The R8's precursor rocked a (fake) W12 engine mounted in the middle wrapped in a low-slung aluminum body.
Name: Audi Avus Quatrro
Debuted: 1991 Tokyo Motor Show
Specs: W12 6.0-liter engine dummy with 502 horsepower, Quattro all-wheel drive, six-speed manual gearbox, aluminum body
Why We Remember It Now:
Named after a race track in Berlin, the Avus was not only Audi’s way of previewing its W12 engine and aluminum-intensive construction, but it was also a sign of things to come in terms of a mid-engine supercar.
It stole the show back in 1991 in Tokyo with its beautifully crafted body with hand-beaten panels, which were only 1.5-mm thick and were left unpainted as a nod to the Auto Union race cars of the 1930s. The retro twist created a wonderful mélange with the concept’s futurist shape, managing to withstand the test of time as it still looks spectacular even after a quarter of a century.
Thanks to the aluminum-intensive construction and the proprietary Audi Space Frame, the all-wheel-drive Avus Quattro tips the scales at a remarkably low 1,250 kilograms (2,755 pounds). It granted the supercar with a sprint to 62 mph (100 kph) in just three seconds before reaching a top speed of 334 kph (210 mph).
However, these are all just hypothetical performance numbers because the concept did not actually have a real W12 6.0-liter engine developing 502 horsepower (374 kilowatts). At that point, Audi was still developing its twelve-cylinder unit, so the Avus actually had a dummy engine carved from wood and plastic.
Even so, it was a marvelous piece of engineering, with three lockable differentials, rear-wheel steering, and a NACA-style duct mounted on the roof. Another interesting aspect is the fact about half of the car’s height was represented by the 20-inch wheels and its tires.
The Avus Quattro concept was never destined to enter production and rumor has it Audi even turned down offers from at least a dozen of potential customers willing to pay as much as $12 million for a road-going version.
Should you want to check it out in all of its mirror-like aluminum body glory, Audi has the Avus Quattro concept on display at its museum in Ingolstadt, Germany.