BMW M is not the only German company celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Just in time for the 1972 Summer Olympics, the first Audi 80 was introduced globally. Coded B1, Audi 80 is said to have established a compact sedan or B series. Regarding the most important Audi in history, the Audi 80 should always be part of the conversation considering its contribution to the brand in terms of history and sales.
Apart from being a true classic, Audi claims that the 80 and its successors have always been pioneers of major innovations. These include a four-cylinder TDI, Quattro drive with self-locking center differential, dual clutch transmission and rear axle sport differential.
Of course, those innovations included the five-cylinder turbo engine as in the first RS model, which repeatedly demonstrated Audi’s expertise in Vorsprung durch Technik.
“In an impressive way, the Audi 80 demonstrates that the Vorsprung durch Technik is a tradition at Audi,” said Oliver Hoffmann, Member of the AUDI AG Management Board for Technical Development.
The first Audi 80 models were light in weight, with the base two-door model weighing just 1,841 pounds (835 kilograms). It was also designed to be really compact, with a wheelbase of 8.1 feet (2.47 meters) and an overall length of 13.7 feet (4.18 m).
With respectable handling and low fuel consumption, the Audi 80 was praised by the local and international press. It received the 1973 European Car of the Year award, shortly after its introduction on the market.
The Audi 80 was also a commercial hit, both in Europe and the US where it was sold as the Fox. This became the first million-seller for Audi and in conjunction with its successor, the Audi A4, has amassed 12.5 million units (from B1 to B9) produced to date.