1985 Audi Sport Quattro S1 E2 Group B
- Audi Sport Works entrant in the 1985 World Rally Championship
- Driven by World Rally Champion Hannu Mikkola at the 1985 Lombard RAC Rally
- Made more road ‘friendly’ by Audi Sport for its second owner
- Later owned by the famous German rally driver Armin Schwarz
- The most famous World Rally car of all time
The Audi Sport Quattro S1 E2
For many, the car that best embodies the sheer lunacy of Group B rallying is the Audi Sport Quattro S1 E2, the bewinged, flame-belching, 550HP snow plough which struck equal measures awe and fear into the steely drivers who strapped in and, for want of a better phrase, held on.
Audi didn’t just vanquish the opposition with its four-wheel-drive Quattro – it ripped the rulebook to shreds and heralded a new era for the sport of rallying. “This is the car we’ve forgotten to build,” remarked Lancia’s motorsport head honcho Cesare Fiorio when he first witnessed the Quattro in action, prompting him to initiate development of the Delta S4 as a result. He wasn’t alone in his sentiments – everybody was forced to play catch-up.
In a bid to remain firmly at the front, Audi’s engineers – working under the secret directions of Ferdinand Piech – began work on the more extreme Sport Quattro ahead of the 1984 season. Nicknamed ‘Shorty’ thanks to its significantly shorter wheelbase (320mm!), the purpose-built Sport Quattro boasted a featherlight carbon-Kevlar bodyshell and an all-aluminium five-cylinder engine producing a punchy 450HP.
“Bends which are actually nice and good and harmless suddenly loom up to terrify you out of your mind,” commented Walter Röhrl’s co-driver Christian Geistdörfer of the Sport Quattro S1, telling of the new car’s devastating pace. “You just don’t recognise them anymore, they’ve become so mean and nasty.” Yikes.
Such was the rate at which Peugeot and Lancia had caught up with Audi, another even more extreme variant of the Sport Quattro was introduced in August of 1985: the E2. All bells and whistles – has there ever been a car more worthy of being described as such? The S1 E2’s aggressive aerodynamic makeover was predominantly to reduce lift over jumps, although that huge rear wing also serves to cool an assortment of radiators, which had been moved into the boot to improve weight distribution.
The weight was reduced further (after a little development, the E2 tipped the scales at just 1,100kg) and, you guessed it, power was upped once again. With a dizzying 550HP now on tap, the E2 both accelerated and sounded as bonkers as it appeared. “Like a big bang,” is how Walter Röhrl described the thrust with which the E2 launched from a standstill.
Just 20 were built for use by the Works, but while they showed great promise, the writing was already on the wall for Group B. Crucially, it’s believed that as few as 15 of these Group B legends remain in existence today.
The German author Herbert Volker sums up the appeal, mystique and sheer audacity of the Audi Sport Quattro S1 E2 in his definitive book on the model. “Developed to an extreme, this car simply had to get to your heart one wagy or another – and it did,” he says. “In its greatest moments it even took a chosen few to the very limits of unprecedented physical extremes and unknown excitement; but often enough it also gave them the feeling that they had sold their soul to the devil.”
This Audi Sport Quattro S1 E2
This Sport Quattro S1 E2, which was internally codenamed RE 10, was the 10th of just 20 cars produced by Audi in 1985 and ’86. It was registered by the Works in Ingolstadt on 5 November 1985 and assigned with plates bearing the number ‘IN-NP 31’.
RE 10’s first and only competitive outing came later that month, when the 1983 World Rally Champion Hannu Mikkola drove it in the 41st Lombard RAC Rally, the 12th round of the World Rally Championship. With Arne Hertz alongside him, Mikkola raced this Quattro admirably, scoring three stage victories and climbing to the outright lead, before retiring on stage 22.
While RE 10 was subsequently used as a test and training car for Rallye de Portugal in 1986, it never saw combat again. But this was by no means the end of this car’s fascinating story. On 8 May 1987, Audi Sport sold this Quattro to Berlin-based Michael Gabel, who was the vice president of the German Ferrari Owners’ Club.
Remarkably, Gabel wanted to use his new 550bhp rally car for regular road use. Prior to taking delivery, he requested that Audi make several changes to RE 10 to make it a little more refined. These changes included replacing the Perspex side windows with glass, installing a fly-off handbrake and adding an opaque rear screen to reduce glare – not that he would have had anything to worry about behind him!
Gabel re-registered the car, which was issued with the new number ‘IN-XY 13’. In 1989, RE 10 featured prominently in Jurgen Lewandowski’s definitive book on the Audi Sport Quattro. In the book, there are photos of the car on the road with a beautiful green example of its road-going homologation counterpart.
Re 10 changed hands again in March of 1998. It was bought by Eckard Homan, a German timber merchant, who demonstrated the car in a number of Reinhard Klein’s popular Slowly Sideways events, including that which took place during Rallye Sanremo in 1999. Additionally, at the 2000 ADAC Limes Rally, RE 10 wore the number zero and served as the course car.
In 2004, this Audi was bought by the famous German rally driver Armin Schwarz, winner of the 1991 Rally Catalunya. Schwarz used the car sparingly, demonstrating it at a number of events and having the engine overhauled by Lehmann Motorentechnik AG, before selling it to Teo Martin, the Spanish entrepreneur who founded the Motor & Sport Institution in Madrid.
Martin proudly displayed RE 10 in his museum alongside other Group B icons, before commissioning a comprehensive body-off restoration at the highly regarded institution he founded. Fresh from its fastidious restoration, RE 10 featured in an in-depth MotorSport Magazine feature in 2016.
In December of 2020, we negotiated RE 10’s sale and the car has since been imported to the United Kingdom. Having had the chance to inspect this Audi Sport Quattro S1 E2 in the metal, we can confirm that its condition is nothing short of exquisite. Experts believe that as few as 15 of these snarling Group B unicorns remain in existence today and we’re delighted that RE 10 is now in a condition that will preserve its historical significance and endure its future.
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