Volkswagen bought Auto Union from Mercedes-Benz in 1965 to acquire the Ingolstadt factory, a new production facility that could be used meet booming orders for Beetles. Consequently, the first instruction from Wolfsburg banned development of Auto Union or Audi models. But designer Dr Ludwig Kraus turned a deaf ear, continuing to develop the Audi 100 in secret. To the credit of VW bosses, they accepted the subterfuge with good grace and sanctioned production when Kraus produced his prototype with a flourish. It was a good decision that played a major part in securing VW’s future. When demand for the rear-engined Beetle declined, Volkswagen could respond with front-engined, water-cooled cars thanks to their Audi experience.
A pet project of the good Dr Kraus was a lightweight sporting version of his Audi. The 100 Coupe S appeared at the Frankfurt Motor Show in late 1969 and went on sale a year later. It was a low, streamlined 2+2 fastback coupe on a shortened Audi 100 subframe with a bored-out engine fitted with twin carburetors to give punchy performance via a four-speed manual gearbox. Front disc brakes were a necessary adjunct, for this was a very fast car. It has a likeness to the Aston Martin DBS, with a similar back end and matching detail like the rear light clusters and side louvres, whilst there is also marked similarity to the handsome Fiat Dino coupe.
No matter where the design inspiration came from, the new Audi 100 Coupe S was a solid hit with the buying public, who purchased sufficient numbers to sustain a good production run. There was a revised version in 1972, with an engine modification to increase fuel consumption and reduce emissions ahead of new American regulations. Production of this beautiful car filially ceased in 1976.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1970 (until 1976)
1,871 cc Straight Four
Top speed of 116 mph (185 km/h); 0-60 mph in (97 km/h) 10.6 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Sadly, it seems that rust prevention was not a priority on the production line. So while over 30,000 Audi 100 Coupes were built very few survive to be enjoyed by modern drivers who like to cut a classic dash.