1939 Auto Union D-Type Back To The Auction Block

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To paraphrase the words of another mechanical, Teutonic masterpiece, ‘I’ll be back’ said the 1939 Auto Union D-Type to the auction world. The world of car auctions is one where intrigue and obscurity is the norm, and even the most normal and well meaning of cars might not be what they seem to be. When those cars are highly desirable, rare and worth considerable amounts of money, all of that gets cranked up to stratospheric levels along with the money that’s being thrown around.

Such is the case with the car we have here. It’s a 1939 Auto Union D-Type grand prix car, one of only a handful in existence, and a car that very, very rarely comes up for sale, and one that was going to be auctioned a few months ago, then hastily withdrawn. So what gives? What’s the story here?

It starts out with a curious phrasing in a Sports Car Market notice on the upcoming auction. ” This legendary racing car – absolutely confirmed today as chassis number \’19\’ – was driven to placing … ” That’s odd, why go out of your way to state ” … absolutely confirmed today as chassis number \’19\’… “. That’s like having your waiter bring you your steak and say, “Here’s your fillet mignon sir, and we can definitely verify that no one has pissed on it.” It’s a pretty unreassuringly reassurance, wouldn’t you say?

It turns out that this particular 1939 Auto Union D-Type grand prix car was going to come up for auction last year, but then became known that the history of the car could not be absolutely confirmed. To say that this car has a dark and murky past is a bit of an understatement. It was built by Auto Union (now Audi) with lots and lots of money from the Nazis. And when the war ended, it fell into the hands of the Soviets, along with a bunch of other Auto Union racers. The Soviets cut them all up, except for this one, chassis number 19, and confirming that this was the real deal took some time.

But this is, indeed, the real deal, and Bonham and Butterfields are hoping to get around 8 MILLION dollars when they roll it out on stage this coming August at their annual collector\’s motorcar car auction this August 14, 2009 in Carmel, California.

Source: Edmunds and SportsCarMarket

Photo from Flickr user Bechster

About The Author

Tony Borroz grew up in a sportscar oriented family, but sadly, it was British cars. His knuckles still show the marks of slipped Whitworth sockets, strains to reach rear upper shock bushings on Triumphs and slight burn marks from dealing with Lucas Electric "systems". He has written for a variety of car magazines and websites, Automoblog chief among them, as well as working on very popular driving games as a content expert. He has also worked for aerospace companies, software giants and as a movie stuntman. He currently lives in a secure, undisclosed location in the American southwestern desert.

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