Audi pre-production Stamm-Quattro
The first prototype coupé chassis Quattro, IN-NA 96 (D). Photo via M. Neugebauer.

Pre-production development

When a few German engineers fettled with developing a permanent four wheel drive system, and shoe-horning it into their employer’s passenger cars, it was the start of the Audi Quattro project.

The result came in 1979-1980 in a pre-production series of prototypes, which were based on the early Audi 80 sedans. Only a limited number were transformed into coupé chassis. The intention for them all were obvious as development/test mules.

This writeup is about the fourth prototype overall, the very first to be created as a coupé chassis to begin with. Audi themselves designated it ‘Wagen 1‘.


The interest and potential in the quattro drivetrain, also made a necessity in being able to introduce the production model. Amongst the pre-production series, Audi had to facilitate marketing materiel such as photos, brochures and the repair handbook.

And so it is here Wagen 1 rises to the occasion, in the appearance of IN-NA 96 (D).

Audi pre-production Stamm-Quattro
The first prototype coupé chassis Quattro, IN-NA 96 (D). Photo via M. Neugebauer.

Completed in Saturn-metallic, featuring the negro brown interior and narrow Ronal wheels, the car was finalized already in 1979. Its production date is listed as 25th of January in 1980 and delivered internally at Audi.

Obviously, such a build has originated even before the first public appearance of Quattro at the Geneva display. So what would it be preceding an ur-quattro? That has to be a Stamm-Quattro (english: stem-Quattro)!

Audi Quattro
Audi Quattro at Geneva convention – photo courtesy of Audi AG

At this stage no parts were ready and available to suit such a coupé, thus making this build sort of carrying the first DNA for making the urquattro – IN-NA 96 holds the very origin of them all.

It is apparent that several chassis alterations are highly hand crafted, such as the tunnel in sheet metal. The same goes for a lot of the interior parts. Excitingly, numerous parts are found dated by Audi Technische Entwicklung in the last half of 1979.

Survival of the fittest

After its duties, the Stamm-Quattro faced a crash test in 1980. It was from here on intended to be scrapped nearby the factory, but somehow someone smart enough put the chassis aside, had it rebuilt and on the road with German plates, registered on 22nd of November the same year.

1983 then saw it being sold to Austria where it has been ever since, passing through the hands of 3 different owners. It was in more recent time acquired by the current owner, who intends to have it fully restored and has the car in pieces as the work progresses.

Audi pre-production Stamm-Quattro
1988 and IN-NA 96 (D) got a visit of Walter Röhrl himself. Photo courtesy of M. Neugebauer.

A former engineer at Audi Technische Entwicklung stated “it’s a small miracle this Quattro made it!”, when being asked if he had any knowledge about it and its history.

It is a small miracle this Quattro made it!

former engineer at Audi Technische entwicklung

One thing stands clear: the very origin of the Quattro family is to resurrect – let’s keep the hope up it will see some publicity when ready!