When Rings Turn to Stars: Film Famous Audis
For a premium car company, Audi has devoted much attention to proving the practical side of their vehicles. From the Audi Ur-Quattro rally that dominated world rally during the 1980s to the technology-laden R18 e-tron quattro currently rolling to victory in sports car’s World Endurance Championship, Audi has demonstrated the extremes of quattro all-wheel drive and TDI diesel engines. However, like other automotive brands, Audi vehicles have enjoyed time to bask in the limelight of showbiz.
This week, the highly anticipated North American release of Iron Man 3 will place Audi in the product placement spotlight. Audisite.com is taking an opportunity to rediscover some of the most famous Audi appearances on the big screen and silver screen.
Audi S8 Sedan
TV/Movie Appearance: Ronin
A 1998 action/crime film, Ronin starred Robert De Niro and was directed by John Frankenheimer. In the world of motorsports, Frankenheimer is known as a cinematic legend for the 1966 Formula 1 racing movie Grand Prix. Showing off a flair for shooting vehicles at speed in Grand Prix, Ronin proved to be another gem from the direction of Frankenheimer. In a typical John Frankenheimer fashion, chase scenes embodied an extra special realism. Insisting high-speed scenes be performed without the many special effects Hollywood typically uses, the Frankenheimer treatment required skilled driving. One of the many vehicles involved in Ronin was an Audi S8 quattro.
Featured in two scenes driven by the character Larry (portrayed by Skipp Sudduth), the 360-horsepower S8 sedan first hustled around dark Paris streets. Later, the Audi S8 appeared in the climax scene where De Niro and his team of mercenaries pursue a man with a valuable suitcase. The combination of brawn and performance eventually proved too much for the Citroen XM. Though the movie used a crew of stunt drivers, actor Skipp Sudduth performed most of the live driving scenes himself in the Audi S8.
TV/Movie Appearance: I, Robot
In a future where sophisticated robots walk the streets, Audi appears to have become the United States’ top-selling automotive brand. Part of the 2004 blockbuster film I, Robot, Audi contributed its four-ring badge to multiple cars featured in-screen. Taxi cabs, police cars and the vehicle driven by Will Smith’s character Detective Del Spooner. In the Chicago of 2035, Spooner drives a two-passenger sport coupe called the Audi RSQ.
Creating an interpretation of where motoring would be in 30 years, Audi contributed The RSQ movie vehicle resembled the Audi TT as well as the yet-to-be released R8 supercar. Riding on spherical wheels, the Audi RSQ was once depicted spinning multiple times around while still maintaining some form of control. While only a prop vehicle, the I, Robot Audi RSQ is associated with a number of advanced technologies. In the construction of the film RSQ, it was reported rapid prototyping robots were used to assemble the cutting-edge design in real life. In the futuristic world, the Audi RSQ featured autonomous driving capability on the freeway system (though Detective Spooner would regularly disengage the program). Audi’s research into Piloted Driving technology could result in a 2035 similar to that in I, Robot.
Audi 200 Sedan and 200 Avant
TV/Movie Appearance: The Living Daylights
James Bond is most famous for his association with the Aston Martin brand. However, agent 007 is known to rely on the vehicles of other automakers. Handling a Lotus Esprit in two movies, Bond has also driven vehicles from BMW, Ford and AMC in some of his high-profile chases. In 1987’s The Living Daylights, a Q Branch modified Aston Martin V8 would have a lead automotive role as 007 rushes away from Russian patrol officers. Through two parts of that same James Bond adventure, Audi vehicles contributed in a strong supporting role.
Two variants of Audi products were involved in ‘The Living Daylights’ At the beginning of the movie, an Audi 200 sedan was driven by James Bond through a border crossing between Czechoslovakia and Austria. Later in the film, James Bond is seen waiting in an Audi 200 Avant model surveying General Pushkin’s arrival to a hotel. Unlike the Aston Martin star car in The Living Daylights, the Audis survived unscathed.
In the 2012 James Bond movie Skyfall, Audi once again appeared prominently at the opening scene. An Audi A5 coupe served as a getaway car for a bad guy.
TV/Movie Appearance: Iron Man Film Series
For what has proven to be the Audi brand’s most recognized product placement, Marvel’s Iron Man franchise adaptation to the big screen has involved the participation of their German engineered luxury cars. The presence of an Audi A8 or most recently a S7 Sportback resides briefly in numerous scenes throughout the trilogy. For all three films, when the fictional billionaire is not wearing his newest Iron Man suit, Tony Stark would be seen driving the Audi R8 supercar.
In the first film, Tony Stark drove the R8 coupe (wearing a ‘Stark 4’ vanity plate) to a charity benefit. The first appearance was little more than a cameo spot in the 2008 film. In Iron Man 2, a white Audi R8 Spyder received a greater screen time. The supercar was featured at the beginning and during a scene where Tony Stark was hauling items needed for his work in creating a new element. For Iron Man 3, Stark has acquired an all-electric e-tron model of the Audi R8. An impressive feat on the basis Audi is not even selling that particular vehicle.
TV/Movie Appearance: Ashes to Ashes
Running for three seasons on BBC, North Americans may not be entirely familiar with the television show Ashes to Ashes. A previous show called ‘Life on Mars’ depicted a present day male police officer suffering injuries and awaking in 1973. The follow-up series ‘Ashes to Ashes’ was a story set with a similar experience occurring to a policewoman shot in the present day world and transported to 1981. Both series names were titles of David Bowie songs. In Ashes to Ashes, an Ur-Quattro, one of Audi’s most defining vehicles, is part of this supernatural world.
Wheeled by the brash detective chief inspector Gene Hunt (portrayed by Philip Glenister), the red Audi Ur-Quattro was a memorable part in the 24-episode Ashes to Ashes television show. A relatively new vehicle at the time the show was set, Audi’s first quattro all-wheel drive vehicle propelled by a turbocharged five-cylinder-engine was depicted as tearing up the streets of London with as much grace as the rally car courses during the early 1980s. Along with the physical appearance of the Audi Ur-Quattro on the show, the vehicle became immortalized with Hunt‘s catchphrase, “Fire up the Quattro”.
Enjoying newfound fame with the BBC show, the Audi Ur-Quattro played an inadvertent role in the 2010 British election. First, the Labour Party used the Ur-Quattro in an attack message against Conservative candidate David Cameron. However, the Conservative party turned around and used the image with the adapted phrase “Fire up the Quattro, it’s time for change”.
Information and photo source: Audi AG, IMDB