Auto Union

Auto Union AG, Chemnitz, was an amalgamation of four German automobile manufacturers, founded in 1932 and established in 1936 in Chemnitz, Saxony. It is the immediate predecessor of Audi as it is known today.

As well as acting as an umbrella firm for its four constituent brands (Audi, Horch, DKW, Wanderer), Auto Union is widely known for its racing team (Auto Union Rennabteilung, based at Horch works in Zwickau/Saxony). The Silver Arrows of the two German teams (Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union) dominated not only GP car racing from 1934 onwards but set records that would take decades to beat, such as the fastest speed ever attained on a public road (at 432.7 km/h (268.9 mph), unbroken as of 2013).[3] After being reduced to near ruin in the aftermath of World War II, Auto Union was re-founded in Ingolstadt, Bavaria in 1949, ultimately evolving into the modern day Audi company following its takeover by Volkswagen in 1964 and later merger with NSU Motorenwerke in 1969.

The current corporate entity which bears the Auto Union name – Auto Union GmbH – was founded in 1985 and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Audi AG; its purpose is to act as owner of Auto Union's historical trademarks and intellectual property, as well as managing Audi's heritage operations. The company's distinctive logo, of four interlocking rings to represent the original four members of the Auto Union, survives as the logo of Audi.

Auto Union AG
IndustryAutomotive industry, Motor racing
Fateacquired by Volkswagen,
merged with NSU to create modern day Audi company.
PredecessorZschopauer Motorenwerke J. S. Rasmussen (DKW)
Audiwerke AG Zwickau
Horchwerke AG Zwickau
Wanderer plant, Siegmar (now part of Chemnitz)
SuccessorAuto Union GmbH (1949–1968)
Audi NSU Auto Union AG (1969–1985)
Audi AG (1985–present)
FoundedAuto Union AG
Chemnitz, Germany
(29 June 1932)[1]
Auto Union GmbH
Ingolstadt, Germany
(3 September 1949)[2]
Defunct1 January 1969 (merger with NSU to Audi NSU Auto Union AG)
HeadquartersChemnitz (1932–1948)
Ingolstadt (1949–1968)
Neckarsulm/Audi NSU
Ingolstadt/Audi AG


Auto Union was formed in Germany in 1932[4] merging:

  • Zschopauer Motorenwerke J. S. Rasmussen (brand DKW – steam-driven car) founded by Danish engineer Jørgen Skafte Rasmussen in 1916, it branched out into motorcycles, and then front-drive two-stroke cars built at Audi works in Zwickau since 1931.
  • Horch – founded 1904 by August Horch in Zwickau. It built cars starting from straight-twin engines to luxury models with V8- and V12 engines.[5]
  • Audi – because of disputes with the CFO, August Horch in 1909 left his namesake enterprise and founded Audi across town, building inline-four-, six- and eight-cylinder-engined cars. In 1928 Audi became a subsidiary of Zschopauer Motorenwerke.
  • Wanderer (only car division) – founded in 1911, with small four-cylinder cars and later a more luxurious straight-6 built in Siegmar (now Chemnitz)

In August 1928, Rasmussen, the owner of DKW, acquired a majority ownership of Audiwerke AG.[6] In the same year, Rasmussen bought the remains of the US automobile manufacturer Rickenbacker, including the manufacturing equipment for eight- and six-cylinder engines. These engines were used in Audi Zwickau, Audi Imperator and Audi Dresden models. At the same time, six-cylinder and four-cylinder (licensed from Peugeot) models were manufactured.

In 1930 the Saxony Regional Bank, which had financed Rasmussen's business expansion in the 1920s, installed Richard Bruhn on the board of Audiwerke AG, and there followed a brutal pruning and rationalization of the various auto-businesses that Rasmussen had accumulated. The outcome was the founding in Summer 1932 of Auto Union AG with just four component businesses, being Zschopauer Motorenwerke with its brand DKW, Audi, Horch and the car producing piece of Wanderer,[7] brought together under the umbrella of single shareholder company Auto Union. Although all four brands continued to sell cars under their own names and brands, the technological development became more centralized, with some Audi models employing engines by Horch or Wanderer.

