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Drystone Wall

1939 Auto Union Type D

Earlier this month, Audi issued a press release in which they announced that they bought a car. Not just any car, either. Feast your eyes:

20120822_39typed

Isn’t she a beauty?

As the press release states,

In 1934, Auto Union and Mercedes-Benz appeared on the international motor racing scene with German racing cars of totally new design, with a silver finish and futuristic appearance, and were immediately successful. Whereas Mercedes-Benz relied on conventional front-engined cars, Auto Union placed the engine behind the driver – the layout that is still a standard feature of today’s Formula One cars. The two manufacturers dominated racing on Europe’s Grand Prix circuits without serious opposition until the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939.

So why did Audi buy this car made by Auto Union? The four-ring logo on the car’s nose represents the four companies, Audi, Horch, Dampf-Kraft-Wagen, and Wanderer, that merged in 1932 to form Auto Union. In 1969 Auto Union merged with NSU Motorenwerke AG to form Audi NSU Auto Union AG. They shortened the name to Audi AG in 1985. So despite the different name, the Auto Union is an ancestor of the cars Audi makes today.

Built more than 70 years ago, the two Auto Union Type D cars dating from 1938 (background) and 1939 are now back at Audi.

Built more than 70 years ago, the two Auto Union Type D cars dating from 1938 (background) and 1939 are now back at Audi.

The Type D has a 3 litre v‑12 engine with two superchargers capable of delivering 500 hp. Just 4.2 metres long and weighing 850 kg without driver or fuel, the Type D could reach a top speed of 330 km/h. Remember, this was 1939!

Auto Union built some twenty of these Grand Prix cars and only five remain today. With this purchase, Audi owns three of them.

And what did Audi pay for this piece of history? They’re not saying.


A tip of the hat to Road & Track and AutoBlog. Photos courtesy of Audi.co.uk

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2 Comments

  1. Shawn

    That is pure SEX in sheetmetal. Love it. thanks for the find

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