Engineering students with Formula SAE experience make up ‘The Quattro Squad,’ Paul Eddleston of Team Illuminata Motorsport hides in the Audi.
Vintage Audi Quattros are a rare sight here in the U.S. These boxy ’80s rally giants are coveted for their mystique and pedigree, finding one in fine form is almost impossible. But if you find one that’s a little too rough around the edges for a resto, we see some crossed-up rally antics in your future.
You may recall our friend Paul Eddleston of Team Illuminata Motorsport, we featured his winning rallycross Porsche 911 on Turnology a while back. Along with being the founding enthusiast of the Detroit region SCCA rallycross division, Paul is the U.S. importer of BRAID rally wheels.
Paul’s 1984 911 SC has been rallycrossed a bunch, but it’s time for it to retire … mostly.
The 911 has seen considerable dirt, and now it’s time for a new project. Paul has rallied a number of different cars over the years, from a Ford Focus, to Subaru, the Porsche, a support van and more. Owner of a pristine 1985 UR Quattro, Eddleston had to look elsewhere rather than blaspheming the jewel of his collection.
“Ironically I had my red Quattro sitting for two years, I got that thing running and realized that within a week I’d put another dead, red, Quattro back on the lift,” Eddleston chuckled. The rougher example would be the perfect foundation for a replica rally car project.
Paul's '85 UR Quattro is babied and street driven, don't worry, this car is not the one they're cutting up.
“It’s a valuable … a presitigious? No … It’s a valuable car! So I don’t want to ruin it for posterity, I have an obligation to do right by the car because there’s only so many of them,” Eddleston finally concluded.
“We also want to give it some credibility, we want the car to live on and have some fun. I do want to do a few rallycrosses. The engine build is going to be quite mild. I want to build a proper shell with a proper cage, reinforced and modified.”
Eddleston had planned to put off the build for another year as he formed a plan of action, budget and concept. But like so many things we try to plan, fate intervened. Having been involved with the department of engineering at Oakland University with a former project car, Eddleston found youthful enthusiasm ready and willing to dive in and bust knuckles with the Quattro.
With the engine out, the Quattro is pretty much stripped.
“It’s become sort of a mentorship thing, I didn’t set out to do that but they volunteered and were genuinely excited. They’re engineering students, most of them have experience in Formula SAE, which is why I know them in the first place. It’s interesting watching the dynamic, I’m trying not to dictate and tell them how to do things. They have a broad range of experience,” Eddleston explained.
“Some of the people you see in the pictures may not be actual engineering students from ‘The Quattro Squad.’ My other friends from across the road – Josh and Andrew, wander over (mostly because I buy everyone pizza). It’s like a communal thing, but the shop I operate out of is sort of a commune anyway, there’s always people coming and going.”
While Eddleston hosts a social atmosphere of common interest and passion, he also is keeping an eye out for the opportunity he can offer these students. As an academic, it can be hard to come across opportunity to actually get your hands dirty, or mingle with the key people of the community. Eddleston is providing opportunities on both fronts.
“We meet one evening a week and we’ve been having special guests invited to speak and network. We’re trying to expose these young engineers to movers and shakers in the industry. We’ve got a list now of all the people we know in South-East Michigan who can be influential, and tell them things they will appreciate,” he explained.
The current status of the Quattro project is tear-down, as Paul prefaced, this will be a ground up build from a bare shell – a first for Eddleston and the students, who have built from scratch or from a working vehicle. The engine is out, the interior gutted, and a fresh canvas in front of everyone.
“My imagination says I can see us reassembling it within the next year. Two things; we haven’t got a budget and we haven’t got a plan. We haven’t had a chance to get one together since these guys appeared, and I didn’t want to screw it up by saying no,” foreshadowed Eddleston.
We asked Paul what the end goal of this project would be, the general consensus was good times, camaraderie and generally not taking yourself too seriously.
“That’s the tricky bit, where’s it headed? It needs to look good, so we’re going to do a similar livery, so it will be similar to a Rothman’s Quattro but with our colors. The engine doesn’t have to put out 500 horsepower, but it needs to make some noise, go pretty quick, and if it spits flames … all the better.”
The 5-cylinder, turbocharged powerplants in these cars are famed for their howl and Group B chatter at full song. If Eddleston and his crew can harness just a percentage of that, they have a good foundation.
The existing Koni suspension is here to stay, but some flared 'glass may be in the future.
“It already came with a Koni-based coilover suspension kit. We’ve got tires already and we’ll get some 16-inch wheels from BRAID. It will be in tarmac specification when we’ve finished, but that won’t stop us from driving it around a field and shaking out all our teeth,” Eddleston concluded.
Keep checking back as we follow the build with Eddleston and ‘The Quattro Squad,’ we’re sure the end result will be something exciting.