There were many strong candidates for the title of greatest rally car to have been built during Autosport's 70-year history. Strong not only in terms of sheet metal and statistics, but also in how much they've shaped the character of the sport. In the end it had to be the Audi Quattro, because without it Group B would never have been so mind-boggling, and its fundamental architecture remains at the heart of the sport. But let's not forget that otherworldly sound, those epic rallies, that incredible human drama. The period in which the Quattro reigned supreme still gives the back of your neck a little tingle.
Its story goes back to the earliest days of the European Union, when it was decided that a military equivalent to the American Jeep and Britain's Land Rover was required. French, Italian and German manufacturers were organised into tri-national teams tasked with creating the ideal vehicle. The results were uniformly calamitous and eventually the German government gave up entirely, tasking Volkswagen with the job.
In the 1950s, VW-owned DKW had built a four-wheel-drive vehicle called the Munga that was popular with rural outdoorsmen. The design was dusted off, modernised and called the Volkswagen Iltis. An ambitious young Audi transmission expert named Roland Gumpert was seconded to this project, and he discovered that the boxy machine's cornering speed could put regular cars to shame. He asked his boss, Jorg Bensinger, to take a look.