RETRO – THE EARLY UR QUATTRO / Heritage – The CA chassis Ur #Quattro
‘It is remarkable that Audi decided to switch from LHD to RHD only weeks before the next chassis variant was due...’
Darron Edwards continues his analysis of the early Ur-quattros with some discussion of the details of the CA chassis (1981-1982)…
In August of 1981, Audi started production of their second Ur quattro chassis production run, designated CA. These cars differed very little externally from the previous cars as most of the improvements made were under the skin. The engine bore and stroke remained the same and power output stayed at the quoted 200 PS.
Some wiring improvements were made to try to reduce the load on the electrical system, although the ‘euro’ type fuse board was retained. These early fuseboards suffered in later years from bad contacts on the pins at the rear of the boards. Electrical resistance would build up across the contacts and cause the connector blocks to get very hot. All of these early cars had the main headlights, and other equipment, running straight through the ‘X’ contact on the ignition switch, which put a great strain on the wiring, especially on a cold winter morning with headlights, demister and fan on etc. Later cars would benefit form a large current (40 Amp) relay, alleviating this problem. Standard equipment remained the same for the 1982 model and the poor performing Hella twin headlamps were still fitted as on the previous year’s model. These would be replaced on later production cars by the much improved Cibie one-piece units, but not until after the annual factory closedown in the summer of 1982 by which time the CA chassis production run had come to an end.
An external change that occurred on this model was the removal of the front and rear metal trim insert that was fitted to the windscreen rubbers. A solid rubber seal was used, removing the need for the metal retaining trim. All quattros that followed were fitted with this new type of front and rear windscreen seal.
Underneath the car, the suspension and ride height was unchanged. The rear anti-roll bar, seen on the previous cars, was fitted until the end of this chassis run. This was removed for the 1983 year model. I’ve driven both types of Ur quattro, with and without rear anti-roll bar and the difference is very noticeable. The cornering of early cars is slightly sharper, more agile, but the big difference is noticed when lifting off the throttle when in mid-corner. The cars with the rear anti-roll bar tend to shift into oversteer rather violently when the throttle is lifted which may well explain why Audi decided to do away with the rear antiroll bar on later cars. What may have been perfectly desirable for a rally driver probably wasn’t the best thing for a company director on his way to a business appointment who’d gone just a little too fast into a corner and then lifted off in response.
Internally, the 1982 year model used the same ‘moccha’ interior as the previous model, trimmed with the hard-wearing velour upholstery. The bolsters on the front seats were longer than on the previous chassis and this gave the front passengers a little more lateral stability and comfort around the thighs.
Another feature that appeared on the 1982 car was an added ‘brow’ above the driver’s dash binnacle. This was a piece of ribbed plastic, added onto the existing surround, and it looked quite sporty as well as having a practical use in shading the instruments.
The hand-operated diff lock levers were dropped from the middle of the previous chassis run, so all CA chassis cars were fitted with the pneumatic system that utilised a Bowden cable that runs underneath the car from front to rear to operate the centre differential lock. It proved problematic and this system was superseded from 1984. The easy solution was to move one of the pneumatic actuators from the rear diff housing to the side of the gearbox, thus removing the need for the Bowden cable.
As from the beginning of production, all Ur quattros were factory built in lefthand drive form only. This continued through 1981. Some cars were converted to righthand drive in the UK by #GTI-Engineering
. Clearly there was a demand for a proper right-hand-drive version in the UK. Audi received formal requests for a purpose-built UK car as early as #1980
but this was only granted by the factory in mid-July of 1982.
It is remarkable that Audi decided to do this only weeks before the next chassis variant was due to be produced. In the last month of the CA chassis run, Audi built 17 right-hand-drive vehicles, 12 of which were destined for the UK. These cars are the rarest of all Type 85 variants. Phil Jameson of the quattro owners’ club has tracked down 10 of these rare UK cars. It’s testament to the build quality that most of these prototype right-hand drive cars are still in existence. These cars were all registered in the UK after August 1, 1982 so all would have probably appeared on ‘Y’ registration plates. A quadheadlamp quattro on this plate would likely be a late production right-hand-drive car so if you see one for sale, check to see if the V5 carries the designation ‘RHD’. If this is the case, you may be able to grab yourself the rarest Ur quattro of all...