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Downtown Porsche Throwback Thursday: Auto Union Race Car - A Porsche Design

The Auto Union Race Car - A Porsche Design

In 1933, motorsport was in its rawest form. Manufacturers were piecing together the fastest machines they could with little regard for the driver’s safety. Motorsport at this time was a measure of a manufacturer’s engineering abilities and potential, which made winning everything. Although this trend is still the same today, the lack of safety and regulations in the early years of racing made for some of the most incredible stories in auto racing history.

Ferdinand Porsche was given the task of designing a race car for the Auto-Union. The Auto-Union was founded in 1932 during the Great Depression and consisted of four automotive brands: Audi, Horch, DKW and Wanderer. Later in history these brands would merge into Audi, explaining why their logo consists of four rings interlocked which symbolizes the original four brands. During this time, the Porsche Design group (led by Ferdinand Porsche) was taking on a multitude of projects from wind turbines, home appliances to race cars. The Auto-Union sports car however was to become one of the most iconic machines in automotive history. Auto-Union was only one year old but had strong ambitions to take on the top-tier manufacturers. With his racing pedigree, Dr. Porsche became an obvious individual to hire to design their race machine.  

With no serious regulations, with respect to design limitations, the car came out of the gate with a revolutionary mid-engine design with no less than 16-cylinders. The chassis design was the precursor to the modern Formula 1 design concept with a slender figure and aerodynamics at the foreground. A mid-engine car allows for better overall balance of the chassis while cornering at speed. By placing the engine in the middle of the car, engineers balanced the front and rear weight and were able to maintain equal traction in all four wheels. This made them incredibly stable through the corners. The Auto-Union race car led to another creation by Ferdinand Porsche which is still seen on the streets today – more commonly known as the Volkswagen Beetle. The iconic Beetle was designed by Porsche in 1934.

Although the tire technology at the time could not match the power of the engines, drivers still took on the challenge of driving these machines. This was an incredible period in automotive history as brands were looking to carve their name into the history books. Porsche did just that and continues to maintain this reputation today. Come visit us at Downtown Porsche to see what I mean.

- Nathan Kelly, Square One Store Manager

Date Posted: September 28, 2017