The Carchive: '75 Audi 100

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Once again it’s time for us to don our waders and slurp our way through the thick gruesome soup of motoring past in the hope of fishing something of interest from among the putrid, foetid slurry. Welcome back to The Carchive.
Today we’re heading back a full forty years to see what Audi were doing back when NSU were still a thing. Were they doing anything differently to how they do it today? Have they changed their direction or are they still working towards the same ideals? The car is the Audi 100 (A6 in modern speak).
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“Making significant improvements on successful models is a principle of Audi NSU”
This brochure, like many others from Germany, is very straight-talking and tends to avoid gushing with too much nonsense about lifestyle or image. It shoots from the hip, tells you what the car does, has and is. It’s a bit sterile, but it’s quite refreshing.
It’s also very different to the way Audi brochures are now.
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“The special Audi combustion process means that Audi 100 engines use very little fuel and are therefore particularly economical in operation”
Reading this brochure is a bit like attending a press conference, fact after fact being delivered directly to your face in an assault of numbers and statistics. As it happens, some of those figures look pretty impressive, when you consider that the year was 1975.
Engine choices were 1.8 or 1.9 litres capacity and outputs were quoted in both net and gross figures, the 1,9 managing 112 and 129hp respectively. That’s a damn good showing for a four cylinder engine with a carburettor. 0-62 mph is quoted as 10.8 seconds with a top speed of 111mph.
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“All Audi 100 models have a precise, light centre floor shift and non-reflecting, easy to read instruments”
Look at those dashboards. Don’t they look like a nice place to be? The GL, as befits its top-line status, enjoyed a rev-counter and a centre console over what standard equipment the LS came with. Both cars had enormous steering wheels.
To say that the dashboard layout looks “clean” would be pointless, because it hasn’t got to deal with presenting a whole lot of information to you. It looks very honest, though. Decoration is provided by the (almost certainly not genuine) woodgrain accents, but otherwise all is form and function.
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“All Audi 100s provide a high degree of comfort for five passengers, and plenty of room for luggage.”
No nonsense anywhere else in the interior, either. Five seats, upholstered in either velour or velour and PVC (if you’ve cheaped out and gone for the LS), full carpeting and little or no trinketry. Once upon a time this was the German way.
It all looks very crisp. Very fit-for purpose.
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“Every detail in the Audi 100 is designed carefully and of high quality”
I won’t suggest that we discuss whether that’s still the case of today’s Audis, but I will remark on just how clean and trim this car seems everywhere you look. Of course, I accept that comparing a ’75 100 with a ’15 A6 is an apples and oranges comparo.
But it is interesting to ponder what might have happened had Audi not taken the Auto-Union grille route at the beginning of this century.
Was there an alternative stylistic path that Audi could have followed to achieve instant brand recognition without reliance on the horseshoe on the front?
(All images are of original manufacturer publicity materials, copyright remains property of Audi. This particular brochure, as you see, suffers from a modicum of wear and tear through over-reading, for which I offer no apology)

About RoadworkUK

RoadworkUK is the online persona of Gianni Hirsch, a tall, awkward gentleman with a home office full of gently decomposing paper and a garage full of worthless scrap metal. He lives in the village of Moistly, which is a safe distance from London and is surrounded by enough water and scenery to be interesting. In another life, he has designed, sold, worked on and written about cars in exchange for small quantities of money.

0 Comments

  1. These were pretty uncommon – I only knew one man who had one. Then the 5000 came along and Audis were everywhere.

    1. I think it must have varied regionally in the US. Plenty of ’em in the northeast when I was a kid. I can think of at least a half dozen of my friends’ families who had them, and that was in a fairly hick town of 3000 or so. And yes, you could hear them rusting away on quiet nights.

    2. Compared to other high end German cars, 100s sold pretty well. A lot of VW stores sold them, and there were a lot of VW stores. When I was little, there were more VW stores in town than there are today.

  2. Beautiful cars. I’d love to drive one.
    The first Audi I had was the next model. I can see the evolution from this gen to the next easily.
    My ’83 5000S still carried the AUDI/NSU branding. My ’88 5000sq was an AUDI.

  3. Audi has made zero impression on me. My pal asked me what I thought of first when he said Audi and i said Quattro. He said, “Quattro and…?” and I couldn’t think of a single thing. (Except Fox? Or was that a VW?)
    I can’t think of a single desirable Audi, or one that has enough style that I can recognize it at 100 yards away. It’s as if they’re the serial killers of the car world, or if Auto Union was made up of brands in the witness protection program, trying so hard not to be seen.
    This one is no exception to the overall underwhelming dullness of the marque.

