Leading up to the end of 1937, Auto Union had won 32 of 54 races and needed a new contender for the upcoming restrictions that allowed a three-liter supercharged car with a minimum weight of 850 kgs. For this new formula they developed the Type D which raced alongside the best from Delahaye and Mercedes-Benz in the later half of 1938.
Despite having almost half the displacement of the Typ C it replaced, the Type D’s V12 managed to retain almost all the horsepower. Furthermore, with a smaller engine, the driver was able to be positioned further back in the chassis, and even with a new De-Dion rear suspension, the Type C was a handful for its drivers.
Mid season, the Typ D was sorted enough to contest all the major races. Tazio Nuvolari went went on to win the Donnington and Monza GP. In 1939 a twin-stage supercharger was installed and with it two more vicoties were scored. The Championship that year went to Mercedes and Rudolf Caracciola.
A special hillclimb version was made with double rear wheels and won at events like La Turbie and the Großglockner.
After the war, the cars were rendered obsolete due to regulations, but only very few survived anyhow.
Chassis & Sales
019-Prepared in to the newer specificationm, this 1939 model sports a twin-stage supercharger. After the season was cut short due to the war, the factory in Auto Union Factory in Zwickau became Russian property and all the cars were shipped backed to study. Some of these these were later found by Paul Karassik in Ukraine including 019. Found without it’s body, the car was taken to experts Crosthwaite & Gardiner to reassemble the car. It had been cut into pieces for study in the Ukraine.
With the help of Rod Jolley Coachbuilding, Crosthwaite & Gardiner refurbished the engine and chassis and the entire car was tested for the first time by Dick Crosthwaite at the Nürburgring in October 1994.
In 2002 Chrisities attempted to sell Chassis 019 at their Retromobile sale. Despite a great campaign the car was withdrawn at the last minute because its chassis number could not be verified. It took several years, but Bonhams will include the car at their upcoming Quail Lodge Auction.