1986 Audi Quattro Desert Racer Is Really a Range Rover Underneath

Despite it looking like a slightly strange Audi Ur-Quattro, it's powered by a 3.5-liter Rover V8 and has a 106-gallon fuel tank on a Range Rover ladder frame.

For every famous bedroom poster-worthy racecar, dozens of cars shared a track or a stage that have been lost to the many webpages of history. Sure, we’ve all heard of and seen the legendary Audi Sport Quattro in Group B and hillclimb racing. But this 1986 Audi Quattro prepared for desert racing is hiding a surprise: a Range Rover chassis.

It’s going up for auction with Aguttes and it’s a truly peculiar example of a rallygoing Audi Quattro. It is apparently still titled and registered in France as a 1986 Audi Quattro but has seen extensive modification for desert racing. It was not built for normal rallying but built to be much tougher for the infamous rally-raid known as the Paris-Dakar. Unlike rally, rally-raid runs more like an endurance race across large spans of wilderness, requiring a tougher, more serviceable car, as well as a lot of heavy extra gear.

According to the auction listing, this Quattro was a prototype built by Dakar regular Franco de Paoli. To strengthen the Audi, he placed the silhouette of an Ur-Quattro over a Range Rover frame and roll cage, along with the Range Rover’s 3.5-liter V8. Presumably, the suspension is largely based on a Range Rover too. From there, the Audi was modified extensively to compete in the Dakar, with a 106-gallon fuel tank onboard. The bodywork is made of fiberglass and Kevlar.

Originally built in the mid-’80s specifically to compete, it has been through a major cosmetic recreation to return it to its 1986 Dakar specification. However, it may need work mechanically, with the listing stating that a “major mechanical overhaul [is] to be expected.” It didn’t finish any of the four races it entered, which were the 1986 and 1987 Paris-Dakar and the Rallye de l’Atlas in the same two years.

Bidding is open now, with bids expected to settle from $160,000 to $270,000.

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