1939 Auto Union Typ C/D Bergrennwagen #125 Pilot: H. P. Müller Team: Auto Union Race: 3rd place in the 1939 Grossglockner Hill Climb Minichamps - 410392125 (diecast)
The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) came into existence right after World War II. The FIA was the evolution of the Association Internationale des Automobile Clubs Reconnus’ (AIACR). During the “golden era” of GP racing before the war, the AIACR was the governing body of high level racing. All regulations for Grand Prix racing came from the AIACR, and just like today, said regulations changed with time. Therefore, in 1936 the AIACR decreed that from 1938 onward GP cars would be under the “3-Liter Formula”. That meant that engines could displace up to 3 l (if supercharged) or 4.5 l (normally aspirated). Moreover, the cars without fluids could weigh no more than 850 kg. That being so, both Mercedes and Auto Union started developing new cars soon after. In Auto Union’s case, they began working on the replacement for the Typ C – the Typ D.
While the previous C model had a 6005 cm³ V16, the new Typ D model used a 2990 cm³ V12. With the smaller displacement, power output decreased from 520 to 420 hp. Even so, the D still was a handful, and few excelled with it. In terms of chassis, the evolution from the Typ A of 1934 to the Typ D of 1938 was minimal. Yet, with a shorter wheelbase and with the pilot sitting closer to the middle of the car, handling improved somewhat. However, while the A, B and C models had very similar bodies, the Typ D was quite different. The new body, with its new proportions, looked “more stubby”, while still made out of aluminum. Since the 1937 season had been particularly bad on all fronts, the Zwickau brand had high hopes for the D. Unfortunately though, Auto Union struggled again in 1938, against Mercedes’ W154.
Though GP racing was primordial for both Auto Union and Mercedes, both companies campaigned their cars in other venues. And in Europe a very popular race event was hill climbing, with the big races attracting thousands of spectators. Because of its geography, one very popular event was the Grossglockner Hill Climb. The race took place at the Großglockner-Hochalpenstraße (Grossglockner High Alpine Road), Austria’s highest mountain road. Using an extension of 15 km of the road, it comprised 92 curves and 14 hairpins through a 1400 m altitude gain. For 1938, both Auto Union and Mercedes were there, with the Typ C and W125 Bergrennwagen (“mountain race cars”). The Bergrennwagen were modified GP cars to better tackle the altitude gain and twisty roads of the mountain races. In the 1938 race, Hans Stuck came in first with his Typ C, with Hermann Lang in his Mercedes W125 in second.
For the 1939 race, Germany’s elite cars were back to the Großglockner-Hochalpenstraße. Mercedes, once again, arrived with their tried and tested W125 Bergrennwagen. In contrast, Auto Union came to Austria with a different car. Since the Grossglockner race was not under the 3-Liter Formula, Auto Union wanted to use their big 6-liter V16. Yet, the bigger V16 would not fit in the D’s chassis, so they came up with a peculiar solution, the Typ C/D. Looking at the C/D, you have the impression that Auto Union used spare parts lying around at the factory. For instance, the engine was a 1936 unit and the gearbox was from 1938. The body had a Typ D nose, while the rear looked like it came from a Typ C. A true Frankenstein 🤖. Moreover, for added grip, the rear had four wheels, what today we call a “dually”.
However, after practices, Auto Union’s Hans Stuck and Herman Paul Müller noticed that the wider rear was a hindrance. Though the additional wheels boosted grip, the extra wideness slowed the car down in the tight hairpins of the road. With that, they opted to run the car with only two wheels on the rear. While Stuck piloted Typ C/D #126, Müller conducted the #125 car. According to the rules, each car would go up the mountain twice. The winner would be who had the lowest average time between the two runs. Herman Müller’s first run was impressive, with the lowest time among all competitors. Yet, on his second run the weather turned to terrible, and due to rain, he spun on a corner. With the lost time, he finished in third overall. Herman Lang won aboard the W125 #128, and Stuck was second.
If I complained that the Typ D was Auto Union’s ugliest car, now there’s a new sheriff in town. I love the A, B and C models, while I think the D is ugly. Nonetheless, if the D is ugly, the C/D is fugly 😂. Lack of beauty aside, in scale the car is a gem. As I said countless times, Minichamps know their business when it comes to Silberpfeile. Or at least when they’re not making fantasy cars… Fortunately for me, in this case, they n-a-i-l-e-d the Typ C/D, so an obligatory buy for the Silberpfeile wing of the W-143 Garage. And if I understood right, later on in 2023 they should release Stuck’s #126 car (#410392126). The problem is that Minichamps make them in very low quantities, so they disappear fast from stores and eBay. Therefore, if you snooze you loose – don’t wait to buy one.