Ex-Hans Stuck,1939 Auto Union D-Type  Chassis no. 19
Lot 297Ω
The Ex-works, ex-Hans Stuck, Rudolf Hasse and team-mates,1939 Auto Union 3-liter ‘D-Type’ V12 Grand Prix Racing Single-Seater Chassis no. '19' Engine no. 17
US$ 8 million - 10 million
£5.1 million - 6.4 million
amended

Lot Details
The Ex-works, ex-Hans Stuck, Rudolf Hasse and team-mates,1939 Auto Union 3-liter ‘D-Type’ V12 Grand Prix Racing Single-Seater   Chassis no. '19' Engine no. 17 The ex-Works Team, campaigned by Hans Stuck and Rudolph Hasse,1939 Auto Union D-Type Grand Prix Single Seater Racecar  Chassis no. 19 The ex-Works Team, campaigned by Hans Stuck and Rudolph Hasse,1939 Auto Union D-Type Grand Prix Single Seater Racecar  Chassis no. 19 The ex-Works Team, campaigned by Hans Stuck and Rudolph Hasse,1939 Auto Union D-Type Grand Prix Single Seater Racecar  Chassis no. 19 The ex-Works Team, campaigned by Hans Stuck and Rudolph Hasse,1939 Auto Union D-Type Grand Prix Single Seater Racecar  Chassis no. 19 The ex-Works Team, campaigned by Hans Stuck and Rudolph Hasse,1939 Auto Union D-Type Grand Prix Single Seater Racecar  Chassis no. 19 The ex-Works Team, campaigned by Hans Stuck and Rudolph Hasse,1939 Auto Union D-Type Grand Prix Single Seater Racecar  Chassis no. 19 The ex-Works Team, campaigned by Hans Stuck and Rudolph Hasse,1939 Auto Union D-Type Grand Prix Single Seater Racecar  Chassis no. 19 The ex-Works Team, campaigned by Hans Stuck and Rudolph Hasse,1939 Auto Union D-Type Grand Prix Single Seater Racecar  Chassis no. 19 The ex-Works Team, campaigned by Hans Stuck and Rudolph Hasse,1939 Auto Union D-Type Grand Prix Single Seater Racecar  Chassis no. 19 The ex-Works Team, campaigned by Hans Stuck and Rudolph Hasse,1939 Auto Union D-Type Grand Prix Single Seater Racecar  Chassis no. 19 The ex-Works Team, campaigned by Hans Stuck and Rudolph Hasse,1939 Auto Union D-Type Grand Prix Single Seater Racecar  Chassis no. 19 The ex-Works Team, campaigned by Hans Stuck and Rudolph Hasse,1939 Auto Union D-Type Grand Prix Single Seater Racecar  Chassis no. 19 The ex-Works Team, campaigned by Hans Stuck and Rudolph Hasse,1939 Auto Union D-Type Grand Prix Single Seater Racecar  Chassis no. 19 The ex-Works Team, campaigned by Hans Stuck and Rudolph Hasse,1939 Auto Union D-Type Grand Prix Single Seater Racecar  Chassis no. 19 The ex-Works Team, campaigned by Hans Stuck and Rudolph Hasse,1939 Auto Union D-Type Grand Prix Single Seater Racecar  Chassis no. 19 The ex-Works Team, campaigned by Hans Stuck and Rudolph Hasse,1939 Auto Union D-Type Grand Prix Single Seater Racecar  Chassis no. 19 The ex-Works Team, campaigned by Hans Stuck and Rudolph Hasse,1939 Auto Union D-Type Grand Prix Single Seater Racecar  Chassis no. 19 The ex-Works Team, campaigned by Hans Stuck and Rudolph Hasse,1939 Auto Union D-Type Grand Prix Single Seater Racecar  Chassis no. 19 The ex-Works Team, campaigned by Hans Stuck and Rudolph Hasse,1939 Auto Union D-Type Grand Prix Single Seater Racecar  Chassis no. 19 The ex-Works Team, campaigned by Hans Stuck and Rudolph Hasse,1939 Auto Union D-Type Grand Prix Single Seater Racecar  Chassis no. 19 The ex-Works Team, campaigned by Hans Stuck and Rudolph Hasse,1939 Auto Union D-Type Grand Prix Single Seater Racecar  Chassis no. 19 The ex-Works Team, campaigned by Hans Stuck and Rudolph Hasse,1939 Auto Union D-Type Grand Prix Single Seater Racecar  Chassis no. 19 The ex-Works Team, campaigned by Hans Stuck and Rudolph Hasse,1939 Auto Union D-Type Grand Prix Single Seater Racecar  Chassis no. 19 The ex-Works Team, campaigned by Hans Stuck and Rudolph Hasse,1939 Auto Union D-Type Grand Prix Single Seater Racecar  Chassis no. 19 Ex-Hans Stuck, 1939 Auto Union D-Type Chassis no. 19 Ex-Hans Stuck,1939 Auto Union D-Type  Chassis no. 19 Ex-Hans Stuck,1939 Auto Union D-Type  Chassis no. 19
The Ex-works, ex-Hans Stuck, Rudolf Hasse and team-mates
1939 Auto Union 3-liter 'D-Type' V12 Grand Prix Racing Single-Seater
Chassis no. '19'
Engine no. 17
Here, Bonhams is delighted to offer nothing less than one of the most charismatic Grand Prix racing cars ever to come to public auction.

