Find of the Day: Not Your Ordinary 1981 Audi Quattro

photos: PistonHeads

I’m rewatching The Grand Tour season 1 and 2 in preparation for the new season and am still fascinated by S2E7 “It’s a gas, gas, gas” which tells the story of Jezza’s Favorite Motorsports Battle- Audi vs. Lancia.

In that frame of mind, one tends to start looking for an Ur-Quattro to drool over and this one fell into my lap. Featured on PistonHeads, this is a former John Buffum, Hannu Mikola, Robert McBurney, David Sutton Motorsport Audi Rally Team Quattro. The price? Only £100,000! That may sound like a lot but look at its history and it becomes a relative bargain.


Here’s the ad:

– The ex-John Buffum, Hannu Mikola, Robert McBurney, David Sutton Motorsport Audi Rally Team
– Originally a VAG press car
– One of the first Quattros brought to the UK
– Rally prepared by David Sutton Motorsport / Audi Sport UK
– In-period competition history, including 1983 Rothmans Circuit of Ireland Rally

One of the most influential designs of recent decades and an outstandingly successful rally car, the Audi Quattro brought four-wheel drive into the motoring mainstream. Introduced in 1980, the Quattro was based on the outwardly similar Coupé’s bodyshell but used a different floor pan to accommodate its four-wheel-drive transmission and independent rear suspension. The engine was a development of the five-cylinder, 2.1-litre, single-overhead-camshaft unit first seen in the 200 saloon. Equipped with a KKK turbocharger, it produced 200bhp in road trim with considerably more being available in competition tune.

Phenomenally fast and sure-footed on the road, the Quattro excelled in international rallying, winning the Manufacturers’ Championship for Audi in 1982 and 1984 and the Drivers’ Championship in 1983 and 1984, but its enduring legacy would be the demonstration of four-wheel drive’s advantages for passenger cars. Since then Audi has gone on to apply its Quattro 4WD system to many other models but only the original (or ‘Ur’) version is spelled with a capital ‘Q’.

This particular car is one of the first Audi Quattros brought into Great Britain by Volkswagen/Audi Group (UK). First registered in September 1981, it was used as an official press and demonstrator car by VAG before being assigned to David Sutton Motorsport’s official Audi Rally Team in 1982. 

During its life as a press car, ‘BRP 223X’ was featured in VAG publicity materials and other publications (on file), including an extensive article in the April 1982 edition of CAR Magazine, where the car was used to follow the 1982 Monte Carlo Rally. A photograph album on file documents this trip showing the car in Alpes-Maritimes and Monte Carlo, including an action shot of Michèle Mouton in the Works Quattro overtaking ‘BRP 223X’ between Monte Carlo Rally stages.

In 1982, David Sutton converted ‘BRP 223X’ to full rally specification primarily for use as the Audi Sport UK practice and reconnaissance car. The comprehensive conversion included the addition of a Terry Hoyle-built ‘blue block’ engine and a fully instrumented rally interior, etc. While the German-built rally Quattros used Matter roll cages, a Safety Devices full roll cage was built into ‘BRP 223X’. The car’s duties included being assigned to the North American Champion John Buffum as official practice car for the Acropolis Rally in Greece, and then to Hannu Mikkola in preparation for the Manx Rally. A photo featured in Jeremy Walton’s book, ‘Audi Quattro the Development and Competition History’, shows ‘BRP 223X’ being prepared in David Sutton’s workshop alongside Stig Blomqvist’s Quattro and the Audi Sport UK 80 quattro.

‘BRP 223X’ also competed in a number of rallies in period, including the 1983 Rothmans Circuit of Ireland Rally where it was driven by Robert McBurney and entered alongside Stig Blomqvist’s Quattro and Harald Demuth’s 80 quattro (photographs on file). In 1985 Sutton sold the Quattro to the Madeiran rally driver José Barros, who continued to use the car in international rallies including the Rali Vinho da Madeira in 1985, 1986, and 1987 (photographs on file).

Subsequently the car was brought back to the UK and restored circa 1990 by Ripponden Garages’ Colin Parkinson, a former rally crew chief with many works teams. After restoration the car took part in the ‘Beaujolais Run – A Race for Wine’ with Radio 1, and became part of a private collection of Works rally cars in Northern Ireland. ‘BRP 223X’ is featured in Graham Robson’s book ‘Audi Quattro’. It also features in the DVD ‘The World’s Greatest Rally Cars’ presented by Tony Mason and produced by Duke Video in 2000 (copy on file). The previous owner purchased the car at Brooks’ Earls Court Sale in October 1995 (Lot 878).

‘BRP 223X’ has an engine built by the recognised Audi competition specialist Lehmann Motoren of Triesen, Lichtenstein. This engine, believed fitted early in the car’s life, was rebuilt by specialists Dialynx of Swindon in 2009. Since then the Quattro has competed in the 2009 Trackrod Rally and two Welsh rallies in 2010, and has been displayed at the British Rally Show at Chatsworth (2010) and Coventry (2011). More recently, the car was invited to be displayed and demonstrated at Cholmondeley Castle RallyFest as part of the 2016 WRC Wales Rally GB. The car has just undergone a lot of work to return it to the same specification and livery as when it competed in the 1983 Rothmans Circuit of Ireland Rally, in addition to having a full engine refresh by Dialynx.

An original survivor from one of international rallying’s most evocative periods, this ‘turnkey’ Quattro is offered with a V5C registration document, its MSA Competition Car Logbook, and a substantial history file containing period photographs and documents.

If you fancy owning a Quattro with a fascinating history, here’s your chance. Find it for sale on PistonHeads.