The Auto Union racing cars


Auto Union chairman, Klaus, Baron von Oertzen, wanted a showpiece project to announce the new brand. At the 1933 Berlin Motor Show, German Chancellor Adolf Hitler announced two new programs:[8]

  • The people's car: a project that became the KdF car
  • A state-sponsored motor racing programme: to develop a "high speed German automotive industry," the foundation of which would be an annual sum of 500,000 Reichsmark (RM)

At fellow director's Adolf Rosenberger insistence, von Oertzen met with Dr. Ferdinand Porsche, who had done work for him before, and developed his own P-Wagen project racing car based on the new 750 kg (1,650 lb) formula.[8]

German racing driver Hans Stuck Sr. had met Hitler before he became Chancellor, and not being able to gain a seat at Mercedes, accepted the invitation of Rosenberger to join him, von Oertzen, and Porsche in approaching the Chancellor. In a meeting in the Reich Chancellory, Hitler agreed with Porsche that for the glory of Germany, it would be better for two companies to develop the project, resulting in Hitler agreeing to pay 40,000 for the country's best racing car of 1934, as well as an annual stipend of 250,000 RM[8] (₤20,000)[9] each for Mercedes and Auto Union. (In time, this would climb to ₤250,000.)[10] This highly annoyed Mercedes, who had already developed their Mercedes-Benz W25, which nevertheless was gratified, its racing program having financial difficulties since 1931.[10] It resulted in a heated exchange both on and off the racing track between the two companies until World War II.

Having garnered state funds, Auto Union bought Porsches Hochleistungsfahrzeugbau GmbH (HFB) (High Performance Car Ltd.) and hence the P-Wagen Project for 75,000 RM, relocating the company to Auto Unions Horch plant at Zwickau.[8]


The Auto Union racing cars types A to D were built as Grand Prix racing cars from 1934 to 1939. They resembled the earlier Benz Tropfenwagen, also built in part by Rumpler engineers,[11] The only Grand Prix racers to wear Auto Union's four-ringed logo, they were particularly dominant in 1936. From 1935 to 1937, Auto Union cars car won 25 races, driven by Ernst von Delius, Bernd Rosemeyer, Hans Stuck Sr., and Achille Varzi. Much has been written about the difficult handling characteristics of this car, but its tremendous power and acceleration were undeniable – a driver could induce wheelspin at over 100 mph (160 km/h).

The cars used supercharged piston engines; eventually producing almost 550 hp (410 kW; 560 PS), designed to provide optimum torque at low engine speeds. Rosemeyer would later drive one around the Nürburgring in a single gear, to prove the engine was flexible enough to do it. The fuel tank was located in the centre of the car, directly behind the driver (who would be placed well towards the front), so the car's front-rear weight distribution would remain unchanged as fuel was used – exactly the same location used in modern open-wheel racing cars, and for the same reason. The chassis tubes were initially used as water carriers from the radiator to the engine, but this was eventually abandoned after they often sprung small leaks.

Racing results

The list of drivers for the initial 1934 season was headed by Stuck; he won the German, Swiss, and Czechoslovakian events, along with wins in a number of hill climbs, becoming European Mountain Champion.

In 1935, the engine had been enlarged to 5 L (305 cu in) displacement, producing 370 bhp (276 kW; 375 PS). Achille Varzi joined the team and won the Tunis Grand Prix and the Coppa Acerbo. Stuck won the Italian Grand Prix, plus his usual collection of hill-climb wins, again taking the European Mountain Championship. The new sensation, Rosemeyer, won the Czech Grand Prix.

Streamlined Auto Union
Hans Stuck Sr. in an aerodynamic Type B in Italy

Stuck also managed to break speed records, reaching 199 mph (320 km/h) on an Italian autostrada in a closed-cockpit streamliner.[12] Lessons learned from this streamlining were later applied to the T80 land speed record car.

1939 Type C/D V16 hillclimb car

For 1936, the engine had grown to a full 6 L (366 cu in), and was now producing 520 bhp (388 kW; 527 PS); in the hands of Rosemeyer and his teammates, the Auto Union Type C dominated the racing world. Rosemeyer won the Eifelrennen, German, Swiss, and Italian Grands Prix, as well as the Coppa Acerbo. He was crowned European Champion (Auto Union's only win of the driver's championship), and also took the European Mountain Championship. Varzi won the Tripoli Grand Prix, while Stuck placed second in the Tripoli and German Grands Prix, and Ernst von Delius took second in the Coppa Acerbo.

In 1937, the car was basically unchanged and did surprisingly well against the new Mercedes-Benz W125, winning five races to the seven of Mercedes-Benz. Rosemeyer took the Eifel and Donington Grands Prix, the Coppa Acerbo, and the Vanderbilt Cup. Rudolf Hasse won the Belgian Grand Prix.

In addition to the new 3 L (183 cu in) formula, 1938 brought other challenges, principally the death of Rosemeyer early in the year, in an attempt on the land speed record on a German autobahn. Tazio Nuvolari joined the team, and won the Italian and Donington Grands Prix, in what was otherwise a thin year for the team, other than yet another European Mountain Championship for Stuck.

In 1939, as war clouds gathered over Europe, Nuvolari won the Yugoslavia Grand Prix in Belgrade, while Hermann P. Müller won the 1939 French Grand Prix.

