Bonhams & Butterfields is delighted to offer for sale by auction nothing less than one of the most charismatic Grand Prix racing cars ever built – the 1939 Auto Union ‘D-Type’ with rear-mounted 3-liter twin-stage supercharged V12-cylinder engine. The annual collector’s motorcar car auction is set for August 14, 2009 in Carmel, CA. This legendary racing car - absolutely confirmed today as chassis number ‘19’ - was driven to placing finishes in the 1939 Grand Prix racing season. Handled by Auto Union factory team drivers Rudolf Hasse and Hans Stuck, this pioneering rear-engined Grand Prix projectile finished fifth in the German EifelRennen event on the North Circuit of the Nurburgring, and sixth in the Grand Prix de l’Automobile Club de France around the super fast public road course at Reims-Gueux. The 1938-39 V12-cylinder Auto Union racing car – retrospectively classified postwar as the Chemnitz company’s ‘D-Type’ model – was developed to meet a new set of international regulations governing Grand Prix racing. They specified a maximum engine capacity of 3-liters and a minimum weight limit of 850-kilograms. The ‘D-Type’ Auto Union was based upon a highly sophisticated and advanced new chassis design, featuring de Dion rear suspension and its fuel load centralized in pannier tanks hung along each side, within the wheelbase. The 3-cam V12-cylinder engine developed some 420bhp in 1938 single-stage supercharged form, rising to some 485bhp at 7,000rpm when two-stage supercharging was adopted for 1939. That final pre-war season – whose leading cars such as this Auto Union represent the absolute high-tide of ‘Silver Arrows’ period technology - then opened on May 21 with the EifelRennen, at Germany’s Nurburgring, where Nuvolari’s ‘D-Type’ finished second and Rudi Hasse fifth in chassis ‘19’ now being offered by Bonhams & Butterfields. During the 1939 racing season, Auto Union deployed 11 ‘D-Type’ chassis in the six significant Grand Prix Formula events contested. In addition to Nuvolari’s second place in the EifelRennen, Hasse finished second in the Belgian GP, before his team-mates H.P. ‘Happy’ Muller and ‘Schorsch’ Meier brought the team a wonderful 1-2 success in the French race at Reims-Gueux. It was there that chassis ‘19’ raced for the last time, driven by Hans Stuck, the veteran Austrian star. In his hands, this ‘D-Type’ Auto Union completed the works team’s day by finishing sixth. Today, Auto Union ‘D-Type’ chassis ‘19’ is the only proven surviving Grand Prix car of its type with contemporary 1939 racing history. It is one of the classic car world’s most charismatic machines, and is exquisitely well-restored to running order. In a world hungry for genuine intrinsic value, it has much to commend it.