By the mid-1970s, the Audi name was firmly re-established. And the second generation of the highly-successful Audi 100 would bring with it a model name which has since become inexorably linked with the marque - Avant.
The Audi 100 C2 Avant
Arriving in 1976, the second-generation Audi 100 was developed on the Audi group's C2 platform and as such, is referred to as the 100 C2. In comparison to the first 100, the car had sharper-edged styling, in keeping with the design fashions of the day. The car was also groundbreaking in that buyers could opt for a 5-cylinder engine, the first petrol powered 5-cylinder motor ever offered. Several capacities were available throughout the model's life, ranging from 1.9's to 2.1's, with both carburettor and injection models being made. Four-cylinder cars were also available, however.
Initially, the 100 C2 was only available as a four-door, three-box saloon. The 100 C1 two-door coupe was discontinued along with the C1 saloon, and no equivalent C2 was offered. However, one year after the C2's launch, a second bodystyle arrived: the 100 Avant.
An Audi 100 C2 Avant takes on the snow
Bearing a passing similarity to the VW Passat at the rear with its fastback styling, the Avant was a totally new concept for Audi, and more versatile than the Passat, as it was a five-door hatchback. This new version of the 100 offered the saloon's performance capabilities with additional interior space and loading ease. A two-door, three-box coupe was also offered from 1977.
Of the 850,000 C2 100 cars sold, the vast majority were four-door saloons. The Avant was quite a rare car when new, and is even more so today. However, it played an important part in setting the scene for what was to come with the next generation of Audi 100's.
Audi 100 C2 Avant - The Model
This 1/43 100 C2 Avant comes from Minichamps. Finished in tan, a colour available exclusively through Audi, the model replicates the real car's swooping rear deck perfectly and captures the highly unusual shape very well indeed. It features a wealth of detail, including separate wipers and mirrors, real rubber tyres and chrome trim.
The Minichamps Audi 100 C2 Avant in beige
The Audi 100 C3 Avant
When the third generation of the 100 debuted in 1983, Audi pulled out all the stops with groundbreaking new styling, features and aerodynamics.
With the arrival of the new decade came a new buzzword - aerodynamics. Suddenly, cars were less boxy and more slippery as manufacturers realised that the easier a car cut through the air, the better its performance and fuel economy. And Audi's 100 C3 was in the vanguard.
Audi 100 C3 Avant
Just as motor manufacturers the world over were realising that better aerodynamics meant better fuel efficiency, The 100 C3 achieved a drag coefficient of just 0.30 - a full 0.10 less than the 0.40 class average of the time, thanks in no small part to its flush-mounted windows.
For the first time on any car, the sides of the vehicle were a near-unbroken smooth surface, as the window glass was mounted on the outside of the frame, and the frames themselves were blacked out. This revolutionary method of window-mounting was almost universally adopted by other manufacturers, with the 1984 Honda Accord and 1986 Ford Taurus being two of the earliest adopters.
But the innovations didn't end there. The C3 was the first 100 to be available with optional quattro four-wheel-drive and it also boasted Audi's trademarked Procon-Ten safety system.
This unique design employed thick cables, which ran round the back of the engine and linked to the car's steering column and seatbelts, and which were designed to make use of the forces and movement generated in a collision to protect the vehicle's occupants. If the 100 C3 owner was involved in a frontal impact, the engine, as in any vehicle, would shift backwards. However, with the Procon-Ten system in place, the engine would then press against the cables which would in turn pull the steering wheel away from the driver and tense the seatbelts to hold the occupants more securely in place until the car was at rest.
In addition to all that, the car also boasted a fully zinc-plated lightweight body, with weight kept down by the use of light alloy and steel composite doors and a one-piece floorpan. As such, the car was lighter than its predecessors, even though it was also 110mm longer and 46mm wider.
All of which helped the 100 C3 beat out Ford's Sierra for the title of European Car of the year, 1983 - the first Audi to win the award.
More snow for the Audi 100: the quattro-equipped 100 C3 in a contemporary TV advert
For the first time, there was no two-door 100, as neither a fastback coupe, nor a two-door three-box style was made. The basic four-door saloon was back, of course, but so was the Avant. Now, however, although it retained a dramatic sloping rear treatment, it was a high-performance estate car. More practical than the previous hatchback, with greater space and even easier loading, and it would become the first of an unbroken line of similarly-configured vehicles that Audi has continued to produce across its platforms ever since.
Audi 100 C3 Avant - The Model
Like the 1/43 C2 Avant, this 1/43 Avant C3 comes from Minichamps. When viewed next to the C2, it's fascinating to compare the two cars' contrasting styling - and easy to see exactly how the C3 achieved its amazing aerodynamics. The even-more dramatic rear styling is accentuated by the black Panthero Metallic paint, and the wealth of detail, including separate roof bars (designed to allow owners to carry roof-mounted loads with minimum disruption to the drag coefficient when the car wasn't loaded) adding the final master touch.
The Minichamps Audi 100 C3 Avant in Panthero Metallic
The fantastic Minichamps Audi 100 C2 and 100 C3 Avants featured above are now up for auction in our special forum section here, along with all the models previously featured on this blog. All proceeds go to the Helen & Douglas House, which provides hospice and respite care for children and young adults.
For more information about the range of model cars available from Audi, please visit www.audi.co.uk/merchandise
Next Week: quattro!