German or Italian..? Quattro or Integrale..? The rivalry between friends
The last couple of weeks have been absolutely packed for me, but there are a couple of highlights that make it all worthwhile.
I was contacted by Lee and Ian, a couple of friends, who not only share a love for cars, but cars with some of the best pedigree there is. It’s taken them a while to get to the point they’re at now, but they both now own the car of their dreams. Are they both the same? No. Are both interesting, legendary cars? Definitely! Is there a bit of healthy rivalry between the pair? Of course! I’ll let them both tell you their own stories…
Ian's Audi Quattro Coupe
So, my Quattro story starts with the purchase of a Volvo P1800e. Rewind approximately thirteen years and I am working in deepest darkest Kazakhstan and it’s a Saturday night, I’d had a few beers (this will be a common trend) and I am sat on eBay. I see a P1800e requiring restoration and a bid on it, in my inebriated state I actually bid against myself and win the auction. I arranged for the car to be trailered home and it was sat on my drive when I came home.
It had the potential to be an awesome car in the hands of a professional restorer, unfortunately I have no skill, just enthusiasm and as such it sat in my garage for another three years with limited ‘work’ being undertaken on it.
Fast forward to 2007 and I am on my way to Birmingham to pick up some new alloy wheels for my Saab 9-3 (notice still no mention of the Quattro?). I have a tyre blow out going around the Dishforth interchange from the A19 to the A1, I roll the car completely round and it lands on a fence post.
The traffic policeman that I was talking to after the accident said that if I had been in anything but a Saab I would be dead now. Needless to say it shook me up a bit. It was made worse because that day we were going to tell our family that my wife was pregnant with our second child.
It was at this point I did two things that changed my car choices probably forever. Number one, I replaced the Saab with an Audi A6 Avant less than three hours after the accident. It was a 1.9 litre diesel my logic for buying this was addled due to the previous faux-pas, small engine, big car, lots of metal to protect me. Secondly, my bottle went for not only restoring the P1800e, but for driving it when restored and I immediately put it for auction on eBay. It sold, so I had no potential classic and I was totally happy about that.
It took almost two years to get my head around the possibility of owning a classic car again, I even realised that the sale of the P1800e could have been a bit premature but I still felt the it was the wrong car for me with two kids in tow. I decided the wife and I needed a date night and after a bottle of red I brought up the fact that I would like to look at buying another classic car, I was surprised that she was quite supportive of this and we decided a budget and I started looking. I came up with a shortlist of ten cars:
1. Jaguar XJS
2. BMW 635CSi
3. Ford Capri Brooklands
4. Ford Sierra Sapphire Cosworth
5. BMW 320i Sport
6. Mercedes 190e Cosworth
7. Mk1 Golf GTi
8. Saab 9000 Carlson Turbo
9. Audi S2
10. Audi Quattro
As you can see, the Quattro was at the bottom of my list, mainly because I did not think my budget could stretch to buying one. I’d thrown it in the mix but I just thought it was out of reach. The Quattro was one of my favourite cars from when I was young, as with many kids from the eighties I watched the rallies and was definitely taken with the Quattro.
Various failed viewings and transactions then went on, a deposit on a Jaguar XJS was taken only for it wo be sold to a cash buyer before I could get to it and a ten hour round trip to Ipswich to see what was supposed to be an ‘immaculate’ BMW 635CSi that turned out to be an absolute rot box had got me a bit despondent. On the way home from this failed purchase I decided if I was going to go through hoops to get a car I was going to get the car I really wanted and the list became one car, the Audi Quattro (it took two pages, but I got there eventually).
I did some research and found a number of cars for sale down South. I went down to view three cars from the same person. One was red but it had some visible rust issues, a white one had a large patch of rust on the door and the final one was the car I bought I was told it was ‘Lhasa Green’ but I have since found out it is actually ‘Nile Green’. I bought my Quattro in 2009.
In mid 2009 I bought some new tyres for the car that started to rub the wheel arches almost immediately after having them fitted, I asked a friend if he knew of any local garages that specialised in Audi Quattro’s and he mentioned Mark Hardy at AutoMark in Stokesley. I took the car to Mark and he identified that the sub-frame on my car was out of alignment.
After a lot of deliberation I decided that my plan for the Quattro was to make sure that it would be completely reliable and road worthy for at least the next twenty years and with Mark's help we decided we would go through the car assess the work that was needed and a plan of attack to get the car ready for twenty years. First was the sub-frame.
The sub-frame was removed, straightened and powder coated. We replaced the suspension springs, bushes and shock absorbers. The car is now fully poly bushed. The Differentials have been completely overhauled with new seals and the undersides have been repainted and undersealed.
The next stage of the plan was the bodywork, whilst it was okay, blistering had started to come up around the sunroof and the bonnet and various other areas of the car, it was twenty-two years old by then so it was understandable.