The car offered represents the finest possible re-assembly of all the very best original parts recovered from the 1945-46 Soviet sequestration by American-based classic car hunters Paul and Barbara Karassik in the late-1980s/1990.

The Auto Union 'D-Type' as offered here today embodies the only individually-identifiable complete original Grand Prix race team chassis frame known to have survived from 1938-39. When the chassis frame was first delivered to Crosthwaite & Gardiner in England, after its recovery from the former Soviet Union, it was found to bear a soldered-on chassis plate which identified it as frame number '19', it has been considered to be frame '19' ever since.

The car is powered by what was originally a single-stage supercharged 3-liter V12 works team racing engine, numbered '17', sympathetically converted by Crosthwaite & Gardiner to accommodate the additional cachet of the original ex-race team two-stage supercharger also retrieved by the Karassiks. The transaxle gearbox and suspension are also substantially ex-race team originals, refurbished and restored as required with minimal compromise to their specific originality.

As presented today, the only non-period, non-original substantial features of this Auto Union are its beautifully hand-crafted aluminum bodyshell and fuel tanks – made for Crosthwaite & Gardiner and contemporary owners Paul and Barbara Karassik by those leading exponents of the art, Rod Jolley Coachbuilding, in England in 1992-93.

The story of the race history that has been attributed to it, its loss and discovery is almost certainly one of the most fascinating car stories ever told and begins back in Germany in the mid 1930s....

The Silver Arrows

The 'Silver Arrows' period of Grand Prix motor racing from 1934 to 1939 saw white-hot competition between the German State-backed factory teams of Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union. Their Grand Prix racing cars embodied the outermost cutting-edge of contemporary technology, not merely to defeat the best that such Italian and French racing rivals as Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Bugatti, Talbot and Delahaye could offer but – most critically – to defeat one another.

In those heyday years of the emergent Third Reich, the two major German manufacturers were locked in combat on the race circuits of Europe, the US, Brazil and even South Africa not merely to promote their own brand names, but also to promote the technical capability and blossoming prestige of the resurgent New Germany. There was little thought at that time of the barbaric brutality at the core of that Nazi regime – and today the finest of German industry's peacetime technological achievements from that period – such as this Grand Prix racing car - are rightly regarded as having marked a high-tide of international engineering endeavour.

While the ultimate developments of the 750-Kilogram Formula for Grand Prix cars emerged in 1937 as the epitome of brutal power – the replacement 3-liter supercharged/4½-liter unsupercharged Formula of 1938-39 then produced cars such as this V12-engined Auto Union which proved to be the pre-war pinnacle of intricate sophistication and complexity.

