1988 Audi 200 Quattro Trans-Am
In 1988 Audi shocked the world with its Audi 200 Quattro Trans-Am. Up to this point the Trans-Am racing series was dominated by brash, loud V8 American muscle. Audi, on the other hand, was synonymous with European Group B rally racing, and they hadn’t fielded a road-racing car since the 1930s when they were a part of Auto Union. The question from the their Trans-Am competitors and the public was why were they there?
During model years 1983-1987, Audi's U.S. sales fell after a series of recalls of Audi 5000 models associated with reported incidents of sudden unintended acceleration linked to six deaths and 700 accidents. To add to that the CBS news show 60 Minutes aired a report titled Out of Control in November of 1986. Sales were in free fall and Audi needed to make a big splash in North America where the public was mostly unaware of their Quattro rally successes in Europe.
Audi targeted the popular and highly competitive SCCA Trans-Am series. Herwart Kreiner and his motorsport department had only a couple of months time to develop a competition car. While most of the cars were tube frame coupes such as Corvettes, Camaros, and Mustangs, Audi’s weapon would be the full-size, uni-body, four-door Audi 200 with their legendary Quattro all-wheel drive system. No car had ever run all-wheel drive in Trans-Am, and to add to that the car was powered not by a traditional V8 with 650+ horsepower, but by a 2.1 liter turbocharged 5-cylinder engine producing 510 horsepower.
To run the racing program Audi contracted Trans-Am champions, Bob Tullius’s Group 44 Racing. The drivers were all legends, just not in Trans-Am. From sports car racing came the multiple Le Mans winning Hurley Haywood and Hans-Joachim Stuck, and from WRC rally racing came the championship winning Walter Rohrl.
Before the season began the entire effort was viewed as a curiosity, bordering on publicity stunt, but what happened next would change Audi and the Trans-Am world forever.
At the first race on April 16, 1988 Audi entered the soon to be legendary #44 and #14 Quattro Trans-Am cars piloted by Hans-Joachim Stuck and Hurley Haywood at the Long Beach circuit. Spectators were shocked. There was a new sound amongst the rumble of V8s. The 200 Quattro Trans-Ams came out of the first corners with the high-pitched sound of the hissing turbo wastegates, and when the gears shifted fire shot three feet out of the side-exit exhaust. Since this was the 80s its appropriate to call the spectacle awesome.
Audi clearly had less horsepower but it wasn’t evident on the track. The Quattro was more agile and had superior traction allowing it to drive racing lines that were impossible for the rear drive cars, especially in the rain. The other benefit of the Quattro was while the competitors were putting their 650+ horsepower through only two tires the Quattro was putting its 510 hp through 4 tires. By halfway through the races the competitors’ tires were used up and the Audi could literally drive away from them.
Haywood placed second at the opening race, and followed that by recording their first victory in the second race at Dallas. Audi's apparent domination did not sit well with the seasoned competitors, and between races the SCCA tried to dial back the 200 Quattro's performance first by increasing the weight from 1,100 to 1,200 kg and later by mandating a tighter air restrictor. The measures proved ineffective as even in its most restricted form, Rohrl managed to drive the big Audi to victory in the final round, clocking the fastest lap in the process.
Three chassis were used for the 1988 season, TA/2, TA/3, and TA/4. TA/3 would be Haywood’s #44 car for the season. Stuck and Rohrl would alternate using TA/2 and TA/4 as #14. The number #14 would rack up an impressive 5 victories with wins at Niagara Falls, Cleveland, Brainerd, Meadowlands, and Mid-Ohio. For the final race of the season at St. Petersburg, Audi would boldly field all three cars and chassis TA/4 would take another first with #4 on the door.
By the end of the season the Audi Quattros had won an astounding 8 of 13 races with 19 top-five finishes, clinching the manufacturer’s championship for Audi and the driver’s championship for Hurley Haywood. Audi had driven home their point - with a sledgehammer.
In racing you know when you’ve made a huge impact when they make your car illegal after only one year of racing. For 1989 the SCCA would change the rules of Trans-Am to only include cars with two-wheel drive, and banned all cars with non-American engines. Audi’s Trans-Am days were done, but there mark on the sport was indelible.
