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Audi, VW and NSU history 1970s

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Hello, Im after some help from Audi history fans who might have books about the company (or VW or NSU) in the 70s and might be able to verify/ prove wrong something for me please...

I'm researching for an owners club magazine article on the history of the Porsche 924, and I've found an Audi marketing pdf about the history of Audi in the 1970s which states that the 924 was intended to be an Audi before it was cancelled. It's usually suggested that the 924 was going to be a VW or a replacement for the VW/Porsche 914 joint project.

I realise that at the time Audi would have been a brand or division within VW so its a bit of a grey area who would have commissioned it and what brand it would have sold as but there are plenty of versions of the story about and it would be nice to find out In a 'what might have been' sort of way.

I've been reading up about the history of NSU and tge Neckarsulm factory for a while (fastinating story!) and I suspected the 924 was destined to be an Audi for a while so was surprised to read it but wondered if it was just car manufacturers pr/marketing re-writing thier own history or whether it was true and had been discussed in books or elsewhere.

The evidence is quite compelling (and a bit dull obvs):

1. Gap in range between Audi 100 Coupe S being discontinued in 1976 (924 release year) and Audi Coupe launched in 1980

2. 924 built at Neckarsulm (ex NSU) not VW factory. Project was cancelled at such a late stage i assume all tooling and production line /factory lay out would have been in place so this is where it would have been planned to have been built before project sold to Porsche

 

3. Uses Audi, not VW engine. Yes, used in LT van but came from Audi 100 and the Audi F103 before that, but originally developed for Auto Union while under ownership of Daimler Benz, before they sold AutoUnion to VW.

 

4. VW were restructuring their range to be solely fwd front engine, so wouldn't have commisdioned any other layout.

 

5. Scirocco launched before the 924 project was cancelled, which puts paid to the story that VW designed and launched the more practical Scirocco instead.

 

6. The 924 project code was EA425, someone told me this would have been an Audi project code not VW but not sure?

 

7. Audi were relatively unknown outside Germany at this time, and were trying to break into the USA. (Dealerships would be shared Audi/Porsche in the US) so this car woukd have been ideal to sell alongside the 911 and 928. Look at what the 240z did for Datsun in the US.

Can't think of anything else, but really interested in thoughts/opinions, but specifically any mention in books, mags or reference material you may have please!

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The Audi 100 mk2 was the first Audi with this Lt / 924 engine. I believe that this OHC engine shared a little with it's pushrod predecessor but it can't have been much.

 

Wasn't there a showcar/protoype badged as a VW but clearly the antecedant of the 924? I am sure I recall magazine pictures of it at Geneva or Paris show?

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Take a look at the painstakingly researched book The Porsche 924 Carrera by Roy Smith. There are a few pages and photographs devoted to the development of the 924 including how the VW914N became the Porker that anyone with any sense loves bestest of all.

 

The upshot according to Smith is that it was going to be badged a VW. Confusion may have arisen because in the US they flogged Audis and Porkers out of the same dealerships.

 

I can't do it right away but I can summarise Smith's text if you can't get hold of a copy.

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The VW type 53, the Golf based Scirocco was the replacement for the type 14, the Beetle based Karmann Ghia.

Scirocco's were all built by Karmann.

I thought the 924 was to be a VW, its floorpan/suspension is very close/occasionally interchangeable with the late '74 on 1303 Superbeetle. 924/944 were all built at the Audi factory in Neckersulm.

 

That's all I can do without reading up on it.

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The 924 was developed as a successor for the 914 by a Porsche and VW cooperation. The Scirocco was on its way so the 924 was destined to be launched as an Audi but VW (Volkswagenwerk since NSU was out by then) dropped the project because expensive and sold it back to Porsche. Neckarsulm was close to closedown due to lack of workload so they agreed to build the 924 there and in return VW provided Porsche with cheap parts. So win win for both Porsche and VW.

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I read this book recently:

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Porsche-924-928-944-968/dp/178500039X

 

It has a couple of pictures of early 924 styling mockups showing a VW badge on the nose and VW wheel centre caps. It also has some direct quotes from people involved in the project saying it was going to be a VW model to start with.

 

I don't think the EA425 project code says anything about VW vs. Audi... however the 924 part number prefix (477) is interesting as the only other VW/Audi models I know of with type numbers starting with 4 were the Audi 100/A6 series, but I don't think that's terribly compelling evidence in itself.