The 'D' Type Auto Union

The 1938-39 V12-cylinder Auto Union racing car – retrospectively classified postwar as the Chemnitz company's 'D-Type' model – was developed originally to meet a new set of international technical regulations – or 'Formula' - governing Grand Prix racing. The Formula specified a maximum engine capacity of 3-liters and a minimum weight limit of 850-kilograms. The 'D-Type' Auto Union was based upon a highly sophisticated and advanced new chassis design, featuring de Dion rear suspension and with its fuel load centralized in pannier tanks hung along each side, within the wheelbase. The 3-cam V12-cylinder engine developed some 420bhp in 1938 single-stage supercharged form, rising to some 485bhp at 7,000rpm when two-stage supercharging was adopted on the latest-version cars for 1939.

The Auto Union team's 1938 season was riven by early tragedy when its star driver, Bernd Rosemeyer, was killed in a speed record attempt that January. Superstar Italian ace Tazio Nuvolari then took his place, taking the battle to the rival Mercedes-Benz battalions.

Two of the new Auto Unions placed third and fourth in that 1938 German GP, driven respectively by Hans Stuck and by H.P. Muller/Tazio Nuvolari. The team's next appearance was then in the Italian Coppa Acerbo race at Pescara on August 14, 1938, where none of their entries survived to the finish. However, one week later in the Swiss GP at the Bremgarten forest circuit outside Berne on August 21, Hans Stuck finished fourth.

The Italian Grand Prix followed at Monza Autodrome on September 11, 1938, and there in a race of attrition Tazio Nuvolari's Auto Union 'D-Type' survived to win after 2 hours and 41 minutes of hectic racing. With this victory, Auto Union humbled the rival Mercedes-Benz W154 cars, the best of which could only finish third, co-driven by Rudi Caracciola/Manfred von Brauchitsch.

This 1938 season was finally completed by the Donington Grand Prix at Donington Park, England, on October 22, having been postponed to that date from October 1 due to the contemporary Munich Crisis between Germany and Great Britain. There Nuvolari won yet again in the Auto Union 'D-Type', beating the factory Mercedes-Benz W154s of Hermann Lang and Dick Seaman, and with Auto Union team-mate H.P. Muller taking fourth place.

That final pre-war season – whose leading cars such as this Auto Union represent the absolute high-point of 'Silver Arrows' technological sophistication - then opened on May 21 with the EifelRennen, at Germany's Nurburgring, where Nuvolari's 'D-Type' finished second and Rudi Hasse fifth driving – as confirmed by available published records – chassis frame no '19'.

Footnotes

  • Hasse

    Engaging, bespectacled Rudolf Hasse was born on May 30, 1906, in Mittweida, Saxony. He was not only the tallest of all the great German racing drivers of the 1930s, he was also captain of his local fire brigade. He had begun racing Wanderer motorcycles as early as 1926, and competed on four wheels from 1929, winning more than 30 awards in long-distance events. In 1932 he drove Adler sports cars and was highly regarded as being utterly dependable, competent and strong as an ox!

    His capabilities earned his place in the Auto Union Grand Prix team in 1936, and he won the 1937 Belgian GP for them at Spa-Francorchamps. Hasse drove in 20 major GPs before racing was ended by World War II. He immediately volunteered for military service but when he was not accepted moved instantly to join the Truppenbetreuung army welfare body. He was finally drafted into active service in 1940 and became involved in military vehicle servicing. He was fated to succumb to illness on the Russian front on August 12, 1942, aged 36.

    During the 1939 racing season, Auto Union is understood to have deployed 11 'D-Type' chassis in the six significant Grand Prix Formula events contested. In addition to Nuvolari's second place in the EifelRennen, Hasse finished second in the Belgian GP, before his team-mates H.P. 'Happy' Muller and 'Schorsch' Meier brought the team a wonderful 1-2 success in the French race at Reims-Gueux.

    It was there that chassis '19' is recorded as having raced for the last time wearing race number 10 and driven by Hans Stuck, the veteran Austrian-domiciled star. In his hands this 'D-Type' Auto Union completed the works team’s day by finishing sixth.

