Back in high school, I was very much so a muscle-car-or-no-car kinda guy. If it didn’t have an American V8, it wasn’t on my radar. Later on, however, I was awestruck by the original Audi TT. I was perplexed by its one-of-a-kind design. As we already know, the original TT went on to be a game-changer for Audi, especially in the U.S. Now, it turns out that it was almost a Porsche instead.

CarBuzz recently spoke with American car designer Freeman Thomas, the person responsible for penning the original TT. During their discussion, Thomas spilled the beans on the original TT’s design development and how it actually almost went to Porsche instead of Audi.

Thomas told CarBuzz that he was asked to design two versions of one car: one Audi and one Porsche, and so too were the designers at Porsche. Once done, both brands were to meet and bring their designs to the board. Since Thomas had previously worked at Porsche, he was confident that he knew what Porsche’s designers would bring to the meeting, so he and his team stuck with the “Bauhaus” design that eventually became an icon.

Due to some intra-Volkswagen Group politics, the Porsche designers were against Audi having all-wheel drive and also wanted it to have less power. According to Thomas, the Audi team wasn’t having that and told them the whole project was off.

“We had a big meeting in Ingolstadt. Very private. Just [Porsche’s] group and our group,” Thomas told CarBuzz. “We had two scale models and they had two scale models, both very detailed. If the meeting went well, it would go to the next level. But the meeting didn’t go very well because there was a lot of politics going on. So we never shared the coupe with [Porsche].”

Thomas and his team went on to create the Audi TTS Concept, which was designed alongside the production-ready coupe, and brought it to the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1995 without telling Porsche. It was an instant hit. Since the concept was based on the production car, when the Audi TT finally hit the road it looked just like the concept people saw in Frankfurt. Even Giugiaro, one of the legendary automotive designers of all time, told Freeman that he wouldn’t change a line.

We don’t know what would have happened had Porsche’s design for the TT won out. However, the Freeman-penned Audi TT became an icon for the brand and I think it’s safe to say that Audi wouldn’t be the same today without it.

Got tips? Send ’em to

The post The Original Audi TT Was Almost a Porsche Instead appeared first on The Drive.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *