Audi urban concept Spyder/Standaufnahme
Simplistic; modern; beautiful. These three words are often used to describe Audi’s sense of style. Dull could be another one, in this writer’s opinion. But it wasn’t always that way…
Look back through the history of Audi and you might be shocked at what you come across. Concepts that defy physics and conventional wisdom—cars that look more at home in a monster movie than they do anywhere near an Audi showroom.
That’s what makes these wonderful weirdos so fun to look at. These are seven of our favorite strange Audi concept cars throughout history.
1921 Audi Typ K Stromlinien Versuchswagen
In 1921, Audi’s display at the Berlin Motor Show was…well, I’m not really sure what it was. This was sitting atop of it; the Audi Typ K Stromlinien Versuchswagen. It’s name almost as strange as its design.
It was Audi’s first true ‘concept car’ in the modern sense, and the first German car ever made with left-hand drive. The goal for Audi was to toss aside its pre-war look in place of something more for the modern age.
The car only saw a few changes from concept to production, and lived for three long years on the market (1922-1925), before dissolving entirely and using some of its more appealing design cues later on in cars like the IFA F9.
1973 Audi Asso Di Picche
50 years after the Typ K, another concept car came along that some might consider strange. Thankfully, it was much more appealing than the Typ K. The Karmann Asso Di Picche was that car. With its name roughly translating to ‘Ace of Spades,’ you knew it had to be special.
It wasn’t a true Audi, to be fair. Design firm Giugario were the masterminds behind the concept, using the more subtle 80 as a base to work off of. But the goal was to take this radical new look and bring it to production.
In that sense, it was successful. Even though the Asso Di Picche never saw production directly, its styling influenced some of the most iconic Audi vehicles ever built.
1981 Audi Quartz
Where the Asso Di Picche was subtle in its uniqueness, the Quartz was angular styling taken to an entirely new level.
The 80s had arrived, meaning that the boxy and beautiful designs of the 70s needed to be spiced up, for some reason. The car was penned by Pininfarina, and of course, it was dramatic in the most spectacular way. Using the already stunning Quattro as a base, the Quartz was a gift to longtime Swiss car magazine Automobil Revue.
Its only saving grace from its polarizing design was the fact that it was made mostly of carbon fiber, which meant it was lighter than the Quattro on which it was based—and quick too. To 62 mph, it could sprint in just 7.1 seconds, on to a top speed of 136 mph. Pretty brisk for an early 80s sports car.
Audi Design Study at the Autostadt Wolfsburg
2000 Audi Rosemeyer
From 1981 to 2000, Audi kept relatively quiet in the concept car game. But it was in 2000 that the world realized Audi had gone back off its rocker with the Rosemeyer concept.
The goal of the Rosemeyer was to evoke the styling of the iconic Auto Union Silver Arrow racing cars used in the 1930s. It didn’t quite hit its mark if you ask me. The bulbous styling and in-your-face front end made this one of the strangest Audi concept cars ever built.
Shockingly, people loved it, and begged for it to be put into production. Maybe it was the 700-horsepower engine, or maybe people need to get their eyes checked…
2004 Audi RSQ sport coupe concept
2004 Audi RSQ
Imagine, in just 19 years, we’ll all be driving around in 12-year-old Audis. At least, that was the thinking when the RSQ concept was created for the film I, Robot in 2004.
The goal was to dream up a spaceship-like concept car for the not-so-far-off future. The wheels were promptly covered, and designers dramatically installed suicide doors, illuminated badges, and an out-of-this world interior. The RSQ even drove itself before self-driving was cool.
Audi urban concept Spyder/Standaufnahme
2011 Audi Urban
A new decade brought with it a questionable new ideal to the American automotive scene—urban mobility (dun dun dun!). Not one to be left out of the cash grab, Audi made sure to go all in with its aptly-named concept, the Urban.
It was touted as “a completely new kind of concept car.” With exposed suspension bits and a central two-seat cockpit, it rang true to its mantra. Unfortunately for speed freaks, it only had a top speed of 62 mph, and even worse, was only able to achieve 35 miles on a single charge.
With modern Audi, you wouldn’t really expect to see anything too dramatic. That’s why when the extremely cool Nanuk concept hit the scene in 2013, it was a big surprise.
It’s like a lifted R8, with 544-horsepower coming from a V10 TDI. Essentially every niche market covered in one strange vehicle. It debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2013, and was arguably one of the best vehicles there.
Sadly, Audi has no plans of ever bringing something this strange and this niche to market. It will forever live on though, as one of the most creative concept cars ever to come from the German marque.