As of 2015, Audi has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans 13 times and builds both V8 and V10 versions of its R8 mid-engined supercar. Back in 1991, however, Audi hadn’t really explored anything so exotic, so it was a bold move when they unveiled the Avus Quattro concept at the Tokyo Motor Show. Bare, polished aluminum bodywork, a 6.0-liter W12 behind the driver, all-wheel drive and wild looks meant that Audi seemed more than ready to play with the best of them in the supercar game.
It would be another 15 years, though, before Audi actually made a mid-engined supercar that people could buy. A W12 did eventually become available in the A8 a few years after the Avus (named after the German racing circuit), but otherwise, it had little impact on Audis of the future.
It looks like something that could have competed with the Mercedes CLK GTR or the Porsche 911 GT1, but the Avus Quattro was really just a design study. The engine in the prototype wasn’t even real because the W12 was still in development and building a real one up for a one-off show car was deemed unnecessarily expensive.
The car foreshadowed a few things as far as some of Audi’s wilder road car offerings are concerned, but it mostly served as PR. It showed the world that Audi could build bedroom wall poster-quality supercars in addition to the comfortable sedans and fire-breathing rally cars that they were already known for. Only one Avus prototype was made, and it remains at the Audi museum mobile in Bavaria.