From humble beginnings as a blacksmith’s shop shoeing horses, ABT Sportsline is still heavily involved with horsepower 125 years later – the strictly limited edition Johann Abt Signature Edition RS 6 Avant paying homage to the company’s founder.

28 June, 2021

On the surface, it’s now obvious how a limited edition Audi RS 6 Avant is the perfect way to celebrate the efforts of as blacksmith 125 years ago. But drill a little deeper and the connection becomes apparent and makes complete sense.

The blacksmith in question was Johann Abt who, in 1896 worked as a master blacksmith from his forge in Bavaria. Central to his business was shoeing horses and working on the carriages they pulled, so the transition of the Abt company over time to embrace subsequent means of transport makes complete sense. That task of transferring horsepower to the road was Abt’s specialty, and his ‘Schutsche’ system for maintaining a carriage’s traction even in icy conditions earned him a far reaching reputation for innovation and expertise that saw his business and customer base grow well beyond the region.

That business has of course grown into ABT Sportsline which enjoys a well earned reputation as one of the most successful automotive aftermarket and performance specialists in the world. Its association with the Audi and Volkswagen brands have resulted in various motorsport success – including the current Formula E collaboration – and spawned some extraordinary limited-edition special models.

Now 125 years after Johann Abt established the Abt company, its most exclusive model to date pays homage to the company’s beginnings, with a car based on the awesome Audi RS 6 Avant. 

The Johann Abt Signature Edition RS 6 Avant is limited to 64 cars and features a unique aero package and styling package executed in carbon that includes front splitter, side skirts, mirror caps, rear spoiler and rear skirt insert. Coupled with exclusive  22-inch forged wheels the overall effect is visually impressive with red metal thread running through the carbon, and the founder’s signature featuring at various points. It also serves to provide an extra 150kg of down thrust, something that comes in handy with the significant performance upgrades. 

Specially developed turbochargers and the high-tech control unit ABT Engine Control (AEC) result in a whopping 589kW of power and 980Nm of torque that translates to a 0-100 km/h time of 2.91 seconds (0.69 seconds faster than a standard RS 6 Avant) and a top speed of 330km/h.

Inside too the bespoke touches abound. The year of the Abt company’s foundation appears on the door sills and the red carbon thread treatment includes the seat frame covers, dash insets and door trims. The sports seats have been hand stitched and feature Johann Abt’s signature, as does the central armrest. While the build number of each car is mounted on a dash plate. Each of the 64 cars also features a small ‘time capsule’ worked into the central console that contains a small piece of Johann Abt’s original anvil from his blacksmith’s shop – a unique reminder of the company’s origins

“Customer interest exceeded all expectations”, says current CEO Hans-Jürgen Abt. Due to the extremely complex manufacturing, only six cars per month will be built. “Each individual car’s conversion will be overseen by a motorsport mechanic – truly exceptional. One man, one vehicle – from start to finish,” says Abt.

A world away from the the horse drawn carriages of the late 1800s, the limited edition model is a fitting tribute to the inventive origins of a company that still very much deals in horsepower business. All 64 cars are unfortunately already spoken for and indeed were sold in record time – the first vehicles will be delivered in July.