1936 Horch in Bonhams Amelia Island Auction

Cars from Audi are still a rare thing at American top level collector car auctions. In as much, you might be surprised to know that we tend to see the brand’s pre-war Auto Union offerings on the block as often as we see any of the modern classics. Take for instance this 1936 Horch 853 Roadster set to sell at the Bonhams auction at Amelia Island next month.

Cars like this Horch were built in far fewer numbers than modern cars such as the ur quattro, likely closer to the uber rare homologation-only Sport quattro. Post war Audis are beginning to pop up, with a Sport quattro sold last year in Monterey and an ur quattro earlier this year in Scottsdale. Even still, a super-luxurious pre-war roadster like this Horch is a more traditional find for a more traditional auction.

Below is what we know about the car thanks to the Bonhams catalogue listing. Find more history of Horch and the 853 in general HERE.

Sporting a newly constructed body in Special Roadster style, this elegant and sporty Horch looks stunning from any angle. The car was purchased in Hungary in 2011 by Appel Klassiker (previously operating under Horch Classic). Unfortunately, the original body was lost either during WW2 or after, thus it was not possible to tell whether it had been fitted from the factory as a Sportcabriolet or with an independently coachbuilt body. The restoration started in 2011 was completed in 2017, taking thousands of working hours. It was decided to build a replica body in the style of legendary Horch 853 Spezialroadster, of which according to relevant technical literature only seven were built. Appel Klassiker researched in numerous archives (and also private sources) to find original factory photographs.

First the Horch chassis was cleaned, measured and the metal checked for thickness and corrosion. Parts of the frame which showed either too much corrosion or were deemed too thin were replaced and then primed and painted. Next, the wooden body frame was constructed, with lots of trial fittings until the right shape and form had been achieved. Using a laser spirit level, the frame components were then glued together and screwed onto the chassis. Then the individual components of the metal body were fabricated carefully and welded together.

From the start, careful consideration was given to not only achieve perfect harmony between the body color and interior, but also to arrive at a period-correct look for the car. Accordingly, a base color of silver metallic was chosen, which changes under different lighting conditions from pure silver to silver with a slight blue tinge. To emphasize the car’s flowing lines, a coach line was applied flowing through the mudguards, bonnet, doors and the rear of the body.

The car’s interior was clad in high quality black velour carpet, which was piped in the same red leather as was used for the seats. The leather for the seats itself was chosen for its period-authentic texture, and a great deal of effort went into the Alcantara hood lining. Contrasting edges used at the seats as well as for the cladding emphasize the very sporty look of the car. The dashboard has been covered with fine burl wood veneer that has been lacquered and polished to provide a mirror-like finish and harmonizes beautifully with the interior and exterior colors. All chromed parts were both prepared and re-chromed, or where necessary; newly fabricated and plated.

The original engine, front and rear axles, differential, gearbox and steering were dismantled, measured and overhauled where necessary. The engine was completely dismantled and all parts measured and checked. New bearings were fitted, new pistons installed, and the camshaft and valve gear overhauled. New seals were fitted to the valve guides, and modern radial oil seals fitted to the engine at front and rear. The crankshaft was finely balanced together with the flywheel. Dynamometer tested for some 20 hours and finely adjusted before fitting to the car, the engine is reported to run very smoothly, while a comprehensively overhauled five-speed gearbox enhances the already pleasurable driving experience and helps to keep the engine revs low at cruising speeds. A new wiring loom has been made and covered with woven cotton to replicate the appearance of the original. It goes without saying that safety-critical components for the steering and hydraulic brakes were renewed also. An additional ignition system is fitted. This extraordinary car is offered with photographic documentation of the restoration, an owner’s manual (copy) and a spare parts list (copy).

The annual Amelia Island Auction – an auction at which world records are regularly set – is scheduled for Thursday, March 8that the Fernandina Beach Golf Club (across from the municipal airport). For more information, including how to register to bid and order a catalog, visit Bonhams.com.