Group B. They were the untamed beasts that once ruled the family of the order Rally Cars. And they weren’t always seen in relatively cheap 1:64 models. Now, I shall review a toy version of one of these beasts to see if Mattel were able to succeed in miniaturizing such a ferocious animal.
For LaLD Car Week, I present to you all: Hot Wheels’ 1984 Audi Sport Quattro.
Once the dust clouds settled in Sanremo, Lancia’s 037 had successfully beaten Audi’s Quattro, somehow defeating what was clearly a superior car from the Deutsches Allradimperium. But that was 1983, and a year later, Audi would run it back with a revised Quattro, the A2, winning five rallies en route to another title, and making The Stig’s Father a champion. It also finally sealed the playbook: to be competitive, all four wheels must receive power.
Audi had already proven that 4WD can be an advantage in loose surfaces back in 1977, but the rules that allowed such a drivetrain didn’t get revised until 1980, and the Quattro didn’t play a full season come ‘81, even if it had already proven its capability by helping Michele Mouton be a rally winner. In 1982, however, it all changed, rather immensely.
Quattro ruled gravel and ice, and even if Walter Rohrl won with a rear-drive Opel (a sign of things to come a year later), Audi had already progressed in its bid to rewrite the playbook upon which the WRC is run. Frankly, only one man ever stemmed the tide generated by the VW-backed juggernaut, and even he wasn’t really trying to be champion anyway.
1984 saw Audi dominate for the last time. Peugeot had its own world-conquering Group B monster, and had comparable budgets and industrial will. They would win three of the final four rallies, and while they’re not champions then, they will next year—and they did. Yet the 205 T16 was built from the foundations that Quattro once laid. It certainly wasn’t a four-time champion.
It’s easy to replay those iconic scenes in one’s imagination when the toy reflects the car it models really well, and Hot Wheels’ Quattro casting looks so good it might pass for the real thing. Body accuracy is what first grabs your eyes, with lines and cut-outs that match the actual car. Once you do grab the casting by the hands, its weight might surprise you—it did so for me. This is quite heavy for a 1-dollar casting, and on the many occasions the car was dropped, not a scratch damaged the car.
This is another merit to Hot Wheels’ casting: its paint and decals are crisp, detailed and rendered smoothly. Colors pop against the brilliant rally white paint, and all logos are printed with legibility that only my camera’s zoom is ruining it all. Also, the turbine wheels just fit. I do think Audi don’t really run turbofans often, but these discs complete the look, and only 5SP wheels could hope to equal the job.
Of course, it isn’t perfect. The front grille is smudgy and roughly-printed, it seems at once too short overall and too long from the windscreen forward, the taillights were my addition, and the livery is a bit too sparse. Don’t get me wrong, the livery is alright—I don’t totally remember the particular graphics ever being run anywhere, but it’s a cracking take, either way—but there aren’t a lot of elements to it which lends to a seemingly incomplete uniform.
Then again, I say Hot Wheels managed to nail the car overall. The stance is dialed-in, the paint is clean, the deco works, and the casting is rendered in a top-notch way. Even the interior has roll-cages. What a proper little thing, and to think I got this for 10% less than retail!
Most importantly, however, the car managed to take me in to a wild world, where power and grip were all what a car needed in taking on anything thrown at the car. People touched them as they went round a right-3, and they flew higher than most planes. Death was its only obstacle. At least with this toy, I can toss the Quattro around with minimal worries.
The Quattro defined Audi like no other innovation in automotive circles, becoming the calling card for domination. In a sense, this toy was able to scale down this greatness. Now, I want to see Hot Wheels complete the Group B lineup. It has to happen.
So ends my feature for the fourth day of LaLD Car Week. This was the easiest shoot of the week, thanks in part because I went outside and found decent enough backdrops for the car to stand out. Finally, I wasn’t as desperate to complete this post as I was yesterday. Thank you for clicking in and reading on!