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The highest honor in motor racing is not a trophy or a grand prize. It’s not winning at Indy or Monaco, nor is setting a lap time at the Nurburgring. No, the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a race car is to be banned. And boy was this car banned.
It’s hard to believe, but as recently as the early ‘80s the words Audi and race were seldom seen in the same sentence. Even after the massive success of the Quattro in Group B rallying, Americans didn’t really associate Audi with sport.
In 1988, the German manufacturer sought to remedy that. Using the same principles that led them to victory in low grip, the original missionaries of four-wheel-drive brought their god, Quattro, to the new world through Trans-Am racing.
The 1988 Audi 200 Quattro Trans-Am was slapped together in a couple of months and was short more than 140 hp, as compared to the Camaros, Corvettes, and Mustangs that raced in the series. But Audi had two aces up its sleeve.
The first, as mentioned above, was that the four wheels were driven, giving the 200 remarkable amounts of grip and allowing it to hit lines that no two-wheel-drive cars could hope to follow.
The second ace was a team of legendary drivers, ranging from WRC champ Walter Rohrl to Le Mans winning Hurley Haywood and Hans-Joachim Stuck.
The 200 finished second in its first race and won its second race. Organizers tried to nerf the 200, by increasing its minimum weight by 100 kg and then later by mandating a tighter air restrictor, but both attempts failed and the car kept right on winning.
By the end of the 1988 season the three chassis had won 8 of the 13 races run and between them claimed 19 top-five finishes. The following year Trans-Am’s organizers finally succeeded in keeping the 200 off the podium by only allowing cars with American engines and two-wheel-drive to compete.
This car, chassis TA/4, later went on to race in South Africa, and then was purchased by Steve Zlotkin, owner of a VW and Audi parts distributorship called Overland Parts. With his special access to Audi parts, he recommissioned the car back to Trans-Am winning spec.
The 200 was recently at the Amelia Island Concours, so Zlotkin must have done a pretty good job and now it’s for sale, although no price is listed, so if you have to ask…
Read the full post after the link, it’s actually worth it, and check out this wonderfully ‘80s video of the 200 Quattro Trans-Am from back in the day.