Second World War

The buildup and onset of World War II encouraged the development and production of special vehicles for military purposes in the 1930s. Auto Union became an important supplier of vehicles to Germany's armed forces.[6] Following the outbreak of war, civilian production was interrupted in May 1940. After this, the company produced exclusively for military purposes.[6]

For the production of Junkers aircraft engine under license, Auto Union founded in 1935 the subsidiary "Mitteldeutsche Motorenwerke" (Central German Motor Works) at Taucha, northeast of Leipzig.

During World War II, Auto Union/Horch supplied the chassis for the Sd.Kfz. 222 armored car. Powered by an 90 PS (66 kW; 89 hp) Horch V8 engine, it reached a top speed of 50 mph (80 km/h) on the road. The all-wheel drive Kfz. 11, or Horch/Wanderer Type 901, was used as a medium transport vehicle to shuttle German military officials. Horch works also produced the AWD heavy transport vehicle Type 801 (both named Einheits-PKW der Wehrmacht).

From the beginning of 1944, Auto Union plants (Horch and Audi plant at Zwickau, Mitteldeutsche Motorenwerke and Siegmar/Wanderer plant at Siegmar-Schönau) were heavily bombed and severely damaged. The U.S. Army occupied Zwickau on 17 April 1945 near the end of WWII. After withdrawal of the U.S. Army on 30 June from Zwickau, all Saxon plants of Auto Union were occupied by the Red Army.

East Germany

Postwar, the Saxon plants of Auto Union were located in the Soviet-occupied zone of communist East Germany.

In 1945, on the orders of the Soviet Military Administration in Germany, the factories were dismantled as war reparations,[13] while the racing cars found stored in a colliery were returned to Moscow for reverse engineering. Following this, Auto Union AG assets were liquidated without compensation.[13] On 17 August 1948, Auto Union AG of Chemnitz was deleted from the commercial register.[13] The remains of Horch and Audi plants of Zwickau became the VEB (for "People Owned Enterprise") Automobilwerk Zwickau, or AWZ; Automobile Factory Zwickau).[14]

The former Audi factory in Zwickau, now under East German control, restarted assembly of the pre-war models in 1949. Those models were renamed IFA F8 and IFA F9 and were similar to the new West German DKW versions. In time, a lawsuit compelled the East Germans to cease using the DKW brand. The factory went on to manufacture the infamous Trabant until the early 1990s, when it was acquired by Volkswagen, effectively re-establishing its connection with Auto Union and Audi.

New Auto Union

DKW Meisterklasse 1952

With the Red Army quickly advancing on Zwickau immediately after the war, and faced with the prospect of trying to salvage what was left of the company, Auto Union's executives had no option but to flee and re-establish the company on Western side of the partitioned Germany. Thus a new Auto Union company was launched in Ingolstadt, Bavaria with loans from the Bavarian state government and Marshall Plan aid.[15]

The reformed company Auto Union GmbH was launched on 3 September 1949. The Ingolstadt facility had been run purely as a spare parts operation since 1945, but eventually the directors found the funding to restart production – initially in a converted granary building in the town. With West Germany still in the early stages of rebuilding its economy after the war, the demand for cheap transport meant that only the DKW brand would survive into the postwar era. The luxury focused Audi and Horch brands were placed into dormancy, whilst Wanderer had been the property of its original parent firm. Auto Union therefore continued DKW's tradition of producing affordable front-wheel drive vehicles with two-stroke engines.[15] This included production of the small but sturdy DKW RT 125 W motorcycle and a delivery van known as DKW Schnellaster. Many employees of the Saxony factories in Zwickau (Audi and Horch factories), Chemnitz (Siegmar plant, former Wanderer) and Zschopau (DKW Motorcycle factory) came to Ingolstadt and restarted the production.

In 1950, after a former Rheinmetall-Borsig factory in Düsseldorf-Derendorf was established as a second assembly facility, the company's first postwar car went into production: the DKW Meisterklasse F 89 P, available as a sedan/saloon, a station wagon and the four-seater convertible built by Karmann.[13][16] The F 89 were based on the DKW F8 (motor) and the DKW F9 (coachwork) pre-war constructions.

In response to pressure from Friedrich Flick, then their largest single shareholder,[17] Daimler-Benz acquired 87% of Auto Union in April 1958, taking complete control in the following year. In 1958 it saw the return of the Auto Union brand, represented by the Auto Union 1000, a small saloon. At the same time the 1000 Sp, a coupé, was produced for Auto Union by the coachbuilder Baur at Stuttgart. Under Daimler-Benz ownership the company invested heavily in the Ingolstadt plant. Car production at Düsseldorf was ended, and the plant became the centre of production for Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicles like the Mercedes-Benz L 319 – a role which it continues to the present day. The DKW and Mercedes brands were able to establish a greater presence in the North American market by an agreement with the Studebaker-Packard Corporation in 1956 which through 1964 was the only distributor in the United States. Because of SPC's large network of dealers, the Auto Union and Mercedes-Benz brands were able to expand much faster in the US markets. Many dealers today can trace their origin back to being Studebaker-Packard dealerships.

