Audi 100 (C1, 1968–1976)
The origins of the first Audi 100 have become legendary in Germany. The 100s was the first ever model to have side-mounted headlights. When Volkswagen purchased Auto Union from Mercedes Benz in 1965, they seem to have been motivated by a desperate shortage of production capacity for their ’Beetle’ model which at that time was selling faster than the cars could be produced. The then nearly new Auto Union plant at Ingolstadt, built under Mercedes ownership and control, was quickly adapted for Beetle assembly: Volkswagen boss Heinrich Nordhoff, mindful of the poor sales record of the DKW F102, and at a time when the new Audi F103 had yet to prove itself in the market place, gave instructions that no further new Auto Union (including Audi) models should be developed.
However, it was not just the Ingolstadt manufacturing facility that Volkswagen acquired from Mercedes when they purchased the Auto Union business. Among the employees inherited from the Mercedes era was engineer Ludwig Kraus. Kraus did not share Nordhoff’s apparent conviction that demand for the Beetle would remain insatiable forever, and it was Kraus who developed the Audi 100, in direct contravention of instructions from Volkswagen management, and in secret. The first Nordhoff knew of the project was when he was presented with a production ready prototype. It is to Nordhoff’s credit that he changed his mind and gave the car the green light. The Audi 100 would be a commercial success, but it would also be the first of a series of front-engined water-cooled Audi based designs from the Volkswagen group that would, starting with the first Passat in 1973, enable the group to survive and flourish once the European and US markets began to lose their appetites for rear-engined air-cooled models.
The Audi 100 was shown to the press on 26 November 1968. Its name originally denoting a power output of 100 PS (74 kW; 99 hp), the Audi 100 was the company's largest car since the revivial of the Audi brand by Volkswagen in 1965. The C1 platform spawned several variants: the Audi 100 two- and four-door saloons, and the Audi 100 Coupé S, a s
tylish fastback coupé, which bore a remarkable resemblance to the Aston Martin DBS released a year earlier, especially at the rear end, including details such as the louvres behind the rear side windows and shape of the rear light clusters.
Audi followed up the introduction of the four-door saloon in November 1968 with a two-door saloon in October 1969 and the 100 Coupé S in autumn 1970. The cars' four-cylinder engines originally came in base (100, 80 PS (59 kW; 79 hp)), 100 S (1.8 litre, 90 PS (66 kW; 89 hp)) and 100 LS (1.8 litre, 100 PS (74 kW; 99 hp)) guise, while the Coupé was driven by a bored-out 1.9 litre developing 115 PS (85 kW; 113 hp). From April 1970 the 100 LS could be ordered with a 3-speed automatic transmission sourced from Volkswagen.
The Audi 100 enjoyed a level of commercial success for which the company had not planned. Despite running the Ingolstadt production line at full capacity, supply fell short of demand to such an extent that during the summer of 1970 an additional production line for Audi 100s was set up in Volkswagen's own Wolfsburg plant, which made it the first water-cooled car to be produced in Germany's (and by some criteria the world's) largest car plant.
Starting with model year 1972 the 80 and 90 PS versions were replaced by a new regular-petrol-variant of the 1.8 litre engine developing 85 PS (84 hp/63 kW); at the same time, the 100 GL was introduced that featured the 1.9 liter engine formerly used in the Coupé S only.
In March 1971 the 500,000th Audi was produced. By now the Audi 100 had become the most commercially successful model in the company's history, so it is unsurprising that the car in question was an Audi 100 produced at the Ingolstadt plant.
In September 1973 the 100 received a minor facelift with a somewhat smaller grille and reshuffled taillight lens patterns. The rear torsion bar was replaced by coil springs.
For model year 1975 the base 100 was re-christened the 100 L and received a 1.6 litre four-cylinder engine (coming out of the Audi 80).
Audi 100 and 200 (C2, 1976–1982)
The restyled C2 Audi 100 was launched in 1976, with an in-line five-cylinder engine (the first gasoline 5 in the world – Mercedes-Benz had shown the way in 1974 with their three litre diesel 5-cyl in the Mercedes-Benz C111). It was initially a 100 PS (74 kW) engine offering "6-cylinder power and 4-cylinder economy", and later upgraded to 136 PS (100 kW).
The Coupé was discontinued, but a five-door hatchback model, the 100 Avant, was launched in August 1977 as part of this generation. The mainstay of the range remained the four-door sedan model. A two-door sedan version was offered, primarily on the domestic market, from 1977, but by now there was little demand, even in Germany, for large two-door sedans: few of these two-door Audi 100 C2s were sold.
