Auto Union Typ A #1 – Minichamps

Auto Union Typ A
1934 Auto Union Typ A 
Pilot: Hans Stuck
Team: Auto Union Race: 1st place in the German GP in 1934
Minichamps - 503.09.008.03 (diecast)

Published 02/01/18

After becoming German Chancellor, Adolf Hitler decided that a great way to promote Aryan supremacy was for German cars to win races. So the government agreed to financially help Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union’s (to the annoyance of Mercedes) racing cars projects. In early 1933, the AIACR governing body announced a new formula for Grand Prix racing. Now the weight of the car without driver, fuel, oil, water and tires was not to exceed 750 kg. Auto Union had recently been formed, and their racing department was basically non-existent. At the time, Ferdinand Porsche worked on a race car since 1932. And his experimental P-Wagen project racing car could easily adapted to the regulations of the 750 kg formula. With fresh state funds, Auto Union bought Porsche’s designing company and the P-Wagen Project. He then became head of Auto Union’s race engineering department.

Auto Union Typ A
For today’s standards the car looks awkward, but many principles pioneered there still are the norm today.

Porsche’s P-Wagen had a lot of novel ideas for a race car of that era. The engine was a V16 (at 45º) that displaced 4360 cm³ with SOHC and 32 valves. Supercharged by a Roots supercharger, it developed 295 hp. But the big deal was its location at the rear, and not at the front as was the norm. The fuel tank located directly behind the driver allowed a constant front-rear weight distribution as the fuel was used. This location is used in modern open-wheel racing cars for the same reason.

The chassis was a (very) stiff ladder chassis, and a very stiff suspension was used. Because of this design, the car’s turning angle changed as the momentum of the centrally mounted engine increased on the chassis. And that caused oversteer, meaning that the car was a beast to drive. Rare was the pilot who was able to master it.

Auto Union Typ A
Minichamps did a terrific job everywhere, including the cockpit.

The Typ A was ready in the beginning of 1934. It first raced at Berlin’s AVUS circuit on late May, but only managed a 3rd place. But on July 15th, at the VII Großer Preis Von Deutschland (German Grand Prix), at Nürburgring, Auto Union had its first Grand Prix victory. Though starting on the third row, Hans Stuck’s Typ A #1 jumped to 1st place right at the beginning. However, competition from the W25 of Rudolf Caracciola and Luigi Fagioli was fierce. Stuck and Caracciola raced each other at full speed. They broke the lap record several times and left the rest of the field far behind. However, the W25’s engine could not take the strain and on the 14th lap Caracciola retired. Fagioli still chased Stuck, but the Typ A was unbeatable, and Stuck finished first, over 2 minutes ahead of Fagioli.

Porsche’s design was decades ahead of its time.

So, a Silberpfeil… When I started collecting 1:43, I established a few rues for my collection. And to not repeat the mistakes of my 1:18 past, one of these rules was the “OLM rule”- I was going to buy Only Le Mans cars. BUT, when Mercury the God of Speed created the Bible of Speed and dictated the You-Shall-Buy-Only-Le-Mans-Race-Cars commandment, he did stipulate a few exceptions (he’s godly clever). For instance, he allowed one or two Can-Am cars. And maybe about five or so rally cars. And of course, Silver Arrows.

Auto Union Typ A
Racing in the 30’s at its finest.

Some 20 years ago I read the book Mercedes Benz: Silver Arrows, and I was absolutely awestruck by those outstanding cars and their gentlemen drivers. So in my 1:18 days I got all the models that I could. With that, I guess it was just a matter of time before I would get some cars for my 1:43 garage too. I stumbled upon this quite cheap Typ A and I just couldn’t pass up on the opportunity. And I’m REALLY glad I took the plunge. The model is A+++, one of the best I’ve seen from Minichamps ever. Therefor, with such a good start, you can expect to see more Silberpfeil here. Not a lot, since unfortunately there aren’t many, but they’ll definitely show up 😉.

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