    Stuck

    Hans Stuck was perhaps the most significant driver/player in the entire and vibrant German motor racing world of the 1930s. Such other contemporary star drivers as Rudi Caracciola and Bernd Rosemeyer might have been more successful, or even more charismatic than the tall, engaging Austrian, but he was very much a big-ideas man, a shrewd lateral-thinker, and a highly entrepreneurial politician.
    He was born (officially) on December 27, 1900, in Warsaw, Poland, although some authorities have considered that he might have been five or even ten years older. He served in World War I before becoming a dairy farmer, exploring how fast he could drive on country roads while making his deliveries. In 1923 he won his class driving in a speed hill-climb event, and he never looked back. He became a specialist hill-climber, winning repeatedly in a factory Austro-Daimler until 1931 when the company withdrew from competition. Charming, personable and ambitious, Stuck then won support from Crown-Prince Wilhelm, son of the exiled Kaiser, in buying a racing Mercedes-Benz SSKL. Later that year, having divorced his first wife, Ellen Hahndorff, he married leading tennis star Paula von Reznicek.
    The well-connected racing driver later approached Prof Dr Ferdinand Porsche – the former Austro-Daimler and Mercedes-Benz chief engineer – for a prospective Grand Prix car design, to enable him to emerge upon the pinnacle level of international motor sport. Working at least in part from this first approach, the newly-formed Porsche Bűro penned the rear-engined V16-engined 'P-Wagen' which the freshly-established Auto Union concern then took on to publicize its new brand and its capabilities.

    Meanwhile, another of the friends whom Hans Stuck had cultivated was Julius Schreck, chauffeur to Adolf Hitler. And when the Nazi Party leader became Chancellor of Germany in 1933, Stuck was well-connected to play a significant role in attracting State backing for the new Auto Union Grand Prix car program. During 1934 he then repaid that support by winning the German and Swiss GPs!

    Apart from a brief period in 1936, he subsequently drove for Auto Union up to the outbreak of World War II, despite his wife Paula being hounded as a Jew by the anti-Semitic Nazi authorities. Repeatedly Stuck relied upon his personal contacts with the higher echelons to suppress her persecution. Nonetheless, in 1939, he had met Christa Thielmann, at that time engaged to Paula's youngest brother, and in 1948 he and Paula divorced, and Christa became Hans Stuck's third wife, and mother of their son, Hans-Joachim, born in 1951.
    Hans Stuck returned to competition postwar, and reasserted his hill-climbing credentials as 'The King of Mountains', winning his last German national Championship as late as 1960. In the father's wheel tracks, Hans-Joachim Stuck then became a leading Formula 1 and endurance racing driver, winning the Le Mans 24-Hours twice for Porsche, and in 1990 adding the German Touring Car Championship title for Audi – the modern successor to Auto Union…

    In passing, it should also be mentioned here that under the published regulations for the 1939 European Championship – which was the Formula 1 World Championship equivalent of the period – Auto Union's H.P. Muller actually earned the title on total points scored in these 'D-Type' cars. However, with the outbreak of war in September 1939, and other pressing matters therefore to be dealt with, the Nazi authorities took it upon themselves to declare Hermann Lang of the rival Mercedes-Benz team European Champion.

    The Silver Arrows post war

    While the majority of Mercedes-Benz's racing armoury survived World War II to re-emerge in what became West Germany, only two of the rival Auto Union cars clearly did so. One was a display V16-cylinder early car in the Deutsches Museum, Munich, and the other was a non-running V12 show car from 1938-39 which re-emerged after the war with former racer Zdenek Pohl in Czechoslovakia.

    The reason being that the Auto Union factories in Lower Saxony fell into the Soviet sphere which became Communist East Germany. And long before the new State's Deutsche Democratisches Republik had been formalized, the old Auto Union factories at Chemnitz, Zwickau and Zschopau had been stripped of almost everything of any technical quality or value for inspection, analysis and exploitation back in 'Mother Russia'.

    Thus, all of their surviving Auto Union sisters vanished behind ‘The Iron Curtain’. There were stories of the Auto Union works cars having been packed "like sardines" onto Soviet freight trains in 1945-46 and taken deep into Russia for technical investigation and potential future use. It was known that the surviving Auto Union team cars had been expropriated by Soviet forces in the Autumn of 1945. In fact no fewer than 13 Auto Union cars were transported by train from the company's devastated factories in Zwickau and Chemnitz, Lower Saxony, in what was about to become Communist East Germany.

