Audi, the history of the German house

The ‘ Audi has started to be considered a car manufacturer “premium” only from the second half of last century. Yet the German brand has a history that has its roots in the early twentieth century. Let’s find out together.

Audi, the story

The history of Audi starts thanks to August Horch , a German engineer who founded a car company in 1899 that bears his name. The company grows more and more but August finds himself increasingly isolated from the board of directors due to the high expenses he incurred in the “research and development” field. In 1909 Horch starts his own business: he initially thinks of using his surname again but after losing a civil case (the Horch trademark is registered) against the managers of his old company he decides to use the term “audi” (Latin translation of ” listen “,” horch “in German).

The beginnings

The first  audi history – the Typ A – born in 1910: mounts an engine 2.6 petrol 22 hp and shares many elements with Horch 10PS. The cars of the German brand immediately get a great success: the quality of the products and also the sports victories: between 1912 and 1914 the Typ C won three consecutive editions of the Österreichische Alpenfahrt . During the First World War the production was reserved for the military leaders of the Germanic Empire.

The crisis after the first post-war period

The end of the First World War is one of the worst times for Audi: the new models make flops and the German brand is forced to declare bankruptcy in 1927. The ‘ Audi was bought by DKW in 1928 but the latter company is in crisis following the collapse of Wall Street in 1929.

The Auto Union era

In 1932 the Auto Union was born : a car group that includes – in addition to DKW and Audi – the Horch and the Wanderer . The Audi, which is the most prestigious brand of this colossus, remains with only one model in the list – the front  – wheel drive UW Front  – but even she can not lift sales. The car, considered too innovative for the time, was replaced in 1938 by the more traditional 920 : the career of this model – and of the entire Audi – ended prematurely due to the outbreak of the Second World War .

The resurrection signed by Volkswagen

The Audi brand was only used again in 1965: the merit goes to the Volkswagen Group , which the year before took over the Auto Union from Daimler-Benz (owner of the German giant since 1958). At the Paris Motor Show the 72 is unveiled, the first car of the four rings of the new course: it is nothing but a DKW F 102 equipped with a 1.7-liter 1.7 (four-stroke) engine. The real turning point for the Audi arrives however in 1968 (with the launch of the 100 flagship  ) and in the 1972 with the 80 : a sedan that the following year won the prestigious Auto of the Year award . The small 50 of 1974 anticipates instead the forms of the Volkswagen Polo .

The four-wheel drive

The brand with the four rings needs to change its image, too conservative at the time, and for this reason in 1980 Launches Four : a coupe with all-wheel drive that between 1982 and 1984, winning four World Rally (two pilots – with Hannu Mikkola and Stig Blomqvist – and two Marche). The choice – at the time innovative – to offer the four tractors on cars other than off-road vehicles proved apt for the Audi , which still today beats with the acronym four all its 4WD vehicles. In 1983 the third generation of the flagship 100 became the Car of the Year, while throughout the second half of the eighties the German company tried to compete with BMW and Mercedes, culminating with the prestigious 1990 V8 .

The success of the nineties

Around the mid-nineties, Audi decided to focus on innovation to challenge the competition: the flagship A8 is the first large-scale car equipped with an aluminum frame (material used in 1999 for the small MPV A2). Other models that contribute to increasing sales include the 1994 sedan A4 , the compact A3 in 1996 and the sporty TT in 1998.

The present

The twenty-first century sees Audi to offer a more complete range of products and a series of cutting-edge technologies such as engines with  direct injection of gasoline, the change in dual-clutch S tronic and lights  to LED . Last but not least, the sporting successes at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (12 victories between 2000 and 2013) obtained with petrol, turbodiesel and hybrid cars and the nine titles (six Drivers and three Constructors) in the German DTM tourism championship between 2002 and 2011. It was July 16, 1906 when Audi began its first steps in the automobile era in those times still almost completely pioneering. Founded by August Horch in Cologne, Germany , to move later to Zwickau. Today the head office is located in the well-known Ingolstadt . The story of the name is rather curious; the founder for some problems translated his surname “hear” in the Latin Audi . In 1910 he left the factory the first ever Audi Typ A capable of mounting a powerful 2.6 liter engine powered by petrol capable of dumping 22 horses to the ground. However, it was not exactly calm that the situation was overcome by the First World Conflict. The Audi failed in 1927, purchased by DKW went bankrupt two years later. But in 1932 concrete scenarios finally opened with the merger of four companies, the logo rings symbolize this, DKW, Horch, Wanderer and Audi itself.

The advent of the Second World War left everything as it was, in 1958 it was acquired by Daimler-Benz while only in 1965 the Volkswagen took over the Audi from the latter. The first car born from the new collaboration was the 72, 1.7-liter four-stroke engine and 72 horses detected. But something more concrete was seen in 1968 with the arrival of the 100 and 80 in 1972 also capable of winning the prestigious Car of the Year award. Of great importance in the history of Audi, the Quattro system, that is an all-wheel drive system, which debuted on a 1980s-era coupe capable of winning four world rally titles between 1982 and 1984.

