Saturday, October 25, 2014

A History of Audi

Friday, October 10, 2014

Dessau Historic Race Program

The 75th anniversary of the opening of the speed record track on the former Reich autobahn between Berlin and Leipzig was commemorated last week with a series of events at the Hugo Junkers Museum of Technology. The program was opened by Dessau Mayor Peter Kuras on 2 October and featured a procession of the autobahn of historically important streamlined cars on 3 October, followed by lectures and presentations at the Museum of Technology and an exhibition of paintings by the German-Swedish artist Rony Lutz from Karlstad, which was shown for the first time in Germany.

In early 1939 a section of the Berlin to Leipzig autobahn was used in a series of speed record trials. The former speed track is today part of the A9 autobahn but a 14 kilometer section between Wolfen and Dessau South survives largely unchanged since 1939 and has now been renovated. Four elegant filigree bridges, built in the Bauhaus style span this original section of autobahn. In fact, Dessau was one of the homes of the Bauhaus design movement that originated in 1928 in the Weimar Republic. The style was later suppressed as ‘modernist decadence’ by the Nazi’s after 1933 but the elegant arches of the four Dessau bridges remain an enigmatic sight today.

One of the notable vehicles to use the track in 1939 was the Hanomag Diesel Rekordwagen, an impressively streamlined racer that Hanomag used to demonstrate the power of their new diesel engine. Hanomag, which is known today as a manufacturer of trucks and tractors, was a pioneer in the development of diesel engines for motor vehicles. From 1934 to 1940 Hanomag built about 20,000 passenger cars of the ‘Rekord’ type, with 1,100 powered by a small diesel engine. The Hanomag Diesel Rekordwagen, powered by a 1.9 litre diesel engine, broke four world speed records on the Dessau autobahn track in February 1939. Unfortunately, this incredible machine was lost in the Second World War, but enough photographs and information survived to enable Hanomag IG of Hildesheim to undertake the construction of a replica. The car had to be made roadworthy in time for the Dessau program. A specialist coachbuilder from Zetel managed to complete the aluminum trim around the front of the car four days ahead of the show.

Photo by Holger Eggers.

The Hanomag Rennwagen ahead of the spectacular Adler Rennlimousine and BMW Dixi racer.

To publicize this worthy project and promote the sponsors, the Hugo Junkers Museum of Technology agreed to host the commemorative program. Aircraft designer Hugo Junkers was an advocate of streamlining and the museum in his honour features displays of complimentary technologies. As in the air, so too on land; in the 1930s many manufacturers of automobiles and motorcycles experimented with streamlining and lightweight design, especially in the pursuit of speed.

17 collectors of important and streamlined classic vehicles displayed their vehicles as part of the exhibition. Leo Kreienb├╝hl and his family travelled all the way from Bern in Switzerland in his Hanomag AL motorhome. It was a difficult drive but Leo said, "The Hanomag is currently very cheerful!" Behind the motorhome he tows a trailer with a beautiful 1938 Darl'mat DSE 402 Peugeot Coupe, of which only three copies were built in total.

The Peugeot 402 leads a Hanomag Rekord and a Tatra T87

Other rarities attending were a 1938 Adler Le Mans, the sole surviving lightweight Maier prototype, a Tatra T87 and T600 and several DKW and Hanomag vehicles. One Hanomag Rekord car from Hanover had only just finished its restoration. In this car the famous racer Baron von Hanstein won the 1937 Morocco Rally.

Tatra T87

DKW F5 roadster

On 3 October 2014 – the Day of German Unity – the owners drove their vehicles in convoy along the historic section of the autobahn in a commemorative procession. After the morning the fog had cleared, the local police forces gave the green light, and the procession commenced. Numerous onlookers gathered on the Bauhaus bridges to observe this unique event. After successfully completing the course, these rare record vehicles returned to Dessau to be displayed around the Technology Museum’s Ju 52.

The Hanomag Diesel Rekord leads the T600 Tatraplan

Hanomag Rekord roadster tearing ahead of a BMW Isetta and Opel Olympia.

Hanomag 1.3 litre Autobahn

DKW Monza and Peugeot 402

Hanomag Rekord roadster and BMW 328

BMW 328, Hanomag Rekord, BMW Isetta, Opel Rekord

Another highlight of the week was an exhibition of aerodynamic drawings by German-Swedish artist Rony Lutz. The 30 graphics of vehicles from the years 1899-1950 were shown for the first time and remain on display in Dessau in Germany – along with the Hanomag Rekordwagen - until 15 October at the Museum of Technology in Dessau.

All told, the 2014 commemorative program has been an outstanding success. For the organizers the future is already clear: in 2019, the 80th anniversary of the record route, there will be a repeat.

Author: Horst-Dieter Gorg -
Photos: Holger Eggers and Horst-Dieter Gorg

View from a Bridges
A photo-set from Enrico Berbig in black and white.

A Mercedes-Benz 190 Ponton was the pace car; in company with the DKW F5 racer

A view back down the A9. The organizers had originally asked to have the road closed to traffic for the commemorative drive but the police refused as it would have caused traffic chaos over the long weekend. The older, slower cars were restricted to the right-hand lane.

Here the Tatraplan overtakes the Hanomag record car. The Tatra can still keep up with modern traffic.

Hanomag Rekord roadster. It makes a striking comparison with the streamliner.

BMW Dixi roadster. Dixi built Austin Seven's under license. BMW bought Dixi in 1928. One of the early changes BMW made was the introduction of their distinctive grill design.

The Maier lightweight prototype.

An Opel Olympia

A Hanomag Rekord cabriolet

Peugeot 402

Adler Les Mans Rennlimousine

A colour photo-set from Jing Zhou -

BMW Dixi and Maier

It's good to see this interesting unique vehicle out on the road.

The Hanomag record car reached 155kph in its record breaking run in 1939. Prior to this diesel engines were seen as being fit only for tractors and heavy duty trucks. This time, for safety reasons, the car's speed was limited to 80kph.

The Tatra T87

The Peugeot 402 was built for speed. It still looks sleek and modern.

A Hanomag 1.3 litre Autobahn. Like the DKW F9, the Hanomag Autobahn represented the new generation of German modern, streamlined cars. Hanomag managed to get the Autobahn into production from 1939 until 1941, whereas DKW's F9 would need to wait until after the war.

Only two years separate this Hanomag Rekord from the Hanomag Autobahn in the photo above but they are clearly light years apart in design.