Audi 200 Nardo record breaker
Audi 200 Nardo record breaker – courtesy of Bonhams

Not too many details are available around the Audi 200 prototypes built for Audi’s second speed record attempt, undertaken in start of April 1988 in Italy at the former FIAT test track at Nardo.

Seeing one of these Audi 200 record breakers coming up for auction (2022, estimated at € 300 – 500 tEUR), Bonhams has so kindly allowed for their photos to be used for wrapping up this historic article. Highly appreciated!

Audi 200 Nardo record breaker – courtesy of Bonhams

The build

At first glance, the Nardo record breaker looks strikingly familiar to the 5000 CS ‘Talladega’ car of 1986, except keeping with being a ‘Gradkantler’ (straight rear wheel arches).

While the silhouette familiar to that of a factory car, the roof and doors were of aluminium, the front and rear bodywork out of aramide-kevlar-composite, and judging by pictures seemingly aluminum at the hood and bonnet too. Side windows are made out of plastic, and the 7J16 wheels are magnesium motorsport items featuring center-bolts and sporting 18/64-16 tires. All in all, the body was designed to achieve an optimized cW-value of 0.27.

Besides the engines being Neckarsulm specials, the prototypes were now even further adapted to an oval track than their Talladega predecessor, with weight reduction and weight distribution being further optimized.

Audi 200 Nardo record breaker
Audi 200 Nardo record breaker – courtesy of Bonhams

Chassis no. 1 features the same, highly special 5-cylinder 25-valve engine as seen with the 5000 CS Talladega. Without too much technical information, I consider such engine(s) as a development issued variant in the evolution of Audi’s signature turbocharged 5-cylinders.

Delivering 650 hp at 6200 rpms by 2.0 BAR of boost from a KKK K28, similar spec applied to the other two prototypes, although running 20V.

Besides the mechanical running gear, the prototypes featured telemetry and recorders, which gave valuable information for the shortly following Trans-Am series also campaigning the Audi 200.

What is interesting, is seeing an old Auto Motor Sport article, how a 5-valver pays off:

Compared to the better 4V engines, it is recognized a 5 to 10 % gain in torque over the rev-range with the 5V technique.

Wulf Leitermann, 1988

So with a small cost to get a higher valve area and such a noticeable increase in torque, no wonder a high-speed attempt benefits in an endurance run. The base configuration of the engine was a more standardized 79,5mm bore at 86,4mm throw at 2144 ccm, whilst the drivetrain was a 5-speed with a missing reverse gear, and is set to do 345 km/h at 6100 rpms. Engine limitation however is set to 6500 rpms …

The project results

Making an average speed record attempt, any pit stop impacts the numners. Thus, the 340L fuel cell is fed through aviation style ports, and a fresh stint was prepared with change of driver, engine oil and tires, in only 25 seconds.

Astounding as they are, the results are still seen in FIA’s listings of 1988:
The 500 km distance recorded an average of 332,317 km/h, the 1000 km distance an average of 324,404 km/h !

A noteworthy comment is seeing the 1988 attempt and period press comments, that the 25V technique was intended to be displayed at the 1989 IAA with a later production model introduction in mind. As we know, the Audi 200 20V introduced the ‘3B’ engine, essentially the more conventional Golf 16V GTI hydraulic DOHC design for charged induced 5 cylinders.