    They were delivered to the Soviet Union's NAMI motor industry research institute in Moscow, where early in 1946 a working group of engineers was established to investigate these dazzlingly high-tech German designs. Four Auto Unions - one with wheel-enveloping streamlined bodywork – were dismantled and effectively destroyed during the NAMI group's inspection and analysis.

    Two sister cars were delivered to Moscow's ZIS production car factory for parallel examination and research. One - a V16-cylinder - was subsequently scrapped. The other - which was a hill-climb car comprising a 16-cylinder-type chassis powered by the later V12 engine - escaped destruction, eventually passing into a museum in Riga, Latvia.

    Four other Auto Unions - three 1938-39 V12 Grand Prix cars plus one streamliner - went to the GAS factory in Gorky (now renamed Nizhniy Novgorod) where some components were cannibalized for use in GAS, Moskvich and ZIL-based competition cars. When one staffman required a trailer, a stripped Grand Prix chassis frame was sawed in half to suit...!

    Generally, the Soviet technicians were unable to run the cars, with the exception of one V12 'D-Type' at Gorky, whose tanks were found to contain the correct sophisticated German fuel brew. This car was started successfully, and tested at high speed, only for driver Leonid Sokolov to find his path obstructed by encroaching roadside crowds. He lost control under braking, and crashed into them, killing 18.

    For decades the hunt for these Russian 'Silver Arrows' became a motor racing quest for the Holy Grail. The Czechoslovakian show car was teased out and brought to the West by Count Hubertus Donhoff and American enthusiast Kerry Payne (and his contacts) in the 1980s. Then, in 1989-90 the surviving components of at least two more Auto Unions were rescued by a very determined Yugoslav-American named Paul Karassik.

    Paul Karassik

    The son of Russian émigrés, his father was a former officer of the Imperial Russian Army who had been driven out by Bolshevik forces after the civil war of 1919-1920. The family had settled in Kraljevo, Yugoslavia, not far from the capital, Belgrade, where Paul Karassik was born and where his father ran a bus and taxi business. As a 12-year-old car enthusiast he recalled reading in the morning newspapers of September 4, 1939, headlines which raved: "Italian Champion Nuvolari wins Belgrade Grand Prix, driving Auto Union". A stop press paragraph on the same front page announced that the weekend had also seen Great Britain and France declare war upon Nazi Germany…

    Postwar, Paul Karassik and his German future wife Barbara Wolf were both displaced persons who found peace and sanctuary in the USA. They married and as a couple built successful business careers in stone and real estate. As they told their story to British journalist Doug Nye, and as published in the December 1994 and January 1995 issues of the British magazine Classic & Sportscar – they shared an interest in classic cars and increasingly admired "...the permanence and quality of German engineering – Mercedes-Benz, Horch and Maybach. From around 1970 we began to hunt that kind of car, first in the US and South America, then Europe..".

    The hunt for the Auto Unions

    During a visit to Poland in 1972-73 Paul Karassik had met Tadeusz Tabzenky who was a prominent member of one of the many local veteran car clubs run by enthusiasts throughout the Eastern bloc. It was from him that the Karassiks first heard rumours that some of the fabled Auto Union GP cars had survived in Russia.

    A subsequent car-hunting trip to Bulgaria unearthed a bullet-riddled armoured Mercedes-Benz 770, and also confirmed how secure export could be arranged within the Communist system, customs paperwork becoming "no problem" once the official responsible had been given a set of four brand-new tires for his family car.

    In 1982 Paul Karassik set aside his doubts about the reception he might meet in the USSR due to his White Russian heritage, and booked an Intourist package tour there. He made contact with the Moscow Veteran Car Club, and moved on to its counterpart in Riga, Latvia. There he was shown the amazingly unspoiled V16-cylinder Auto Union hill-climb car which had been amongst the 'sardines' rail-freighted out of Saxony. Known today as 'The Riga Car', this time-machine had been saved by Latvian club member Viktor Kulbergs a decade earlier, just as it was about to be cut up for scrap in Moscow.

    We should appreciate today what a jaundiced view the average Russian technician of the period would have taken of these 'Silver Arrow' racing cars, seeing them as unwanted relics of a defeated and detested enemy.

