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The birth of the quattro

2 years ago

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Peter Robinson | Journalist


27 May 2022

The project had no name beyond ‘Development Order 262′. Secrecy was everything. Audi’s hand-built ‘A1’ prototype, a product of Ferdinand Piëch’s Ingolstadt skunk works, was to be kept hush-hush not only from other Audi management but, far more importantly, Volkswagen, Audi’s dominant owner. 

Only engineers Jörg Bensinger and Roland Gumpert, who sold the idea of a four-wheel drive high performance car to Piëch, ex-Mercedes racing car engineer Hans Nedvidek, and project leader Walter Treser, plus a few mechanics in the experimental department, were aware of Piëch’s ambitious plan. They had to be: they were responsible for building the car.

Thinking long term, Piëch (grandson of VW Beetle engineer Ferdinand Porsche), knew what he had to do and saw the potential for a technology-led assault on its German rivals. This car would be the first…if Audi could convince the VW establishment of its potential as both a road car and, for added credibility, as a possible World Rally Championship contender.

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