Audi found 800,000 customers for this car over its eight year production run. The first 500,000 customers paid up before 1971.
That means that for the next five years the Audi 100 trailed in the sales stakes. Audi attempted to keep it competitive by raising the power output of the engine and some modest restyling efforts. That it didn’t work is indicated by the 50,000 units sold per year between 71 and 76. The car had a lot of competition at that time which might go some way to explaining the later half of its sales career.
I had a close look at this example and found that it already shows a palpably different and better approach to fit and finish that equivalent cars from Renault, Ford and Opel. The upholstery, in particular, is made of a hard-wearing woven cotton and the plastic of the trim resembles the bullet-proof material one might find in a Mercedes rather more than the squashy vinyl material used normally.
In this photo here you can see a car with the general form of a Ford Granada and the detailing of a Mercedes: that makes it middle-market, doesn’t it? In all the reviews I read about the Peugeot 604 (born in 1975) I never saw it compared to the Audi 100 although they are the same size. The distinction is the V6 that the Peugeot had. Audi thus launched a really big car for its time but didn’t think to give it a “big car” engine. That left buyers unsure whether they were getting a better-than-average mass-market car or a cheaper-than-average premium.
Speaking of the Peugeot 604. By the time it came out the Audi had been on sale for eight years. Didn’t that mean the 604 looked decidedly familiar – to be charitable – by the time it emerged. Or were people less sensitive to that kind of thing?
Here is the 1968 Opel Rekord, for comparison with the Audi. Both are large cars with sub-2.0 litre four-cylinder engines.