Auto Union 1000 Sp Garmisch-Partenkirchen regne
Auto Union 1000 Sp 1958 – 1965

However, as prosperity began to return to West Germany, and as West German products gained valuable currency through export to the rest of Europe and North America, Daimler became increasingly worried that Auto Union's only market for its two-stroke products, without massive investment, would be impoverished East Germany. Two-stroke engines became less popular towards the middle of the 1960s as customers were more attracted to the more refined four-stroke engines. They began selling shares, which with the agreed help of the West German Government, were acquired by Volkswagenwerk AG.

In 1964, Volkswagen acquired the factory in Ingolstadt and the trademark rights of Auto Union, with the exception of the dormant Horch brand which Daimler-Benz retained. A programme that Daimler had initiated at Auto Union created a range of cars that would subsequently provide the basis for Volkswagen's line of front-wheel-drive models, such as the Audi 80 and Volkswagen Passat. At the time a new model, internally designated F103, was under development. This was based on the last DKW model, the DKW F102, with a four-stroke engine implanted and some front and rear styling changes. Volkswagen abandoned the DKW brand because of association with two-stroke engines, effectively leaving Volkswagen with the Audi brand. The new model was launched in September 1965 as simply the "Audi." The name was a model designation rather than the manufacturer, which was still officially Auto Union. As more models were later added to the Audi range, this model was renamed Audi 72.

MHV DKW F102 01
Auto Union DKW F102

In 1969, Auto Union merged with NSU Motorenwerke AG, based in Neckarsulm, near Stuttgart. In the 1950s, NSU had been the world's largest manufacturer of motorcycles, but had moved on to produce small cars like the NSU Prinz, the TT and TTS versions of which are still popular as vintage race cars. NSU then focused on new rotary engines based on the ideas of Felix Wankel. In 1967, the new NSU Ro 80 was a space-age car, well ahead of its time in technical details such as aerodynamics, light weight, and safety but teething problems with the rotary engines put an end to the independence of NSU. The mid-sized car NSU had been working on, the K70, was intended to slot between the rear-engined Prinz models and the futuristic NSU Ro 80. However, Volkswagen took the K70 for its own range, spelling the end of NSU as a separate brand.

After being merged with Neckarsulm car maker NSU, the official name became Audi NSU Auto Union AG, which was simply shortened to Audi AG in 1985, ending both the Auto Union and NSU brands. The company's headquarters returned to Ingolstadt; at the same time Audi formed the new companies Auto Union GmbH, and NSU GmbH as wholly owned subsidiaries whose function was to own and protect the historical trademarks and intellectual property of both Auto Union and NSU.

In May 2009, Porsche gained majority control of Volkswagen Group and proposed a merger of the two companies. In August 2009, Volkswagen AG's supervisory board signed the agreement to create an integrated Auto group with Porsche led by Volkswagen. Volkswagen will initially take a 42% stake in Porsche AG by the end of 2009, and see the family shareholders selling the automotive trading business of Porsche Holding Salsburg to Volkswagen. Rumors began to appear in the press the name Auto Union would be revived for the new group holding company.[18]

The trademark symbol of Auto Union (and present-day Audi), the four overlapping rings, symbolized the four marques forming Auto Union: Audi, DKW, Horch, and Wanderer.[19][20]

Although Auto Union used the four ring logo, it was only used on Auto Union racing cars in that period, while the member companies used their own names and emblems.

There is also a version of logo that uses both overlapping and interlocking rings.[21]


Auto Union was tributed at the 1999 Monterey Historic Automobile Races.[22]

See also


  • Bruintjes, Jeroen. "Auto Union Type E—The Stillborn 1.5-litre car: Why it (Almost) did Exist"
  • Oswald, Werner (2001). Deutsche Autos 1920–1945, Band (vol) 2 (in German). Motorbuch Verlag. ISBN 3-613-02170-6.
  • Snellman, Leif. "The Early Auto Unions, From P-Wagen to A-type"
  • Wise, David Burgess. "Rumpler: One Aeroplane which Never Flew", in Northey, Tom, ed. World of Automobiles (London: Orbis, 1974), Vol. 17, p. 1964.<


