Partnered: Audi Just Made The Perfect Period-Correct Advertisement For A Car It Sold 25 Years Ago

Audi Just Made The Perfect Period-Correct Advertisement For A Car It Sold 25 Years Ago

By Petrolicious Productions
November 8, 2019

In light of the RS 6 Avant making its Stateside debut next year, we shared the full version of An Avant Story on Wednesday, along with a look back at the history of Audi Sport and the RS Avants. Today we’re here to share the retro supplement to that film that we think is even better than the love letter to fast wagons. In An Avant Story, we see the Audi-loving protag as a teenager in his room, awed by a commercial for the first model in the RS line, the 1994 RS 2 Avant. The “vintage” footage that appears on his CRT TV is actually part of a never-aired promotional piece that Audi recently put together for the RS 2 to celebrate the car’s 25th birthday and America’s ability to finally import them—still, the “Not Available in the U.S.A.” part hurts extra when you realize the pristine RS 2 is shown with US license plate blanks. What could have been… But rather than just including that little easter egg in their more significant story, Audi produced a fully realized version of the film.

To make it, they gathered a team and gave them recording equipment from no later than 1994, then called on their old buddy Hans-Joachim Stuck to star in the nostalgia alongside an RS 2 in quintessential Nogaro Blue. The result is a detail-laden audiovisual trip into the mid 1990s that gets everything right. One Googling of “vaporwave” is enough to see that neon grid patterns, wipe animations, and graphics that recall old WaveRunners are seen as the definitive aesthetic of the time period, and while this Audi film includes all of that, it also nails the subtleties. The tiny wobbles of the overlaid text and images, the little blips of static and image recalibration, all of the elements that fill in space between the spectrum of using retro filters and creating those imperfections authentically with retro gear.

The film goes further in its period-correctness than just equipment choice though, and from the inflection of the narrator’s voice (who does an uncanny job of matching the era’s semi-transatlantic sales pitch accent), to the way they cut the perfectly cheesy scene of looking for a test driver, to the little pants-dropping doll suction-cupped to the rear window—it’s all handled with the care of people who know their subject matter and its context. That rude plush toy is an easter egg in and of itself too, a cool callback to the 1989 IMSA season in which Stuck’s dominant Audi 90 featured the same mooning character in its rear plexiglass. And by the same, we mean the exact same one—Stuck has held onto the cheeky memento for the last 20 years. Our favorite part though? The way the narrator explains the RS 2 is an Avant instead of a sedan: “We tried putting all this in a standard sedan. But alas, no.” It is simultaneously the least descriptive and yet most German explanation we can think of. Perfect.

Modern classics are hip, and even the squares out there who are using “hip” without irony are contributing to the still-rising popularity of enthusiast cars built in the 1980s and 1990s. Boxy is beautiful, plastic is fantastic, and the vehicles that initially aged into the purview of boy racers that cared little about maintenance and less about preservation are now being rightfully viewed as collectibles worthy of complete restoration. For any deviation from OEM spec, period-correct is the favored route for modifications, and though manufacturers are getting wise to this and are dipping their toes in with some retro merchandise, we haven’t seen any of them do what Audi has with this excellent bit of period-correct filmmaking. It worked as an excellent catalyst for our office to check prices on US-importable RS 2s, but more importantly, it gives us faith that promotional videos being made in 2019 are not mutually exclusive with videos we actually want to watch.

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