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Audi brings a 90-year vision to life: The 16-cylinder 'Auto Union Type 52' takes the road


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At the 2024 Goodwood Festival of Speed, Audi Tradition thrilled the audience by unveiling a long-lost phantom from the company's past—the Auto Union Type 52.



Christened the "Schnellsportwagen" (German for "fast sports car"), this sleek and aerodynamic dream machine was envisioned in the 1930s as a road-going companion to the dominant Auto Union racing cars. Originally intended as a three-seater luxurious grand tourer, the Type 52 never left the design stage, but its legacy lives on.




A Visionary Legacy from the Silver Arrow Era

The brainchild of the legendary Ferdinand Porsche, the Type 52 was designed to be the street-legal sibling of the iconic Auto Union Silver Arrow Grand Prix cars. This connection isn't purely aesthetic; the Type 52 shared the Silver Arrow's revolutionary spirit, boasting a pioneering mid-engine layout—a design concept that remains a cornerstone of Formula One racing today.




A Pioneering Gran Turismo Ahead of Its Time

Had this phantom become a reality in its era, the Type 52 would have been a true pioneer in the Gran Turismo category.Its design prioritized balanced handling and optimal weight distribution, featuring a long wheelbase to accommodate the powerful mid-mounted engine. The interior layout was also unique, placing the driver in a central, command position for a truly focused driving experience.


From Dream to Reality: Audi Makes the Type 52 a Reality

Fast forward to the present day, and Audi has finally brought the Type 52 to life in a meticulous recreation project. Using original blueprints and design sketches, Audi partnered with renowned historic race car manufacturer Crosthwaite & Gardner to craft this one-of-a-kind masterpiece. Every element, from the hand-formed aluminum body panels to the meticulously recreated engine, is a faithful representation of the original vision.




More Than Just a Museum Piece: A Legacy of Innovation

The Type 52's resurrection is more than just a nostalgic exercise. It's a powerful symbol of Audi's dedication to preserving its rich heritage while pushing the boundaries of automotive innovation. This once-imagined machine now stands as a testament to the enduring allure of high-performance vehicles and a thrilling chapter in automotive history.




The Type 52's arrival also sparks discussions about the evolution of automotive design and engineering, reminding us of the audacious dreams that continue to propel the industry forward. Whether the Type 52 paves the way for a future halo car from Audi remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: this phantom from the past has solidified its place in automotive history and captured the imagination of car lovers worldwide.




Images: Audi



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