It recently occurred to me that the Audi Quattro is really undervalued. For those of you who don’t know the Quattro, also called the ur-Quattro, this was Audi’s high-performance coupe that was offered throughout the 1980s with nice, flared fenders, all-wheel drive and a 5-cylinder engine that ranged from 160 horsepower all the way to about 200 horses in later years.
And, indeed, it’s really undervalued. Here’s what I mean. The Audi Quattro was built for a long period — 1983 to 1989 or so in North America, even longer in Europe — but Audi only made about 11,500 units of the car, which is an impressively low figure. That, in itself, ensures the car will stay rare for years to come, but rare doesn’t always translate to valuable.
But the Quattro has other tangible items that should make it especially valuable. The biggest, of course, is that it was the road version of Audi’s rally car in the period — and it looked a lot like the rally car, just with normal paint and fewer driving lights. Road versions of successful and popular race cars (like the Quattro) always do well on the secondary market, as people want to drive the “normal” version of an icon, or a winner. See, for instance, the Lancia Delta Integrale — another car from the same era whose values are shooting up.
Then there’s the styling. The Audi Quattro is very cool, and very 1980s (with its square, angular look), and its flared fenders make it look pretty aggressive — at least, as 1980s cars go. It reminds me a lot of the E30 BMW M3, with a relatively standard 1980s style given a little extra personality due to its performance nature. And, of course, the E30 BMW M3 has seen a big rise in values lately, too.
Of course, the Audi Quattro also has another claim to fame: it’s essentially the vehicle that Audi used to “launch” Quattro, the AWD system that would eventually become one of the brand’s best-known characteristics. These days, every Audi has “Quattro,” but back then, it was this one, single model, showing off the system on rally stages.
And yet, the Audi Quattro still seems pretty cheap by comparison — despite its rarity, its styling, its history for the Audi brand, its performance, and its rally car chops. There aren’t any Quattro models currently listed on Autotrader, but Bring a Trailer auction results show mediocre examples going for under $20,000, with the market average somewhere in the mid-$30,000 range — far below the E30 BMW M3, nice versions of the Lancia Delta Integrale, and many other contemporaries.
Admittedly, this is a step up for the Quattro. I remember — back when I was first looking for a “first car” — that Quattro prices were under $10,000. I should’ve snapped one up then, but I still think they have some value gaining to do in the next decades.