In 1989 TA/4 was sold in 1989 to AudiSport South Africa to be campaigned in the Wesbank Modified Saloon Championship. It was driven by rally and endurance car champion Sarel Van Der Merwe in Audi colors in both 1989 & 1990. In 1991 the car switched to Minolta colors and was driven by Terry Moss to that season's championship.
The car would be returned to the ownership of AudiSport Germany at the end of its South African race career, and was summarily sold to its first and only private owner Steve Zlotkin of San Juan Bautista, CA. Zlotkin owned and operated a Volkswagen and Audi auto parts distributorship known as Overland Parts, located in Gilroy, CA. With the extensive spares kit that came with the car from the factory, and with his own 30 year collection of Audi parts, he was able to recommission the car back to its original Trans-Am winning specification.
Chassis TA/4 is now race ready and presents as it did during its dominant 1988 Trans-Am season. Most recently it has been seen successfully spitting flames on track at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion and the Sonoma Historics, as well as making an appearance on the lawn of the 2016 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance as a featured car in honor of Hans-Joachim Stuck.
The car comes with a complete list of spares including: extra wheels, slick tires, rain tires, wheel fans, rear wing, body molds, right rear quarter panel, rocker panel, front bumper & air dam, rear bumper, front splitter, engine blocks, and spare exhaust.
1988 SCCA Trans-Am Series #14
Manufacturer Championship Winner
4/16/1988 Long Beach 29th place Hans-Joachim Stuck
5/1/1988 Dallas 13th place Walter Rohrl
5/29/1988 Sears Point 5th place Walter Rohrl
6/19/1988 Detroit 35th place Hans-Joachim Stuck
6/26/1988 Niagara Falls 1st place Walter Rohrl
7/2/1988 Cleveland 1st place Hans-Joachim Stuck
7/17/1988 Brainerd 1st place Hans-Joachim Stuck
7/23/1988 Meadowlands 1st place Hans-Joachim Stuck
8/6/1988 Lime Rock 5th place Walter Rohrl
9/4/1988 Mid-Ohio 1st place Hans-Joachim Stuck
9/11/1988 Road America 2nd place Hans-Joachim Stuck
9/25/1988 Mosport 4th place Walter Rohrl
10/23/1988 St. Petersburg 28th place Hans-Joachim Stuck
1989 & 1990 Westbank Modified Saloon - South Africa
Driver: Sarel van der Merwe
1991 Wesbank Modified Saloon - South Africa
Driver: Terry Moss
2013 Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival
2013 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion
2015 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion
Turbocharged, 2110 cc aluminum in-line 5 cylinder
Power: 510 bhp (375kW) at 7500 RPM (increased to 550 bhp during the season)
Torque: 530Nm at 6,000 RPM
Bore and Stroke 79.5 X 85mm
Valves: 2 valves per cylinder
Turbocharger: KKK turbocharger with intercooler
Fuel System: Bosch Motronic
Ignition System: Bosch Motronic
Lubrication: Dry sump
4 WHEEL DRIVE
Clutch: Dual plate dry clutch
Transmission: All synchromesh 6 speed manual transmission
Center Differential: Self locking Torsen, or limited slip viscous coupling with torque split function
Front Differential: Limited slip viscous coupling
Rear differential: limited slip friction plate differential or Torsen self locking differential, or limited slip viscous coupling
Drive Shafts: Constant velocity sliding joint shafts
Front: McPherson struts with bottom track control arms. Rear: Trapezium arm suspension
Shock Absorbers: Boge twin tube cartridges
Steering: Rack and pinion, power assisted, ratio 14:1
Tires: 25.5X13.5X16 (dry) Goodyear, 25.5X12X16 (rain) Goodyear
Hydraulic twin circuit system
Components: ventilated discs (front- 330mmX32mm/rear - 304mmX28mm, light alloy calipers)
Brake Balance: manually adjustable by driver
Based on Audi 200 Quattro, plastic skin panels
Safety Equipment: Steel cage welded to bodyshell, 6 point safety harness, fire extinguisher system, rubber safety tank.
Track, front/rear: 1,620/1620mm
Curb Weight: 1,115kg (increased during the season to 1202kg with additional weights)