Audi 90 Quattro IMSA GTO: One of Top Gear’s coolest race cars

When you think of Audi race cars, the first one to come to mind is likely the current Audi R18 that’s been dominating Endurance Racing recently. But one of the best race cars Audi ever produced, which gave the Ingolstadt brand one of its best racing seasons ever, was the Audi 90 Quattro IMSA GTO which dominated the US IMSA racing series in 1989.

Back in the late ’80s, Audi was quite a niche brand and wasn’t very mainstream in the US. In fact, Audi was facing its unintended-acceleration crisis and many US customers had a lot of distrust for the four-ringed brand. But Audi shocked the entire country with its Audi 90 Quattro race car, as if crushed the competition.

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The Audi 90 Quattro GTO was a Silhouette Race car, meaning that it was actually a bespoke race car with a body that looks similar to an Audi 90 and wasn’t actually based on one. On the roof was actually pulled from an Audi 90. The Audi 90 Quattro GTO used a 20-valve 2.2 liter turbocharged inline five-cylinder engine that developed a monstrous 720 hp thanks to a massive KKK turbocharger. It had carbon composite materials throughout the body and had Quattro al-wheel drive with a Torsen differential.


Behind the wheel of the Audi 90 Quattro GTO were Hans-Joachim Stuck and Hurley Haywood who won seven of the 13 races entered. “When we came to the States with this car,” Stuck said, recalling the mighty Audi 90 racer.  “nobody can believe what we can achieve… small engine, five cylinder, it’s a German saloon car! We could use a later braking point, and practically any line we wanted [on the circuit]. When I cross the finish line, I started yodelling!”

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While we think of the incredible Le Mans-winning race cars from Audi today, it was actually the Audi 90 Quattro IMSA GTO that was one of the coolest race cars in the brand’s history.

Nico DeMattia

I've been in love with cars since I was a kid, specifically German cars. Now I get to drive them talk about them on the internet.