  1. ^ "History of Audi AG".
  2. ^ Four Rings: The Audi Story. Audi AG. 1 August 2013. ISBN 978-3768826730.
  3. ^ "Mercedes speed record cars of the 1930s". DaimlerChrysler. Classic Driver.
  4. ^ "Porsche Designs: From Racetrack to Battlefield". Ran When Parked.
  5. ^ Peter Kirchberg, Juergen Poenisch: HORCH – Types * Technics * Models, Edition Audi Tradition, published by Delius Klasing Germany, ISBN 978-3-7688-1775-2.
  6. ^ a b c Audi website "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 February 2009. Retrieved 4 February 2009.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ Oswald, Werner: Deutsche Autos 1920–1945, volume 2, p. 85
  8. ^ a b c d "Auto Union Type C". Retrieved 20 June 2009.
  9. ^ Setright, L. J. K. "Mercedes-Benz: The German Fountain-head", in Northey, Tom, ed. World of Automobiles (London: Orbis, 1974), Vol. 11, p.1311.
  10. ^ a b Setright, p.1312.
  11. ^ Wise, David Burgess. "Rumpler: One Aeroplane which Never Flew", in Northey, Tom, ed. World of Automobiles (London: Orbis, 1974), Vol. 17, p.1964.
  12. ^ G.E.T. Eyston; Barré Lyndon (1935). Motor Racing and Record Breaking.
  13. ^ a b c d Audi website "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 February 2009. Retrieved 27 April 2009.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ de:Automobilwerk Zwickau
  15. ^ a b "Audi Worldwide> Home". 15 April 2009. Retrieved 27 April 2009.
  16. ^ "Spiegel Wissen: Auto Union (german)". Retrieved 21 September 2008.
  17. ^ Oswald, p 263
  18. ^ Chris Hallett (15 May 2009). "The return of Auto Union". AutoCar. Archived from the original on 18 May 2009. Retrieved 21 June 2009.
  19. ^ Car Logo. "Audi Logo". Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 10 September 2007.
  20. ^ "History of the Four Rings-Part 1-Audi Auto Union". Retrieved 27 April 2009.
  21. ^ Audi's Typographic Stylings
  22. ^ Monterey Historics 1999. (1 September 1999). Retrieved on 2013-07-16.

External links

1936 Grand Prix season

The 1936 Grand Prix season was the fourth AIACR European Championship season. The championship was won by Bernd Rosemeyer, driving for the Auto Union team. Rosemeyer won three of the four events that counted towards the championship.

1936 Monaco Grand Prix

The 1936 Monaco Grand Prix was a Grand Prix motor race held at Circuit de Monaco on 13 April 1936.

Heavy rain contributed to a series of accidents, while a broken oil line on the Alfa Romeo of Mario Tadini led to so many wrecks in the chicane out of the tunnel it was almost impassable. The Mercedes-Benzes of Louis Chiron, Luigi Fagioli, and Manfred von Brauchitsch, as well as Bernd Rosemeyer's Typ C of newcomer Auto Union, were all eliminated. Tazio Nuvolari in the Alfa Romeo 8C benefitted from the chaos, only to suffer brake fade, and Rudolf Caracciola, proving the truth of his nickname, Regenmeister (Rainmaster), went on to win for Mercedes. He was followed by Achille Varzi and Hans Stuck, both for Auto Union.

Achille Varzi

This article is on the Italian racecar driver. For the Columbia University philosopher see Achille Varzi (philosopher).

Achille Varzi (8 August 1904 – 1 July 1948) was an Italian Grand Prix driver.


Audi AG (German: [ˈaʊ̯di ʔaːˈɡeː] (listen)) is a German automobile manufacturer that designs, engineers, produces, markets and distributes luxury vehicles. Audi is a member of the Volkswagen Group and has its roots at Ingolstadt, Bavaria, Germany. Audi-branded vehicles are produced in nine production facilities worldwide.

The origins of the company are complex, going back to the early 20th century and the initial enterprises (Horch and the Audiwerke) founded by engineer August Horch; and two other manufacturers (DKW and Wanderer), leading to the foundation of Auto Union in 1932. The modern era of Audi essentially began in the 1960s when Auto Union was acquired by Volkswagen from Daimler-Benz. After relaunching the Audi brand with the 1965 introduction of the Audi F103 series, Volkswagen merged Auto Union with NSU Motorenwerke in 1969, thus creating the present day form of the company.

The company name is based on the Latin translation of the surname of the founder, August Horch. "Horch", meaning "listen" in German, becomes "audi" in Latin. The four rings of the Audi logo each represent one of four car companies that banded together to create Audi's predecessor company, Auto Union. Audi's slogan is Vorsprung durch Technik, meaning "Being Ahead through Technology". However, Audi USA had used the slogan "Truth in Engineering" from 2007 to 2016, and have not used the slogan since 2016. Audi, along with fellow German marques BMW and Mercedes-Benz, is among the best-selling luxury automobile brands in the world.

Audi 920

The Audi 920 was a car introduced in 1938 by Audi to replace the Audi Front UW 225. Its engine was a shortened version of the eight-cylinder in-line engine used by sister company Horch. The car was planned to occupy a niche in the Auto Union range between the large Horch products and the middle market cars produced by Wanderer. Audi had no stand-alone production facilities at that time and the car was produced, like its predecessor, at the Horch plant.

