One of two RHD first-gen ’69 Audi 80 models known to still exist, classic wagon feels more modern than it looks.
Just before the start of World War II, the last Audi models under the Auto Union banner left the German town of Chemnitz. From 1939 on, DKW took the company’s place within the Auto Union umbrella. Twenty-five years later, though, it would be DKW handing the torch off to the Audi name with the Audi 80, when the brand switched from two- to four-stroke engines.
While the first-gen Audi 80 is already a rare sight on the road now, the one Audi UK owns is among one of two right-hand drive models known to still exist. Lawrie and Matt of Lawrie’s Mechanical Marvels recently got the equally rare opportunity to take this time capsule out for a picnic in the English countryside. Though it may be from the late Sixties, the wagon feels more modern than ever.
The First of the B Platform Audis
“If we actually look at the design of how Audi have moved forward,” said Lawrie, “this is the grand-grand-grand-granddaddy of the A4. This is the same thing that’s evolved into the A4. Obviously, a lot’s changed, but this is the direct [ancestor].”
Matt adds that the first-gen Audi 80 would be the “B0” platform for future 80s to build upon, not to mention the modern Audi itself. Compared to monsters like the RS 6 Avant, though, this ultra-rare two-door wagon’s subtle presence makes for a special ride then and now.
Premium Then, Luxury Now
“The initial cars [were] obviously based on the DKW, a car called the FK 102,” said Matt. “This was the FK 103 before it became the Audi. [The FK 102] used to have a two-stroke engine. It was very much an interwar design […] You really couldn’t sell a two-stroke engine when it came to the Sixties; it was just a little bit barbaric. Instead, they used this Mercedes lump […] they had a license to produce a Mercedes engine. Mercedes didn’t build it; Audi built it themselves.”
The interior, though, is less Mercedes and more DKW. The wood is plastic, and the dash boast an indentation where a radio would’ve been. However, the Audi 80’s “poverty-spec” interior is better than one found in a cheap Nineties econobox, especially the soft vinyl seats. Certainly better than what future owner Volkswagen Group made at the same time.
Still Feels Modern in 2021
“It’s a surprisingly pleasant thing,” said Lawrie. “You look at some of the things, like the engine and the way it’s designed, you go, ‘Oh, that feels very… interesting.’ But the way this drives […] the actual feel of it, and the ride, it almost modern standards […] It likes being driven and actually doing something.”