Audi Revives the Auto Union Type 52: A 90-Year-Old Dream Realized

Audi Tradition has brought to life a nearly 90-year-old dream with the debut of the Auto Union Type 52 at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. This street-legal sports car, originally conceived in the 1930s alongside the famed Auto Union Silver Arrows, boasts a 16-cylinder engine and embodies the pioneering spirit of its era.

Historical Context
In 1932, Auto Union AG, formed by the merger of Audi, DKW, Horch, and Wanderer, set out to make its mark in motorsport. The new 750 kg formula for Grand Prix racing, introduced in 1934, prompted Auto Union to commission Ferdinand Porsche’s design office to develop a race car. The resulting Auto Union Type A achieved immediate success, setting world records and establishing the legend of the Silver Arrows.

Amidst this motorsport glory, Auto Union also planned a street-legal sports sedan, the Auto Union Type 52. Intended for long-distance races like the Mille Miglia and endurance events at Spa-Francorchamps and Le Mans, this car was a blend of sporty dynamics and everyday practicality.

Bringing the Dream to Life
Audi commissioned Crosthwaite & Gardner, experts in historic vehicle restoration, to build the Auto Union Type 52 using surviving design documents and sketches. The result is a meticulously crafted car that remains true to the original vision while incorporating some modern enhancements.

Audi Revives the Auto Union Type 52: A 90-Year-Old Dream Realized

The Auto Union Type 52 features a ladder frame chassis with a mid-mounted 16-cylinder engine, drawing 520 PS from 6,005 cc, capable of delivering exhilarating performance. Its elongated silhouette and aerodynamic design harken back to the era’s engineering marvels. The car also includes practical features such as an overhead roof, headlights, luggage space, and room for two spare tires, making it suitable for everyday use.

A Showcase of Engineering Excellence
The Type 52 incorporates several unique technical solutions, such as longitudinal torsion spring suspension combined with hydraulic dampers, and a fuel tank relocated under the seats for optimal weight distribution. The interior design is inspired by Auto Union Grand Prix race cars, with a modern interpretation of colors and fabrics.

Presentation at Goodwood
The Auto Union Type 52 will be driven at Goodwood by racing legends Tom Kristensen and Hans-Joachim “Strietzel” Stuck. Stuck’s father, Hans Stuck, was a renowned hill climb champion in the 1930s, adding a historic connection to the event. Hans-Joachim Stuck expressed his excitement: “The Schnellsportwagen is simply breathtaking: its sound is incredibly sonorous – like it came from an orchestra. And the design of the Auto Union Type 52 will practically blow you away – it’s genius!”

The unveiling of the Auto Union Type 52 at the Goodwood Festival of Speed marks a significant moment in automotive history, bringing to life a car that was once only a dream. Audi Tradition’s meticulous work in recreating this model showcases the ingenuity and technological innovation of the 1930s, offering a glimpse into what might have been one of the most powerful street-legal vehicles of its time.

Technical Data Auto Union Type 52

  • Engine: 16-cylinder mid-mounted engine with supercharger
  • Displacement: 6,005 cc
  • Output: 520 PS (382 kW) at 4,500 rpm
  • Top Speed: Designed for 200 km/h
  • Fuel: 50% methanol, 40% super unleaded, 10% toluene
  • Dimensions (L/W/H): 5,390 / 1,780 / 1,660 mm
  • Wheelbase: 3,315 mm
  • Unladen Weight: 1,450 kg
  • Exterior Color: Cellulose Silver
  • Model Year: 2023
  • Total Number of Units: One-of-a-kind model

Source: Audi
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