By on March 28, 2009

Oh, and $8M. Or less? We shall see as the car in question, a 1939 Auto Union Grand Prix single seater, is up for auction this summer. “The 200 mph D-Type will be offered in Bonhams & Butterfields’ Aug. 14 sale of collectors’ vehicles in Carmel,” Bloomberg reports. “The silver rear-engined 485-horsepower racer was produced by the quartet of Horch, DKW, Wanderer and Audi. Helped by subsidies from the Nazi government, the ‘Silver Arrows’ of Auto Union and its rival Mercedes dominated European motor racing from 1934 until the outbreak of World War II.” Ach, ja. Die Nazis. Speaking of controversy, this is the same D-Type that was going to fetch $12M back in February ’07. Only Christie’s pulled the car four days before hammer time (sorry, Steve) due to questions about its provenance/authenticity. “Since then, further information was supplied by Audi Tradition, the heritage wing of the carmaker, said [Bonham’s Rupert] Banner. Audi identified the chassis as number 19, which was raced by Austrian driver Hans Stuck and finished sixth in the 1939 Grand Prix.” Bonham’s also confirmed that the car’s current owner is Abraham “Abba” Kogan, a Chinese-born Brazilian who manufacturers and leases gaming machines for the US and Japan. So, nothing untoward there, then.

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12 Comments on ““You need guts to drive a car that goes nearly 200 mph on 5-inch-wide tires without a seatbelt.”...”


  • avatar
    paris-dakar

    I bet it would be worth more if it had been raced by Bernd Rosemeyer.

    ETA: Turns out Rosemeyer couldn’t have driven this car since he died in 1938. And his wife, Elly Beinhorn was an accomplished pilot in her own right.

  • avatar

    I thought, Hans Stuck was Bavarian (because his son is), not Austrian. But you are right.
    Well, Austria was quite supra-national, once upon a time…
    There is a book (“Mein Mann, der Rennfahrer” (My Husband, ths Race Driver) from Elly Beinhorn, Bend Rosemeyer’s wife, where there are lots of details (also some nice pictures) with regard to the racing scene of this time and the Auto Union race cars in particular.
    Let’s not forget Tazio Nuvolari, who also drove cars of this type (c.f. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tazio_Nuvolari)

  • avatar
    johnny ro

    This is almost like seeing a Luft46 vehicle on sale.

    I am the opposite of a Nazi fan, but well this was a world beating item of near zero production… gotta love that engineering.

    Oh what might have been if only they didn’t go wrong.

  • avatar
    qfrog

    Hey I’m wearing an Audi tradition shirt today. Said shirt is adorned by an artistic likeness of just such a silver arrow.

    Oh and you would have to be cut of a special cloth (a mix of nomex, carbon fiber and kevlar) to be willing to ride in one of those silver arrow cars with such primitive brakes and suspension at speeds like 200mph. In all fairness these things were most likely bleeding edge technology in their day, not that any of it was really devoted to driver safety. Yet back then this was acceptable or tolerable, simply driving one of those things must be a near life experience.

  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    those were the days when a helmet was made of cloth and stopped your hair from being messed up. Didn’t do much for your brain, even before the inevitable prang happened. under 10 minutes round the ring in one of those monsters…… that would keep your attention. 7,25 in a GTR meh.

  • avatar
    tom

    Bernd Rosemeyer is probably the greatest driver ever. While I’m a big fan of Caracciola, I have to admit that Rosemeyer was the best.

  • avatar
    tom

    Also, it’s a common myth that the Nazis funded the racing success of Mercedes and Auto Union. But in reality, the money provided by the Nazis was only a tiny fraction of the racing budget.

  • avatar
    mpresley

    For those seeking a modern version, go to I-Tunes and download the free movie, “Truth in 24”–the story of Audi’s 2008 Le Mans coup over the faster Peugeot team. Not the best racing film made, but certainly interesting and watchable. Who knows, you might even enjoy it?; unless your the typical TTAC VW-Audi anti-fan. Then you’ll just shake your head at the various repairs the LMP required during the season, and think to yourself, “if only they’d been driving a Lexus.”

  • avatar
    Lokki

    As much as I respect and admire the Auto Union Silver Arrows, as an Alfisti (and therefore closet Italiaphile) I cannot think of them without recalling their defeat at the hands of the Master, Nuvolari, in the 1935 Italian Grand Prix:

    http://www.ddavid.com/formula1/ger1935.htm

  • avatar
    wmba

    “You need guts to drive a car that goes nearly 200 mph on 5-inch-wide tires without a seatbelt.”

    Where’s Jeff Puthuff when we need him? “5 inch tires without a seat belt”?

    Do tires need a seat belt?

    Reminds me of an ad here that assures us that the gonzo cheesemakers of XYZ company know how to make cheese like the back of their hand. Don’t know about you, but the back of my hand has never struck me as a cheese substitute.

    As for the car, about one-tenth the effort went into that car that went into the Brawn Mercedes that won the Australian GP today — I’ve never personally found ancient race cars all that interesting. The drivers yes, because they were barking mad to drive nutso vehicles like that. The cars were a technological dead end. Swing axle suspension, when Citroen had already shown years before how to make constant velocity joints which would have allowed fully independent suspension. Engines which revved to all of 5 grand but supercharged to a fare-thee-well, when the Italians were way beyond that.

    The 1938 Chevrolet had a more advanced front suspension than this Auto Union, IMO. Perhaps people looking at this monster realize it is only an exercise in crude brute force, and that’s why its value is falling.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Now that’s when a car was a car and a smoke was a smoke.

    Good luck on the auction; I’d be depressed if it went for less than $8 million.

  • avatar

    wimba: The cars were a technological dead end. OH, I don’t know. The MB ones had an a-mazing desmodromic valve train…look Ma, no valve springs, no valve float!
    And as for I’ve never personally found ancient race cars all that interesting, I have to say ditto for modern high-end sports cars and race cars. Nearly all of us suffer from the delusion that we are above average drivers, when in reality, we’d be lucky to survive for more than a minute driving these monsters of the present at anything close to their capabilities. Like the nerd dating the centerfold, we wouldn’t have a clue. High-end cars, AKA rocket sleds, have become incredible tours de force that are irrelevant to any driving almost all of us could manage. Witness the used Ferraris with under 100 hours on their clocks.
    Topic: what would qualify as a car that would not be an impossible challenge for most of us to drive to something like its potential?

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