Audi brings home Auto Union Type D racer

Audi has bought back one of the very few original Auto Union Silver Arrow racing cars, after it was lost in Russia for most of its life. The 1939 Type D twin-supercharger went missing after the second world war, when Auto Union’s home town was occupied by the Soviet Army.

Auto Union was liquidated and the USSR took all but one of the Silver Arrow racers as reparation payments, after which they went missing. Auto Union, now Audi, thought there was no hope of finding them again.

However, In the 1970s an American collector, named Paul Karassik, heard rumours that the Auto Union racers were somewhere in the Soviet Union. After ten years of liaison and numerous visits he tracked down two dismantled cars in Russia and Ukraine and managed to buy them. Gradually, with help from Audi, they were rebuilt.

In 1998 Audi bought the first of the two rebuilt cars, which had to have entire new bodies constructed in the UK during restoration. The second was sold to a private buyer, but has now been bought by Audi. “This is one of the most emotional moments in our heritage work for AUDI AG – we have come full circle,” says Thomas Frank, Head of Audi Tradition.

The return of the beautiful Type D twin-supercharger means that Audi now owns all three of the Auto Union racers recovered from the USSR – the first was recovered from a museum in Latvia after the Soviet Union collapsed. The Type D will be displayed in Ingolstadt, the home of Audi AG – but it will first make a guest appearance at the Goodwood Revival in the UK in September. 

Audi Silver Arrow Type D (2)

Comments

Jotaku    on 1 September 2012

Audi spending 8 million – was it Pounds Sterling or
Euros? – for used parts

2007 the web was crowded with Christie’s announcement of a 1939 Auto
Union GP car that was supposed to become the most expensive car sold at auction.
As one may remember Christie’s withdrew the car only some days before the
auction with the statement “Further investigations in the racing history” had
become indispensable. The whole world was laughing since everybody knew that it
was the disputable identity of the car which has not been clarified to this
day.

Since some days an Audi press release is spreading out in the web:

HOME AGAIN: THE LAST
AUTO UNION TYPE D TWIN-SUPERCHARGER SILVER ARROW RETURNS TO AUDI

This Audi press release
creates more questions than it answers.

I remember very well the fuss created by the withdrawal and the following
close-down of Christie’s Motor Car Department. Without being an expert in the
thirties racing history of the Auto Union everybody knows that the value of a
racing car is mainly depending on its racing history as well as its traceable originality.

Though the car in question is the one offered by Christies the press
release does not mention one word on the identity of the car, commonly referred
to as the chassis number. It is no question the one offered by Christie’s in
2007 and in 2009 by Bonham’s. The Bonham’s catalogue is referring to a Martin
Schroeder who asserts that he got documents. Did Audi approach this gentleman?

The question is, what has changed with this car that makes Audi buying
‘used parts’ for 8 million, is it Pound Sterling or Euros, i.e. 10 to 12
million US$?

Quoting the press release „After detailed examination of the racing cars'
components, it was decided to rebuild a Type D single-supercharger racing car
to 1938 specification, and a Type D racing car in the 1939 version with twin
supercharger” one must understand, that Audi decided on the building of the
cars. That would mean that Audi was involved in the wrong identity of the
Christie’s car and the fuss generated by a disputable identity.

In a statement published in the German old car magazine Motor Klassik
Peter Kober of Audi Tradition is quoted with: “The history of the chassis was
irrelevant for our decision. For us the only important matter of fact is that
this is the car with the highest number of original parts.“

Every manufacturer of replicas and/or fakes will be happy for this
statement, since it is easy to put some “original parts” into every “recreated”
Bentley, Mercedes S Type or Ferrari GTO.

Also “the car with the highest number of original parts” raises the
question of the identity of the 1938 Auto Union Type D purchased from Karassik
in 1998.

A lot of questions that car collectors are requiring hard evidence from
Audi.

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