At the end of September 1977, the Audi 100 became the manufacturer's first model to reach a production level of 1,000,000 units. The millionth Audi 100 was a hatchback Audi 100 Avant assembled not at the company's main Ingolstadt plant but to the west, at the Neckarsulm factory which, since the demise of the mainstream volume models from the NSU range, had been concentrating on providing additional production capacity for the fast selling Audi range.
Engines available included:
- 1.6L I-4, 85 PS (63 kW; 84 hp), carburetted (1976−1982)
- 2.0L I-4, 115 PS (85 kW; 113 hp), carburetted (1976−1978)
- 1.9L I-5, 100 PS (74 kW; 99 hp), carburetted (1980−1982)
- 2.1L I-5, 115 PS (85 kW; 113 hp), carburetted (1978−1982)
- 2.1L I-5, 136 PS (100 kW; 134 hp), fuel injection (1976−1982) (100 and 200)
- 2.1L I-5, 170 PS (125 kW; 168 hp), fuel injection, turbo (1979−1982) (200 only)
- 2.0L I-5 Diesel, 70 PS (51 kW; 69 hp), (1978−1982)
- 2.1L I-5, 103 hp (77 kW; 104 PS), fuel injection (MY 1978−1983)
- 2.1L I-5, 130 hp (97 kW; 132 PS), fuel injection, turbo (MY 1980−1983)
- 2.0L I-5 Diesel, 67 hp (50 kW; 68 PS) (MY 1980−1983)
- 2.0L I-5 Turbodiesel, 84 hp (63 kW; 85 PS) (MY 1983)
About 850.000 Audi 100/200 C2 were built, of which 133.512 were sold in the USA.
Right Hand Drive Audi 200 5E and 5T (type 43)
The RHD Audi 200 5E and 5T were introduced into the UK in 1979, only 500 were imported. The 5T (170 PS) was a higher spec Turbo version of the 5E (136 PS injection) and came with many optional extras as standard. As an attempt to lure British buyers the UK version of the 5T had opening quarter lights, electric wing mirrors, a sun roof, cruise control and heated seats. All Type 43 200's came with Automatic gearboxes, a 5-speed manual was special order only.
Audi 100, 200 & 5000 (C3, 1982–1991)
Edging out the Ford Sierra as the 1983 European Car of the Year, the 1983 Audi 100 had a remarkable aerodynamic look, achieving a drag coefficient of 0.30 for its smoothest base model. The increased aerodynamic efficiency resulted in better fuel economy and consumers all over the world were waking up to this fact. This became a great marketing tool for Audi in the 1980s, and marked a huge leap forward from the boxy shape of the C2, as well as the technology it introduced, including the procon-ten safety system.
Audi was able to follow up on the modern smooth look first seen in this segment on the 1967 NSU Ro 80 and popularised by the 1974 Citroën CX. This rounded look became the norm by the 1990s. It also set a styling trend of flush wheel covers, a thick black side door moulding and blacked out window frames eventually adopted by a range of cars from the 1984 Honda Accord to the Chrysler K cars. Audi innovated flush windows on the C3, a key area for aerodynamic drag that has been adopted by virtually all manufacturers today.
The two-door models were no longer available, and the Audi 100 Avant was reintroduced as Audi's first attempt at a station wagon based on the 100. The 200 continued as the upmarket variant with several versions of the 2.2 L turbo 5-cylinder available in different markets over its life ranging in power outputs from 165 PS (121 kW) MC engine, through the 200 PS (147 kW) versions to the final 220 PS (162 kW) 20-valve 3B engine available from 1991. The MC turbo engine was available in the 100 as well for some markets.
The 1991 200 20V was distinguished by its flared front and rounded rear wheel arches instead of the flat type used for the rest of the 100-200 range, this allowed wider wheel and tire combinations to be fitted to 20v models. For many markets, the 20v Audi 200 gave customers a taste of performance levels that would later be seen in the C4-Chassis Audi S4, and S6. US Magazine articles of the period reported 0-60 times of the 20v Audi 200 under 7 seconds, with 1/4 mile times in the mid to upper 15 second mark.
The 100 also featured a 2.5 L straight-5 direct injection turbo-diesel (TDI) model with 120 PS (88 kW) introduced in 1990 (engine code 1T). A such-engined Audi 100 was the very first model to wear the now ubiquitous and hugely successful TDI label that changed the perception of diesel engines all over the world.