1972 introduced a new platform for the Audi 80 dubbed the B1. It was the replacement for the F103 series covered previously in this blog (see Audi F103). The US and Canada had to wait another year for the introduction in 1973, and the marketing wizards decided that it should be renamed the Audi Fox in those markets. This was the first time that an Audi had been named, and it was reportedly quite the battle at Ingolstadt, The Fox was powered by 2 engines; a 54hp inline 4 cylinder 1.3 liter, and a 74hp 1.5 liter. Both featured a cast iron block with a single overhead cam aluminum head. Enhanced versions of both produced a good variety of power options for the platform. In late 1973, The Fox/80 was also the introduction of the water-cooled front-wheel-drive format that served Audi and Volkswagen well for decades. Audi added a sporty GT model featuring a 1.6 liter engine and putting out 99hp.
The Fox had a handsome design with a generous greenhouse due to relatively thin pillars. It had well=proportioned front and rear overhangs, and looked good in both coupe and sedan form. The combination of front-wheel drive and tall roof created a roomy car on the inside despite relatively small proportions. There was also an “Avant” or estate version with copious amounts of space. Suspension wise, it had torsion bars in the rear with McPherson struts up front. The Fox was good enough to earn European Car of the Year in 1973.
The Fox/80 was a very significant car for Audi and VW. Volkswagen was facing declining revenues as the air-cooled beetle was waning, and the type 411 was not the replacement that they had hoped. The previous Audi platform was showing its age and had roots in even older DKW technology. In addition, the exchange rate was making German exports very expensive. The Fox/80 was in many ways the vehicle that bolstered the company, and allowed it to survive the rough patch. Based on its success, VW even badged its own version called the Dasher. The restyling in 1975 was also well received with square headlights and more muscular styling. A GTE variant was introduced as the top of the line. The cars were now fuel-injected as well. The platform continued to sell well, and persisted well into the late 1970s.