"It could just happen that after today I no longer work for Auto Union." Ludwig Kraus – co-sold by Daimler Benz to Volkswagen in 1963 – has been working in the utmost secrecy on a new project. The Volkswagen management plans an unannounced visit to Ingolstadt and Kraus gets wind of it. On the day of the visit, the fearful Kraus leads VW boss Heinrich Nordhoff to the development room. Nordhoff is completely stunned not much later. Projekt Audi 100 is being removed from under the canvas. “Grünes Licht für diesen Wagen” is what Kraus hears. That choice does not harm the VW group.
The new Audi 100 seals the fate for Audi in a positive way. In the beginning, the F103 – successor to the DKW F102 – would be the only post-war Audi. This has been successful since 1965 and that fact inspires Kraus to work in the deepest secrecy on a new modern middle class. Kraus sees little point in the existing and aging VW program. That is why he is working on a new model with few resources and advanced computer technology. This lays the foundation for the 100, which will have its public debut in 1968. The Audi 100 was initially available as a four-door sedan and was joined a year later by the two-door sedan. The sedans, internally called F104, also get a coupé brother (F105) and that is another masterpiece from Kraus, which shows how much his Bavarian homeland inspires him.
Mitteldrück engines and the arrival of the Coupé
The Audi 100 debuts with front-wheel drive, four doors and an enlarged Mitteldrück engine. Kraus is still developing this concept in Daimler Benz service. With the takeover of Auto Union by VW, Wolfsburg stipulates that this type of engine and its developer are part of the deal. The power source debuts in the F103, and is increased to a displacement of 100 cc for the 104 (the F1760). The power source gets an underlying camshaft that is driven by a duplex chain. The more potent Audi 100 S also appears on the scene and will receive the same engine with a register carburettor. The Coupé launched in 1970 gets an 1871 cc engine that puts 115 HP to the crankshaft. The new sportsman can certainly be recognized as Audi 100, but the sheet metal in no way corresponds to that of the sedans. What does match from 1971 is the power source. It also finds its way to the new GL, the top model in the sedan area that, among other things, gets a grille with double headlights and is placed above the rather luxurious LS implementation level.
A lot of demand
Meanwhile, there is a lot of demand for the Audi 100 variants. It forces Audi to update the 100 and for the 1974 model year the front is modified, the rear is retouched and the transverse spring disappears in favor of struts with coil springs. In September 1974 the 100 L sees the light of day. The main novelty is the integration of the EA827 overhead camshaft engine and 1588 cc. The EA827 power source will also find its way into many VAG models for decades and in multiple configurations.
On the way to the end
The last modifications take place before 1975. The front disc brakes are placed outwards. The standard steering gear (the 1.6, the Coupé and the GL did have floor gear) is no longer available and is replaced by a poker on the floor. In the meantime, the first signs of the successor 100 C2 appear, which will replace the C1976 in the summer of 1. Furthermore, the first 100 for America will be built for another year longer.
Important in several ways
Audi has become a fully-fledged luxury brand of Volkswagen. The Audi 80 is now available from 1972. The Audi 100 has turned out to be a resounding success. In the beginning, it was intended that 100.000 units would be built. Even Ludwig Kraus – the idiosyncratic and revolutionary engineer – could never have imagined that the counter will stop at 827.474 built units of the model that definitively continued Audi's return.