Group B – What it really means to have all wheel drive

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Michele Mouton steps out to get some fresh air

The simple fact is this, without the infamous Group B, Quattro, possibly one of the best all-wheel drive systems around today, would not exist. Yes we can argue that VW was making 4WD systems as early as World War II, and yes we can say that Audi’s all wheel drive systems came from VW. Sure those are all good points to make. However it wasn’t until an Audi chassis engineer named Jörg Bensinger started working on VW a truck in 1977, that AWD really took hold. You see, old Jörg became obsessed with the idea of an all-wheel drive car, more so the idea of an all-wheel drive race car. This is where Group B enters the picture, because as most already know, the WRC does not joke about rules. This unlimited class presented Jörg and Audi group with the perfect sand box for testing these new systems. Sure anyone can slap a V8 in to a rice box and scream “GO” at the top of their lungs, but can they make it turn? The short answer, no, no they damn well couldn’t. So when Audi introduced their new Quattro system, the results were a bit astounding. In 1981, only four years after the initial idea came forth, Audi entered the WRC Group B competition with the Quattro. The car was basically an Audi 80 with some serious rage problems and the new all-wheel drive system. Let’s not forget that Group B was no joke. Cars like Ford’s RS200 and Lancia’s Stratos would just as soon kill you as they would run. In fact Group B was banned after several deaths due to high speeds. However there were not many AWD systems around at the time, and that gave the Quattro, a heavier and longer car, the sharp edge it needed to run the show. Driver Michele Mouton turned the Quattro into an unstoppable beast, wiping competition out day after day after day. The Quattro’s run was short lived, as other manufactures produced AWD systems of their own. But the damage had been done, and now public versions were available due to WRC regulations. This paved the way for some many of the Audi we love today. So next time you punk that little bitch in the rear wheel drive BMW out at the stop light, just remember where your power comes from.  -CA

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