Audi Sport: A Legacy Story in Five Cylinders


If you don’t open your eyes,
and if you hear 10 cars, I am sure everybody would say, “That is a 5 cylinder.” It cannot be mixed with others;
you always find it, you always hear it. Whenever a car like that is passing by,
you know this is a 5 cylinder. Introducing the new large Audi 5000 and the extraordinary engineers who designed it. This is an altogether new car with many new ideas. When I first proposed the 5 cylinder engine,
they all smiled. Before the quattro, we had reliable cars;
but to me, it’s a Germany high school parking lot. When the teachers go for lunch, it’s Audi 80 in weird colors – some Bahama beige or really crazy green with orange interiors. They’re not that stylish at the time.
This is Audi: it’s a teacher’s car. We were not recognized as a real competitor
to the premium market. We had to invest in technology to
bring up the image of the brand. When Professor Piech took the lead at Audi, he had a long list of innovations that he preferred. The first thing was the new 5 cylinder engine. We went to Germany to interview the chief
engineer of the new large Audi 5000. What makes this car so special here, Piech?
It has a five cylinder engine. A what? Four is too small, and six is too bulky. The idea was in ’73 to design, to construct or develop a new engine with more power. And they had a cylinder distance – was very long-time strict law – it was 88 millimeters. And 88 millimeters didn’t allow to make a very big bore, so the only way to make them a larger capacity of an engine was to add a cylinder or two. The six cylinder was too long for us,
so this was the reason for the five cylinder. The first five cylinder was launched in 1976. This engine had 136 horsepower, which is, for that time, really a lot. And after that “Okay what are they doing in Ingolstadt? There is something completely new. Where are they going?” All of a sudden Audi became known for ingenious cars. Nobody would have dreamed of that in the beginning of the 1970s of course. Audi had made a step forward like no other manufacturer in these years. And he lifted the Audi brand to a new level. The Audi 5000 is the largest German car for the money – how much is it? About $8,500. It’s a beautiful car. We solve problems.
If you find it attractive, so much the better. To show the history of all the five cylinder Audi cars which were produced is practically impossible. If you look how long this kind of engine was in production, the first shown in 1976 and the last in 1997, so 21 years inline five was associated with Audi, and Audi was associated with inline fives. The new large Audi 5000. It was a lot of work. Even better than I hoped.
Come and see it. We should ask more money for it. The special fact about the inline five is we have a history, a huge history, inline five: rally sport. Motorsport. This is the association that comes like lightening. Rally: the most varied of all
motorsport. And another memorable year at the ’83 group B World Rally Championships.
Once again it was all about Audi. When the car came with 200 km speeds sideways, sliding through a corner, a thousand people standing standing on the road and it just opened when the car came. Nowadays it would even work. After winning the manufacturers title in ’82, that wasn’t enough as the team set out for their own driver’s championship title as well. Led by some of rally’s best:
Michele Mouton, Stig Blomqvist, and the eventual driver’s champion, Hannu Mikkola. Audi managed a nail biting second place showing. When we stepped into the rally motorsport, we had the five cylinder engine with a lot of horsepower, and we were the first of the quattro drivetrain. And that was in the following years, a way of success. Having worked on this engine, I discovered the capacity of this engines. For racing and rallying purposes, the five cylinder was the much better solution. Now here in the ’84 season, Audi has
stepped up again with the signing of Walter Rohrl. End of ’83 I said, now it’s time to sign for Audi. Because, especially Dr. Piech would say, “Listen to our engineers.” It’s always cheaper to go with Rohrl. Against Rohrl, it costs a lot of money. Of course I mean Walter is for sure the best
rally driver ever in the world. And Walter with his precise and fine style of driving, he really took that to the next level, and it was fantastic to watch him. First of all, the reliability of
the engine was really great. The second thing is: the
sound of a five cylinder engine. I mean a very distinctive sound when you let off the gas, the waste gates would open and it would flutter. It’s like a porpoise. And it was so distinctive that people wouldn’t even have to see the car, they could hear the car and they knew that is was the Audi. The key point for this car: this five cylinder sound is something very, very special. And I think that that’s the sound that most people remember. There is no engine that delivers more
emotional sound than the five cylinder. It was a unique sound in the whole world of motor racing. Really cool. And it’s another manufacturer’s title for Audi as Stig Blumqvist wins the driver’s championship, followed by Hannu Mikkola in second place. This Audi team is sure to go down as one of rally’s all-time best. It all began when Audi built a car to compete in America against the Americans. “Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the GTE St. Petersburg Grand Prix. We’re just moments away from cars on course.” Dr. Piech called and said, “Mr. Stuck, we need you. We are going with Audi to motor racing.” I said, “What?”
I mean, Audi was legendary for rally. And they said, “No, we are going to enter the motor racing, and we are going to start out in the states because we need some promotion
there with the Trans Am series.” So they said, “Why not, instead of
proving this on dirt and gravel, why don’t we prove the advantages
on road surfaces – on a racetrack?” Everybody thought that I was absolutely out of my mind to accept this challenge to race basically a full-size sedan in the Trans Am series – a very competitive series in the United States. When we first showed the car, the buses from Chevrolet would come and say look at this. No chance, you know. They didn’t even think about us. They were laughing. All laughing stopped after the first race.