 

I think it's quite possible that Rudolf Leiding considered there was enough difference between the Scirocco and the EA425 for both to be in the VW range - the original Scirocco wasn't hugely different from a common-or-garden Golf Mk1, could be had with 1.1 or 1.3 engines, and didn't get fuel injection until a few years later. Of course, his successor, Toni Schmucker had different ideas...

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I know that VW's planning in the early '70s was a bit of a scattergun approach; sales of the Beetle were starting to fall and Volkswagen's attempts in the 1960s with the Type 3 weren't good enough to take up the slack.  They also developed the Beetle with its McPherson strut front suspension and semi trailing rear suspension and there was the purchase of NSU and Audi too.  In the background was also the development of the transverse watercooled engined cars - the Polo, Golf (& Scirooco) and Passat.

 

I remember reading something in one of my VW history books that there was a management notice around that time that to bring some cohesion to the range, Audi would build the luxurious saloons while Volkswagen would build the sporty cars.  If anyone thought the VW 411 or 412 was the answer to this, they were hopefully taken around the back of the factory and given a good shoeing so perhaps the 924 was their thinking.

 

However lots of VW history books show a remarkable lack of research in many areas so take large pinches of salt with you.

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.....Neckarsulm was close to closedown due to lack of workload....

 

It hadn't helped that the Ro80 - which had always been built at Neckarsulm - was only built to special order from 1975 (about the same time as the tail lights were enlarged and trim strips added to the bumpers) to the end of production in 1977. The UK ex-works price for the final right-hand drive car - believed to be "YYR 22T" which still exists, but on SORN - in 1977 was £8065 (equivalent to over £47,000 today)!

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Wandering off topic slightly this picture makes me smile. That the 411/2 was easily the second worse car VW ever built is obvious anyone who has seen a car before. That the K70 was one of those missed opportunities is equally apparent. The odd thing was them being built right next to each other. The old guard and the brave new world studiousy ignoring each other.

 

Bundesarchiv_B_145_Bild-F040733-0008%2C_

 

People always go on about the Ro80 and what an amazing car it was because amazing cars have appalling reliability, drink fuel and bankrupt their builder. In my book it was the K70 that should be mourned. Its pin sharp body still looks bang on today while, mercifully, the 411 has been forgotten.

 

Nice engine, though.

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I think the 411 was the car you’d end up with if you asked a lot of Beetle & Type 3 owners what they would like from a car. Better performance, more space inside, a better heater (the Eberspacher was great) and VW’s build quality.

 

Sadly most VW owners didn’t go for it and it didn’t compare that well with the competitors. However after owning about 3 Beetles and a Fastback I loved my 412, but I’m not an average car buyer.

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I think the 411 was the car you’d end up with if you asked a lot of Beetle & Type 3 owners what they would like from a car. Better performance, more space inside, a better heater (the Eberspacher was great) and VW’s build quality.

 

This was precisely the problem. Call it group think, corporate arrogance or the result of family being involved but if you locked a group in a room with nothing by a T1 and a T3 and the instruction to make them better you would end up with the T4. If only the design studio had got windows they might have looked outside and seen that the world had changed a few years ago and rear engined, air cooled things costing far too much were never going to shift. I suspect the problem was not helped by demand for the Beetle peaking at around the time they were designing the T4 so you can understand why they were so afraid of deviating too far from what was selling like cakes so hot their exhaust valves could fail at any moment.

 

You look back and wonder what on earth they were up to but you have to have some symapthy with the position they were in. It isn't entirely different to when BL came to replace the spectacularly popular ADO16. There was another ball hoofed squarely into their own net.

 

Full disclosure. My grandfather had a VW garage and my old man had dozens (quite literally) of them. There is always more room in your head for tedious air cooled shite facts.

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I think the 411 was the car you’d end up with if you asked a lot of Beetle & Type 3 owners what they would like from a car. Better performance, more space inside, a better heater (the Eberspacher was great) and VW’s build quality.

 

Sadly most VW owners didn’t go for it and it didn’t compare that well with the competitors. However after owning about 3 Beetles and a Fastback I loved my 412, but I’m not an average car buyer.

A 412 3dr wagon is one of the few cars that I have tried, liked and then not bought.

I have regretted it ever since.

Also after Beetles and a type3 Fastback, this was just what I wanted but I decided that to be perfect it had to be an auto so I said no. Twat.

Of course no auto turned up and I lost that chance of a P plate low miles minter at a bargain price. Met. dk. green, FM Blaupunkt, auxiliary heater, beige interior......

