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Audi History (long)
OK, here is the citation I promised Friday. The book has lots of brief
histories of zillions of
past and present car companies. Its pretty interesting stuff, particularly
if you are trying to
trace some of the connections between various companies' histories, or
trying to follow the
career of somebody like Dr. Porsche. The title is "The World Guide to
Makers and Their Marques," by Baldwin, Georgano, Sedgwick, and Laban. It
was published in
Britain in 1987 by Macdonal and Co, and the ISBN is 0-356-14278-7.
Parts of the Audi article are really fascinating, such as the early
involvement in motor sports, use of American designed engines in the 20s,
use of Peugot engines :-(, and ownership by Daimler Benz. If there is
interest, I can transcribe portions of the Horch, Wanderer, DKW, and NSU
>From the Audi article:
"The word audi is the Latinized version of the German "Horch," (hark), and
the Audi company
was founded in 1910 as the Audi Automobilwerke, GMBH, in Zwickau, by August
pioneer of the motor industry in Germany, Horch had been an engineer with
Benz from 1896
to 1899 before setting up his own as A. Horch and company in 1899 in an
abandoned stable in
Cologne-Ehrenfeld, where he produced his first car in 1900.
After a short period in another factory at Reichenback, Saxony, he moved to
Zwickau in 1903, having so far produced just three cars. Horch eventually
became established through sporting success and engineering quality but
August left the company bearing his name in June 1909 after long-runnning
arguments over policy.
On 16 July 1910 he founded the August Horch Automobilwerke GMBH, also in
Zwickau ....he was
promptly sued and changed the name to Audi.
The first Audi...was delivered early in 1910 and the light, modern design
became popular. Publicity concious Horch revived his sporting involvements,
leading a team.....he did so to such effect that the car became known as the
Alpenseiger (Alpine Victor)......
>From 1914 and start of WW 1, Audi built 2-ton lorries....the war affected
Audi badly, with design standing still and August himself loosing interest
in the company, eventually to leave officially in 1920......
Six and eight cylinder cars were introduced from 1924 and the 1928 eight
cylinder Type R Imperator was the last true Audi before the cars became more
and more "assembled." The Imperator was an very uninspiring car and up to
1932 sold only 150 units, helping Audi to a very parlous financial state.
In 1928 J.S.Rasmussen became Audi's major shareholder in the year when his
own DKW motorcycle company introduced its first car at the Leipzip fair.
Ramussen had aquired the design rights and manufacturing machinery for the
respected American Rickenbacker engine when that company went out of
business in 1927, and he began assembling Audis around German built versions
of the Rickenbacker engines......
A smaller Audi introduced in in 1931 with a Peugot engine and a DKW chassis
was the last Audi before the company was absorbed in the Auto Union in 1932,
along with Horch, Wanderer, and DKW, the four companies symbolized by the
four rings of the Auto Union Badge......
After the war in 1945, Auto Union was nationalized.....In 1949 it regained
its independence in Duesseldorf, and in 1956 Daimler-Benz became the
majority shareholder, but the Audi name would not be revived until after
1964, when Volkswagen took over the conglomerate as Auto Union GMBH, based
at Ingolstadt. Audi reappeared with a 1.7 litre front wheel drive saloon
nitroduced in 1965 and has continued ever since.
In 1969, Audi NSU Auto Union AG was formed by the merger of the Auto Union
and NSU Motorenwerke, AG. NSU ceased production in 1977 but, under VW, Audi
prospered, the two Marques making the most of joint technical developments.
Audi produced the series 60 and 90, introduced in 1969, the 80 from 1973,
and the 1970 100. The millionth Audi was sold in May 1973, in which year
the company, with 33,600 employees built 409,743 cars (in 1985, 33,700
employees built 392,000 cars).
In the late 70s and early 80s, Audi continued to develop technologically
advancecd ideas such as a five cylinder engine, introduced in the 100 series
on 1977, turbocharging (as an option on the same engine from 1980),
aerodynamic styling, and most impressively, four wheel drive on the
This four seater coupe with turbocharged injected five cylinder engine had
permanent four wheel drive and even in standard guise was capable of 137 mph
(220 kph). When Audi went rallying with the Quattro it won every major
honour to be won, and prompted a four wheel drive 80 Quattro, various four
wheel drive Volkswagens and the eventual promise of a four wheel drive
option for every car in the Volkswagen-Audi range.
Audi had fulfilled that promise by 1985 .....but had been overtaken in
rallying by the compact Peugot 205 based rally car.
For the road cars, plans were afoot to replace the five cylinder engine by a
new range of V6s and V8s by 1988 and to build larger luxury saloons directly
to challenge the prestige maket. August Horch would have approved."