    1. Call me crazy, but I find restrained German styling endearing in their cars, that sense that every single thing was done just so, and if you don’t like it, it’s because you’re wrong, and this is how a car should be. So, of course, modern Audis with their goatee grilles and LED headlights don’t entirely fit this idiom.
      Then again, they’re like automotive froyo – you really need to add the R’s and the S’s and the big shouty engines for them to have any actual persionality.

      1. I was just thinking today that I’d look really good in an A5 coupe or vert. Very suave. Then I remembered that Audis are an expensive pain in the ass.

    2. Yep. I like the look of my ’98 A4 very much, but everything since has seemed, I don’t know, heavyhanded is the wrong word. Samey. TOO MUCH LIKE AUDIs or something.

      1. There’s something to be said for the clean lines of the ’80s aesthetic. Cars seem like such massive things now, massive things you can’t see out of for the gun slit windows.

  4. my sister had a 100 GL as her first car in the early 80s, lovely car, white with blue velour interior, manually wound sunroof, the reclining front seats were handy for transporting me and my broken leg round too.
    however to say it was electrically unreliable would be to understate the reality of ownership, her husband eventually traded it in on a late 60s Holden V8 (HG Premier), which, even with its (massively) increased petrol consumption, still worked out cheaper to own over the same period of time

  5. Being of German decent, I had the fortune of spending my summers in Germany growing up and my uncle had one; it was a 72 or 73 100 LS in a rather unusual metallic green and what could only be described as orange interior, riding around the German countryside in the back seat (too young to ride up front) are memories that are as vivid today as they were then in the 70’s and led to my first car being a 100 LS. About the time that I reached driving age (16), my mother and I were going somewhere when we passed a used car lot and I saw it for the first time; it was the only time that I had ever seen one outside of Germany and I just had to have it even though I would have to learn how to drive a stick shift, two hours later I was the second owner of a mint condition example of Audi’s finest.
    It was a ’75 model (US Spec) with the hideous 5 mph battering ram bumpers, sky blue with matching blue velour interior, factory installed (add-on under dash) air conditioning (very rare) and Bosch K-Jetronic Fuel Injection. It had originally been sold to someone in Montana and had covered 75,000 miles in 10 years, sadly I only had it for about a year and a half when I was t-boned at an intersection by a lady who ran a red light; surprisingly there were at least 6-10 other examples in my hometown around this time so it wasn’t totally unusual to see one from time to time and I wish I could have bought another one, but there were none for sale.
    I still have the keys to it and the owner’s manual, and I eventually acquired another copy of the Haynes Repair Manual that I used to keep up on the maintenance and repairs along with a brochure; I can say with certainty that at least on my ’75, the wood grain paneling on the dash was real wood veneer as I had to wipe it down periodically with linseed oil to keep it from looking dried out.
    http://i.ytimg.com/vi/1ajPE23-BWc/maxresdefault.jpg

  6. Lovely car. I always liked their tight, restrained design, and very decent performance. The wood trim is real. A neighbor had on and liked it very much – except for the engine falling out in the first month due to the engine mounts not being bolted in at the factory.

  7. Isn’t it curious how the Mercedes Benz relaunch/reinvention of Audi following their purchase of Auto Union’s assets in 1958 which led directly to this model of Audi and the relaunch of the Audi brand-name is hardly mentioned in the official Audi histories. The idea of Audi being a budget brand of Mercedes Benz hardly fits in with their current marketing as the VW group’s MB competitor.
    From Wikipedia….
    In 1964, Volkswagen acquired the factory in Ingolstadt and the trademark
    rights of Auto Union, with the exception of the dormant Horch brand
    which Daimler-Benz retained. A programme that Daimler had initiated at
    Auto Union created a range of cars that would subsequently provide the
    basis for Volkswagen’s line of front-wheel-drive models, such as the Audi 80 and Volkswagen Passat. At the time a new model, internally designated F103, was under development. This was based on the last DKW model, the DKW F102,
    with a four-stroke engine implanted and some front and rear styling
    changes. Volkswagen abandoned the DKW brand because of association with
    two-stroke engines, effectively leaving Volkswagen with the Audi brand.
    The new model was launched in September 1965 as simply the “Audi.” The
    name was a model designation rather than the manufacturer, which was
    still officially Auto Union. As more models were later added to the Audi
    range, this model was renamed Audi 72.

  8. we had a brown 72 with automatic for about two years, It was a nice looking car but as I remember, it spent a good bit of time in the shop. It was replaced by a Saab 99 4 door again in brown with orange interior.

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