Presented at the Geneva Motor Show in 1966, the station wagon version of the Auto Union Audi, the Audi Variant, is the third version of the F 103 family (first post-war Audi model, appeared in 1965) after the models 2 and 4 doors.
Renaissance of the Audi brand in 1965
It was at the start of World War II that the name Audi left the world of automotive brands. At that time, the manufacturer – whose logo was a "1" – had manufactured cars of great renown and top of the range. Its uninterrupted production to the present day – if it had ever taken place – and according to Audi traditions, in the 1960s would ensure an Audi a prominent place in the Auto Union production line. It was this certainty that imposed the only valid answer to the question posed: a new Audi must be out of the ordinary.
The Auto Union technicians tasked with creating the new Audi had a magnificent foundation: the body and mechanical assembly of the DKW F 102.
Considering its "ancestors", it was clear that the engine of the new Audi could only be a 4-stroke and not a 3-cylinder 2-stroke. The adoption of traditional front-wheel drive was also unmistakable. The Type F 103 was born (Auto Union internal code designating the first post-war Audi). Initially, the first post-war Audi did not have a specific name to mark its type. It was called "Audi" quite simply: Auto Union Audi. Later, it was simply given the number corresponding to the number of horsepower of the engine: it was later called Audi 72 in relation to the 72 hp delivered by its 4-cylinder engine of Mercedes origin, having owned Auto Union before the takeover by Volkswagen in 1965.
Origin of the first Audi station wagon at DKW
The first model to take the name Audi appeared in 1965, succeeding the DKW F 102. Following its first presentation at the 1965 Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA), the extraordinary success of the two-way and two-way Audi models. four-door as well as the many inquiries – in part from new customers – led Auto Union to manufacture the Audi Variant.
The idea for a station wagon had been born some time earlier at DKW with the prototype of the DKW F 102 Universal. Looking at the photo, we find the lines of the future Audi Variant, the DKW F 102 having served as the basis for the new Audi, whatever its body version.
Subsequently, a prototype based on the Audi was created: the Audi Universal, bearing the registration IN-W 740. The name Universal represents at DKW (another brand of Auto Union) the station wagon version of A model. Auto Union not wanting to confuse the DKW brand which was in its last months of existence, this new station wagon was renamed Audi Variant shortly before its official presentation, in reference to the station wagon versions of the Volkswagen brand, then recent owner of Auto Union.
The Audi Variant was presented to the public for the first time at the Geneva Motor Show on March 10, 1966. It was very successful there.
Anecdotally, this was the last time the Audi DKW F 102 and Auto Union models co-existed on the Auto Union booth at a motor show. Indeed, the production of the DKW F 102 was stopped in March 1966, marking the near end of DKW. The last DKW was the 4 × 4 of military origin – the Munga – whose production ended in 1968.
Audi's first multi-engine station wagon
The first engine launched in 1965 was the 1.7 l of 72 hp, the model of which is nicknamed Audi 72. The station wagon version took the name Auto Union Audi Variant or more commonly known as Audi Variant. In September 1966, a new, more powerful engine appeared on all models (2-door, 4-door and Variant): the 1.7 l of 80 hp. The name Audi 80 was born, name which will be used later for a range of models, precursors of Audi A4. Then, three months later, the Audi Super 90 with its 90 hp and top-of-the-range equipment joined the family. Finally the Audi 60 with its 55/60 hp, which is the best-known model of the F 103 family, will appear in January 1968, followed by the Audi 75 which replaced the 72 hp.
A 3-door station wagon, functional and elegant
The Audi Variant is as limousine a limousine as the Audi sedan. It's just as comfortable, just as fast and just as economical. Its external dimensions allow it to be exactly as manoeuvrable. It just doesn't look like a conventional limousine. It has a luggage compartment that no limousine can offer. A second mirror is located on the wing on the passenger side and not on the door as is the case on the driver's side.
For this estate version of the Type F 103, a bodywork element has been added to the aerodynamic rear end, allowing the vehicle to retain the elegance of an Audi passenger car. It also offers craftsmen an excellent means of transport for their goods.
During the week, the merchant can transport crates, boxes and samples in his Audi Variant. And when he has business connections to look for at the station, his station wagon (the same) is there for that. Finally, he has a family car (the same) for weekends and vacations, with room for the whole family, including the younger godmother and the dog.
Its excellent suspension system makes it possible to transport the most sensitive goods without fear of damaging them. The cargo area is around 2 square meters with the rear seats folded down. The flat floor and the backrest of the rear bench are covered with a rubber mat. The 3-door vehicle (surprisingly enough configuration) has two rear side windows on each side. The central side windows can be opened by partially opening them. The tailgate of this five-seater station wagon opens upward and self-adjusts via the use of torsion bars. The rear seat backrest folds completely into the floor, providing a completely flat floor for maximum cargo space. A double floor accommodates the spare wheel, jack and on-board tools as well as other small items, making this Audi station wagon quite versatile and pleasant to use on a daily basis.
Due to the already well-known excellent characteristics and driving comfort of the Audi, as well as the numerous possibilities for transport, camping, etc., the Audi Variant proves to be an ideal multifunction vehicle. As the name suggests, it can be used for many different purposes – but without losing its passenger car characteristics.
