After a great many years dying in the wilderness of the former USSR, and then spending a few more years in the hands of private collectors, the twin-supercharged 1939 Auto Union Type D is finally back home with Audi. One of the precursor companies to Audi, Auto Union, based in Zwickau, Germany, was the other Silver Arrows team (alongside Mercedes-Benz) that demolished the racing competition in the 1930s until World War II intervened.
Audi Tradition, the heritage arm of the firm, says there are five original Auto Union racers in existence. This 1939 model was specially prepped with two superchargers instead of the usual one, and won the 1939 French and Czechoslovakian Grands Prix with its 485-horsepower 12-cylinder engine and 330 kilometer-per-hour (205 mph) top speed. But Zwickau fell in the eastern portion of Germany; caught in the Russian web at the end of WWII, the stored Auto Union cars were carted back to Russia as part of German reparations.
Enter Paul Karassik, an American immigrant from Serbia, of Russian ancestry, who had watched the Auto Unions race in Belgrade just before the outbreak of war. Starting in the 1970s, he spent a decade tracking down the remains of two Auto Unions in Russia and Ukraine - this 1939 model and a 1938 Type D with a single supercharger - and finally managed to buy them. In 1990 he began commissioning their restorations, which included building completely new bodies for both, and by 1994 they were finished.
Karasssik sold the 1938 Type D to Audi in 1998, and the 1939 Type D to another collector in 2000. Audi Tradition has made that second car part of its collection, meaning it now owns three of the five originals. Scroll down for a press release with all the details on the car and the acquisition.
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