Sunday, December 13, 2009

30 years ago - looking back to 1980 motoring events - the birth of the Audi Quattro

Soon we will have a 2010 on our calendars and therefore it's a good moment to look back 30 years to understand what actually 1980 brought to the motoring world and what cars qualify as "oldtimers" in the coming year.
The biggest sensation of 1980 most probably was the Audi Quattro. It was not the first 4x4 for every day (the Jensen FF was before), but clearly the one that made 4x4 relevant for the sportscar manufacturers. Interestingly the competition didn't see the point. Mind that it took Audi until 1984 to win both rallye world championship titles, in the two years before they won either the drivers or the manufacturers title, while the competition (i.e. Opel Ascona 400, Lancia 037, etc.) was still on rear wheel drive. Mercedes for example didn't at least see any reason to also build 4x4 street cars, as they claimed that ABS is good enough, 4x4 is not needed. Audi thought differently and not only created a brand (Quattro), but also did a lot of pioneering steps for preparing the market. By the way, only the Japanese followed immediately and partially quite successfully.
1980 was also a year where fuel economy and cheap cars were trendy, creating an open market for the Fiat Panda.
And 1980 also was the year were more and more manufacturers finally switched from rear wheel drive to front wheel drive. Opel had done it the year before already with the Opel Kadett, Ford was following in 1980 with the Ford Escort.
Also the Renault Fuego was front wheel driven and a successful attempt to replace the not really loved R15 and R17.
When you go through 1980 catalogs to see what (attractive) cars were sold in that year you will find also:
Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce 2000
Alfa Romeo Alfasud Sprint Veloce 1.5
Alpine-Renault A310 V6
BMW 323i
Citroen 2CV 6 Sp├ęcial
Ferrari 308 GTB/GTS
Lamborghini Urraco P300
Lotus Esprit S2
Maserati Khamsin 4900
Reliant Scimitar GTE
Saab 99 Turbo 2
TVR 3000 S (although they were only built in 1978-1979)

But it was also the time of cars such as:
Austin Allego 1500 Special
Datsun Cherry GL Hatchback 120 A
Ford Granada 2800 Ghia$
Lada Niva 1600
Mitsubishi Sapporo
Opel Senator 3000 CD
Zastava 1100 Super
Much fewer people will remember these cars and they rarely make it to classic car auctions, but maybe this now will change.

Anyway it is stunning that for example the Lamborghini Urraco was priced at 5 times the cost of a Volkswagen Golf GL 1500, and for the Lotus Esprit you could have bought 4.5 Golfs. Today, no Lambo is available below 8 Volkswagen Golf equivalents, while at least the small Lotus are in reach for a Golf buyer (at 2-3 times the Golf price).

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