1989 Audi Ur-quattro ultimate ’80s sleeper

UR-QUATTRO Immaculate, 602hp 1980s icon

Of all the cars we feature in PA, the Ur-quattro remains one of the most special. It’s the car that put Audi on the map and set the tone for the next 30 years of innovation. The word ‘icon’ is banded around a lot these days, but I think you’ll agree that when it comes to Audi’s box-arched, 4WD coupe, it is a very fitting description.

Most of us would give anything to be able to have one of these things parked up at home, but imagine if you tracked down the actual car you learned to drive in, and were able to buy it, years later? Well, that would be extra special.

But that’s exactly how it panned out for John Wain, owner of this incredible car.

“When I left college, I needed work and my brother’s mate’s older brother, Tom, who lived over the road, needed a driver, he recalls. “But I had no license, so he taught me in his quattro.” A young John duly passed his test and got to work. Eventually he ended up going back to college, but he always had a soft spot for the car he learned to drive in, the car that gave him his freedom. “I said to my missus, if I ever get the chance, I’ll buy that car, one day.”

Fast forward ten years, and John is running his own successful business. A chance meeting with a mutual friend revealed that Tom was still around and that incredibly, the quattro was up for sale.

“I rang him up and went to see him,” smiles John. It was stored in a workshop and had loads of stuff piled on top of it, but even though it had seen better days, he new he had to have it.

“I asked Tom what needed doing to it and he said it wanted a new rear panel, the gearbox wasn’t great and the engine needed work.” After starting the bidding at £7,000, John managed to negotiate a deal that he could have it for £5,000 if he promised never to sell it. “I was never going to sell it and never will,” states John, so the car was his.


Left: Lovely 3-spoke wheel. Below: MaxxECU display. Above: The powerhouse under the bonnet. Above: Precision 5866 turbo Below: Engine is a big-boosting work of art.

“I went to the local bank, drew out the money and 15-minutes later I owned the car, “ he smiles. Right from the off, the plan was to restore the Ur to its former glory. Unfortunately, dues to becoming involved with a less than scrupulous bodyshop, things took a turn for the worse. We could write an entire feature on all of the bodges and mistakes that were made, but suffice to say, the renovation turned to ruination.

“They had it for a year,” recalls John “and it was a mess.” The strip down had been done in a damp workshop and rust had been allowed to take hold. The list of faults was long, and even the uprated engine that had been bought in good faith turned out to be a lemon. Some may have given it up as a bad lot here, especially as one of those responsible legged it to America. But this was never an option for John. “It was the car I’d always wanted and it had a personal history.”

So, with a heavy heart, he contacted Ish at Quattro Coachworks. “I had to say to him that I should’ve gone with them in the first place, but they just said they’d sort it,” says John. To do this they insisted on starting from scratch as they didn’t trust any of the previous work. This meant a £7,000 bill, but at least it would be done properly.

The work required was extensive, with the Audi Tradition replacement wings having to be cut and blended with the non-rusty bits of the originals – a job that took three days on its own. But you need only look at the mirror-like finish of this black quattro to see that it has all been worthwhile. The paintwork is truly stunning – this thing looks brand new.

That just left the engine…

“Ish asked his friend JP of JNR Racing to examine it and he said it was in a bad state due to a cambelt failure.” Having paid £4,000 for the engine, John was gutted. Fortunately, Ish persuaded JP to do a good deal on a rebuild of his original engine, which lead to the big-boosting monster you see before today.

“I wanted to create the ultimate ’80s sleeper,” says John. So it had to look totally original (okay, aside from those BBS cross-spokes), but pack the kind of punch that would leave people open jawed with surprise. With this in mind there’s a full interior and the only clues as to the non-standard performance are the AP Racing brakes and, of course, the sound it makes on start up. The engine has been treated to some JNL Racing magic to create something powerful, yet usable. “I contacted Jonas Racing, a well-respected Norwegian tuner, and he told me to fit one of his own specification Precision turbos and cams, and then get a decent intercooler made.”

