Press "Enter" to skip to content
We have 15 years of archives. Links older than a year may have been updated to point to similar cars available to bid on eBay.

Category: Exclusive

Motorsports Monday Special: Racing to Sell – The ‘Silberpfeil’: Part 5

A 1936 Auto Union Type C sits below a similarly streamlined Junkers JU-86 at an exposition

As we saw in the last few installments, Daimler-Benz and Auto Union had heavily engaged in racing – a massive investment for both, pushing the boundaries of existing technology and redefining how motor racing was to be undertaken. The question in today’s installment was who this methodical approach to racing benefited the most. Was the government’s investment in racing worthwhile? Was Auto Union’s gamble on building an unconventional race car a success? Were the extremes to which Daimler-Benz was willing to stretch its racing budget realized in results over the competition? Today we look at some of the more pragmatic reasons behind the motivations of both companies and some of the ideology behind government which helps explain the involvement of both.

Link to Part 1

Link to Part 2

Link To Part 3

Link To Part 4


Comments closed

GTi-Killer: 1987 Renault 5

What can be said about the Renault 5 that hasn’t already been said? The R5 was a pioneering design, a monumental testament to the power of the French automobile industry. So confident were French engineers in the inherent superiority of their design that when it came to marketing the car in the United States, they simply called the R5 “Le Car”. Why else would any consumers buy anything else? This was, after all “THE CAR” – the only one you’d ever need. Notably, Ferrari has recently attempted to mimic the success of this marketing ploy with its new eco-friendly hybrid car, though it’s doubtful the Ferrari “The Ferrari” will ever be as memorable as the Renault “The Car”. The hot French hatch was an instant hit amongst U.S. consumers, who didn’t require such decadence as luxury, build quality, fuel economy, or performance in their cars. Sure, the GTi had more power and better handling. But looks? No, Marcello Gandini famously said “I have penned cars such as the Countach, Miura and Stratos, but I refer to the second generation refresh of the Renault 5 as my masterpiece”. And Renault made sure that this was a constantly evolving design by once again being a market leader and providing no rust proofing, ensuring that these cars would be on a steady weight-loss program. Okay, so truth told Renault did offer a performance version in the R5 Turbo. It was the worst car ever made, period. Where were you supposed to carry your baguettes, after all, since they mounted the motor in the back where your groceries and your guppies would be placed? No, smart consumers saw right through that ploy and bought what was a better and smarter long term value in the normal model.

Since it was really only a discerning few who saw through the market hype of the plethora of reliable and good performing Japanese and German automobile options in the 1980s to find the true diamond in the Renault, very few remain available today. However, luckily this pristine example has been imported. Smartly, the seller has not only left the engine configuration up to the next owner, but also which side the steering wheel will end up on. Even more amazing is that you can decided which year this car should be. Should it be 1987 or 1978? Either way, this pioneering design is a rare opportunity to own what virtually all automobile enthusiasts consider the definitive hot hatch:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Renault 5 on eBay


Motorsports Monday Special: Racing to Sell – The ‘Silberpfeil’: Part 4

A 1935 Auto Union Type B Streamliner used for both records and the annual Avus race in Berlin

This past weekend weekend we saw a bit of hubris and bad strategy lead to Mercedes-Benz losing to Ferrari in the Malaysian Grand Prix. Despite the massive investment and seemingly pedantic attention to detail, the same problems existed in the 1930s for the company. Increasingly Mercedes-Benz needed to differentiate itself from Auto Union by undertaking extreme efforts. These efforts were not always profitable; indeed, one could argue that – as we saw last week – since they were already having difficulty delivering cars thanks to raw material shortages, undertaking new forms of racing and record-breaking might have seemed ill-conceived for the company. However, still at stake was preferential treatment from the government, especially when it came to lucrative military contracts. As such, Mercedes-Benz undertook some unlikely projects to not only gain international prestige for the Daimler-Benz model range, but indeed to curry favor with the government.

Link to Part 1

Link to Part 2

Link To Part 3



Motorsports Monday Special: Racing to Sell – The ‘Silberpfeil’: Part 1

1938 Coppa Acerbo – Mercedes-Benz W154s and Auto Union Type Ds leave the starting line

We’re going to run something a bit special over the coming few weeks; a bit of a history lesson. In light of the 2014 championship for Mercedes-Benz in Formula 1, I wanted to revisit some research I did in 2003-2004 as part of a Master’s program at the University of Cambridge. We take it for granted that large corporate sponsors and major automobile manufacturers engage in motorsports as a natural outlet and expression of their engineering prowess in order to help sell brand identity, brand loyalty and ultimately sell more cars, trucks and motorcycles. Yet, there was a period where this was not a certainty – indeed, in the early 1920s it was still presumed that racing was an endeavor only rich gentlemen partook in, much like horse racing. But the combination of two companies competing against each other, a government eager to tout the superiority of its products, and new technologies all combined in a very special period during the early 1930s. The reign of the Silver Arrows was only halted by the outbreak of war, yet during that period of roughly 6 years we saw some of the fastest, most powerful and most exotic designs be innovated by the two German marques that the world has ever witnessed. The Mercedes-Benz W125 would remain the most powerful Grand Prix car for 50 years, until the 1980s turbo era, and properly streamlined, they still hold closed-course records in Germany at 270 m.p.h. on the public Autobahn. The spectacle held not only Germans attention, but all of Europe looked on as these two Goliaths tried to outsmart and outspend each other. Ultimately, they went to extremes to prove their dominance and win the favor of the German people – but more importantly, the German government, who by the late 1930s increasingly held the purse strings to valuable commodities needed for the production of automobiles. The following tells the tale of how the two German marques became involved in Grand Prix racing, how successful each was, and problems and challenges they faced along the way. It’s told from more of an economic standpoint, to help to explain why the two firms would race Grand Prix cars when neither offered a sports car for sale to the public. For the purposes of this blog, I’ve removed the citations and many of the quotations (most of which are in original German) as this is already quite long. I hope you all enjoy it, and if you have any specific questions please leave comments and I’ll do my best to answer them! Without further ado…