The 920 featured a front-mounted six-cylinder in-line engine with a displacement of 3,281 cc. A maximum output of 75 PS (55 kW; 74 hp) at 3,000 rpm was claimed along with a maximum speed of 130 km/h (81 mph). A floor-mounted lever controlled the four-speed gearbox: this delivered power to the rear wheels, which represented a technological retreat from the innovative front-wheel drive configuration of the 920’s predecessor. The box-section chassis featured semi-independent suspension at the front and a swing-axle arrangement at the rear.

Production of almost all passenger cars came to an end in Germany as European war intensified. By the time production of the last pre-war Audi came to an end in 1940, 1,281 of the cars had been produced.

Audi F103

F103 is the internal designation for a series of car models produced by Auto Union GmbH (after merger with NSU Motorenwerke in 1969: Audi NSU Auto Union) in West Germany from 1965 to 1972, derived from the earlier DKW F102. To signify the change from a two-stroke to four-stroke engine, the DKW marque was dropped in favour of Audi, a name dormant since before the Second World War.

Audi Front

Initially presented early in 1933, the Audi Front UW 220 was Europe’s first car to combine front-wheel drive with a six-cylinder engine. It remained in production for slightly under two years before being replaced by the Audi Front UW 225 featuring a larger 2.25-litre engine. The larger-engined car introduced in 1935 was built till April 1938 and continued to be listed into 1939. Between 1933 and 1938, the Front was the only Audi in volume production.

August Horch

August Horch (12 October 1868 – 3 February 1951) was a German engineer and automobile pioneer, the founder of the manufacturing giant which would eventually become Audi.

Auto Union racing car

The Auto Union Grand Prix racing cars types A to D were developed and built by a specialist racing department of Auto Union's Horch works in Zwickau, Germany, between 1933 and 1939.

Of the 4 Auto Union racing cars, the Types A, B and C, used from 1934 to 1937 had supercharged V16 engines, and the final car, the Type D used in 1938 and 1939 (built to new 1938 regulations) had a supercharged 3L V12 that developed almost 550 horsepower. Wheelspin could be induced at over 100 mph (160 km/h), and the marked oversteer that persisted throughout the cars' development made all the Auto Unions difficult to handle, although the smaller engined Type D was a bit easier to drive because of the smaller engine and the half as much space it took up in comparison to the 6L V16 in the previous Type C. The oversteer was due to the fact that all 4 tyres were the same size, the big engines (particularly the 6L V16 in the Type C) were very heavy, and racing cars during this time did not have aerodynamic downforce- which effectively meant there was no way to keep the rear stable, therefore making it impossible to get rid of the car's oversteer. Automotive performance physics and aerodynamics were not really understood until the 1960s, and even with the Auto Union's sophisticated suspension, a compromise on setups could not be achieved to sufficiently dial out the oversteer- and the narrow tyres used at the time were of no help either; the limits of grip that these tyres could provide showed how far ahead of their time the Auto Union cars were.

Between 1935 and 1937 Auto Unions won 25 races, driven by Ernst von Delius, Tazio Nuvolari, Bernd Rosemeyer, Hans Stuck and Achille Varzi. Their main competition came from the Mercedes Benz team, with Auto Union proving particularly successful in the 1936 and 1937 seasons. Known as the Silver Arrows, the cars of the two German teams dominated Grand Prix racing until the outbreak of World War II in 1939.


DKW (Dampf-Kraft-Wagen, English: "steam-powered car", also Deutsche Kinder-Wagen English: "German kids' car". Das-Kleine-Wunder, English: "the little wonder" or Des-Knaben-Wunsch, English: "the boy's wish"- from when the company built toy two-stroke engines) is a German car and motorcycle marque. DKW was one of the four companies that formed Auto Union in 1932 and is hence an ancestor of the modern day Audi company.In 1916, Danish engineer Jørgen Skafte Rasmussen founded a factory in Zschopau, Saxony, Germany, to produce steam fittings. That year he attempted to produce a steam-driven car, called the DKW. Although unsuccessful, he made a two-stroke toy engine in 1919, called Des Knaben Wunsch – "the boy's wish". He put a slightly modified version of this engine into a motorcycle and called it Das Kleine Wunder – "the little wonder" the initials from this becoming the DKW brand: by the late 1920s, DKW was the world's largest motorcycle manufacturer.

In September 1924, DKW bought Slaby-Beringer, saving them from Germany's hyperinflation economic crisis. Rudolf Slaby became chief-engineer at DKW.

In 1932, DKW merged with Audi, Horch and Wanderer to form Auto Union. After World War II, DKW moved to West Germany. The original factory became MZ. Auto Union came under Daimler-Benz ownership in 1957 and was purchased by the Volkswagen Group in 1964. The last German-built DKW car was the F102, which ceased production in 1966. Its successor, the four-stroke F103, was marketed under the Audi brand, another Auto Union marque.

