In 1976, Ingolstadt advertised the new Audi 100 and its long-distance qualities. You won't find anything better over long distances, said the brand with the 4 rings. Was that so? The Saab 9000, the long-distance luminary from Sweden, had not yet been invented, so the Audi, viewed through Saab's glasses, had real chances.
After all, it was the first big Audi to be created under the significant influence of a certain Mr. Piëch, who wanted to take the brand to the top. The melodious in-line five-cylinder was his composition, and I was still very disappointed when I took the Audi to the track years later.
It led from Frankfurt to West Berlin, with a detour to the heart of real socialism, and back again. The disappointment – it is still understandable today.
Audi 100 – on a long, long way
The transit to West Berlin is legendary, experienced West Berlin travelers preferred the border crossing at Helmstedt, which promised the shortest route through the East. My historic green passport is full of stamps, 90% of which come from the Marienborn crossing.
I only drove the Transit once with an Audi 100 CD (C2), and after the first few kilometers I regretted my choice. The Audi, a late C2 Avant 3-cylinder, XNUMX-speed automatic, was a noisy, boozy and uncomfortable car. A terrible box, that's what went through my head at the time. And that should be an Audi?
I hated the Audi and was glad when the trip was over and I could return it to Frankfurt the next day. Was the 100 Avant really that bad?
The Audi 100 C3 is the enemy of the C2
The ride took place sometime in 1984 or 1985. Actually, I was already driving the successor (C3), the Audi 100, which attracted a lot of attention with its streamlined design. It was a really good car, an engineering car, as it was called internally. It was fast, was stingy with fossil fuels, was excellently made and had endless space. I used three copies of the C3 in succession before I switched to the C4 and my Audi career ended abruptly.
For this memorable tour, however, I had to use an Audi 100 (C2) Avant from the company fleet because my car was in the workshop.
A culture shock.
Instead of a modern, elegant streamline, there was plush, instead of efficiency, a boozy five-cylinder with a three-speed gearbox, and instead of calmness in the interior, the box rattled at every nook and corner and the material and workmanship were lousy.
Of course, my impression was again thanks to that certain Mr. Piëch, who pushed Audi forward with all his energy. There were galaxies between the C2 and C3 Audi 100. The C3 was a quantum leap that made its predecessor look pretty bad overnight.
The Audi 100 (C2) was a good car when it premiered. Audi had also made a leap forward here, the brand positioned itself to be able to attack the export markets. The five-cylinder petrol engines used for the first time became part of the Ingolstadt DNA. The diesel, also with the odd number of cylinders, started its great career in the C2, and the horribly plush CD equipment was intended to underpin the claim to the upper class at the time.
At home over long distances
In the double-page advertisement from the summer of 1976, Audi mentions testing in northern Sweden and central Africa. What seems normal today and is not worth mentioning was new back then. Test drives in different climatic zones had not previously been carried out by the brand with the 4 rings. It was again the perfectionist Ferdinand Piëch (Link) that this testing became standard.
I somehow survived the rather long day with the Audi 100 (C2), I provided breakdown assistance for an Alfa Romeo on the empty Autobahn at 4 a.m. and was eventually back in Frankfurt. Transit route, West Berlin, socialism that actually existed, and an Audi that I didn't like, but which reliably took part in the marathon.
You might guess, I was pretty young back then. And maybe you really couldn't find anything better than an Audi 100 over long distances.
- Sequel follows -