Audi RS2 Avant
Interesting Info 14 Mar 2024

30 Years Ago Today…

This time 30 years ago at one of the biggest car shows in the world there were a trio of cars being shown for the first time on their respective stands. The Geneva Motor Show assembled the finest brands from around the world and was traditionally the best place to show off the first launches of the calendar year, and the 1994 show was no different. All 3 vehicles were very different prospects yet all have become notable cars in their manufacturers’ history books.

So of all the cars in attendance some 30 years ago, which were the most notable debutants? Read on to find out:

Audi RS2

30 Years Ago Today - Audi RS2 Avant
Image courtesy of Audi

The 1994 Geneva Motor Show saw the introduction of one of the most revered performance badges of them all, the Audi RS models. With a project that was a joint venture between Audi and Porsche, Audi took their Audi 80 estate and with the help of their fellow German brand produced something that is an icon amongst performance cars, even today.

With a modified version of their 2.2 turbocharged in-line five-cylinder engine, which included a bigger turbocharger, a heavy-duty intercooler, a new camshaft, a low-pressure exhaust system, higher flow fuel injectors and new ECU, the RS2 produced 311bhp. The result was 0-62mph in just 4.8 seconds and a top speed of 163mph. Not only that, but a road test in Autocar magazine at the time managed to cover the 0-30mph sprint in just 1.5 seconds, that’s faster than a McLaren F1!

Despite being a relatively heavy car for the time, cars were on average much lighter 30 years ago, the Porsche-designed lowered suspension and Brembo braking systems ensured handling was kept in check, whilst the car sat on Porsche ‘Cup’ wheels taken from the 964 Turbo and 993 version of 911. It also ‘borrowed’ the fog lights and exterior mirrors from the latter, whilst inside it featured Recaro bucket seats in leather or suede and optional carbon fibre trim. The whole car was assembled at the same Porsche manufacturing plant that produced the legendary 959.

30 Years Ago Today - Audi RS2 Avant
Image courtesy of Audi

Production was scheduled for 2,200 cars, however due to demand almost 700 more were produced by the time production finished a little over a year later. It was Audi’s first example of the high-performance estate cars that have become so popular and sought after since, and as such is highly revered as where it all began. The power and performance were exceptional for its time and still impressive today and is a testament to just how outlandish the creation was 30 years ago.

The Audi RS2 is considered as one of the most notable cars in Audi’s history and as such is one of the most collectable cars that they have made. Just 180 were made in right hand drive and there are believed to be around 40 left on UK roads. When new, the RS2 cost just over £45,000 yet an example today should be worth £50,00 for an average condition one and at least £80,000 for a show condition example.

Ferrari F355

30 Years Ago Today - Ferrari F355
Image courtesy of Ferrari

At the same time being launched was a car that is widely considered to be one of Ferrari’s greatest ever hits, the F355. At the time Ferrari’s road cars were not their finest moment so you would have thought that using an existing model as a starting point wouldn’t be the best idea. However, the F355 was a world away from the car that it shares the body shell, rear subframe and overall proportions with, the 348. Thankfully however, the new car was a revelation.

Focussing on significantly improving performance, driveability at various speeds, a more balanced chassis and lighter steering to increase the ease at which it could be driven through town, the F355 became the most usable Ferrari yet upon launch. Even the appearance was brought right up to date creating a stunning design that still looks stylish even today and yet remains functional, following over 1,300 hours of wind tunnel analysis the shapely body provides actual downforce at speed.

30 Years Ago Today - Ferrari F355 Rear
Image courtesy of Ferrari

Utilising Formula 1 technology with 5 valves per cylinder in the 3.5-litre V8 engine, the F355 featured a 25% power increase over the car it replaced, with 380bhp on offer. Ferrari were so proud of it they abandoned their previous naming structure of engine size and cylinder count to ensure everyone knew that it featured such an advanced set up. Although it was only available as a 6-speed manual at first, it also featured F1 technology for a paddle shift gearbox, which as an electrohydraulic automated manual was the first of its kind fitted to a road car. All this advanced technology meant a 0-62mph time of 4.7 seconds and a top speed of 183mph.

The F355 was just the car that Ferrari needed at the time and brought the desirability and performance credentials back to the prancing horse brand. Its popularity meant that over 11,000 were sold in the 4-year production run making it the most sold car in their history at the time. The car sold for £95,000 when new and values for a good example 30 years later could be from late £50,000’s to over £100,000 for a low mileage clean example. With the high regard for the model and the hunt for appreciating classic cars greater than ever, could the F355 be the one to watch?

Rolls Royce Flying Spur

Rolls Royce Flying Spur
Image courtesy of Collecting Cars

If the first two cars mentioned were surprising, the last notable car could not have been more of a departure for the brand. 30 years ago Rolls Royce showed the world their Flying Spur, the first car in their history that was aimed at providing sporty and dynamic intentions. That must have provided quite the shock for existing buyers of the famous manufacturer.

A Rolls Royce has always been about providing a magic carpet ride and the upmost in luxury and refinement. Performance figures and engine power are seen as a vulgar statistic, with torque and extensive options lists the penchant of the Rolls Royce model description. A sporty version of a Rolls Royce is something that had never been seen before and something very at odds with what the traditional Rolls Royce owner would expect.

Based on their existing Silver Spur, the Flying Spur borrowed the turbocharged 6.75-litre 16-valve V8 from the Bentley Turbo R, the torquiest engine in the world at the time and the first turbocharged engine in their 90 year history. Despite being considerably heavier, it meant that the car could match rivals such as the Mercedes Benz S600 for straight line speed and was the fastest Rolls Royce yet.

Rolls Royce Flying Spur
Image courtesy of Collecting Cars

Stiffer springs, dampers and anti-roll bars combined with wider tyres meant that although the Flying Spur was agile compared to other models in the Rolls Royce range, it couldn’t match its rivals for handling agility. The attempt to retain as much comfort as possible combined with overly light power steering meant that little feel for handling or dynamic ability was transferred to the driver or passengers.

The at odds sporty nature of a Rolls Royce product combined with the fact that the price was close to £150,000, a lot of money now never mind 30 years ago, meant that just 134 Rolls Royce Flying Spur models were made throughout 1995, the only year the car was produced. Rarity might mean that it is considered a collectable at some point in the future, but for now the value of a Flying Spur isn’t as high as you would expect a limited production number car to be.


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