DKW-badged cars continued to be built under license in Brazil and Argentina until 1967 and 1969 respectively. The DKW trademark is currently owned by Auto Union GmbH, a wholly owned subsidiary of Audi AG which also owns the rights to other historical trademarks and intellectual property of the Auto Union combine.

Gepanzerter Mannschaftstransportwagen 'Kätzchen'

The Gepanzerter Mannschaftstransportwagen Kätzchen (Gep. MTW Kätzchen) (German for kitten) was a German armoured personnel carrier of late World War II. Auto-Union delivered two prototypes during 1944-45. The hull's shape was similar to the hull of the Panzerkampfwagen Tiger II, but much smaller. The vehicle had front wheel drive with five or six overlapping steel road wheels, possibly resembling the never-built E-25 "replacement tank"'s suspension system in appearance. Power was provided by a Maybach HL50 P engine.

Auto-Union was ordered to stop work on their design and instead, BMW was given the task of adapting the Hetzer tank destroyer chassis for the role. This was referred to as the Vollkettenaufklärer 38(t) Kätzchen.

Hans Stuck

This article is about the father; for the son, see Hans-Joachim Stuck.Hans Stuck (sometimes called Hans Stuck von Villiez, last name pronounced "shtook") (27 December 1900, in Warsaw – 9 February 1978, in Grainau) was a German motor racing driver. Both his son Hans-Joachim Stuck (born 1951) and his grandsons Johannes and Ferdinand Stuck became race drivers.

Despite many successes in Grand Prix motor racing for Auto Union in the early 1930s, during the era of the famous "Silver Arrows", he is now mostly known for his domination of hillclimbing, which earned him the nickname "Bergkönig" or "King of the Mountains".


Horch [hɔʁç] was a car brand manufactured in Germany by August Horch & Cie, at the beginning of the 20th century.

It is the direct ancestor of the present day Audi company, which in turn came out of Auto Union, formed in 1932 when Horch merged with DKW, Wanderer and the historic Audi enterprise which August Horch founded in 1910.

According to insiders, a resurrection is planned.

NSU Motorenwerke

NSU Motorenwerke AG, or NSU, was a German manufacturer of automobiles, motorcycles and pedal cycles, founded in 1873. Acquired by Volkswagen Group in 1969, VW merged NSU with Auto Union, creating Audi NSU Auto Union AG, ultimately Audi. The name NSU originated as an abbreviation of "Neckarsulm", the city where NSU was located.

Robert Eberan von Eberhorst

Professor Dr. Robert Eberan von Eberhorst (23 October 1902 – 14 March 1982), later known as Robert Eberan-Eberhorst, was a noted Austrian engineer, who designed the Auto Union Type D Grand Prix motor racing car.

Tazio Nuvolari

Tazio Giorgio Nuvolari (Italian pronunciation: [ˈtattsjo ˈdʒordʒo nuvoˈlaːri]; 16 November 1892 – 11 August 1953) was an Italian racing driver. First he raced motorcycles and then he concentrated on sports cars and single-seaters. Resident in Mantua, he was known as 'Il Mantovano Volante' (The Flying Mantuan) and nicknamed 'Nivola'. His victories—72 major races, 150 in all—included 24 Grands Prix, five Coppa Cianos, two Mille Miglias, two Targa Florios, two RAC Tourist Trophies, a Le Mans 24-hour race, and a European Championship in Grand Prix racing. Ferdinand Porsche called him "the greatest driver of the past, the present, and the future."Nuvolari started racing motorcycles in 1920 at the age of 27, winning the 1925 350cc European Championship. Having raced cars as well as motorcycles from 1925 until 1930, he then concentrated on cars, and won the 1932 European Championship with the Alfa Romeo factory team, Alfa Corse.

After Alfa Romeo officially withdrew from Grand Prix racing Nuvolari drove for Enzo Ferrari's team, Scuderia Ferrari, who ran the Alfa Romeo cars semi-officially. In 1933 he won Le Mans in an Alfa Romeo as a member of Ferrari's team, and a month later won the Belgian Grand Prix in a works Maserati, having switched teams a week before the race. Mussolini helped persuade Ferrari to take Nuvolari back for 1935, and in that year he won the German Grand Prix in Ferrari's outdated Alfa Romeo, defeating more powerful rivals from Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union. It was the only time a non-German car won a European Championship race from 1935 to 1939.

The relationship with Ferrari deteriorated during 1937, and Nuvolari raced an Auto Union in that year's Swiss Grand Prix. He rejoined the Auto Union team for the 1938 season and stayed with them through 1939 until Grand Prix racing was put on hiatus by World War II. The only major European race he never won was the Czechoslovakian Grand Prix.

