Silver Arrows of the Auto Union

The Auto Union and Mercedes were the two manufacturers who built the Silver Arrows racing cars for Grand Prix racing. A specialist racing department of Horch built the Auto Union racing cars types from 1933 to 1939 in Zwickau, Germany. The Types A to C had 6L supercharged V16 engines whereas the Type D came with a 3L V12 engine (due to the new 1938 regulations). The Types A to C were characterized by oversteer at speeds of 160 km/h and this made them difficult to handle, but the Type D was easier to control due to its smaller size.

Auto Union Grand Prix racing car Type A 1934

Ferdinand Porsche developed the V16 Grand Prix racing car Type A in 1933. One of the famous drivers for the Auto Union, Hans Stuck set the world speed record in a Type A. He set the speed in excess of 265 km/h at the Avus circuit.

Auto Union Grand Prix racing car Type B 1935

The Horch racing department at Zwickau fine tune the Auto Union racing cars for the next season. The Type B was powered by a V16. The power output was increased to 375 hp and a top speed of 295 km/h compared to the 280 km/h of Type A cars. For better handling during the race, the wheelbase and the track width were increased.

Auto Union Type B Lucca 1935

The Type B was made as a closed roof in an attempt to break the world speed record set by a Mercedes Silver Arrow. Hans Stuck set a speed of 320 km/h at the Lucca and the Auto Union emerged victorious.

Auto Union Grand Prix racing car Type C 1936

The Grand Prix racing committee limited the weight of cars to 750 kg. Ferdinand Porsche developed the Type C and it was technically more advanced than its predecessors. It had a mid-mounted V16 which produced 520 hp. It won all of its hill-climb races and had a total of 3 wins out of 5 races.

Auto Union 16-cylinder Streamliner racing car Type C


The Auto Union’s Type C Streamliner had a V16 engine which produced 560 hp.  The V16 race car made its debut in 1937 at the Avus race. Bernd Rosemeyer drove the Type C from Frankfurt to Darmstadt in the autobahn and set world speed records. The V16 car crossed 400 km/h during the same ride.

Auto Union Grand Prix racing car Type D 1938

The engine capacity was limited to 3 liters for the 1938 racing season. Therefore, the Type D was fitted with a 12 cylinder arrangement. Everything else was similar to the Type C Grand Prix racing car.

Auto Union 12-cylinder Streamliner racing car Type D 1938

Auto Union built two 12-cylinder Streamliner racing cars based on the Type D. As a result of accidents during training sessions, the Type D was not used in Grand Prix racing.

Auto Union 16-cylinder Hill-Climb racing car Type C-D


In 1938, Auto Union built a racing car of the combination of the Type C and Type D. It had the V16 engine of the Type C and the chassis of the Type D. The Type C-D was used only in hill-climbing races due to the 1938 Grand Prix regulation changes. The Type C-D was famously called as the Bergrennwagen. Therefore, to compete in Grand Prix races, the Auto Union introduced a 12 cylinder supercharged engine.

Related: Two Stroke Engine History of DKW and Majestic Fenders of Horch

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