1968 Audi Super 90 - Reader Resto

By: Vlad Vereshchagin with Guy Allen - Words & Photos

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Vlad Vereshchagin Vlad Vereshchagin
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This was a hugely important car for Audi - its first post-war family sports sedan - and it's been brought back to life

Why this car? I like the styling. There’s something about the design that’s very different to what you see in modern cars – it has light and clean lines.

This was bought from the original owner. It would have been a very unusual sight on Australian roads back when it was new and I think just a few hundred were sold here. Audi was re-establishing the name and it was to all intents a ‘new’ maker.
It came out of the Auto Union group and the history is fairly convoluted. It involved the four makers Audi, Horch, DKW and Wanderer. There is much more to the story, and it’s worth reading the history. For example, ‘Horch’ in German means ‘hear’ while ‘Audi’ in Latin means ‘listen’ – and yes, there is an anecdote behind that.

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When it Audi re-emerged in the 1960s, it was owned by Volkswagen, however the technical influences were far broader. For this car, the engine was effectively developed by Mercedes-Benz, the transmission by Porsche, while the body was a variant on a DKW platform!

Now the issue with using a DKW F102 platform was that it was originally intended for a two-stroke powerplant and, even back then, they were struggling for market acceptance. So it had to be a four-stroke.

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What was available to the group was a four-cylinder engine/transmission set-up that was laid out north-south and more suited to a rear-wheel drive car. However the Audi engineers were committed to producing a front-wheel-drive, and gaining all the additional cabin space that offered, in part by not having a transmission tunnel running the length of the cabin.

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That brings us to the unusual engine compartment layout, with the radiator pushed to one side, the engine as far forward as it could possibly go, and the front wheel-drive powered off the forward section of the transmission.

It’s running a 1770cc powerplant, with a high 10.6:1 compression for the time (this was the sporty or ‘super’ version of the car), two-barrel Solex carburetor and four-on-the-tree manual transmission. Again, that choice of column-mounted shifter was to maximize cabin space.

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It claimed an impressive 102hp (76kW) at 5200rpm and a torque figure of 147Nm at 3200. It had a kerb weight of 1000kg and claimed a 100mph (160km/h) top speed. That was a good set of numbers for the day.

The chassis used torsion bar springing at both ends, with a solid rear axle. Brakes were by inboard discs up front (on the drive shafts) and drums on the rear.

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It was sold in Australia through Volkswagen dealerships, but only about a tenth of the network carried them. A reviewer for Australian Motor magazine commented at the time, "It’s hard to find a car which differed more in its basic design concept from the Volkswagen (Beetle – Ed) than the Audi. Yet Volkswagen is producing it overseas and is now planning to release it in Australia in an attempt to get a stake in our growing ‘middle class luxury market’."

Of course it was fairly expensive at $3740 – up there with what an upmarket locally-built family car would cost. As a consequence, the person who bought one clearly wanted something that was different to the pack.

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While this example had remained with its original owner across the decades (which says something about its appeal), by the time it was ‘liberated’ from its shed, it had been idle for the best part of 20 years. It was in poor shape, but thankfully was complete.

It required a full strip-down and restoration. My role was to disassemble the car, project-manage the paint and engine build, then re-assemble it.

It seemed like a very long process and has its frustrations. Even though I carefully labeled components as they came off the car, every now and then you would look at something and wonder how or where it went back together. It’s during this process you realise just how much goes into building a vehicle.

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A new life begins

Overall the process was fairly straight-forward. The biggest challenge was chasing down parts. Next to nothing exists in Australia and it’s difficult to find what you want even in Europe.

I ended up learning a version of ‘web-Deutsch’ so I could recognise and ask for critical components online.

One trick you soon learn is not to just depend on people advertising what you want. If you see them selling something that’s related in some way (it could be bits from another early Audi), it pays to ask if they have what you’re looking for. Sometimes you get a nice surprise.

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There's a long way to go

Oddly enough, one of the toughest components to find was the windscreen sealing rubbers. For a while there I even contemplated getting some made, until the maker made it clear I would have to order what seemed like kilometers of the material! In the end, we tracked down a good workable replacement.

You don’t see many family Euro cars from this period on the road, here and even overseas. Upmarket models like this were sold in small numbers, and when people go to restore cars of this era, they tend to gravitate towards two-door models.

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Well on the way to completion

It’s an enjoyable car to drive. Like a lot of models from the era, it’s very elemental and feels responsive. There’s not a lot between you, the road and controls, which is a very different style of driving to a modern car.

Yes I plan to hang on to it and, as for the next project, there just might be another early Audi waiting in the shed…

THE RESTO:

Attention needed

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Ready for some elbow grease – the firewall section looks solid.

 

Ready for a teardown

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The engine is out and ready to be torn apart. Note the inboard discs.

 

Four pots please

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The block isn’t painted camouflage, it just looks that way..

 

Airconditioned

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Audi flow through ventilation is a brand attribute.

 

Thorough

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If you’re going to all this trouble...

 

New blue hue

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Looking very snazzy in its colour.


Original car: 1968 Audi Super 90
Length of restoration: 5 years

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1968 Audi Super 90

Body Sedan
Engine 1770cc four cylinder
Power 76kw @ 5200rpm
Torque 147Nm @ 3200rpm
Transmission 4 speed manual
Suspension
Front: Torsion bars
Rear: Torsion bars with solid axle.

 

From Unique Cars #449, February 2021

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