For long distances you won't find a better one - the Audi 100

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 - for the long haul
Audi 100 – for the long haul

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 new big Audi - but its successor is even better
The new big Audi – but its successor is even better

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 -

8 thoughts on "For long distances you won't find a better one - the Audi 100"

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    I last drove two Audi 2020 C21s in 100/4. In Kazakhstan. They were used there as a Jandex taxi. Already quite exhausted, many, many hundreds of thousands of kilometers on the odometer, but what was supposed to work still worked. I found the C3...also more geared towards an older audience. The design was from another time, an Avant fitted in better. But the qualities were outstanding. I only saw the C2 a few times as a child, it was very rare for us. I don't find it inviting, but this is more due to the shape. Certainly luxurious compared to a Passat, but Opel could do it better at the time. I believe.

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    Where did you go

    I know it! All consumed by youth in the 1980s. A buddy had one with a top engine and wanted nothing but fun with the box.
    First it was rolled matt black and got its own cartoon character on the hood. Later a large graffito on one side, which even reached over the windows to the roof between the B and C pillars. An outlet (the header) was drilled which made a pretty cool sound...

    It had nothing to do with appreciation and preservation. It was more about post-pubescent self-realization and a dance on the volcano than about the golden calf...

    What a shame about the substance and resources. This Audi may be a bit stuffy (especially compared to a CX that's the quintessential conservative), but somehow it's also the perfect cliché of a car of the time. Many a traffic sign still looks as if this Audi had been used as a model. Or is it the other way around and Audi took the traffic signs as a model for the design?

    You do not know exactly. But more cliche and archetype on 4 wheels is hardly possible. But the 5-cylinder was innovative. Volvo (much later with the 850/V70) relied on in-line 5 series and received a lot of praise and recognition for this engine generation, as well as successes.
    Back then, if I remember correctly, 4 Volvo 850s finished 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th in the British Touring Car Championship at the end of the season. That's no longer a success. This is dominance!
    The roots of these 5-cylinders (even if they are in-house developments) ultimately somehow lie with Audi, if I'm not mistaken?

    It's a pity that they were all used up by "punkers".

  • My father has always driven Audi 70s since the 100s, including the 5-cylinder in red shown right here (with 115 hp, which sounded huge to me at the time compared to my mother's R4) and up to the C3 or even C4, I don't know more accurate. At the time, I just thought it was grandpa-like and totally uncool, but there were probably other reasons for that (although I was very fascinated by the Quattro advertising with the ski jump, but that was something completely different). And yes, they all rattled. That's why my father often stopped spontaneously, ripped open all the doors and the trunk, jumped around the car cursing and tried to get to the bottom of the matter. In retrospect now a funny memory, but of course totally crazy and unsuccessful.

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      I had my first Audi experience with the Audi 50. But it would then be relabeled as a polo.
      Greeting André

  • I think a Citroën CX was in no way inferior to the Audi in terms of long-distance comfort. CX 2400 Pallas, a sedan chair but could be moved quite quickly.

    • The CX was better than the Audi I think.

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      I think there was another French that offered significantly more comfort - Peugeot 604; that was an event when Mr. Papa bought the first (V6) - then topped by the second (TD, which wasn't such a good decision) - the dealer even put it in front of the front door one Saturday afternoon, together with the brass band, what then in one spontaneous street party ended 🙂

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    The 100 drove around North America as the Audi 5000 or something. With fat bumpers if I remember correctly. A rust-prone story 🙂


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