Old Silver Arrow heads home

2012-08-13 13:51

Things have come full circle for Audi AG, with the repurchase of an extremely rare Auto Union Silver Arrow racing car. It is an Auto Union twin-supercharger Type D dating from 1939, one of the two legendary “Karassik cars”.

Thomas Frank, head of Audi Tradition, is delighted with the recent purchase: “This is one of the most emotional moments in our heritage work for Audi – we have come full circle. 20 years ago we would never have dreamed that such a thing would be possible!”


The Silver Arrow born in the 1930's,  became popular with its silver finish and futuristic appearance. Part of its appeal was Auto Union's decision to place the engine behind the driver, a layout still used today in Formula 1 cars.

This success soon came to a halt after the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. Post-war, things went pear-shaped for Auto Union with Germany’s total collapse; the automaker was unable to collect vehicles and factories were liquidated.

By then, it had been assumed the vehicles were lost, but at the end of 1970 there were rumours of a long-lost Auto Union racing car located somewhere in the vast region of the former Soviet Union. Paul Karassik, an American collector of high-class vehicles, went to Europe and began searching for the car. It took more than two years and numerous visits before he found the remains of two dismantled Auto Union cars, one in Russia, the other in the Ukraine.


In 1990 plans for the cars' restoration unfolded. Each needed a whole new body so it was decided to rebuild a Type D single-supercharger racing car to 1938 specification and 1939 version of a Type D racing car with twin superchargers.

The rebuilt cars made their appearance at the Eifel Classic at the Nurburgring on October 1, 1994, a staggering 55 years after the first time in 1939.

Audi now owns all three Auto Union racing cars recovered from the former USSR.