When Nuvolari resumed racing after the war he was 54 and in poor health. In his final appearance in competition, driving a Cisitalia-Abarth Tipo 204A at a Palermo hillclimb on 10 April 1950, he won his class and placed fifth overall. He died in 1953 from a stroke.

Volkswagen Group

Volkswagen AG (German: [ˈfɔlksˌvaːgn̩]), known internationally as the Volkswagen Group, is a German multinational automotive manufacturing company headquartered in Wolfsburg, Lower Saxony, Germany and indirectly majority owned by the Austrian Porsche-Piëch family. It designs, manufactures and distributes passenger and commercial vehicles, motorcycles, engines, and turbomachinery and offers related services including financing, leasing and fleet management. In 2016, it was the world's largest automaker by sales, overtaking Toyota and keeping this title in 2017 and 2018, selling 10.8 million vehicles. It has maintained the largest market share in Europe for over two decades. It ranked seventh in the 2018 Fortune Global 500 list of the world's largest companies.

Volkswagen Group sells passenger cars under the Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, SEAT, Škoda and the flagship Volkswagen marques; motorcycles under the Ducati brand; and TRATON (commercial vehicles, trucks, and buses) under the marques MAN, Scania, and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles. It is divided into two primary divisions, the Automotive Division and the Financial Services Division, and as of 2008 had approximately 342 subsidiary companies. Volkswagen also has two major joint-ventures in China (FAW-Volkswagen and SAIC Volkswagen). The company has operations in approximately 150 countries and operates 100 production facilities across 27 countries.

Volkswagen was founded in 1937, to manufacture the car which would become known as the Beetle. The company's production grew rapidly in the 1950s and 1960s, and in 1965 it acquired Auto Union, which subsequently produced the first post-war Audi models. Volkswagen launched a new generation of front-wheel drive vehicles in the 1970s, including the Passat, Polo and Golf; the latter became its bestseller. Volkswagen acquired a controlling stake in SEAT in 1986, making it the first non-German marque of the company, and acquired control of Škoda in 1994, of Bentley, Lamborghini and Bugatti in 1998, Scania in 2008 and of Ducati, MAN and Porsche in 2012. The company's operations in China have grown rapidly in the past decade with the country becoming its largest market. In June 2018, Volkswagen Trucks and Buses which comprises the MAN, Scania, and RIO truck brands are renamed to TRATON AG but the marques will not change, said by Andreas Renschler.

Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft is a public company and has a primary listing on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, where it is a constituent of the Euro Stoxx 50 stock market index, and secondary listings on the Luxembourg Stock Exchange, SIX Swiss Exchange. It has been traded in the United States via American depositary receipts since 1988, currently on the OTC Marketplace. Volkswagen delisted from the London Stock Exchange in 2013. The state of Lower Saxony holds 12.7% of the company's shares, granting it 20% of the voting rights.

Wanderer (company)

Wanderer [ˈvandəʀɐ] was a German manufacturer of bicycles, motorcycles, automobiles, vans and other machinery. Established as Winklhofer & Jaenicke in 1896 by Johann Baptist Winklhofer and Richard Adolf Jaenicke, the company used the Wanderer brand name from 1911, making civilian automobiles until 1941 and military vehicles until 1945.


Zwickau (German pronunciation: [ˈtsvɪkaʊ]; Sorbian (hist.): Šwikawa, Czech: Cvikov) is a town in Saxony, Germany, and the capital of the Zwickau district. It is situated in a valley at the foot of the Erzgebirge mountains, it is part of Central Germany (cultural area) and geographically linked to the urban areas of Leipzig-Halle, Dresden and Chemnitz, the town has approximately 100,000 inhabitants. From 1834 until 1952 Zwickau was the seat of the government of the south-western region of Saxony.

Zwickau is the centre of the Saxon automotive industry, with a tradition over one hundred years old, including car makers Horch, Audi, Auto Union, Trabant and Volkswagen. The University of Applied Sciences Zwickau (Westsächsische Hochschule Zwickau) trains automotive engineers.

The valley of the 166-kilometre (103-mile) long Zwickauer Mulde river stretches from the Vogtland to Colditz Castle at the other end. The Silver Road, Saxony's longest tourist route, connects Dresden with Zwickau.Zwickau can be reached by car via the nearby Autobahns A4 and A72, the main railway station (Zwickau Hauptbahnhof), via a public airfield which takes light aircraft and by bike along river Zwickauer Mulde on the so called Mulderadweg .

Auto Union
Divisions and
Products and
Auto Union/ DKW car timeline, European market, 1949–1968
Type 1940s 1950s 1960s
9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Supermini Junior / 600 / 750 / F11 / F12
Compact executive car F89 / Meisterklasse 1000 F102
F91 / F93 / F94 / Sonderklasse / 900
Sports car Monza 1000 Sp.
Panel van F89 L / Schnellaster
Utility vehicle Munga


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