1978 Audi Fox.
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Code named "E A 400", the Fox was designed and developed in - house by Audi at Ingolstadt. It made its debut (as the Audi 80) in Europe in the summer of 1972 garnering critical acclaim from automotive writers. North America, however, did not see its first Fox until early 1973. Initially offered as a 2 and 4 door (with a wagon added later) the prices in Canada ranged from about $4795 to $7500 during its 6 year production run. Total sales for Canada are not available but in the United States 142,500 new units were sold during the same period.
The progenitor for the Fox undoubtedly was the NSU K70 which Volkswagen made into the VW K70 when it bought the company in 1969 and merged it with Audi. The new unibody (unitized through a process of arc and spot welding) not only had great structural strength combined with lightweight construction but was (and is) aesthetically pleasing with crisp, nicely creased lines, balanced proportions, thin roof pillars and an attractive grille replete with Audi's 4 interlocking rings.
Because of its front wheel drive design, the interior was relatively spacious for its overall size (only 14.5 feet in length) with a generous trunk (15.4 cu. feet) and all in a package that weighed a mere 2100 pounds. Indeed, most automotive authorities agreed that the Fox was a "marvel of functional design" that while" looking small from the outside was actually very roomy on the inside..." (Road & Track) and adequately "... fit four to 5 people and their luggage" (source: Car and Driver).
Although the suspension was relatively straight forward with torsion - crank construction in the rear and independent Macpherson struts in the front the Audi Fox did have an unusual feature. It was designed with "negative steering roll radius".Without being technical, in the case of uneven front braking conditions (such as a tire blowout) this innovation allows the car to steer in the direction that helps the driver maintain directional stability.
The engine employed in the Fox was a new unit designed totally in - house by VW and Audi. It was relatively simple and very durable with a cast iron block, an aluminum cylinder head and a single overhead camshaft driven by an internally toothed belt. The 1973 and 1974 models had the 1471 cc. version - a four cylinder rated at 75 h p. Through 1975 - 1979 a slightly larger (1588 cc) variant was used with a fuel injection system replacing the carburettor producing 78 hp @ 5500 rpm.
Voted "Car of the Year" by no less than 3 journals when it came out, I can attest that it is a comfortable, economical (72 km/gal. highway and 45km/gal.city with the manual) touring automobile with good performance (0 to 100 km/h in about 13 seconds) and very safe.
As with other German cars the ride is taut and well controlled.This is especially true over rough surfaces where its long travel suspension ensures relatively smooth and uneventful progress. Indeed, its a great handling car with a turning circle of just 32 feet. Only at the extreme limits of adhesion does the understeer become dangerous enough for the car to break away as it were. I have never quite reached that point. I found it a relaxing cruiser on long distance trips - one could drive the the car all day at 130 - 140 km p h (if it were not as against the law).
The Audi Fox was significant for a number of reasons.
The Fox did for VW what the K - car did for Chrysler (the comparison ends there since the K - car was much inferior) - it rescued VW. By the end of the 1960s VW was on a financial down swing. Sales of the Beetle flatten out and the rising Deutschmark made exports more and more expensive.
Meanwhile, the 411 model which was to replace the Beetle was not overly successful. What VW needed was a completely new line of cars. And that's what the 80/Fox heralded setting the stage for a whole range of very successful front wheel drive, water cooled cars including the Golf, Jetta, Passat/Dasher and Scirocco.
In the North American context, the Fox also had an impact; its efficiency in fuel, space utility and front drive technology pointed the way for Detriot's plunge into front wheel drive automobiles.
And indeed, the design was so good that it was resurrected in 1987 as the VW Fox, a downgraded version of the original (with VW's detuned 1.8 L. engine). The car, built in Brazil, was imported to Canada until 1992.
(source: Jerry's Audi Fox Webpage)
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