The History of Audi and Their Most Famous Models
The four rings of the Audi logo are an instantly-recognizable sign of quality in automobile engineering. Over its more than 100 years of history, the company has been a consistent innovator and standard-setter. Let’s look briefly at the history of the company and some of their more famous vehicles.
For most people with even a passing knowledge on the subject, the Audi name is one synonymous with quality and forward-thinking engineering in automobiles and car parts. The origins of the company date all the way back to the year 1899, when the automobile industry was still in its infancy. The name “Audi” actually derives from the name of the company’s original founder, August Horch, and is a literal translation to Latin of his surname, “listen” in German. The very first vehicle bearing the brand name was the Audi Type A, a car with a 4-cylinder engine and a top of a roaring 75 km/h. In 1907, they were the first company to introduce the six-cylinder engine, in the form of the Horch 26/65 PS.
In 1932, Audi merged with four other automobile manufacturers, the reason behind the four interlocking rings that make up the company’s emblem. Around this time, Audi began manufacturing the series of Auto Union racing cars, of which the most famous are Type C and D, highly-refined vehicles that set new standards for the time. However, due to the precarious economic situation of Germany and the eventual onset of the Second World War, the brand disappeared off the map for more than twenty years.
The resurgence of the Audi name
The company re-emerged in 1949, with the help of Marshall Plan funding. In 1964, half of the company was acquired by Volkswagen, greatly changing how the company was owned and operated. An interesting anecdote from this period is when Volkswagen, reluctant to dilute their own brand name, forbade Audi from continuing product development. Audi engineers designed the Audi 100 in secret, and presented them with the prototype anyway.
The Volkswagen management were so impressed with their design that they immediately decided to produce and market the vehicle, giving birth to the modern era of the Audi name. In 1988, the company released the first prototypes of the Audi Quattro, an instantly-recognizable vehicle that was actually the first high-performance vehicle to utilise four-wheel drive, technology previously only employed for trucks and off-road vehicles.
Some of the most famous models of Audi’s last few decades include 1988’s emblematic V8, and 1998’s Ur-TT, a small coupe with a large influence on design. More recently, the D4A8 and RS5 have paved the way for stylish and driveable luxury cars. Additionally, the company has made multiple successful forays into the racing world, making a mark in a number of high-profile formats, including LeMans. The Audi name is one that has garnered a lot of respect and renown over their more than a century of history, and the public continues to trust Audi cars and parts. The company continues to innovate at what they do best, creative engineering, and have been pioneers in development of new engines and bodies, among others.
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