The story of the Audi 100 is the stuff of automotive folklore. When Volkswagen acquired Auto Union from Mercedes-Benz in 1965, the Beetle was all the rage. VW assembly lines were bursting at the seams trying to meet surging demand. Boss Heinrich Nordhoff decided to stop development of all Auto Union models and use their production lines to produce Beetles.
However, Dr Ludwig Kraus, who had been part of Mercedes’ racing department before the acquisition, had different ideas. He clandestinely went ahead and developed an all-new Audi and presented it to Nordhoff. He was so impressed that he changed his mind and gave it the go-ahead. In November 1968, the Audi 100 was unveiled.
Although the 100 was initially introduced as a saloon, Kraus could not wait to get cracking on a sportier two-door version, and in 1969, the 100 Coupé S, designed as a fastback coupé, was first released at the Frankfurt show.
Although the 100’s name referred to the 100PS (99bhp) of power generated by the initial model’s 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine, the Coupé, with its shortened chassis, was subsequently fitted with a 1.9-litre powerplant delivering 115PS (113bhp). With the car weighing in at less than 1,100kg, this power was good enough to hurtle it to a top speed in the range of 190kph.
When the first car rolled out in 1970, it received universal praise for its performance and good looks, with parallels being drawn with the Aston Martin DBS and the Fiat Dino, especially with the former because of the louvres behind the rear-side windows and design of the rear light clusters.
The 100 Coupé S was one of the most elegant-looking two doors on the market at the time, and it had an impressive road presence, with its 4,464mm length, 1,746mm width and a wheelbase of 2,565mm.
In 1972, a revised version was introduced with work done on the engine to reduce fuel consumption and to meet emissions laws in export markets, and in 1973, it got a facelift, including a redesigned grille and new taillights. In 1976, production came to an end, and Audis moved on to the new C2 platform.
Although it was not a runaway sales success then, the 100 Coupé S’s desirability has spiked considerably over the decades, with demand from classic car enthusiasts turning it into an icon. And if you trawl the internet, you’ll find deals as low as Dh25,000, which is peanuts to pay for what’s considered by many as one of the most beautiful Audis ever built.