In the last years 90 and in the first years 2000 Audi introduces numerous innovations. Gasoline direct injection engines, S Tronic dual clutch gearbox, LED lights. Audi reaches high sales numbers. Today the Audi range sees the compact A1, the A3 average, the mid-high-end A4 sedan, the A5 medium coupe, the A6 high-range sedan, the A7 a four-door coupé, the A8 luxury sedan, the coupe sporting TT and the inevitable Suv Q3, Q7 and Q5. In the panorama of all-wheel drive sports in 2006, the Audi R8 entered the catalog. Audi’s palmares in sporting competitions are important. The Ingolstadt home dominated the 24 Hours of Le Mans for 13 times in the years between 2000 and 2014 with cars powered initially by petrol, then diesel and lastly the R18 hybrids. Do not forget the numerous titles in the famous German Tourism DTM.

Features and history of the Audi logo

Horch left Audi already in 1928, perhaps tired of the hard work done in previous years. Or perhaps because he is too busy in his new political projects. The fact is that the absorption of DKW canceled the design capacity of the Audi that, to technically update existing models, had to fall back on American projects built under license. Despite all the efforts, the DKW also went into crisis following   the 1929 Wall Street crash . After a few dark years, only in 1932 the DKW merged with the old rival of Audi, the Horch , and another German manufacturer, the Wanderer . Thus the  Auto Union was born , whose logo (the known four rings ) symbolically represented the group’s brands: Audi , DKW , Horch and Wanderer . It was a big deal for DKW, which actually grew up with great know-how. It was a business for Horch, whose image in the luxury sector was not in question, but whose numbers were too low. And it was also a deal for Wanderer who saw the cancellation of a formidable competitor such as the DKW-Audi consortium. However, Audi was the most “mistreated” brand in the new Auto Union. The image was reduced, relegating it to the production of middle class cars. Shortly before the war, in 1939 , the Auto Union, with its four brands, held 25% of the German market and was in the limelight for the continuous technical and competitive records that it managed to establish.

The post-war period, on the other hand, was once again tragic. It was the end not only of the Audi brand, but also of the Horch and the Wanderer. Auto Union lost its plants in East Germany and was reborn in Düsseldorf , nationalized. He concentrated on producing medium-low class cars. The brand was still that of the four rings and the name ” DKW-Auto Union “. In 1958 , after a decade of poor results, the DKW-Auto Union, was forced to yield to the lures of  Daimler-Benz . After eight years, the DKW was sold by Daimler-Benz to Volkswagen , at the time desperate to replace the “Beetle” with a model of autodes as valid.

Better models and costs

From a recent survey by a well-known car magazine, readers have been able to elect the 4 most beautiful Audi ever . Let’s see them in detail:

Audi V8

Produced from 88 to 94, this sedan is the very first model of the German car manufacturer to be equipped with  automatic transmission  combined with  all-wheel drive . A car certainly avant-garde for the time, but also very popular among fans of the sector nowadays. Out of production, the car can only be purchased used. Indicative price 50 thousand euros ;

Audi A5

The A5 combines German technology and solidity with typical Italian thought and light-heartedness. Available in three versions:  Sportback ,  Coupé  and  Cabriolet , the car has an elegant and functional interior. The engine has a high resilience thanks to the supercharged engines. The cuneiform lighthouses make it inimitable in design lines, captivating and decisive. Prices starting from € 40,750 ;

Audi R8

Sports car that comes to a power of 420 hp at 7800 rpm, can reach 301 km per hour. The speed factor was not enough, the R8 has a body in  Ergal , a particular alloy obtained from a perfect union of aluminum and zinc. Another fascinating aspect concerns the  instrument panel  placed in the  center console  and oriented towards the driver’s seat. The price of the basic model is 173 thousand euros ;

Audi Q5

In the first place of this special ranking we find the Q5. A compact SUV specially designed with the typical Audi-style front but in a modern way. It has a captivating character and a lot of grit. The  fog lights  have  chrome rings , the interior is elegant and classy thanks to delicate fabrics. On request, it also offers a charming version with a   central panoramic roof . The base price is  43.150 euros . Although this is reserved for the Saturday race in Paris , we still see the pictures of the grand prize of Rome of Formula E , which ran April 14. Great public party , as well as motoring. A party that not all fans have been able to attend, since the tickets for the race have been sold out in no time. To at least partially compensate for this inconvenience, Audi (who took part in the race with the ABT Schaeffler official team) had thought of an unusual way of giving entrances to two people. On the Facebook page of Audi Italia, a few days before the event, a long video appeared on the history of Rome: among the almost two million fans of the page, only the most patient and determined have seen it in full, discovering the clue that has allowed two of they get tickets at stake and enjoy the second place of the Italian-Brazilian Lucas di Grassi . The operation was anticipated by some post teasers and was then unveiled only at the end of the event, through a nice video reveal currently online on the Facebook page of Audi Italy, which we propose. The name Audi derives from the Latin translation of the name of the founder, August Horch, after it was excluded from the company founded by him, in 1899 ( you can also find confirmation at this link ). The symbol of the house is, as is known to many, made up of four chained rings ; this union represents the fusion of the four ‘souls’ , or the four companies, which joined in 1932, giving life to the modern Audi : Wanderer, Audi, DKW and Horch.