Categorized | Auto News

1939 Auto Union Goes Home

1939 Auto Union Goes Home

From time to time a racing car appears that really stirs the blood. Such a car was the Auto Union (that’s Audi to us these days) twin-supercharger Silver Arrow. The car originates from the 1930’s and a very rare example that surfaced in Russia some time ago has been obtained by the delighted Audi company which has bought it back home. What is more appealing is the fact that, after all this time, it seems to be in almost completely original condition.

The exquisite Silver Arrow (that’s it in the photo) was conceived and built in the ‘30s. At the time both AU and Mercedes were racing cars of a, for the time, very modern design. The Merc’s were front engined but Auto Union decided to put the motor behind the driver. This was obviously a good idea because that’s how things are today in F1. These cars dominated the Grand Prix scene, driven by the famous names of the time, until 1939 bought the storm clouds of war to Europe.

With 12 or 16 cylinder engines these cars, notoriously difficult to drive, were reaching speeds in excess of 300 kilometres per hour. That’s an astonishing 186mph in British money and, if you consider the almost total lack of safety precautions at the circuits, made the racing very exciting indeed.

What became known as the supercharger era was brought to an abrupt end by the Second World War. Most of the racing Mercedes were saved for the nation but, when the Russians occupied what became East Germany they nicked all the Auto Unions from as part of their booty. As time went by they disappeared.

After the war, in 1949, AU was resurrected at a new factory in Ingolstadt where it remains as Audi to this day. Only one of the cars remained and that had been bomb damaged during the conflict.

Curiously, it was an American collector called Paul Karassik, whose wife was German, who got wind of the existence of one of the cars and he set to work. Karassik originally came from a White Russian family and spoke the language fluently. Cutting a long story short he overcame immense difficulties – before the fall of the iron Curtain – to buy and bring out all the components of two cars, minus bodies, and flew them to America. Two examples were assembled and two new bodies built by a British coach-builder.

The years passed and eventually Audi were able to obtain both cars over time. They already had one other and it is now believed, with the arrival of the latest car, that all the remaining examples are back home where they should be. A happy ending to a piece of automotive history.

This post was written by:

- who has written 474 posts on Motor Blogger.

Geoff is a freelance writer and photographer.

Contact the author

Leave a Reply

All comment forms are spam protected.

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