From the archive: on this day in 1966

Audi F103

We were impressed by the F103’s flexibility, surefooted handling and elegance

Audi’s talented but expensive post-war revival, the underrated Aston Martin DB6 and a car insurance revolution

Audi sold 1.6 million cars last year and is instantly recognisable the world over, so it’s surprising to learn that it’s a young company. 

Audi made cars from 1910 until war broke in 1939. Come 1945, the occupying Soviets stole the assets of its parent firm, Auto Union, so execs had to go west and restart. 

With Europe in tatters, the new firm began making cheap, two-stroke DKWs; by 1964, the ‘economic miracle on the Rhine’ had put Volkswagen in a position to buy it. 

DKW’s F102 saloon hadn’t done well, so VW revived Audi for the F103, using the same body but a new, Daimler-designed four-pot. 

“One is repeatedly impressed by the the strong pulling power with an unusual flexibility,” read our road test. “It’s outstandingly sweet and unobtrusive, revving freely and eagerly to 6000rpm.” 

Although we found the novel flat-bottomed wheel “strange” and “slightly concerning”, the car “responded in a remarkable way” to our steering while being “extremely stable and surefooted”, enabling us to “hurtle through flooded corners with abandon”. 

It felt “very solid on all types of rough going” as well and had “modern standards of comfort”. It was well engineered, elegant and satisfying to own, then; the issue was its price, taxed to £1198 when Austin’s 1800 cost just £873.

Entertaining Aston Martin DB6 hugely impresses our road testers

The Aston Martin DB6 grand tourer is overshadowed by its DB5 forebear due to a certain 1964 film, rather than its objective qualities (after all, who wouldn’t want classic good looks and an atmo 4.0-litre straight six?), as our road test conclusion reveals. “For experienced drivers who enjoy handling a car, appreciate a thoroughbred engine and need to travel far and fast, the DB6 must be high on the shortlist. Its adhesion, directional control and brakes are aII above average, contributing considerably to safety. Luxury equipment and comfortable seating add wellbeing to high performance.”

A monumental change to car insurance

We were pleased to hear that major insurance firms had at last accepted the principle that drivers, not cars, should be insured on the road, as this was “better, fairer and more logical”. Hitherto insurers were “obsessed by statistics” and unfairly “blacked” certain models, regardless of driver. We predicted that only the accident-prone should incur increased rates, although we feared “keen young drivers and those just coming up to driving age may find themselves paying heavy premiums for minimum coverage”. Yeah, about that…

Source: Autocar

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