“This is one of the most emotional moments in our heritage work for AUDI AG – we have come full circle,” stated Thomas Frank, Head of Audi Tradition.
The Type-D twin-supercharged Auto Union racecar has been returned to its rightful home inside the Audi Museum. The car was built in 1939 soon lost inside the USSR for many years after the start of World War 2.
Audi made the purchase a few weeks ago – equipped with mostly original parts. Identified as one of the two legendary “Karassick” cars, Audi now adds to its collection of Auto Union cars raising the number to three of the five originals.
When Auto Union and Mercedes hit the racing circuit in the late 30’s, both companies came out swinging for the fences with futuristic design, silver paint and drivetrains still influential today.
Paul Karassik, an American collector of high-class classic vehicles, came to Europe with his wife Barbara, whose family came from Germany, and began to search for the car. As a small boy he had been a spectator in Belgrade at the last Grand Prix held before the Second World War – an unforgettable experience.
Later after immigrating to the USA and becoming successful it became Karassik’s goal to find the cars. Since he descended from a White Russian family and grew up in Serbia, no to mention speaking fluent Russian, his mission was reinforced by the universe decades before he set out on the hunt.
Karassik was able to locate two dismantled Auto Union cars in Russia and the Ukraine. After arduous negotiations and a bit of haggling talent, Karassik was able to purchase the both cars.
Once in his possession the cars had to find a way through the Iron Curtain of the Cold War. Several hair-raising trips in delivery vans across the boarder to Western Europe, eventually every part successfully made it out of the USSR.
The cars were shipped to Florida where in autumn of 1990 Karassik made a call to experts, which included AUDI-AG Tradition department, who acted as advisors throughout the restoration.
Sadly none of the original bodywork survived resulting in replica bodywork being constructed by Rod Jolley Coachbuilding in England. Grosthwaite & Gardiner, also of England, was tasked in the actual rebuilding of the cars – having an extensive history in reviving significant racecars to their high-speed glory.
Once completed the cars appeared on the starting line of the 1994 Eifel Classic at the Nürburgring – a sight unseen since 1939. Sadly Karassik’s vision of seeing both cars run on the Belgrade Gran Prix circuit would not be realized under his ownership since the Balkan War was firmly underway. Soon the cars would be separated after AUDI AG purchased the 1938 model (single supercharged spec) and the 1939 model (featured here) would be sold to a private collector in Florida.
Now that Audi has acquired the 1939 Type-D the company plans on displaying the vehicle in its Audi Museum in Ingolstadt on a long-term basis, accompanied by its Auto Union brothers the famous hillclimb car Type C/D driven by Hans Stuck, and the 1938 Type-D.
The 1939 Type-D will make its triumphant public debut at the Goodwood Revival in England this September 14-16. Warranting a standing ovation we’re sure.