1938 Auto Union Typ D Pilot: Tazio Nuvolari Team: Auto Union Race: 1st place in the Donington GP of 1936 Minichamps - 400380004 (diecast)
The 1937 Grand Prix season was not a happy one for Auto Union. Their Typ C was no match for Mercedes-Benz’ W125, and good results were very sparse. That being so, in the Association Internationale des Automobile Clubs Reconnus’ (AIACR) championship Auto Union only managed fifth, with Hans Stuck. So for 1938 things had to improve, right? Not exactly. The season started grim, with the death of Bernd Rosemeyer. Hans Stuck was off the team and Ferdinand Porsche, responsible for their GP cars, went to work for Volkswagen. However, Porsche was able to complete the Typ D, the brand’s new “3-Liter Formula” car. Though with the chassis a carry-over from the Typ C, the engine was brand new. It was a supercharged high-revving V12 with 2990 cm³, rated at 420 hp. In spite of the promising project, the new car’s first win only came at Monza, in September.
The Donington GP took place on October 22, 1938, at the (very narrow and rough) Donington Park circuit. The race organizer was not the British Royal Automobile Club, but the Derby & District Motor Club. Accordingly, though it followed the international 3-Liter Formula, it was not called the “British” GP. In addition, it was almost canceled, when Germany invaded Czechoslovakia a few weeks before. However diplomatic negotiations (somewhat) calmed the situation and the race proceeded. Therefore, teams from Germany, France, Italy and the UK participated, lining up 17 cars for the 80 laps. Auto Union took four Typ D, while Mercedes had four W154. By then, Mercedes’ W154 was dominating the GP scene, winning almost every race. In fact, in September, at the Italian GP, the W154 granted Rudolf Caracciola the AIACR European Championship.
Fueled by his solid win at Monza, Tazio Nuvolari piloting the Typ D #4, was confident. Nonetheless, things did not start well for the small Mantuan, when he hit a deer (!) during practice. On race day, though he started in second, he managed to jump to first place right after the start. However, a pit stop to change a spark plug put him back in fourth place. But with other drivers pitting and with the convoluted circuit he diligently managed to climb back to first place on lap 67. From then on, the Typ D #4 stayed in the lead until the checkered flag. A harsh race – only eight cars crossed the finish line. You can see here a short (3m35s) film of the race, with a few parts in color.
The Flying Mantuan would only win a race again in September of 1939, in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. That was the final race of the Typ D, and also the last GP race for Auto Union. By then WWII was already happening, and after the war the brand was no more. Though I already had a Typ D and even one piloted by the great Nuvolari, I just couldn’t say no to this Typ D #4. In spite of being almost identical to the #22, I got this one just because of Nuvolari. A great model, but being honest, I’m a bit sad. With this Typ D and Rosemeyer’s Typ C #4, I think I have all the (racing) Silberpfeile from Minichamps and Spark. That being so, the hunt is over…😥