Audi 100 C1

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Audi 100 C1

1968 - 1976
In-line 4 cyl.
1.8 & 1.9 liter (later 1.6L)
99 hp/74 kW
4 spd man / 3 spd auto
Top Speed:
200 km/h (124 mph)
Number Built:
The origins of the first Audi 100 have become legendary in Germany. When Volkswagen purchased Auto Union from Mercedes Benz in 1965, they seem to have been motivated by a desperate shortage of production capacity for their ’Beetle’ model which at that time was selling faster than the cars could be produced.

The then nearly new Auto Union plant at Ingolstadt, built under Mercedes ownership and control, was quickly adapted for Beetle assembly: Volkswagen boss Heinrich Nordhoff, mindful of the poor sales record of the DKW F102, and at a time when the new Audi F103 had yet to prove itself in the market place, gave instructions that no further new Auto Union (including Audi) models should be developed.

However, it was not just the Ingolstadt manufacturing facility that Volkswagen acquired from Mercedes when they purchased the Auto Union business. Among the employees inherited from the Mercedes era was engineer Ludwig Kraus. Kraus did not share Nordhoff’s apparent conviction that demand for the Beetle would remain insatiable for ever, and it was Kraus who developed the Audi 100, in direct contravention of instructions from Volkswagen management, and in secret.

The first Nordhoff knew of the project was when he was presented with a production ready prototype. It is to Nordhoff’s credit that he changed his mind and gave the car the green light. The Audi 100 would be a commercial success, but it would also be the first of a series of front engined water cooled Audi based designs from the Volkswagen group that would, starting with the first Passat in 1973, enable the group to survive and flourish once the European and US markets began to lose their appetites for rear engined air cooled models.

The Audi 100 was shown to the press on 26 November 1968. Its name originally denoting a power output of 100 PS (99 hp/74 kW), the Audi 100 was the company's largest car since the revivial of the Audi brand by Volkswagen in 1965. The C1 platform spawned several variants: the Audi 100 two- and four-door saloons, and the Audi 100 Coupé S, a stylish fastback coupé, which bore a remarkable resemblance to the Aston Martin DBS released a year earlier, especially at the rear end, including details such as the louvres behind the rear side windows and shape of the rear light clusters.

Audi 100 Engine Size Chart
1.8 liter L4
100 PS (99 hp/74 kW)
1.8 liter L4
80 PS (79 hp/59 kW)
1.8 liter L4
90 PS (89 hp/66 kW)
1.8 liter L4
100 PS (99 hp/74 kW)
Audi followed up the introduction of the four-door saloon in November 1968 with a two-door saloon in October 1969 and the 100 Coupé S in autumn 1970. The cars' four-cylinder engines originally came in base 1.8 liter, 80 PS (79 hp/59 kW), 100 S 1.8 liter, 90 PS (89 hp/66 kW) and 100 LS 1.8 liter, 100 PS (99 hp/74 kW) guise, while the Coupé was driven by a bored-out 1.9 liter developing 115 PS (113 hp/85 kW). From April 1970 the 100 LS could be ordered with a 3-speed automatic transmission sourced from Volkswagen.

Starting with model year 1972 the 80 and 90 PS versions were replaced by a new regular-petrol-variant of the 1.8 liter engine developing 85 PS (84 hp/63 kW); at the same time, the 100 GL was introduced that featured the 1.9 liter engine formerly used in the Coupé S only. In September 1973 the 100 received a minor facelift with a somewhat smaller grille and reshuffled taillight lens patterns. The rear torsion bar was replaced by coil springs.

For model year 1975 the base 100 was re-christened the 100 L and received a 1.6 liter four cylinder engine (coming out of the Audi 80).

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