This is the inside of the cockpit of the Auto Union C-Type following its victory at the Donington Grand Prix on October 2, 1937. This Auto Union was driven by Bernd Rosemeyer who was one of very few drivers capable of harnessing the power and somewhat unpredictable handling of this rear-engined monster.
Auto Union AG had been formed in 1932 as a kind of joint venture between Audi, DKW, Horch and Wanderer to combine their areas of expertise. The eventual Grand Prix cars for Auto Union were built at Horch for which the nameplate is on the dashboard above. The C-Type was a development of two earlier versions, all designed primarily by Dr. Ferdinand Porsche using a rear engine layout with all independent suspension, parallel trailing arms at the front with torsion bars and swing axles at the rear with a transverse leaf spring, not dissimilar from Porsche’s VW design. What was indeed different was the use of a supercharged 6 liter V16 motor which produced in excess of 550 hp, at quite modest revolutions, as can be seen above.
For the Donington race the competition would be totally between Auto Union and Mercedes-Benz. A few ERAs and a couple of Maseratis filled out the modest field. Auto Union brought cars for Rosemeyer, Rudolf Hasse and Hermann Müller. Mercedes countered with four cars for Rudolf Caracciola, Hermann Lang, Manfred von Brauchitsch and Dick Seaman. Brauchitsch was fastest in practice, just ahead of Rosemeyer. They became the racers to beat as Lang and Seaman both retired and near the end Brauchitsch blew a tire which effectively gave the win to Rosemeyer.
Here is Rosemeyer in his winning car as he pulls into the victory paddock. He was almost 38 seconds ahead of Brauchitsch due to that late pit stop for a wheel change which allowed Rosemeyer to make a second fuel stop while maintaining the lead. Caracciola was third having run a more conservative race to go through without a second stop for fuel.
Rosemeyer’s meteoric career would end in tragedy at a land speed record test with an Auto Union streamliner on the Darmstadt-Frankfurt autobahn where his car, possibly caught in a crosswind, crashed at high speed into a bridge. Rosemeyer was found in a wood by the side of the road at which spot a memorial to Rosemeyer still exists.
Photos by Louis Klemantaski ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com
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