Audi Quattro: Retro Presence


It’s more than just the motor. It’s the history; the stories the metal tells with each scrape, bump or nick and the memories that the fabrics of the seats weave with their smell and feel. To many, that’s exactly what the Audi Quattro embodies, and just like memories, some can be too hard to let go.

Darron Edwards, Shropshire-based Quattro aficionado and owner of four, says: “It’d be like losing a limb; I couldn’t let any of them go. As I say, I did with the best intention buy the white one to sell it on. After doing the work on it, it drives so nice and you get in it; it’s got that smell, that Quattro smell. I couldn’t part with it. The very first day I got it – that night I went outside in my pyjamas and just sat in it drinking a cup of tea, just taking in the smell. It says retro to me, it says 80s and I just love it.”

Yet in some cases it is just the car; and who’s to say it needs to be much else? It could be the way it sounds, the way the wheels spin – or even the way the wheels look. It could be the five-cylinder turbo or the angles of the body. It could be the grip of the steering wheel or the grip of the tyres on a long drive. What truly makes a car special can simply be the car.

“I was in my early 20s, and where I lived there was one parked in the street,” Phil Jameson, Quattro Historian from Wigan says, “It was just striking, it looked like nothing else. It had these really weird vents on the side at the back which was unlike anything else, and the bulging arches… It was just something completely different at that time.”

“In 1992 I drove all the way up to Carlisle, got my first Quattro,” Phil adds, “Driving back, it was like no other experience in your life. I kept looking in the mirrors at the flared arches behind me, I couldn’t believe I was actually driving this car. It was like no other experience, the feeling I can’t explain. It was fabulous.”

Even in our modern world, in which most technology refuses to cease its continuous march, there are some machines that can’t be replaced. Whether it’s the feeling of nostalgia, or the imperfections that make the Quattro more perfect than the most refined vehicle, some of us can’t get enough of the rawness of a classic.

“The Quattro was the thing that made everybody else sit up and look,” Phil says, “The new kid on the block was this amazing car that was winning rallies, and you could drive in the street in one. I think if that step hadn’t been made, Audi wouldn’t be the brand that it is today.”

“When [a vehicle] gets to a classic status, and of a certain value, the most valuable cars and sought after cars are the ones that are original,” Phil continues, “If you’ve got a car that is so iconic like the Quattro, why would you want to have on that – during its 30-40 year history – what some Joe Bloggs has added onto it to make it better. Audi intended it to be the way it was, so why would you change it?”

He goes on to tell the story: “A friend of mine is a car dealer, and he’s just been given a brand-new electric Porsche. They went for a drive, and Chris went in the new electric Porsche that was insane in terms of speed. They got out of the car and said ‘What do you think of it?’. He said, as I would say: ‘It’s a beautiful car, but it’s got no soul. I’m driving back in the Audi.’”

Darron doubles down on this from a practical standpoint, stating that: “They’re [Audi Quattros] not too bad to work on actually, by today’s standards. Everything’s mechanical and quite low-tech, so it’s just a case of bolt-on and bolt-off, whereas with modern cars there’s obviously an issue with codes. There’s nothing like that with the Quattro.”

Regardless of your preference, a vehicle has its place in everyone’s lives at any point in time, as well as a place of importance in the world around it. With that, we can take pride in our own motors and motoring stories, and share our fondness for the vehicles we’re so passionate about.

Or, as Darron puts it:

“Whenever I’m behind the wheel, I just feel like a King.”