A utility version of the Audi Variant was also released. It is distinguished by the absence of side glass surfaces, replaced by sheet metal and equipped with less flattering equipment.
It is also, of course, equipped with the famous 1.7 l high-pressure gasoline engine developing a power of 72 hp at 5,000 rpm.
Fuel consumption is around 8.5 liters per 100 kilometers, its top speed is given at around 145 km / h.
A more luxurious model (the L version) was also marketed, standing out for its dashboard (originally in metal in the color of the car) covered with imitation wood vinyl and an additional dial behind the steering wheel for the clock.
The first deliveries started in May 1966. 3,365 units of the Audi Variant with the 1.7 l engine of 72 hp were produced at the Ingolstadt plant alongside the Volkswagen Beetles.
A Polizei version was made in 1966 for the Ingolstadt Police, bearing the registration IN-314. It was delivered with a two-tone green and white paint typical of period police cars in Germany and fitted with a blue flashing light on the front left of the roof. It was used as a radio car.
In September 1966, the Audi 80 Variant was introduced to take its place with a more powerful engine. In December 1968, it disappeared from the catalogs, leaving the lace to the 75 Variant.
Production of Audi Variant models
Audi Variant, Variant L (72 ch) – from 05/1966 to 12/1968: 3,365 units
Audi 80 Variant, Audi 80L Variant (80 hp) – from 09/1966 to 12/1969: 6,135 units
Audi Super 90 Variant (90 hp) – from 12/1966 to 08/1971: 2,001 units
Audi 60 Variant (55/60 hp) – from 01/1968 to 07/1972: 8,046 units
Audi 75 Variant (75 hp) – from 12/1968 to 07/1972: 7,959 units
Audi's Type F103 is not very well known in many countries because it is not one of the popular cars. Its second-hand rating has not yet had a big explosion despite its rarity depending on the model. But that has been changing for just under 10 years. In Germany, the car is quite well known and increasingly sought after. With the original parts no longer being made and Audi Tradition not yet having decided to look into them, they are starting to be difficult to find and the prices are sometimes quite high.
The versions after the restyling in the early 1970s are easier to find and more numerous. The first models from 1965 to 1967 are the rarest and most desirable.
For the Audi Variant station wagon with its different powertrains, that's another story. This bodywork is the holy grail for any old Audi collector: many station wagons were sold in Germany and northern Europe, but much less in France. Finding one is a matter of patience and especially luck. Although not very well known, its rating is very high because there are very few left, especially in original condition and can be saved as rust is its enemy, these cars were not protected against corrosion at the time.
Once the model is found, restoration and restarting is not easy, the specific parts for the station wagon being almost impossible to find and sometimes at crazy prices (when they are found). A complete original model in "correct" condition trades for several thousand euros. To that must be counted a major restoration, in particular of the bodywork. A restored model could easily exceed 10,000 – 15,000 euros or even more because the owners keep them. A sale is extremely rare.
5-seater station wagon with three-seater rear bench which can be folded into the floor, rear door (tailgate) opening upwards with immobilization by torsion bars
Door 1,184 x 735 mm; Full-width rear window, lockable push-button lock. On each side two side windows, side window in the center that can swing open
Inside face of the rear seat fitted with a ribbed sheet
Rear side of the seat backrest lined with rubber
Boot loading floor lined with ribbed rubber
Empty weight including driver: 1,115 kg
Payload: 500 kg
Permitted total weight: 1,616 kg
Dimensions for loading
With the rear seat in place:
Length: 1050 mm
Width: 1320 mm
Height: 840 mm
Useful surface: 1.1 m2
Volume: 0.95 m3
With the rear bench folded into the floor:
Length: 1630 mm
Width: 1360 mm
Height: 840 mm
Useful surface: 1.9 m2
Volume: 1.6 m3
Length / width / height: 4,380 / 1,626 / 1,423 mm
Front / rear track: 1341/1326 mm
Wheelbase: 2,490 mm
Turning radius: 10.9 m
4-stroke engine, 4 cylinders in line, water-cooled, placed in the front
Displacement: 1,695 cc (1.7 liters)
Bore x Stroke: 80 x 84.4 mm
Compression ratio: 11.2: 1 (High pressure engine)
Maximum engine torque: 13.0 mkg at 2,400 – 3,200 rpm
Power: 72 hp (81 hp SAE) at 5,000 rpm
Battery: 12 Volt 55 Ah (alternator)
Fuel consumption: approx.8.5 liters per 100 km (DIN 70030)
Fuel tank capacity: 53 liters
Max speed : 145 km / h
Dry single-disc clutch
Four-speed synchronized gearbox
Steering wheel gear control
All-steel body welded to a profiled carrier floor
Removable front fenders screwed to the body
Train before :
– independent wheels
– wishbone suspension arms – lower, suspension arm with push rod and transverse stabilizer bar
– longitudinal torsion bars
– telescopic double-acting shock absorbers with rubber travel limiters
Rear axle :
– torsion autostabilizer with diagonal link Panhard type
– transverse torsion bar
– double-acting telescopic shock absorbers
Steering: helical toothed rack, very precise
Brakes: front disc / rear drum
Tires: 6.45 / 165-13 tubeless 6PR, 4.5 inch steel rims
Photos: Audi / 4Legend.com