Auto Union Typ C Stromlinie #31 – Minichamps

1937 Auto Union Typ C Stromlinie 
Pilot: Bernd Rosemeyer 
Team: Auto Union 
Race: 4th place, 1937 AVUS GP 
Minichamps - 400380022 (diecast) 

Published 03/30/18

In the 1930’s, one of the most (if not THE most) insane racing circuits this side of the Kessel Run was in full activity: the AVUS circuit. The Automobil Verkehrs und Übungs Straße (“Automobile Traffic and Training Road”) is a public road in Berlin, Germany. Opened in 1921, it was used as a motor racing circuit in its original configuration until 1940, and though the circuit actually existed until 1998, by than it had a very different form. At first it basically was two long straights with hairpin turns at the ends. It was made for one thing and one thing only: speed, and safety be damned. In fact, it was so dangerous that it was considered to be (a lot!) more dangerous than the Green Hell.

Even at a standstill the thing looks FAST.

The first German Grand Prix took place at AVUS in 1926, and the Silberpfeile raced there in 1934, 1935 and 1937. There was no race in 1936 because the track went through an extensive rebuild, when the famous “Wall of Death” came to be. The Nordkurve had to be moved further south, and an entirely new curve was built, but with a banking of 43° over a width of 12 meters. The track basically turned into a low vertical wall with no other safety arrangements on the high side, so if a car went off, it was going to fly out over the edge. And since parachutes were not mandatory safety equipment back then, the landing would be kind of rough.

Fast, no doubt, but it doesn’t look very nimble..

The 1937 Typ C Stromlinie was built specifically for AVUS (and with a little more panels, for record breaking too). The engine, placed behind the cockpit, was a V16 with 6006 cm³ of displacement and 32 valves with SOHC. Designed by Ferdinand Porsche, it was fairly complex for the time. Supercharged by a Roots-type supercharger, it could produce up to 560 hp (520 hp in race trim). To maximize aerodynamics, the body totally enclosed the chassis. There were cut-outs over the wheels so that the pilot could see how the tires were holding up.

The cutout for the tires are a fantastic touch.

The VI Internationales AVUS-Rennen (1’12” film) would take place on May 30th, 1937. Though a non-Formula event, the National Socialists of course turned the race into a huge propaganda show. There was even a parade by the NSSK-Motor Brigade Berlin and the illustrious presence of the Propaganda Minister, Herr Joseph Goebbels himself. The race consisted of three heats. The two first consisting of seven laps and the last one would be eight laps. Both Mercedes and Auto Union invested a lot of money and effort into the race. They were going to field both Stromlinienwagen and regular monoposto cars, two of each.

For today’s standards the car looks ABSURDLY high.

As soon as the race started, the lighter monopostos jumped ahead. But it wasn’t long before the fast streamliners caught up and passed them. On the second lap Bernd Rosemeyer was on the lead with the Typ C Stromlinie #31. But Rudolf Caracciola, on the Mercedes W125 Stromlinie #35 would not make things easy. Both piloted like madmen, and traded the lead among themselves up to six times a lap! But on the last lap, with Caracciola high and Rosemeyer low on the Nordkurve, the W125 came in first, with the Typ C Stromlinie only 0.7 seconds behind! Rosemeyer crossed the finishing line with only 13 cylinders running, and his goggles were slick with oil from the engine.

With three cylinders out, Rosemeyer had no hope of winning.

Unfortunately, Auto Union’s mechanics were not able to fix his engine in the two hour interval between the 1st and 3rd heats. And starting in 4th place, Rosemeyer’s Typ C Stromlinie didn’t have much of a fighting chance for a podium finish. So at the end of the day, he managed 4th overall. Hermann Lang, with his W125 Stromlinie, came in 1st place.

Two cars from Rosemeyer. Tragically, one was his last ride.

Maybe after Rosemeyer’s Rekordwagen, the AVUS cars were the Silberpfeile that I most wanted to have in my Garage. A race like that is the stuff of legends, something we’ll never see again. And I like to think that’s because we wised up and won’t accept a human life risked for thrills. After 81 years I really can’t say if we are actually better as a species. But I can affirm without a doubt that Minichamps did it again: the Typ C Stromlinie is a great model of such a fantastic car! Another “simple” model that I think even Brumm could replicate well (and for less money). But this one I wanted the best so I paid the price, and I’m very happy with it.

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