When it comes to luxury cars, Audi is always on the list. The car brand with the iconic four-ringed logo has some of the most interesting facts in the automotive industry you might not be aware of. Check them out here:
The Name Audi is Latin for “Hear”
That’s why words such as “audio,” “audience” and “auditorium” are related to hearing. The German word for “hear” is Horch. The more surprising thing is that the founder of Audi is August Horch — is that a coincidence or what?
August Horch founded his first company with his partner called “A. Horch and Cie”, but due to copyright infringement and legal issues, August Horch had to remove “Horch” from the company’s name and ultimately “Audi” was selected as the final name which means “listen”.
There Was No Audi After World War II
Like many auto companies, the Auto Union turned its focus on military production at the onset of World War II. After the war, almost all of the company’s assets were seized by the Soviets who went on to control East Germany.
In 1948, Auto Union’s factory in Chemnitz was dismantled. The following year the company founded its West German headquarters in Ingolstadt, Bavaria called Auto Union GmbH.
With Germany’s post-war economy beginning to improve, the re-formed Auto Union started to manufacture motorcycles and delivery vans under the DKW name. In 1958 Daimler-Benz took over Auto Union as a wholly-owned subsidiary.
The Origins of Quattro 4-Wheel drive Came from Volkswagen
Audi comes as a luxury branch of the Volkswagen Group who actually owns this luxury giant. It is the top best cars sought among youngsters. The four-wheel drive design of the Volkswagen military vehicle, the Volkswagen Type 183 aka Iltis, provided the basis of the Audi Quattro all-wheel drive.
Audi Revolutionized Rallying with Quattro
It’s all about the right timing for Audi. Just as it released its Quattro All-Wheel Drive, the World Rally Championship was tweaking its rules to allow four-wheel drive cars to enter into the competition.
The adjustment of the rules proved to be a massive advantage for the Audi Quattros. They went on to win several rallies from 1981 to 1986, the drivers’ championship in 1983 and 1984, and the Pikes Peak Hill Climb six times from 1982 to 1987.
Mazda Wasn’t the First to Use Rotary Engines
When it comes to rotary engines, Mazda is what first comes to mind. But the truth is Felix Wankel invented the world’s first-ever rotary engine.
Felix Wankel then brought his remarkable knowledge about rotary valves to NSU, a leading German automaker which was later acquired by Volkswagen in 1969. VW merged NSU with Auto Union, thus giving birth to Audi NSU Auto Union AG, and then finally Audi.
The Owner of Audi was a Blacksmith
The founder of Audi, August Horch, was a German engineer who started working as a blacksmith. Before working under Karlz Benz, he worked in shipbuilding. He worked for Mercedes Benz for three years before starting his own venture. Before the production of Audi, Horch manufactured A. Horch and Cie in 1899, so Audi wasn’t his first manufacturing company.
Audi Was the Second Company to Introduce the Left-Hand Drive Cars
Audi was the second automaker to introduce left-hand drive design in 1921 in Type-K, which was considered as one of the most technologically advanced cars of its time. However, the first car in which the left steering wheel was introduced was the 1908 Ford T.
The First Audi RS Model Was Co-Developed with Porsche
Porsche was largely responsible for the high performance of the Audi RS models. Porsche tuned Audi’s turbocharged 2.2 liter 5-cylinder, a 311-horsepower engine, as well as provided the braking and suspension system. Porsche also made some radical changes to the Audi 80’s body.
An Auto Union Racecar Went Over 268mph Way Back In 1938
In 1938, legendary car racer Bernd Rosemeyer drove a streamlined V16 Auto Union Type-C car and sped up to 268.4 mph at a Top Speed Racing Competition. However, he was overtaken by another racing legend and Rosemeyer’s bitter rival, Rudolf Caracciola, who drove a Mercedes.
Rosemeyer went back out later in the day to surpass Caracciola’s record, but his car got caught by the gust of wind, lost control, and flipped. He was instantly killed.
Audi Has Been Conducting Crash Tests for Over 75 Years
Audi claims to be the first to conduct crash tests. In comparison with the modern crash tests with dummies and slow-motion cameras, back in the day Audi’s engineers simply rolled the car. For example, they rolled an Audi F7 down the hill to demonstrate how safe it could be. Spectators who watched the demonstration were surprised to find its engine, which was virtually intact and still running. Audi has been performing crash testing since ages, most probably 75 years.
The Four Rings in The Logo Represent the Four Companies of Auto Union
The four rings in the Audi logo represent the four companies that make up the Auto Union (Audi Company) — Audi, DKW, Horsch, and Wanderer. All four companies were unique in their own ways and got their own market segment. Horsch was recognized for high-end luxury cars, Wanderer for standard mid-sized cars, Audi for luxurious vehicles, and DKW for small cars and motorcycles. Hence, four rings in the logo illustrate the Auto Union of four companies.
An Audi Named Shelley Scaled Pikes with No Driver
Pikes Peak is an extremely tough and dangerous area to do car racing, and many race cars have been seen falling off the mountains. Audi decided to go up the Pikes Peak in their self-made car named, ‘Shelley”. This self-driving Audi car climbed the 147-bend Pikes Peak without any trouble and driver, in 2010. It was named after Michèle Mouton who was the first woman to win the Pikes Peak Hill Climb, as well as the World Rally Championship. It was the car’s GPS that enabled the vehicle to track its position.
Only the Best, Most Experienced Factory Employees Get to Build R8s
It’s not easy to build an R8, as it takes about 5,000 different components and 70 hours to complete one! As a result, the factory rolls out only 20 (or less) R8s on an average workday. That’s why Audi only selects the best and most experienced factory employees for the job. Usually, most of these employees have been with Audi for many years.
Additionally, Audi’s high-performance cars are known for winning the Le Mans championship 13 times. They deliberately wanted to prove their diesel-engine prowess by winning Le Mans with a turbocharged V10 R10 TDI. After that, Audi took one step ahead and won the 2012 Le Mans with an R18 e-Tron Quattro.
The Most Expensive Audi
The Auto Union Type-D is the most valuable Audi that was produced on the demand of Hitler in 1930 to show the world how much Germany has progressed in the automobile industry. Actually, Ferdinand Porsche suggested Hitler that he should hold a competition between Audi and Mercedes, the biggest rivals. As a result, the Auto Union Type-D was produced. This was sold for 12 million euros back then.
From Auto Union years to Audi, this German automobile manufacturer has been lots of ups and downs. “Four Rings: The Audi Story” covers the complete history of Audi from the starting years (1899) to 2009. A must read for people who want to know about the company’s insights and stimulating history.