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Classic Velocity Blog

Audi 100

Classic Velocity

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The combination of companies that were brought together to form Audi have been well covered here before (see A Most Important Failure, Audi F103, NSU R080, Design Number 22, etc). When the Audi 100 was introduced to the press in late 1968, Audi as a brand was still fairly new. The 100 already had an interesting history, as it was not officially commissioned by leadership, and when discovered, was first designated to be a Volkswagen. Political maneuvering in both instances eventually got it sanctioned as an Audi. The first Audi 100 was a large 4 door sedan, designed by Rupert Neuner, and clearly aimed at upper echelon buyers currently shopping for Mercedes W108 and BMW E3 alternatives. Like those competitors, it had a generous greenhouse, and a good drag coefficient of 0.37. Unlike them, it was a front-wheel-drive car, continuing the innovation started by DKW. It also launched the C1 chassis, designed to handle a number of different configurations. The power plant was a 1760cc OHC inline 4, capable of producing 100 HP (which gave the Audi its name). Not a big or powerful engine, but the car only weighed 2400 lbs, and did 0-62mph in a respectable 11.9 seconds.

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The interior was well appointed with light wood and bright metallic trim around guages. Thin pillars made it appear even more bright and roomy. The car got off to a great start with brisk sales. US sales started a bit slowly at 10,000 the first year, but quickly tripled. In 1969, a 2 door coupe was introduced, along with a 100 LS Cabriolet by Karmann. Sadly the cabriolet never saw production. In 1970 a lovely fastback coupe dubbed the Coupe S was introduced, but unfortunately never made it to the US. In 1973, a facelift modified the grille and headlights. The rear torsion bars were dropped in favor of coil springs and shocks. For 1974, fuel injection helped get power back up to 95hp, but came with safety bumpers. In all, more than 827,000 units of the Audi 100 in various forms were sold between 1968 and its finale in 1976 when it was replaced by the Audi 5000. It was by far the most successful vehicle in company history up to that point.

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