Unveiled at the 1991 Tokyo Motor Show, the Audi Avus concept was the the world’s first car with an entirely aluminium bodyshell.
It paved the way for production cars built by Audi with all aluminium space frames like the A8 and the A2.
The Avus concept was designed by Munich-based Advanced Design Studio under the direction of Martin Smith.
Named after a Berlin racetrack, the Avus featured unpainted polished aluminium body that recalled the racing heritage of the “Silver Arrows” Auto Unions of the 1930′s.
According to Chief Designer Martin Smith, the polished aluminium body panels visually demonstrated how aluminum would play a significant role in the automobile construction.
In the Avus Concept the hand-beaten panels were mounted on a light alloy tubular chassis, in a way similar to the “Touring Superleggera” construction system.
The Avus was powered by a 6.0 liters W12 engine with three banks of four cylinders, which delivered 509 hp. The unit was coupled with Audi’s quattro wheel drive system and a six speed gearbox.
Claimed performances were a top speed of 340 km/h (211 mph) and a 0-96 km/h (0-60 mph) acceleration time of 3 seconds.
Actually, at the launch date the W12 unit was still under development, so the prototype had a dummy engine made of painted wood and plastic.
Today the Avus Concept is on display at Audi’s Museum in Ingolstadt, Germany.