When you think of exceptional cars that are built in Europe, does your mind run strictly to cars made by Rolls Royce, BMW, or Mercedes? Perhaps Jaguar and Lamborghini come to mind as well. Each of these makes deserve all the accolades given to them. Still, there are three makes that are, for various reasons, exceptional. Let’s take a look at Volvo, Volkswagen, and Audi, the three makes featured in this article.
For a country of just nine million to produce one automaker would be amazing enough. To lay claim to two automakers is simply phenomenal. Something which you may not have known is that both Volvo and Saab are made in Sweden. Now a part of Ford Motor Company, Volvo has greatly influenced the automobile industry over the years. Safety standards that had been universally low elsewhere are much more appreciated with Volvo. Front end crumple zones, reinforced roofs and specially designed interiors have all had their origin with Volvo. Out of these high safety standards have come a line of cars that are, indeed, some of the best built and safest cars on the road. Fortunately, through Volvo’s leadership, many automakers around the world have incorporated Volvo’s high safety standard. This is what makes Volvo exceptional in my eyes.
The company that brought to the world the first people’s car, the Beetle, is also exceptional. First designed in Germany during the 1930s, the Beetle survived World War II and was one of the most mass produced and loved cars in the world. From the 1950s forward, the Beetle managed to make motorized transportation available to people who otherwise could not afford a car. From college students in the US to migrant workers in Mexico, and from the gritty cities of Holland to the Irish farmlands, the Beetle made owning a car affordable to the majority of the masses. Even after importation to the US ceased during the 1970s, the Beetle was produced for another generation and sold in Mexico. The Beetle will forever be one classic car that never loses it’s reputation. If you are considering purchasing a classic Beetle, I highly recommend getting yourself an essential buyer’s guide written by experts to help guide you through your purchase.
Without drawing out the point too far, the term that best describes Audi’s quattro technology is “superior handling.” Perhaps that is an understatement, but when Audi introduced quattro all wheel drive the company threw the gauntlet down and told the rest of the auto making world that quattro was the standard by which all luxury sedans would be judged. Audi’s quattro technology has given the company such a huge advantage over competitors that over the years it has been banned from certain types of racing. I would be wrong to talk about Audi without touching on its unprecedented importance to the rally car scene. If you are a fan of vintage rally and circuit racing, then you must know the role of Audi’s contribution, and how Audi’s quattro engineering changed the game with an “unfair advantage.” In 1981 Audi engineers utilized a center differential, a new way of distributing the power between the front and rear wheels. They called their system “quattro.” With this newly employed system, Audi circuit driver, Hurley Haywood used his superior traction to record the first victory for an all wheel drive system in a major production car race. From there, with the proven success of their unparalleled design, they went on to win many world racing championships. Indeed, Audi’s quattro technology provides continuous traction long past when other road handling schematics have reached their threshold.
So, there you have it. Three truly exceptional automobiles from the European continent, exceptional in ways, perhaps, that should be labeled as extraordinary.