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A Grand Monday: Audi 100

Published 17 April 2017

Sometimes, a car can hide its light under a bushel, and the Audi 100 C3 is such a vehicle. Today, it looks a little conservative, but back when it made its debut in 1982, it looked anything but. Other manufacturers had some catching up to do.

Why was the 100 so special? First of all, it was one of the earliest models to use galvanised steel construction, something that resulted in excellent longevity and far better rust-resilience than its rivals.

Second, it was the first car to feature Audi's revolutionary Procon-Ten safety system, which was designed in such a way that deformation of the bulkhead would automatically pull the dashboard and steering wheel up and away from the driver's face. It's a feature that many safety experts still believe is actually safer than an airbag, but for obvious reasons isn't compatible with one.

Third, and probably most importantly, it was incredibly aerodynamic. Its drag co-efficient of 0.30 was by far and away the best in its class, giving it excellent refinement, fuel economy and high-speed performance. The angular nose sliced through wind resistance, while the biggest innovation was the 100's use of flush-fitting glass, a feature adopted by practically every car manufacturer since.

Audi 100 (2)

Take a look at it again. Yes, it still looks conservative, albeit in an imposing, barge-like way. But in 1982, it was being marketed against the likes of the Mercedes W123, Ford Granada, Vauxhall Carlton Mk1, BMW 5-series E28 and, in the British corner, the Austin Ambassador.

Compared to that lot, the 100 was light years ahead in terms of both interior and exterior design, it was beautifully built, in 2.3-litre form such as this one, it had a characterful five-cylinder engine and it didn't really rust. It was, in short, a terrific car - it's just that the other manufacturers caught up, and retrospectively it's hard to imagine how avant-garde it first looked.

Priced at £950 and with over six months' MoT, this G-plated example is a terrific car, which looks to be well worth preserving. It's a mid-spec trim, but has clearly been well looked after, is a smart colour and is 100% original.

Be the enlightened one, and when everyone else catches on, you'll be sitting on a trendsetting classic. It's worth every penny in our opinion. 

Comments

Chris Clement    on 18 April 2017

I had one of these when I was in my twenties, had the older shape first then 'upgraded'. One of the best cars I've ever owned. Both my brothers had one each too, all autos, all five cylinder CD spec. Never had any trouble with them, I worked as a mechanic for Audi at the time and problems were very rare. Quite quick 'in its day' and unbelievably good on fuel.

michael watt    on 19 April 2017

The similar Volkswagen Santana 2.0L petrol, 5cyl was also a fantastic motoring experience for me--recommend you consider one. (Chinese still make them, I think)

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