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Wandering off topic slightly this picture makes me smile. That the 411/2 was easily the second worse car VW ever built is obvious anyone who has seen a car before. That the K70 was one of those missed opportunities is equally apparent. The odd thing was them being built right next to each other. The old guard and the brave new world studiousy ignoring each other.

 

Bundesarchiv_B_145_Bild-F040733-0008%2C_

 

.....In my book it was the K70 that should be mourned. Its pin sharp body still looks bang on today while, mercifully, the 411 has been forgotten.

 

That photo would be the Salzgitter plant.

 

I had a K70L - technically a Type 48 - for a couple of years whilst a student. Loads of room at the back and far better all-round visibility than today's cars, I grant you, but it had the aerodynamics of a brick and - except for the oil filter and possibly the seats and steering wheel - shared virtually no parts with any other VW. Right-hand-drive cars had no space for the driver to rest the left foot, so you were forever trying not to press the clutch pedal until you needed it. I found it surprising that they only managed to shift 800 RHD cars throughout the entire production run; that's right up there with the 1200 or so RHD C6s that Citroen managed to build and sell.

 

I do wonder what NSU actually spent on developing and tooling up for the K70, compared to what it might have cost them to develop a 2-litre piston engine and more conventional gearbox to fit into the Ro80's bodyshell. A "K80" might well have gone some way to saving the bacon.

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However lots of VW history books show a remarkable lack of research in many areas so take large pinches of salt with you.

This. In spades. And not just VWs.

 

One of those phrases that immediately triggers my bollocksdar is "marque expert". It often translates as "someone who collected lots of brochures as a kid and still has them".

 

It really makes you wonder if all history books are as badly and lazily researched.

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Aerodynamics, shmerodynamics. Who cares about Cd when your wearing a suit this sharp.

 

1969_cars_k70_vw_1973_l.jpg

 

What I didnt know was that while NSU had pretty much finished the job VW re-engineered the back end to use a set up from the 411.

 

The NSU K70 was virtually production-ready. All VW did externally was change the radiator grille badge.

 

Unassisted steering was heavy, so parking and three point turns could be a bit....slow. Britain never got the low-powered 75hp version, only the 90 and 100 (LS).

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You made me go back and look at the source for that tale and it does seem to be based on a comparison of the rear end of the 411 and the K70. There are a lot of similarities (apart from, you know, an engine and gearbox making an appearance in one of them) bewteen the two that would lend weight to the argument. However, if you compare a K70 rear end with an Ro80 rear end the two look almost identical which suggests the story is bollocks.

 

Thinking about it the story lacks the ring of truth. VW looked at the K70 and thought it needed improved rear suspension and better brakes (which the 411 was renowned for, obviously) so re-engineered it but couldn't get it together to bash out some VW badged hub caps. 

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You made me go back and look at the source for that tale and it does seem to be based on a comparison of the rear end of the 411 and the K70. There are a lot of similarities (apart from, you know, an engine and gearbox making an appearance in one of them) bewteen the two that would lend weight to the argument. However, if you compare a K70 rear end with an Ro80 rear end the two look almost identical which suggests the story is bollocks....

 

There is one other almost-but-not-quite similarity: the instrument panel is a four-gauge one (mine had a rev counter), which sort of looks like the one in the contemporary B1 Passat / Audi 80 and I think the gauge supplier was the same for all: VDO Kienzle.

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One of those phrases that immediately triggers my bollocksdar is "marque expert". It often translates as "someone who collected lots of brochures as a kid and still has them".

 

It really makes you wonder if all history books are as badly and lazily researched.

 

Same.

 

We should thank our chosen sky-pilot for proper 'muttering rotters' such as those who choose to join us here on the beige...

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OK then, there seems to be a bit of interest in this area! Thanks for the comments so far. I agree that there's loads of unreferenced stuff floating around which makes it very difficult to prove/disprove stories, and some stories seem to appear over and over again across the web and become the truth by stealth. This is why I was interested in any other instances of the Audi version of the story because I thing there's something in it.

 

Here's an article I wrote for the 924 Owners Club magazine about the history of NSU, the Neckarsulm factory and the Porsche 924 a few months ago, which made me realise what an interesting and complex story of interconnections exists between Porsche, VW, Audi, Auto Union, NSU and many others. FIAT! CITROEN! Who would have thought it!

 

Anyway, for your enjoyment.... It's 5 pages, here they come:

 

post-16950-0-08408700-1539187823_thumb.jpg

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