Antique Audi D-Type for Auction
A one-of-a-kind Nazi-era vehicle found concealed from the German mine shaft during the World War II is currently on display at Audi’s showroom on Park Avenue. The auction of the silver D-Type from Auto Union will commence on February 17 in Paris as part of Christie’s Retromobile auto sale. The auction price for the said vehicle will start at £8 million but expected to go higher than that.
According to Christie’s International Motor Cars, “While Adolph Hitler gave about 500,000 reichsmarks to Auto Union and Mercedes-Benz to promote racing and technology, the car is not specifically affiliated with the Third Reich.”
The D-Type is considered to be the grandfather of modern race cars and the one of the only two in existence. The said vehicle was also said to revolutionize automotive racing by positioning the driver in front of the engine instead of behind it. The D-Type is capable of 185 miles per hour.
Rupert Banner head of Christie’s International Motor Cars division commented, “This car was really quite ahead of its time. It was revolutionary. It changed the face of racing.” Between the year 1933 and 1939 over twenty Auto Union series cars were manufactured. The D-Type that was designed by Ferdinand Porsche has a body shaped that is similar to an airplane fuselage. The driver is positioned in such a way that he is sunken into the body of the metal, and the wheels. The latter appears like an oversized bicycle tires with independent suspension.
Automakers at present are improving their line of race cars taking inspiration from the D-Type. Some of the latest and greatest formulations for fast-street or light track vehicles having EBC Redstuff are inspired by race cars such as the D-Type. According to Thomas Erdmann Audi historian, “There was a kind of memory loss after the war. It took really until the early 1960s and later on to the 1980s for car design to catch up to these cars.”
A part of the D-Type history includes a 1929 French Grand Prix Award which was won before the World War II. There was also a car called the Silver Arrow that was filmed rambling through country roads and was used in newsreels across Europe which according to Erdmann, “They vanished, lost behind the Iron Curtain.”
When it comes to racing, German cars were always using the color silver, French use blue while green is for the British. The colors in time became their trademarks. This also explains why the D-Type is painted silver. During the peak of World War II, Auto Union workers concealed the cars in a mine shaft located in eastern Germany to keep them from being used as a scrap metal. After World War II, the Russians discovered the cars and brought them to their own country to recreate motorsports. In short, the cars were taken apart.
Fortunately an American car collector happened to come across some of the scrap heap in Ukraine and took them back to England where it was restored by Crosthwaite & Gardiner’s auto experts. The name of the seller was not revealed by Christie’s.
Audi, the Company
Audi of America is headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan and a subsidiary company of Europe’s largest automaker, Volkswagen. Audi lines of luxury cars are built in plants like Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm, Germany, Bratislava, Slovakia, Gyor, Hungary, and Changchun, China (local market only). Volkswagen is renowned for its top-of-the-line vehicles and auto parts like Volkswagen Distributor Rotor.
About the Author: Growing up with three brothers, Natalie Anderson became exposed early to the world of automobiles. This 29-year-old account manager now dreams of having her very own top-of-the-line vintage car.