Once it had been mapped by the man himself, this five-pot made a screaming 602hp on Shell V-Power and a mighty 707hp on E85. “It delivers full boost by 3,700rpm and only weighs 1125kg,” laughs John.

“When it was stock, it was soft, wallowy and a mapped Golf GT TDI was faster, but now it can destroy Nissan GTRs.”

To cope with the massive hike in power, the chassis has been fully uprated, too. An S2 hub conversion allows KW coilovers to be fitted and there’s a beefy pair of AP Racing stoppers, which manage to squeeze behind the 16in BBS wheels – they even fit behind the 15in OEM wheels. The custom drive shafts and larger CV joints ensure that the power goes to the wheels, rather than bending things, and a rebuilt and uprated 6-speed gearbox takes care of shifting duties.

With an estimated £45k invested in the car, John has created something that is both stunningly beautiful, yet savagely powerful. There were some mighty big challenges to overcome along the way, but he’s fought through it all in his mission to create the ultimate ’80s sleeper. I’d say he’s nailed it, too.

But that’s not the end – not by a long shot. “I’m having a 2.6 stoker engine built by Brian Tonks and the plan is to aim for 800hp on V-Power and 950hp on E85,” he states matter of factly.

It’s clear there’s a lot more to come from this amazing Ur-quattro – watch this space.

SPECIFICATION 1989 Audi Ur-quattro

Engine 2.2-litre 20v 5-cylinder, rifle-drilled H-beam rods from DM Forged with ARP 2000 bolts, Wossner Turbo pistons 82mm 8.5:1 compression, internally balanced rotating assembly, 7A flywheel and Sachs clutch, ARP main studs, ARP head studs, MLS RS2 gasket, RS2-spec bearings. Cylinder head: race-spec oversized valve head, +0.5mm black nitride intake valves, +0.5mm Inconel exhaust valves, full Supertech valve spring and titanium retainer set, head fully refurbed, Jonus Racing cams, Tommie billet adjustable pulley, Wagner reverse manifold, VRS Northampton fuel rail, VRS Northampton adjustable fuel regulator, Iroz motorsport equal length exhaust manifold, 5x EGT (one for each bank), Tial 60mm wastegate, Tial 50mm BOV, 1000cc Bosch ev14 injectors, Precision 5866 BB turbo custom-built to Jonus’ spec, custom front-mount intercooler, custom 3.5in down pipe to 3in exhaust, new rad with Kenlowe fan, MaxxECU with dash logger, oil pressure sensor, fuel pressure sensor, mac valve, flex fuel sensor for race fuel

Power 602hp (Shell V-Power), 707hp (E85)

Transmission 6-speed ABY gearbox rebuilt with JHM rebuild kit, updated shift collars and carbon-coated syncros with new bearings

Chassis ABY subframes acid-dipped and galvanized, painted in por15 and fully waxoiled, poly-bushed, forged drive shafts front and rear, S2 hubs – front fully rebuilt with new bearings painted in por15; rears machined out to take an 82mm bearing same as front with bigger front cv joints, diff rebuilt with new seals, KW V3 coilovers, Sport quattro wishbones and ball joints, AK Motorsport Rose jointed tie rods, AK Motorsport steering arms, custom made front AP Racing brakes with 2-piece floating 305mm discs to fit under 15in stock wheels, rebuilt S2 rears

Wheels 8x16in ET24 BBS cross spokes (also stock 15s)

Interior Full 20v quattro interior, custom flat-bottom leather steering wheel, MaxxECU display screen

Exterior Full bare-metal restoration including new rear panel and front wings, painted Audi Phantom black

Contacts and thanks Jonas Racing, Ish at Quattro Coachworks, JP at JNL Racing, Tom Clancy for selling me ººthe car, Steve Sullivan for the PPF film wrap, Brian Tonks for help with the new engine

“It delivers full boost by 3,700rpm and only weighs 1125kgs…”

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