Treser Hunter


Walter Treser was the project manager of the internal, pirate-like working group within Audi that took the Volkswagen Iltis and grafted its go-anywhere capabilities into a performance car, the Quattro.

He and Ferdinand Piëch led the charge in many respects, both understanding the advantages of an efficient, smooth, and high-performance all-wheel-drive system on a road car. The two ensured the technology would find itself in motorsports, thus attracting other all-wheel-drive competition in order to prove Audi's quattro technology was superior. 

I'm not sure the average driver sees the quattro system as technically better—more that the name quattro is so damn good it's become more of a shorthand for go-anywhere capability. It's a quattro thing. The engineers involved with the program have largely gone off to bigger and better things—Piëch got to have the world's fastest car put into production, and Roland Gumpert got endurance racing wins and trackday triumphs with his Apollo. 

After helping Audi to World Rally Championship dominance, he formed his own firm, Treser, to turn period Audis into even more unique machines. Rather than focus on mastering one thing, however, Treser sort of floated neatly from project to project; folding hardtop convertible Quattros, styling updates for Audi sedans, the kinda-revolutionary TR1 roadster, and this—ruggedizing an Audi 90 into an off-road beast.

It may look like a creation from sweet home Alabama, but would you tell one of the people responsible for quattro that his creation for the European hunting elite (or henchmen) that it looks just a bit…country? No matter. If the Baja Beetle-driving-in-New-York Raphael Orlove gets a big raise, this would be the perfect pothole-shaming executive express.

The Hunter is a tidy piece, and filled with #VAGswag: 5-cylinder engine with 160 horsepower, top speed of more than 180 km/h (111 mph), and could handle an up to 45% grade. From the driver's hands on down: power steering, five-speed gearbox, three selectable differential locks, and 18 cm (7-inches) of ground clearance. You could ask for more power, of course, and the hottest ones had about 250 turbocharged horsepower.

Everything underneath the car was reinforced using VAG parts when possible, and it was designed to be as comfortable as an Mercedes-Benz S-Class while attacking dunes in Saudi Arabia with abandon. That came with a price: reports the cost of the suspension as in the region of £28,000.

Apparently, Hunters are quite capable off-road, and there still lacks a true competitor. Yes, the Subaru Impreza WRX Gravel Express is similar in style but lacking in luxury. A Porsche Cayenne or Volkswagen Touareg, sure, but they're so much larger. Anyone care to up-armor a Subaru Legacy?

Want one? Between 30 and 45 are believed to have been made across two model generations, and it's a good idea to begin your search in the middle east, where most of them were sold.