Motoring

The Audi 100 Coupé S: an overlooked style icon from the '70s

Classic car collector Hubert Ten Doeschate estimates that there are as few as 60 of these retro beauties left on SA's roads

28 June 2020 - 00:00 By
Hubert Ten Doeschate's immaculate 1975 Audi 100 Coupé S.
Hubert Ten Doeschate's immaculate 1975 Audi 100 Coupé S.
Image: Brenwin Naidu

The original Quattro is a cornerstone in the storied chronicles of Audi history — and they never let us forget it. Its deification eclipses some of the other noteworthy specimens to bear the interlinked circles. Those poor wallflowers. Thrown into the periphery — with the rally-steeped heritage of the boxy four-wheel-drive pioneer chucking soil in their direction.

So today we are devoting praise to another admirable two-door from the classic corridors of Ingolstadt. Meet the Audi 100 Coupé S, with its fastback design that (almost) puts one in mind of a European-flavoured Ford Mustang. Fun fact: Audi said its tapered ceiling was the inspiration for the modern A7 four-door.

Hubert Ten Doeschate, 59, is the owner of the immaculate 1975 example pictured here, in period-appropriate bronze. To say he loves the Audi brand in its entirety would be underselling his enthusiasm. No, he is a bona fide Lord of the Rings; positively, madly obsessed with everything Auto Union and having a special fondness for the DKW subsidiary of yesteryear.

But more on that later.

THE SHAPE OF THINGS

On a frosty, dry winter morning we meet outside Hubert's farm on the skirts of Gauteng. The 100 Coupé S idling away comfortably as I try to capture usable snaps of its wedge-shaped physique. That was what attracted him to the car, he tells me, recalling the shape the first time he laid eyes on a red model as a scholar.

“It was just a beautiful shape. I wanted one, but they sold for the same price as top-of-the-range Mercedes-Benz models at the time. They were expensive, which accounts for why there are not too many of them around,” he explains, beaming with pride.

But in 1981, after years of saving up, Hubert pulled the trigger on the car you see before you. He still has the original invoice, under R4,000, paid for in cash. “Funnily enough, it was bought from Dan Perkins, the Toyota agent at the time. I assume it was a trade-in. It was a lot of money then — you could have bought a new Golf.”

Inside the iconic car.
Inside the iconic car.
Image: Brenwin Naidu

Over the years he acquired two more copies of the Coupé S, both identical in specification to the first. And he has four in lesser states of repair, used for spare parts.

“The Coupé was first shown in Germany in 1969, and it was on sale on the South African market between 1972 to 1976,” says Hubert, “and 1,422 were sold.”

As evidenced by the VIN tag in the engine bay, these models were assembled right here in SA, in the Volkswagen facility in Uitenhage, Eastern Cape.

We might have likened it to an American muscle-car legend earlier, but under the hood a far more modest in-line four-cylinder power source is on duty.

“It has a 1,871cc engine with 114 horsepower. This was actually a Mercedes-Benz design, since they owned Auto Union from 1958 to 1965 when Volkswagen took over — and this motor was used until the late '70s.”

Finding a well-preserved Audi 100 Coupé S locally in 2020 would prove to be a bit of a challenge, as Hubert estimates there are as few as 60 left.

“And when you do find them, the prices are getting a bit silly. I got mine when nobody else was really interested and you could pick them up for next to nothing.

“Overseas there is a bigger market, a few of our local cars have been shipped there. I have seen some advertised for as much as €50,000, close on a million rands!”

It's all in the details.
It's all in the details.
Image: Brenwin Naidu

On that subject of big dividends, our discussion steers to that vaunted Quattro. “That is one I would have loved to have got. A friend of mine has two, best pension investment he ever made, even though his wife wanted to leave him at the time. The picture has now changed and those things are worth millions.”

MEMORABILIA AND MORE

Hubert has built a shrine to Audi in his living room, replete with signage, die-cast miniatures and other fascinating memorabilia. But in separate buildings on the plot he shows us other treasures, including the green DKW 1000 S purchased by his father in 1963. He took over the beloved “Deek” after matriculating in 1978.

“My love for DKW started five years before I was born. My dad bought a little 1955 DKW F91 in 1955, around the time he met my mom, and they got married in 1956. I have five DKW four-wheelers and over 30 DKW two-wheelers.”

A silver, missile-shaped protrusion peeks from under a black cover in the corner of his garage. My curiosity is piqued. He pulls back the sheeting to reveal a creation inspired by the Auto Union Type A race car of 1934.

The aluminium-bodied, single-seater race car was built using the parts of a 1937 DKW F-7. The car was built in 1950 by one Boet Ferreira. It raced across circuits in Southern Africa and a macabre streak shades its existence: when a front wheel broke off the axle during a race at Grand Central track in 1954, it struck and killed a spectator.

But the story of the F-7 special is one all on its own, for another day.

Next time you want to impress in classic car conversation, be sure to cite the often forgotten Audi 100 Coupé S: a veritable unsung icon of style.


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