1939 Auto Union Type D Recovered By Audi
|   Sunday, August 12, 2012
He 1930s represented a golden era for race cars. The Grand Prix race cars launched in that period have become the stuff of legends. It is enough to think about Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union's vehicles of the time and the answer becomes clear.

The latter's Silver Arrows, called that way due to the unpainted aluminum bodies, stood at the peak of the racing world during those times. Few, if any, cars could compare to them in terms of power, and, yes, even looks.
In 1937 a Silver Arrow could develop 600 horsepower, a feat that would have to wait almost 4 decades to be reproduced, when the 80s Grand Prix saw cars that powerful again.

Time has not been kind to those machines, but Audi has managed to recover a gorgeous Auto Union Type D unit made in 1939 and raced in the same year. The model has a twin supercharger on board. On a side note, for those who didn't already knew, Auto Union is what Audi used to go by more than half a century ago.

There is quite some history behind the whole process. The era of superchargers came to an end when World War II started. The postwar period was a very difficult one for car makers, but especially so for Auto Union. While Mercedes got its cars back, they didn't, seeing how the race cars' storage space was at Zwickau, and area which was occupied by the Soviet Army. The occupants took the cars as spoils of war, or rather they considered that was just a part of the reparations they were entitled to receive.

Over time, efforts were made to recover as many cars as possible. The only surviving Auto Union Type C was given to Deutsches Museum in Munich, but a bomb attack damaged the vehicle while the Cold War was raging.

Later, in the 70s rumors surfaced regarding other Auto Union cars and how they were supposed to have been located in Russia. Paul Karassik, an American collector of historic cars, arrived in Europe with his wife Barbara, whose family came from Germany, and started the search for the car.
The search finally proved its results after 10 years of efforts. The dismantled parts of 2 models were located in Russia and Ukraine. On the list of parts engines, chassis, axles and gearboxes could have been found, all of which were then shipped to Florida, where Karassik was living at the time.

In 1990, expect authenticators, including the people at Audi's official vehicle restoration department Audi Tradition, were called on. Audi's people would act as advisors for the planned restoration. Work was entrusted by the Karassiks British firm Crosthwaite & Gardiner, which was already in possession of the extensive know-how required for the restoration of historic racing cars.

The results was one Type D single-supercharger racing car according to 1938 specifications, and a Type D racing car in the 1939 version with a twin-supercharger. Now, Audi has purchased the 1939 model, having previously bought the 1398 version in 1998.
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