So, in 2012 the Quattro was shipped out again over winter. The car was stripped and all the repair work was undertaken by a local bodywork specialist, John Storey. The most economical method of doing the car was to buy an Audi Coupe and we found a left-hand drive one with major engine issues and a decent leather interior, being left hand drive the passenger seat had little wear and this would end up being my driving seat so the car seats were swapped out. We used the sunroof, parts of the surround, the bonnet and the petrol cap during the bodywork repairs and we used the quarter glass since the ‘quattro’ logo was still on the glass whereas on my car the glass had been replaced without the logo.
In 2013 I bought a second donor car, an Audi S2 with bodywork issues. The engine, manifold and ECU were installed in my car following the removal of the original 10 valve engine. The work was again undertaken by Mark at AutoMark.
The engine which is a 2.2 litre 20 Valve has internals that are in the main standard, but Mark has done a remap which has the car producing around 300BHP.
I am sure purists will not be happy with what I have done, but I have kept a Quattro on the road and tried to be as sympathetic with the modifications I have done. The 10 Valve engine was beyond repair and the best option was to replace it.
I have always said to Lee that Italian cars are expensive mistresses, however this Quattro has given the Italian a run for its money this time. Could I have gone down an easier route to Quattro ownership? Yes, definitely. Do I regret spending the money I have? Not one bit, just listening to the car tick over makes me happy. Will I ever sell it? Never, it’s in my will to my kids.
Lee's Lancia Delta HF Integrale Evoluzione
The car was originally produced for the Swiss market and as such has an 8v engine equipped with a lot of emissions controlling features and as standard only produced 186 BHP. However, the car has subsequently benefited from a number of upgrades including a hybrid turbo, a revised EPROM chip, a Group A head gasket and head bolts. This has increased power to 210bhp and gives performance of 0-60 in 5.7 seconds which is on par with all other Evo models (in standard tune).
As a youth I was always a huge fan of rallying and watched the sport transformed by 4WD cars. I think at the time I actually thought Audi were cheating by using 4WD as I saw my beloved Escort RS1800s, Ascona 400s and Fiat 131s beaten. But that was progress... my only hope was that Lancia could fight them off in their RWD Lancia Beta Montecarlo derived 037 and they did... in 1983.
Now whether it was the Italian flair, the iconic Martini livery or just the underdog aspect I do not know, but the Lancia brand was now in my blood and one day I will have to own a Lancia.
My first Lancia was a Beta Montecarlo. It was during my ownership of this car that I set eyes upon the Red Integrale I now own. I was at a car show and we were the only two Lancias there. Obviously, I had to take a look at that red Integrale so I wandered over to meet the owner. The owner was a guy called Phil and he was incredibly proud of his car.
Unfortunately, Phil was suffering from terminal cancer and at this stage he was unable to speak. But, he communicated via his iPad. Later, I received a friend request via Facebook from Phil and we communicated via messenger for some time. Unfortunately, Phil lost his battle with cancer and I later learned from his family that throughout his illness his cars became an important respite for him and that his dying wish was for his Integrale to go to a genuine enthusiast.
Fast forward to September 2016 and I was contacted by Phil’s widow and asked if I would be interested in Phil’s car... it was meant to be! Without any hesitation, I inspected the car and although it was not a show queen it was a very honest example. A deal was done and I feel very privileged to take on the next chapter of this car’s history for Phil’s family.
I’d only had the car 24 hours and one of the balancer shaft oil seals popped out. My dream car was dripping oil everywhere... Having had the Montecarlo previously, I was very familiar with the Lampredi engine. It was a job I knew I could do, but, the Integrale is a fairly complex beast and there isn’t much room under that bonnet. It was at this point that I entrusted Ian Nixon from Guisborough, a well known specialist sports car engineer to undertake the repair and check for any underlying issues. The car had been stood for a while and since the oil seal repair was fairly invasive (as in engine almost out, gearbox and transfer case out etc.) all other accessible oil seals were changed together with all belts and a new water pump. As most of the front suspension was also being removed we took the opportunity to refurbish this too. The car already benefited from a Koni suspension upgrade and polyflex bushes. But, it was all looking very tatty.
The next jobs are to refurbish the rear suspension. The integrale has a quite sophisticated multi link rear suspension set up so this isn’t an easy task. The paintwork could do with a refresh too. I’m tempted by 17” replica alloys too but these can wait. The car is an on-going rolling project and I look forward to driving it for a good few years. I am amazed and delighted by how much admiration and attention the car gets. There must be a lot of people of my era who remember the Integrale and their rallying success. Yes, the Integrale won 6 World Rally Championships on the bounce. With a car that was designed in the 1970’s. It really is a special car. (For the record (and more importantly for my good friend Ian) Audi only won it twice (ever!!) compared with Lancia’s ten.... yes TEN times!!)
So, we’re often asked, Quattro or Integrale? Ian always says Quattro, I always say both!