We were just so dominant. We showed them pretty quickly
where our good things were. We had Rohrl, Stuck and Hurley Haywood:
very excellent drivers who really could handle this car. And our following was enormous. We
had so many fans that just love those cars. With the five cylinder motor when you think about competing against a V8, you just kind of shake your head how that could happen. The technology that went into that engine was so far ahead of
anything that Detroit was doing at the time. It put to shame all the big V8s. They just could not keep pace with that Audi five cylinder motor. And this engine was fantastic to drive. It gave you a lot of power, good on fuel efficiency, everything was there that you needed to
become a good racing engine. You know the torque side wasn’t as much as the V8s, but we had the all-wheel drive system that was transferring all that power equally to four wheels. It was quattro, and it was the power of the five cylinder engine. And these two factors, the engine and with the quattro drive, gave us a really good advantage and they freaked out. They couldn’t believe it.
It was unbeatable. Won the championship, won the title for Audi – for the manufacturer. We got so successful they even banned us after ’88. That’s why we had to go to IMSA in ’89. But we did even better there. It was good. Inspired by their convincing overall victory in the 1988 American Trans Am series, Audi decided to move up a league – after all, success demands promotion, and IMSA is the top series in production car racing in the USA. Audi chose a highly maneuverable racing machine: the 90 quattro for the IMSA series. Audi chose the five cylinder, four valve turbo engine that won honors in rallying in the S1 version of the sport quattro. When we raced in IMSA, we did a very funny thing to our opponents. I found a rubber doll, and you connect it to the rear window and had a pipe and
a little thing here to press, and when I pressed he pulled his pants down. So when I overtook Peter Heister or somebody, I did like this – and they freaked out. And funny enough I have this still at home and use it sometimes on the road in Austria. And people laugh about it. Audi’s first win comes in their second race and produces seven outright wins this season. All of a sudden, we had so many fans behind us because we were different. We were the Bavarians in the states. They laughed at our mechanics because they were yodeling and bringing the Bavarian history. It was a change in Motorsport in the states, and it was a change for good because we inspired the Americans to do better, and they were inspired to beat us, so it was a win/win situation. Our message to all race fans in
America and around the world: Audi sets the challenge; quattro sets the pace. Today, people will – which are not interested in motorsport – they don’t talk to me about my rally year, about Monte Carlo. They all talk about Pikes Peak. Thirty years ago I was in in Pikes Peak; that is still, for a car that is thirty years old, very impressive, even today. The most clever thing was that the Audi
people realized: of course you need four-wheel drive, you need an engine which has power. And all things together – four-wheel drive, five cylinder engine, down force – that was the key of success. That’s one E2, as it was called evolution 2, Pikes Peak quattro which set an eternal record. Eternal due to the fact that the road was paved later on. That was really a great show. This was the top of the development of the five cylinder race cars. And the ending was, it was like incredible – in this very fast race car on this very fast corner. It was like a train – it was not going sideways and all the power was able to turn into speed on the road. It was so great and the car was so fast and the ditch was so deep. That is still a highlight in my career. So this was the final of the inline five
and a highlight in history. So it was really going at the peak of its power, the peak of its performance and the peak of success. What better can you say of an engine? Sitting in the Pikes Peak, it’s – something famous. After 22 years of absence from inline
fives, from own inline fives, we have again the five cylinder in
the production range. When we launched the TT RS in 2009, we wanted to create the same feeling of the
five cylinder engines of the 70s or 80s. We stayed with the same firing order – that’s
one, two, four, five, three cylinder for emotional sound. The fans out there,
they went crazy. It was the right decision to reborn the five cylinder. To bring that engine to the future, we needed a complete redesign, and we needed to have a power increase, and all
that were the targets for the new engine. As I saw the first real engine was fitting in there, it was short, it was compact, it was a great design. All the the shapes are perfectly done, and I felt so happy about that – about what we created on our team and what we created at Audi. I got goosebumps and everything and was just hugging all my colleagues, I would grab them. It was very
emotional, and it was great. It’s a real special moment when
the new car is launched. You know the five cylinder is something really unique. Being in Lime Rock Park at this race track,
having a fantastic car, enjoying it after I haven’t driven such a car in a long time. And well I love the car, the first time I got in it I felt back home. The torque, the revability – it’s just like coming home. And that was amazing;
the engine sounds like it did in ’89. We have two cars: the newest generation
of the TT RS, and the brand new RS 3 sedan. If you drive a car like a TT RS or an RS 3, this is not a car you want to go only from A to B. You could use anything else just to be transported. No, driving a car like that means, you want to drive, you really want to feel it. You want to feel the power, you want to hear the engine, you want to feel the car. I’m honestly a very sporty driver, and going from 0 to 100 in 3.7 seconds is just outrageous, it’s like a jumbo jet starting. You can really well feel the reactivity of the car in response of the engine; Everything is fitting very well together, and you don’t have to be a race driver to enjoy all these items these two cars have. If you look back in history, of the way of Audi from a sports car manufacturing company to a really sporty car producing company, the five cylinder is a milestone. For the brand, for the sound, the fact that Audi made very strong and very powerful five cylinders was something very special. If you hear a car like that passing by, at least in my mind, the film starts spinning. You’re back to the glorious days of Audi Motorsport because the noise is so comparable. It’s a time capsule.