Audi Tradition is marking this year’s Festival of Speed at Goodwood, England, held July 11th – 13th, with a world debut. At the largest classic car racing event in the world, the Ingolstadt company will be taking the wraps off an absolutely authentic reconstruction of the original Auto Union “Silverarrow” Type D Dual Compressor from 1939.
Construction of this racing car, the original version of which won two Grand Prix races at the hands of H.P. Müller and Tazio Nuvolari, took four years. The “Silverarrow” will be taken on its maiden drive by Nick Mason, the Pink Floyd drummer, in front of some 150,000 spectators at Goodwood.
Thomas Frank, Head of Audi Tradition, commented: “We are delighted that we now have this car in our collection. And where better to give it its first outing than in the UK? We believe that this gesture is a fitting tribute to the people whose unique craftsmanship has brought this extraordinary car back to life.” The “new” Auto Union Type D was constructed entirely in England. The specialist workshop Crosthwaite & Gardiner in East Sussex was able to call on almost 30 years of experience in reconstructing Auto Union “Silverarrow” cars. On the other hand the bodywork specialists at Roach Manufacturing, near Southampton, had only a handful of historic photos as their basis.
When Auto Union was broken up by the occupying Soviet forces in East Germany after the Second World War, not only were all Auto Union racing cars lost. Most of the technical documents, too, vanished without trace. The Type D racing car is the last version of the Auto Union “Silverarrow” cars (1934 to 1939) to be developed by Auto Union’s Racing Division in Zwickau. In an effort to make the 420 hp twelve-cylinder engine in the Type D even faster, the single-compressor version from 1938, the year it made its debut, mutated into a dual-compressor version. This boosted the power output by 65 horsepower, but also necessitated various modifications to the body. The racing car’s tail end took on a hump shape to accommodate the dual compressor, coupled with a long air intake pipe, and the nose was made flatter. The resulting modified Type D only made its debut mid-way through the 1939 season in the Belgian Grand Prix. This meant that Keith Roach and his team had very few photos to serve as a guide. He is nevertheless very satisfied with the results: “It is one of our all-time masterpieces.” Roach Manufacturing had already built a reproduction of the streamlined body of the record-breaking Auto Union Type C from 1937 based on photos. This vehicle is now on show at the Audi museum mobile.
The Auto Union Type D that is about to make its debut will be the last “Silverarrow” replica to be commissioned by Audi Tradition. Thomas Frank, Head of Audi Tradition, continued: “Our Auto Union Type D from 1938, which to a very large extent is made from original parts and has been exhibited at racetracks for a number of years, will go on display in the Audi museum mobile in the medium term. One reason for this decision is that we need to avoid it being damaged. The new replica will take its place. We will thus still be able to give people the extraordinary experience of witnessing this car in action.”
In Nick Mason, Audi has found a worthy pilot for its maiden outing. The Pink Floyd drummer is a leading proponent of classic car racing in Great Britain. Mason has driven in the Le Mans 24 Hours on five occasions and is the proud owner of a notable collection of racing cars whose value is in the mid-range double-digit millions. He already drove an Auto Union racing car at Goodwood in 2007: the 1936 Type C. And he is really relishing the prospect of this year’s competition: “I must have done something right last year if Audi Tradition is now prepared to let me take to the wheel for this maiden trip. But seriously, it’s a huge honour, which I sincerely appreciate.”
Nick Mason will not be the only driver representing Audi in the Goodwood line-up. Five-time Le Mans winner Frank Biela is making a return to the home country of motor racing in the very same Audi A4 Supertouring in which he won the 1996 British Touring Car Championship (BTCC). “I’m really pleased to be taking part in Goodwood – in my very own former racing car, to boot! That’s just great!” declared Biela. Audi Sport will also be exhibiting the winning car from Le Mans, the Audi R10.