Christie’s auctions Auto Union Type D racing car
Perhaps the most expensive car ever to be sold in the history of the prestigious auction house Christie’s is due to go under the hammer on 17 February at the international vintage car fair Rétromobile in Paris: one of two remaining original Type D racing cars from Auto Union dating from 1939. Christie’s has estimated the value of the car at 8.8 to 12 million euros. That would be a new record in the British auction house’s long history. Worldwide interest in the vehicle is huge. For that reason, Christie’s is holding a press conference in collaboration with Audi of America and Audi Tradition in New York on 25 January (10.30 am). Audi France will be exhibiting an original Auto Union Type D from Audi Tradition to mark the auction in Paris (12 February, 11.30 am).
Auto Union is one of the brands that later jointly became AUDI AG. Audi Tradition keeps alive the memory of the legendary Auto Union Grand Prix racing cars. While the vehicle on auction will be on display in the Audi Forum New York (250 Park Avenue and 47th) on 25 January, the so-called sister car – the Auto Union Type D racing car from 1938 – will be making an appearance on 12 February in Paris (Bauer Saint Honoré, 48 Place du Marché Saint Honoré). Both of these Grand Prix cars made the journey from the former Soviet Union, having been transported there from Zwickau in eastern Germany after World War II by the Soviet occupation forces as spoils of war.
In the 1980s the American Paul Karassik eventually brought them to the West having searched for over ten years and eventually finding the cars stripped down into individual parts in the former USSR. He then had them reassembled by specialists in Britain with technical support from AUDI AG. Subsequently AUDI AG acquired the 1938 car from Paul Karassik. The 1939 D Type passed into private ownership.
The Auto Union engineers, headed by Robert Eberan-Eberhorst, developed the 12-cylinder Type D racing car for the 1938 racing season, in which new international Grand Prix regulations were introduced, limiting engine capacity to three litres. The fundamental technical design of the car – mid-mounted engine, torsion bar suspension, supercharged engine – essentially followed the model of its Type C predecessor, developed by Ferdinand Porsche for Auto Union with a 16-cylinder V-engine. In 1938 Auto Union won the Italian and British Grand Prix with the Type D racing car.
The car was modified in 1939 with the addition of a twin compressor, which increased its engine power output from 420 to 460 bhp. Its top speed was 330 km/h and it was driven to victory at the Grand Prix in France and Yugoslavia. The top drivers of the Auto Union Type D racing car were Tazio Nuvolari, H.P. Müller, Hans Stuck, Rudolf Hasse and Georg Meier.
Audi Tradition today once again owns four Auto Union Silver Arrows – the original Type D and Type C/D hill-climbing car and replicas of the original Type C Grand Prix car and the Type C Avus Streamline racing car. A further replica is still to be produced this year – a Auto Union Type D racing car of the 1939 generation with twin compressor.
Experts from Audi Tradition will be on hand at the press conferences in New York and Paris and at the auction on 17 February at 6.30 pm on the Christie’s stand at the Rétromobile in Paris (Hall 7), where they will be available to answer specialist questions.
The four rings of the Audi badge symbolise the brands Audi, DKW, Horch and Wanderer, which were later combined under the umbrella of Auto Union. Auto Union and NSU, which merged in 1969, made many significant contributions towards the development of the car. AUDI AG was formed from Audi NSU Auto Union AG in 1985. Together with the two traditional companies Auto Union GmbH and NSU GmbH, Audi Tradition nurtures and presents the deep and diverse history of Audi. The Audi museum mobile at the Audi Forum Ingolstadt is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.