The benefits of all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive systems have in the past been used mostly in off-road vehicles and rugged workhorses. More recently however, the increasing need for grip arising from ever more powerful sports cars has seen this technology transition into the mainstream.

Putting the power down to all four wheels makes accelerating on slippery surfaces a lot easier too and this was put to good effect in the early ‘80s, most ably demonstrated by the first Audi Quattro rally cars.

Today you will struggle to find an Audi without four-wheel drive and even dedicated rear-wheel drive companies such as BMW and Mercedes now offer a range of 4WD options across their ranges.

We trace the history of 4WD in the automotive world with a focus on its use in sports cars and a nod to some very special vehicles that had a big influence on this technology. Start slideshow