Audi 100 CS quattro ski jump

Top Gear may have sent a Mini down a ski jump, but in 1986, Audi did the exact opposite. Looking to demonstrate its then relatively new quattro all-wheel drive technology, Audi sent a 100 CS quattro up a ski jump in Finland.

Back then, this was a remarkable achievement. Audi was beginning to forge a reputation in the premium sector, but still lagged behind BMW and Mercedes-Benz in terms of sales and brand awareness. But in quattro, it had a system that could propel the Audi name to the forefront of consumers’ minds. Crucially, Audi also had the balls to do something like this. Here’s a reminder of the TV advertisement:

The chap behind the wheel – who had clearly eaten three Shredded Wheat that morning – was rally driver Harald Demuth. He was the man tasked with driving the Audi 100 up the 37.5º slope of the Pitkavouri ski jump in Kaipola, Finland. Anyone seeing the ad for the first time was left slack-jawed and suffering from a minor case of vertigo.

Everybody was talking about the advert and they continued to do so for years to come. Audi and its ad agency deserve great respect, because by driving up a ski jump, they helped create a formidable brand. Cables attached to the 100 or not, the advert had the desired effect.

It was no surprise when – to mark 25 years of quattro – Audi returned to the same location. The Pitkavouri jump hadn’t been used since 1994, so it had to be rendered safe before the commercial could be shot. Audi also added a safety device to prevent the A6 from sliding down the ramp, along with a steel base plate to the underbody.

[bctt tweet=”Did the Milk Tray man drive an Audi 100 CS quattro?”]

The remake was good, of course it was. But it lacked the originality and wow factor of the 1986 ad. Back then, Audi was, relatively speaking, an unknown quantity and there was a touch of Milk Tray and James Bond about the stunt. Come to think of it, did the Milk Tray man drive an Audi 100 CS quattro?

And all because the lady loves all-wheel drive…