    The Discoveries

    Having seen 'The Riga Car', Paul and Barbara Karassik began to focus upon the hunt for sister surviving Auto Union racing cars. Several trips drew a blank. With his background and old-style Czarist Russian military cadet schooling at Bela Crkva, Paul Karassik spoke impeccable Imperial Russian. It enabled him to venture where other tourists would either never dare, or would never have been invited. He recalled: "Once it was obvious a contact felt really comfortable, I might ask about an Auto Union. But there were many disappointments, a lot of wishful thinking. Then in Vilnius, Lithuania, in 1984 or '85 somebody mentioned 'a big engine' – and I eventually tracked down its owner in Petrodvorec, near Leningrad. He showed me photos of it together with a matching transaxle gearbox – it was a 12-cylinder Auto Union engine, no question..."

    This contact eventually enabled the Karassiks to purchase the engine, plus half an Auto Union chassis frame: "Somebody had wanted a trailer, so they took this twin-tube Grand Prix car chassis, sawed off one end, and welded-on a tow hitch at the front!" According to the story authorized by the Karassiks – although Doug Nye has always been unsure whether some details had been altered or obscured by them to protect some of the individuals involved with their successful quest - the parts were driven out of Russia to Helsinki, Finland, and flown from there to New York – but then more bits and pieces beckoned.

    "We had been told that the Auto Unions had been distributed for test purposes to each of the major motor factories. So each region containing a major motor works had to be explored. Having scoured both Moscow and Leningrad, the next logical area was the Ukraine...".

    A chain of coincidences then enabled the Karassiks to make contact with old-time automotive technician Konstantin Nikitin who had been responsible for design, construction and running of the Kharkov competition cars in the 1950s. "He explained that two or three Auto Unions had been through his hands at a Technical Institute there in Kharkov...eventually, after several visits, he confided that he might know where there was another. He led us to it, all in bits, lying in a corner of an old brickworks. Its body was quite unsalvageable. But there was a complete chassis, engine, gearbox and many suspension parts. We were eventually introduced to a guy who was in a position to deal with us, on buying it all...".

    Evidently, it was all sold first to a Government surplus store, which then sold it to the Karassiks for a profit. "We bought each part individually – the surplus store paid say $50 for each part, then sold it to us for $100. We ended up with dozens of tiny receipt tickets, each one officially stamped and counter-signed."

    Their purchases were eventually conveyed by Mercedes-Benz 270 diesel minibus to Helsinki and then via the Makita shipping agency to the USA. Makita did the crating and shipping and eventually all the 'Russian Boxes' were stored first in New York and then – when the Karassiks moved to Florida – in warehouse space they acquired in St Petersburg Beach, near Sarasota.

    One person who was invited to inspect the find by the Karassiks was Porsche specialist Dale Miller. He recently fondly recalled the remarkable sight that confronted him "I was literally laughing…two Auto Unions... in Sarasota!' – he recounted the implausibility of seeing these pre-war titans in Florida, and noted how the condition of cars and parts seemed totally serviceable, "it looked like just about everything you needed was there, and the one whole chassis was intact, the other a little less so… at the side of the room there was a stack of 10 wheels and tires…it never crossed my mind that you would do anything but restore them."

    Restoration

    British specialist restorers Crosthwaite & Gardiner Ltd, of Buxted, Sussex, were recommended as having the most experience with this kind of pre-war German Grand Prix car. Dick Crosthwaite and John Gardiner had rebuilt and restored both a 1938 Auto Union 'D-Type' and 1937 and 1939 Grand Prix Mercedes-Benz cars for leading British collector/driver Neil Corner, and for American-based collector Dieter Holterbosch.

    Dick Crosthwaite examined the Karassiks' 'Russian Boxes' in St Petersburg Beach. To his astonishment he found they had the one and half chassis – the complete one coated in apparently fresh red oxide anti-corrosion paint - one complete set of parts, plus a second engine and sufficient original duplicate pieces to warrant rebuilding a second Auto Union. It appeared that somebody had attempted to dismantle a complete engine, but had been defeated by its complexity.

    They pondered whether to restore one car from the bits, or two. The presence of two engines and gearboxes made them go for both, and since there was one good single-stage supercharger amongst the bits, and one two-stage supercharger, they decided to have one car reassembled of each type.

