What’s left of the Auto Unions?
- Jeroen Bruintjes
- November 4, 2003; updated on November 30, 2006; 2nd update on March 1, 2007
- Auto Union - The history of the AU racing department, a triptych of essays on the Saxonian marque's racing exploits, by Holger Merten
- Part 1: The small workshop that created motor racing history (1931-1935)
- Part 2: The comeback years (1936-1939)
- Part 3: The scars of war (1939 and beyond)
- Auto Union Type E - The stillborn 1.5-litre car: why it (almost) did exist, by Jeroen Bruintjes
- Sokol 650 - Post-war Auto Union in disguise or a socialist F2 effort? Secrets of Tom Wheatcroft's "Type E" unveiled, by Jeroen Bruintjes/Holger Merten
Just how many Auto Unions exist today? And what’s their history? A quick line-up.
Original cars with racing history
- Typ C/D Bergrennwagen 1938-1939. It is in fact the only car that took part in pre-war racing and stayed more or less in one piece until today. Came from a museum in Riga, Letvia, now in the Audi Museum Mobile Ingolstadt. Restored by Crosthwaite & Gardiner (C&G), coachwork by Roach Manufacturing,
Original cars without racing history
- Typ D 1938, which Karassik found in Russia. Now owned by Audi Tradition.
- Typ D 1939, also Karassik, sold to collector Abba Kogan. Both cars were in fact a large heap of parts. C&G built two Typ Ds out of them. Coachwork by Roach Manufacturing. See article below.
- Typ D 1938. A display car that came out of Prague, Czechoslovakia. Czech race driver Pohl sold it to Hubertus Count Donhoff, who then sold it to Kerry Payne. In it is a V12 engine that German collector Martin Schröder smuggled out of Leipzig. Colin Crabbe rebuilt the car. It was sold by Christies at Pebble Beach 1990 and now resides somewhere in a warehouse near Frankfurt. I believe its present owner is from Asia.
- Typ C, 1936-1937, a display car that survived the war as an exhibit piece in the Deutsches Museum in Munich. It has been through a C&G restoration as well.
- Typ C 1937, Stromlinienwagen, built by C&G, coachwork by Roach Manufacturing, now on permanent display in the Audi Museum Mobile in Ingolstadt.
- Typ C 1936-1937, a replica from C&G, coachwork by Roach Manufacturing, now in the hands of Audi Tradition, Ingolstadt.
- Typ C 1936-1937, a replica from C&G, coachwork by Roach Manufacturing, now in the hands of Autostadt in Wolfsburg.
- Typ C/D Bergwagen. 1938-1939, coachwork by Roach Manufacturing, a replica of the original, in the Latvian museum in Riga.
- Typ D 1939, with single-stage supercharger. By C&G, now in the hands of Audi Tradition, Ingolstadt.
- Typ A 1934, by C&G, coachwork by Roach Manufacturing, now in the hands of D'Ieteren Frères, Bruxelles.
- Typ D 1939 with twin-stage supercharger, built in 2005 by C&G, coachwork by Roach Manufacturing, now in the hands of Audi Tradition, Ingolstadt.
Rumours on other replicas being built
- Typ C 1936-1937, by an unknown workshop in Brisbane, Australia, from original plans. Rumour was never confirmed.
Cars thought to be Auto Unions, but that (perhaps) are not
- 1933/34 P-Wagen, by Terry Wright. It resided in Scotland somewhere around 2004 and was on sale for a while. Very likely a fake, but strangely enough with some genuine parts that no-one knows where they came from. This car has now turned into a...
- 1936 Typ C, owned by Bernie Ecclestone. It is in fact a replica, built out of the fake P-Wagen mentioned above. Its bogus chassis plate claims that it has chassis number 13.
- 1940 Typ E, now known to be an Awtowelo Typ 650 ‘Sokol’ from around 1950. In the Donington Collection.
- 1940 Typ E, now known to be an Awtowelo Typ 650 ‘Sokol’ from around 1950. Partially scrapped, now in the hands of the Dresden Technical Museum.
Known leftover bits
- V16 engine, original from 1934 or 1935, on display in the August Horch museum in Zwickau. It was a gift from the Dresden Technical Museum. Exact origins unknown, but it seems likely that the engine was a gift to the Dresden School of Engineering from Auto Union before the war.
- V16 engine, original. It apparently stayed in Germany in 1945 and was spotted by Audi representatives in Leipzig, around 1990. It then disappeared; present location unknown.
- V12 engine, original. It apparently stayed in Germany in 1945 and came in the hands of the Motorradmuseum Augustusburg near Chemnitz. It then was stolen; present location unknown.
- V12 engine, from the Typ D that came out of Prague. Smuggled into the GDR and stoned-in in the basement of a Leipzig apartment building.
The Christie's controversy
Early 2007, Christie's created some turmoil when it auctioned the Karassik/Kogan Typ D. In the brochure, it was presented as chassis number 21, engine number 37 and the winning car of both the 1939 French and Belgrade GP.
Controversy arose when it turned out that Peter Kirchberg, Audi Tradition's chief expert on the Auto Unions, had said something quite different in his 2004 book Dem Silber auf der Spur. On page 14, he assigned French GP winner Müller to car 76010, with chassis 11 and engine 37. In Belgrade, Nuvolari had driven 76010 with chassis 22 and engine 29.
Some experts then added to the controversy. They showed that, in the early 1990s, C&G rebuilt the two-stage blown engine 37 in the Karassik/Kogan/Christie’s car by converting a single-stage blown engine, which has different parts. Meaning: current engine 37 cannot be the same engine 37 as was used in the 1939 French GP. It also has a new cilinder head, built from scratch, since the old one had corroded badly.
It should also be noted that Belgrade winner Nuvolari actually drove car 76011, which had chassis number 26 and engine number 26, according to the Auto Union archives. A copy of this archived document can also be found in Kirchberg’s older book Grand Prix Report Auto Union 1934-1939. Car 76010 had originally been assigned to Nuvolari, but since he did not show up at the practice days and his arrival was not assured, 76010 was given to Müller.
On March 1, 2007, Christie´s announced that it had completed its research with the aid of Audi Tradition. They claimed that the car´s chassis is frame 19, not 21. Regarding racing history, the press statement said "that chassis 19 is a genuine 1939 Typ D chassis and that it was first raced by Rudolf Hasse in the Eifelrennen on the 20th May 1939 at the Nurburgring, in which Hasse finished in 5th place. It was next raced at the 1939 French Grand Prix in the hands of legendary Auto Union pilot Hans Stuck, who brought the car home in 6th place, behind the company's 1st and 2nd finishers."