Saluting Audi’s all-conquering quattro driveline system

If you really like motorsport, you’ve got to appreciate the beat-the-clock, brutal purity of international rallying. And if you respect that world, you likely hold Audi in high esteem indeed. It’s not the first automaker to seriously experiment with all-wheel drive, but Audi is the first – we apologize to fans of Ferguson, which helped create things like the AWD Jensen Interceptor – to fully weaponize the technology for combat on the klieg-lit stage of global competition. The quattro system, small “q,” revolutionized the craft as few advances before or since have done. The rally version of the Audi quattro is one of the sport’s most influential and devastatingly effective cars, definitely in the same rank as the Saab 92 and the original Mini Cooper.

This sort of march to utter greatness deserved an in-depth look in print, and lo, it’s finally received one. My pal Jeremy Walton from the U.K., long a contributor to both Motoring News and Motor Sport, has unleashed his prose and technical knowledge on this preemptive nuclear strike-level rallying legend. quattro: The Race and Rally Story is an intensively detailed, 304-page romp through the history of Audi’s rally program, which, for yours truly, has a personal connection. One of the luminaries in the book is John Buffum, the greatest rally driver the United States has ever produced, who campaigned the quattro early in its development from his Libra Racing base in Vermont. The last time I was there, John’s shop also housed the World Rally Champion entry of Michele Mouton, just one of the drivers to achieve global stardom with a quattro, the list also including Stig Blomqvist, Walter Rorhl, Bobby Unser and Hurley Haywood, the latter noting rare non-Porsche achievement for Audi. All told, Audi captured three WRC titles and a like number of Pikes Peak scores before Haywood and Hans Stuck brought it closed-circuit glory via the Trans-Am Series and IMSA. All of it, including full engineering background, is in Walton’s excellent book. It lists for $80.00 in the U.S. from Evro Publishing; it’s available to order via Motorbooks by going here.

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