NOVEMBER 30, 2006
Want to buy an Auto-Union?
One of only two 1939 Auto-Union D-Type racing cars known to be in existence is to be sold by Christie's in Paris next year, and the celebrated auction house is hoping that the sale will bring the highest price ever for an automobile at auction. That record has stood at $9.95m since 1987 when a 1931 Bugatti Royale was sold. Christie's believe that the Auto Union D-Type will fetch $11.7m. The car is the one that won the Belgrade Grand Prix in 1939 in the hands of Tazio Nuvolari. The mid-engined car features a 550hp V12 engine. Christie's is not saying who currently owns the car but if it is one of the two existing cars it is likely to be the one owned by American Paul Karassik, who spent 10 years tracking down parts in the old Eastern bloc and then had two cars rebuilt by the British firms Roach Manufacturing and Crosthwaite & Gardiner. One of the cars was sold to Audi in 1996.
Eighteen AutoUnion Grand Prix cars were hidden in a mineshaft at the end of the war but they were found by the Russians and were sent to Moscow where they were handed over to engineers involved in the Soviet automobile industry. Most seem to have been destroyed but in the 1970s a car did turn up at the ZIL factory in Moscow. This was put into a private museum in Riga in Latvia before being bought by Audi in 1995, although it turned out to be a hybrid car C-D Type which had been used in hillclimbs. Another car appeared in Prague at the same time and was sold to a German collector but this turned out to be only a show car and not one of the missing 18 racing cars.
In recent years, unable to track down any more cars, Audi has commissioned the two British engineering companies to build D-Type clones for use at exhibitions and demonstrations.
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