Those new Auto Unions

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Sir,

Laurence Meredith’s dream of a team of six new race-worthy Auto Union V16s, inexplicably all in mountain climb guise, sounds wonderful (MOTORSPORT, June), but is wide of the mark; so regretfully, as Audi AG’s UK spokesman, I must bring him gently down to earth.

This remarkable project, undertaken for Audi AG’s Auto Union subsidiary by Crosthwaite and Gardiner, involves the restoration of the 1939 mountain climb Auto Union V16 acquired by Audi from the Riga Museum in Latvia, the creation of one new example of this car to replace the original in the Riga collection and two new C-type Auto Union V16 Grand Prix cars —an open wheeler and a streamliner — for the Audi Museum in Ingolstadt. There is a slim possibility of a second new open-wheel C-type. Some original components will be used in the new cars, which will all be in full and fearsome working order.

The car of the moment is the V16 mountain climb car (the so called ‘Riga’ car), last driven by H P Muller on the Grossglockner in August 1939. For that event, this originally swing-axle car was rebuilt around a D-type chassis with de Dion rear suspension and a D-type style nose. Its 6.0 litre supercharged 520bhp V16 engine and transmission carry 1937 date stamps. This car will make its post-restoration debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the hand of Hans Stuck Jnr.

The new V16 Grand Prix cars will be revealed in due course. Don’t expect to see the spectacular AVUS streamliner, the ultimate test of a coachbuilder’s, until 1999.

Auto Union’s long-term project sensibly includes provision of spares, to keep all these cars in full working order. Consequently the number of some major components exceeds the number of cars being built/restored, which may explain the exaggerated rumours.

The car you illustrate is the Deutsches Museurn Auto Union V16 C-type, fitted with the mountain climb car’s twin rear wheels for the Goodwood Festival Press Day in March. Auto Union constructed this GP car as a cutaway showpiece around the remains of the chassis from the C-type crashed by Hans Stuck Snr in 1936. It was presented to the Deutsches Museum in 1937. Exhibited post-war as a bare chassis, it was built into an operational car by Audi in 1979/80 and rebodied again, in polished aluminium, two years ago. This car will add to the feast of Silver Arrows at the Festival as a static exhibit.

It is unfortunate that Laurence Meredith, in suggesting that the ex-Karassik 1938 Auto Union V12 now owned by Audi is less revered than the Muller V16, should denigrate that restored D-type for its new body. How many of the historically important 1950s GP cars we worship, let alone 60-year-old ones, retain their original bodies? While the mountain climber’s total authenticity makes it very special, any red-blooded enthusiast will appreciate the real reason why the awesome 16-cylinder titans command greater reverence than the V12s. For confirmation, come to Goodwood and see and hear the only known all-original survivor, the first time an Auto Union V16 will have run in England since Bernd Rosemeyer’s great victory in the 1937 Donington GP.

I am yours, etc

Clive Richardson, Bournemouth