Currently reading: Throwback Thursday - The birth of modern Audi, 10 September 1965
Following an absence of 25 years, the Audi name returned to motoring in 1966 with the launch of a new family saloon
Matt Burt
News
3 mins read
10 September 2015

During the mid-1960s, ownership of the Auto Union brand gradually shifted from Daimler to Volkswagen, which bought up shares and invested heavily in the Auto Union factory in Ingolstadt.

That plant was producing three-cylinder, two-stroke DKW models, but Volkswagen adopted a plan already put in place by Daimler to create a new family saloon around a 1696cc four-cylinder, four-stroke engine.

Although the saloon used most of the same underpinnings as DKW’s F102, VW wanted to tell the world that this was essentially a new car.

So Wolfsburg looked to the other manufacturer names that had originally comprised Auto Union, namely Audi, Horch and Wanderer. With Horch retained by Daimler and the Wanderer name presumably deemed not exactly ripe for revival, the new car was christened the Auto Union Audi, with ‘Audi’ as a model name rather than a make.

Autocar investigated the new car ahead of its 1966 debut. “Like the original Audi models and, of course, DKW ones as well, the new car features front-wheel drive with an all-synchromesh four-speed gearbox and inboard disc brakes 
at the front,” said Autocar. “The new engine has been designed and 
developed by Mercedes-Benz, tested 
and approved by Volkswagen and will 
be built by Auto Union.”

Setting a template for future Audis, the engine was “inclined at 40deg and mounted in front of the driven front wheels. A longer nose – the car has an front overhang of 872mm – overcomes the problem of fitting the engine in the front compartment.

“To keep the bonnet line low and particularly the centre of gravity, the engine is canted over at 40deg so that the induction side is on top.”

Intent on giving the Audi a better ride quality than its DKW sibling, Volkswagen focused on developing the suspension. “Double wishbones at the front are sprung by adjustable longitudinal torsion bars, and the telescopic dampers incorporate progressive rubber bump stops.

“Three reasons are given for the inboard brakes: they give less unsprung weight, to improve the suspension; they are not restricted in diameter by the wheel rim size; and there is a direct flow of cooling air through this part of the engine compartment.”

With its new, longer engine, the Audi was about four inches longer than the DKW F102, but otherwise the dimensions were much the same. There were rectangular headlamps and no mesh in the grille, just a surround and the four Auto Union linked rings, one for each of the original four companies.

“The body shell has a flat floor, since there is no propeller shaft, and there is room for five people,” said Autocar. “As the gearchange lever is on the steering column, there would be room for an additional front-seat passenger if separate seats were not fitted.”

After a 25-year absence, the Audi name was back, and its arrival was well timed. Sales of two-strokes were falling and the DKW brand associated with such units was phased out as the new Auto Union became available in 1966.

Previous Throwback Thursdays

4 March 1899 - Steam, electric or combustion engine? 

26 June 1906 - The first French Grand Prix

9 July 1907 - The beginning of Brooklands

14 February 1913 - 100 miles in one hour

8 April 1916 - Making post-war predictions

25 March 1922 - Caterpillar tracks are the future

4 July 1925 - Citroën lights up the Eiffel Tower

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kraftwerk 18 September 2015

If only...

...Audi could get back to building cars as elegant as the one in the picture, rather than the brutal, arrogant, charmless machines it makes these days.
Bullfinch 10 September 2015

Oo, get you.

More like this please.
concinnity 10 September 2015

Mercedes Budget Brand

And sixty years later, Mercedes Benz's budget brand is somehow percieved as being equal to Mercedes Benz itself, especially in the 'German badge' obsessed UK market The marketing coup of the last century, despite Audi lagging badly in actual quality surveys based on reality.

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