1993 TA/1 also competed in this series under the private team of Richard Sorenen. At the end of the 1990s, TA/1 was sold to a Swiss private collector who still owns this racing car today. In 2006, the Audi TA/1 took part in the “Bergprüfung Altbüron”, a hill climb competition in Switzerland, with Swiss racing driver Marc Surer. TA/1 was never used in races itself. Three other vehicles TA/2, TA/3 and TA/4 were used for this purpose. On the chassis of TA/4, another vehicle (TA/4A) was later configured as a test car. No other vehicles were manufactured by Audi. The necessary test and fine-tuning runs on TA/1 took place before the racing season in 1987 and also during the 1988 season with the drivers Stuck and Röhrl. They used various race tracks in Europe but also in the USA and are documented. The knowledge and experience gained was then transferred to the three cars used in races. Numerous photos and documents prove the exciting and ambitious path through a fascinating motorsport discipline and the development of sophisticated racing technology with an independent drive concept. Originally, TA/1 was painted black. The current paintwork in the typical Audi motorsport colour scheme was changed and applied later.

Special feature at the vehicle handover:
A particular highlight awaits the new owner at the handover of this Audi 200 quattro TransAm 1. It is planned that the German rally and racing legend Walter Röhrl will personally attend to explain the importance of TA/1 and his experiences with this special vehicle. In addition, the vehicle will be professionally refurbished and an experienced technician will give a professional introduction to the highly complex technology of the car. 

Audi’s TransAm success in the 1988 season:
The drivers of the “Audi of America” team were alternately Walter Röhrl and Hans-Joachim Stuck on cars TA/2 and TA/4 with the number 14, and Hurley Haywood, who always drove the number 44 car TA/3. At the last race in St. Petersburg (USA), all three drivers were in the race on all three cars. While the Audis with their small-volume and comparatively low power engines were still ridiculed at the beginning of the season, this changed quickly. Already in the first race in Long Beach in April Haywood finished as second. He won the second race in Dallas in May, and also in Detroit in June. Stuck and Röhrl also recorded several victories and some more good results (see table on page 5). Several times, attempts were made to thwart Audi’s superiority with additional weights and the limitation of the tyre profile. Although the Audi race cars had less horsepower, they were very agile and had better grip thanks to all-wheel drive, which was a great advantage especially on wet tracks. As a result, the three Audi’s took eight victories in a total of thirteen races and scored 19 top-5 finishes. Finally, Audi won the manufacturers’ championship. As only Haywood had driven all the races of the season, he was the superior TransAm champion 1988. The shock over the successful newcomer from overseas was deep-seated in the US-based TransAm series and its established racing teams, so that the regulations were changed for the 1989 season: Only cars with American engines without four-wheel drive were allowed. However, Audi had already decided during the racing season to continue their racing involvement in 1989 not in the TransAm series but in the IMSA series. 

Did you read the part that Walter Röhrl will be at the handoff to talk tot he new owner about his experiences? That is worth the price of admission or in this case, purchase. And what is the purchase price? As with most vehicles of this heritage, there’s a Contact Seller button. What’s it worth to you? Can you imagine pulling up to the next Audi Club track day in this? If you are interested in this 1987 Audi 200 quattro Trans Am Prototype and Test Car, you can find it HERE. Thanks Denis for the heads up!