1961 Auto Union 1000SP Coupe

The world of Auto Union is full of paradox. That the company even came into existence is itself somewhat of a fluke, but a harsh economic situation in Germany in the 1930s led four mostly failing companies to band together in the hope that united, they might survive. Out of that union was born the image of the four rings that today are worn proudly by the last remnant, and the least successful, of the original four – Audi. If that isn’t strange, the history of how we got to that point certainly is. Only one of the companies was truly successful when they banded together, and they produced primarily motorcycles, not cars. Yet only one year after being founded, the fledgling company put its technical prowess up against the might of the most storied car company in the world – indeed, the inventors of the automobile – Daimler-Benz. And by “its” technical prowess, I mean the technical prowess of one Ferdinand Porsche, himself an outcast of sorts from several car companies. His design was both unorthodox and unusual, with a single-cam supercharged 16 cylinder engine mounted in the middle of the car. Mind you, this was a full 25 years before Cooper would make the “revolutionary” change that would be the accepted practice of all modern Formula One cars. With entirely new suspension designs and strange handling behaviors – never mind enough torque to jump start an industrial production line and tires that would consequently disintegrate immediately or fuel that was really just a high explosive in liquid form – the Auto Union Grand Prix cars shared nothing in common with the road-going models marketed by the company, who at the start of the 1930s didn’t even produce what could loosely be identified as a sports car.

Yet, it worked.…

1977 Wartburg 353

Proletariat of the world, unite in celebration! It’s not often that we get to see a car produced in the German Demoractic Republic – better known to you and me as East Germany. When we do see one, it’s often the much loved for being horrible Trabant that steals the limelight. So you know you’ve got something special when the car in question is referred to as “the other car made in the GDR”. It was a stunner, too – with such innovation as windows, wheels and even seats. The seats even had a class system – no socialist bench seating here! By separating the driver into their own separate seat, this progressive automobile showed that it was a world beater. Who said the Communists couldn’t think outside of the box? Speaking of boxes, did I mention that sleek exterior? It was a face only a Yugo’s mother could love, but compared to the Trabant – a car stuck believing 1955 was the future – the Wartburg 353 seemed to be emerging from the jet-age. Pioneering the concept that less moving parts was better, the Wartburg’s 2-stroke 3 cylinder engine was the prototype for the Tesla motor; it took Elon Musk 40 years of research to reduce the Wartburg’s 7 moving engine parts to only one! Rare to see..well, anywhere, check out this car that gave Captialist designers nightmares:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1977 Wartburg 353 on eBay