Even as a developer at Porsche, Piëch had the idea for an all-wheel drive sports car. 'I had the idea before I started at Audi. So it is much older than many people think,' says Piëch. But the Quattro idea was initially forgotten at Porsche.
Technology donation from the VW Iltis
A coincidence came to the rescue at Audi. In 1977, the company had developed a vehicle for VW with the Iltis off-road vehicle whose four-wheel drive technically also fit into an Audi 80. The polecat had put all front-wheel drive vehicles in the shade during winter test drives. 'Despite its high center of gravity, it was far superior to all front-wheel drive vehicles on a mirror-smooth road surface,' remembers Piëch, who was Head of Development at the time. 'After this trip, Jörg Bensinger, the then head of chassis testing, asked me whether he should hold back a set of Iltis parts. The parts fit easily under the Audi 80.'
Piëch's decision to buy this Quattro Testing the drive in the Audi 80 marked the birth of the Quattro, but initially without the knowledge of the parent company VW. 'It was illegal work. That is why we later needed the approval of VW head of development Ernst Fiala. We brought him the all-wheel-drive Audi 80 to Vienna.' After a few winter drives, Fiala was convinced in 1978.
Mountain test in Ingolstadt convinced VW boss of Quattro drive
VW sales director WP Schmidt was brought on board when the Audi 80 quattro was in the snow could drive up the pass to the Turracher Höhe in Austria faster than front-wheel drive vehicles with snow chains. The investment approval by the then VW boss Toni Schmücker came after a mountain test in Ingolstadt. 'Since the winter and the snow were over by now, we looked for a hill in Ingolstadt. The works fire brigade watered this grass hill,' remembers Piëch. 'Then we let Schmücker drive up the slope with a rear-wheel drive 3-series BMW, the front-wheel drive Audi 80 and the all-wheel-drive Audi 80. With the rear-wheel drive he got stuck after a third, with the front-wheel drive after half. With the Quattro all-wheel drive The drive came up easily. That released the investment. '