Audi has commissioned British Specialists Crosthwaite and Gardner to build up to six exact replicas of the 1939 ex-HP Muller Auto Union V16 mountain-climbing car which will star at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in June. The move has been made in a bid to capitalise on the marque’s illustrious sporting history and to emphasise that Auto Union still survives today as a subsiduary company within Audi.
The first of the brand new cars, which inevitably requires fresh – and extremely complex – engine and gearbox castings, is scheduled for completion later this year. Because Audi was one of the four companies that merged to form Auto Union in 1932 – the others being Horch, Wanderer and DKW, – the company is keen to emphasise that these ‘clones’ are, in fact, nothing less than genuine Auto Unions.
Audi’s decision to approach a British specialist firm rather than a German one to carry out this ambitious project was taken in the light of Crosthwaite and Gardner’s considerable experience and skills in rebuilding other Auto Unions.
Although there are no plans at present to race either the Muller car or its new offspring, it is likely that they will be exhibited and demonstrated throughout the world. The 1938 Auto Union also owned by Audi made appearances at the Detroit and Chicago Motor shows earlier this year though
it is nothing like as revered as the Miller car as it lacks the correct bodywork.
The Muller car, which hasn’t been used in competition since the 1939 GrossGlockner climb, was last displayed to the British public as a static exhibit at the European Grand Prix, Donington, four years ago.
Interestingly, all of these cars are to be maintained in raceworthy order, which begs a question. The world’s entire future collection of Auto Unions, combined with Daimler-Benz’s collection of 1930s Mercedes GP machinery, creates the opportunity for a Silver Arrows ‘showdown’ at a historic sporting venue. There has to be a distinct possibility of such an occasion. But will it ever happen? However, it is no coincidence that Audi is building a new museum close to its Ingolstadt headquarters. This will replace the small museum that houses part of the company’s historic collection of cars and NSU and DKW motorcycles. The Muller car, incidentally, has spent its recent life on display at a museum in Riga, Latvia but the possibility of examining a collection of brand new Auto Unions at Ingolstadt in detail – whether they are raced or not – is definitely not to be missed.