    It was then arranged between Mr & Mrs Karassik and Crosthwaite & Gardiner that the first restored Auto Union 'D-Type' would be assembled as a 1938-style single-stage supercharged model and the other as a 1939-style two-stage version.

    The 'Russian Boxes' arrived at C&G's Buxted workshops in 1990, where salvage, renovation, reassembly and in some cases replacement work began. And in 1993 the first single-stage engined Karassik car was completed, followed by its twin-stage supercharged sister, which is the vehicle now offered for sale here.

    Throughout the program, the first-build car was regarded in effect as a dress-rehearsal run, it made more sense to have parts to remanufacture/rework rather than for these to be removed later on when the second car was built. All the very best, most original and best-preserved components from the 'Russian Boxes' were earmarked for this second car, based upon the one complete, original and unmolested chassis frame from what Paul Karassik described as "...the old brick works" where he had first been shown it.

    When this car was reassembled to running order by Crosthwaite & Gardiner, the decision was taken for it to portray – in its body style - the definitive two-stage supercharged Auto Union form of 1939. Consequently it is configured as an effective look-alike of the car in which works team driver H.P. Muller won the Grand Prix de l'Automobile Club de France at the Reims-Gueux circuit, on July 9, 1939, although it is not that actual car. We emphasise here that the restorers never intended it to be regarded as such – merely that it should have "the right look" to match its two-stage supercharged mechanical specification.

    Confusingly, between its discovery and the completion of its restoration, the identity of the frame migrated from this the complete chassis to the re-fabricated half chassis, at the same time the engine number’s '1' was overstamped with a '3' to create an attribution of it being the unit from the French Grand Prix winning car. Within the last few years this anomaly has been corrected and the car offered has been rightfully acknowledged as '19', though its engine stampings have not been tampered with further.

    Race history

    What we can confirm from contemporary Auto Union team documentation quoted in the public arena, is that chassis or frame number '19' is recorded as having been deployed as the basis of the 'D-Type' car which was driven by Rudolf Hasse to finish fifth in the EifelRennen race at the Nurburging on May 21, 1939, and then by Hans Stuck to finish sixth in the Grand Prix de l'ACF – or 'French Grand Prix' – at Reims-Gueux on July 9 that same year.

    Considering that the single-stage supercharged definitive 'D-Type' Auto Unions made their racing debut in the July 24, 1938, German Grand Prix, there is the possibility that this chassis frame may also have seen use that season with achievements to match.

    Exhibition

    Since its completion this Auto Union has been exhibited at a number of high profile events. The car was shown at Laguna Seca and Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance 10 years ago, it has been exhibited at the Audi Tradition in Ingolstadt and has been driven at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, the Schloss Dyke Classic Day meeting, the anniversary of Shelsley Walsh and of Nuvolari's victory at Donington Park, UK. It has also received feature articles in Motor Sport, Classic & Sportscar and Octane Magazine.

    Following today's auction the car is invited to participate at the 2009 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in the centenary class for the Audi brand, by kind permission of the organizers.

    Driving the Auto Union

    A handful of the people have had the opportunity to drive this car. Dick Crosthwaite ran the two-stage car – in an emotive return to the Nurburgring in Germany's Eifel Mountains in 1994. His souvenirs of these outings were:
    "The driving position is confined, with the detachable steering wheel above your lap, elbows at maximum bend.

    "Visibility is fine. You feel as if you're sitting forward in the car rather than centrally. You don't have the distraction of an enormous bonnet up front and you’re barely aware of the length of the engine bay behind you, until you look in the mirror.

    "The gearchange is down by your right thigh...smooth, direct and not particularly heavy. But really, the AU engines supply so much torque the gear change is irrelevant. At the kind of speeds done at the Nurburgring, you can go everywhere in top. The engine is smooth, vibration barely noticeable. But it's obvious the two-stage car has 100 horsepower more than its sister. To make it go faster you just select a higher gear. The ratios are nicely spaced and it just zips on – most of the noise is behind you.

    "One saving grace of the driving position is that the steering is light. Brake pedal pressure is not too bad – though I can't be sure what it would be like if the brakes were really hot.

