Beauty & the Beast

To be a true motoring legend, you need something innovative, original and exciting. Of course, Ferrari did it with a bevy of beauties; Jaguar with the E-type; and AC shoe-horned a Ford V8 into its Ace to produce the Cobra. Beetle and 911 apart, a German manufacturer which has secured its place in history - enter stage right the quattro.

Taking the rally scene by storm in the '80s, the innovative four-wheel drive spawned a generation of quattro nuts blatting around the country in road versions. With 230bhp at their command, drivers of the standard Ur-quattro had plenty of power. But how does a road-racer compare the the original rally charger, once raced by Hannu Mikkola? The lucky owner of Mikkola's monster and this stunning blood-red quattro is Aelred Smith. As partner in Audi quattro specialist, Dialynx Performance, he's got the perfect pair to promote his handiwork.

First to Hannu's ride - this tarmac churner won the National Breakdown Rally and the Welsh in its past, before the Group B machines were scrapped after a spate of fatalities. The car was then swiftly prepared for the Shelsley Walsh hill climb, where it set the saloon car record - incredibly it's a title it still holds. Last year Aelred's name appeared on the log book of this Group B racer: "I heard there was a nice road-going Sport for sale, but was offered this instead - and it wasn't silly money either."

Jumping into the original co-pilot's bucket seat alongside Aelred, nothing had changed from Hannu's time - the switches are still labelled in German, the stripped interior's finished with alloy plate, while the drilled pedals bore testimony to years of racer's footwear. Only the tacho's been moved since its rally days - presumably for the owner to judge when the turbo boost was going to pin him to his seat.

Blip the throttle and the car vibrates - as you'd expect from engine mounts without rubber and a gearbox suspended directly from the motor. This ain't no Sunday afternoon cruiser! Moving away slowly to allow the 20v, five cylinder engine and huge brakes to warm up, Aelred changed rapidly through the short-geared 'box. At this point the quattro growled along B-roads, making the most of its bottom-end torque - then Aelred spied a clear piece of tarmac.

Foot to the floor, two hands firmly on the Momo wheel, and all four tyres scrabbling to lay down the furious 500-plus horsepower. This is unreal.

We soon hit 5000rpm, which means only one thing - 2bar of boost kicks in and propels us along on the fastest rollercoaster ride I've ever experienced. A quick glance at the dials shows the needle sweep into three figure speed, as Aelred wrestles with the steering through the tightening lanes - all this with zero body roll, no wheel spin and all four wheels firmly on the ground. "It's a real animal - I don't feel I've got the complete hang of it yet!" admitted Aelred.

Younger brother to Mikkola's monster is the Dialynx Ur-quattro. With a full Audi Sport kit fabricated by Dialynx themselves, this beauty's so stunning it almost overshadows its rally cousin - and with over 300bhp, it's no slouch either. As Aelred's private car, the '85 Ur-quattro became a test-bed for customer's requirements. In its current form, it's hard to see if it's possible or desirable to go any further with a Ur-quattro. Flip the bonnet pins and an immaculate bay with braided hosing and anodised clips presents itself. But it's not all aesthetics. The Dialynx beauty runs a massive Turbo Technics Garrett TO3.5 turbocharger, as well as their own performance camshaft. The head's been ported and polished, and a huge Mercedes V8 metering head added to distribute the fuel. To round off the beefed-up unit is a 3" Scorpion stainless steel exhaust system slipped beneath the bulging mass - although Aelred confessed it was a bit of a pig to fit under the Sport's shortened chassis. Stopping power comes courtesy of AP Racing four-pot callipers all round - with massive 315mm Dialynx discs which are drilled at the front, and 268mm 20v quattro discs on the rear.

The huge 9.75x17" Fittipaldi's - shod with 245/40 R17 Pirelli rubber - aren't just a fine set of alloys, but were chosen specifically for the car: "The angle of the blades match the quattro's body lines," reckons Aelred. With fully adjustable platforms for the H&R springs, the car's dropped on its Italian rubber and damped by Koni front inserts and Bilstein rears.

Converting your Ur-quattro into a Dialynx Audi Sport special involves long evenings with an air chisel on the bodywork. That's because the most drastic mod is to shorten the car 320mm between the B and C pillars - as Audi did. The man in charge of this delicate operation is Aelred's partner, Keith Murray: "It's not just a case of cutting guillotine fashion, but angling the cut so as not to weaken the chassis," he explained. For the full Sport look, wider wings front and rear from Audi's rally car are grafted on. Add the complete Dialynx Sport front end, which comprises spoiler, lights (sourced from an early Passat) and bonnet vents, and the effect's complete. Oh, but don't forget the huge rear Sport wing to give other motorists an eyeful - again sorted by the boys at Dialynx.

No expense is spared on the interior either. Rally-spec Sabelt harnesses are pinned to colour-coded Corbeau buckets, a full alloy roll-cage nestles around you giving the full racing effect, while a Zender ally gear knob beckons to shift the alloy-mounted 'box. Slipping into the rally-spec cockpit, feet resting on the shortened OMP pedals, the Dialynx quattro felt every inch the balls-out rally racer as the real thing. Although the road machine did not propel you into hyper-space as the boost kicked in - like Mikkola's machine did - with over 300 brake, there's plenty of power to play with. And don't forget it's four-wheel drive, with huge stopping power, and set-up to handle like a rally car (yet somehow remain comfortable). Sorted. So what's next for the boys at Dialynx? Well, with a staggering fifteen quattros sitting in their workshop, there's plenty of scope to produce many more stunners. We even heard rumours of an Audi RS2-spec quattro that's soon to emerge from this piece of Ingolstadt in deepest Swindon. Watch this space.

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