    "The cars ride very smoothly – they're long wheelbase and they feel quite stable. But, if you do get out of shape and the back tires let go, it seems there is so much mass let loose that the car will spin, regardless of what you do. You just sit there feeling a twit, then gather it all up and press on.

    "The two-stage car feels like a real racer. I'd love to see a proper racing driver use one of these cars competitively; their true potential was perhaps never realized because the war came along, but just picture one of these V12s in amongst an Historic race field. That would be a sight to see – and a sound to hear!"

    Summary

    Today, Auto Union 'D-Type' chassis '19' is the only proven surviving Grand Prix car of its type with contemporary 1939 racing history. It is one of the classic car world's most charismatic machines, exquisitely well-restored to running order and it is offered here "on the button", having run recently once again on the historic old French Grand Prix course at Reims-Gueux.

    It is in every respect a jewel – its V12 engine's Hirth-type built-up roller-bearing crankshaft alone embodies some 1,111 separate components – yet it is all relatively low-stressed and as run by Crosthwaite & Gardiner on gasoline/methanol fuel mix it has shown promising reliability.

    It is the contemporary rival – and nemesis - of the Mercedes-Benz W154s. It raced against them, and it beat them. It bears the hand prints of Stuck and Hasse – and probably of 1939 European Champion (robbed) H.P. Muller – and of the legendary Tazio Nuvolari too. It is one of the target cars upon which such greats as Caracciola, Lang, von Brauchitsch, and Dick Seaman once drew beads. It is absolutely a great Grand Prix car for the true connoisseur.

    Most importantly its survival and content is universally acknowledged by all the leading authorities on these cars, and endorsed by the modern Audi company's 'Tradition' department. Among those historians, one of the better known is Martin Schroeder, who co-wrote one of the earliest books on these cars, Mr. Schroeder, not only confirms this to be frame 19 and that the information we provide here regarding its two 1939 races and placings is correct, but intriguingly offers a suggestion that with the documentation he retains in his archives that the car could be even more important than it is already perceived – if that were possible. Perhaps this will lead to the next exciting chapter in this car's history. Sold on a Bill of Sale.

    A visual presentation of the Auto Union being driven can be seen on our website - http://www.bonhams.com/quail

Saleroom notices

  • Please note, this lot is applicable to an import duty calculated at 2.5% of the hammer price. This duty will be invoiced to the purchaser but may be refunded if the lot is exported within certain criteria.
Auction information

This sale is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future sales, please contact the specialist department. If you have queries about lots purchased in this sale, please contact customer services.

Buyers' Obligations

ALL BIDDERS MUST AGREE THAT THEY HAVE READ AND UNDERSTOOD BONHAMS' CONDITIONS OF SALE AND AGREE TO BE BOUND BY THEM, AND AGREE TO PAY THE BUYER'S PREMIUM AND ANY OTHER CHARGES MENTIONED IN THE NOTICE TO BIDDERS. THIS AFFECTS THE BIDDERS LEGAL RIGHTS.

If you have any complaints or questions about the Conditions of Sale, please contact your nearest customer services team.

Buyers' Premium and Charges

For all Sales categories excluding Arms & Armor, Coins & Medals, Motor Cars, Motorcycles, and Wine & Whisky:

Buyer's Premium Rates
25% on the first $100,000 of the Hammer Price
20% from $100,001 to $2,000,000 of the Hammer Price
12% on the excess over $2,000,000 of the Hammer Price

Payment Notices

Payment for purchases may be made in or by (a) cash, (b) cashier's check or money order, (c) personal check with approved credit drawn on a U.S. bank, (d) wire transfer or other immediate bank transfer, or (e) Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover credit, charge or debit card. A processing fee will be assessed on any returned checks. Please note that the amount of cash notes and cash equivalents that can be accepted from a given purchaser may be limited.

Shipping Notices

For information and estimates on domestic and international shipping as well as export licences please contact Bonhams Shipping Department.

Lot symbols
Ω Customs Duty

Custom's duty, calculated at 2.5% of the purchase price, and associated import fees are payable on all lot marked with this symbol. However, if the purchased lot is exported within certain criteria, the duty can be refundable.

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