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Lot 559: Horch 853A Cabriolet

Grand Palais Sale, Bonhams (7 February 2013)

One of the founding fathers of the German automobile industry, August Horch was born in Winningen in 1868, and following an technical education at engineering school, worked for a marine engine manufacturer in Leipzig. His next job was managing Karl Benz's motor works at Mannheim, but frustration with his employer's conservative approach prompted Horch to seek financial backing for his own venture, which would be incorporated as Horch & Cie Motorwagenwerke AG in 1904 in Zwickau, Saxony. Horch regarded Benz's rear-engined 'horseless carriages' as outdated, and his first automobile of 1900 featured a front-mounted, twin-cylinder engine and shaft-driven rear axle, the first time this latter innovation had been seen in Germany. Larger four- and six-cylinder models followed, and Horch became active in the trials and competitions of the day, though ultimately this policy would bring August into conflict with his fellow directors and force his departure in 1909 to found a new company. Known from 1910 as 'Audi', Horch's new venture would later be united with his original company as part of the Auto Union. In 1923 Horch engaged Paul Daimler, son of Gottleib, as Chief Engineer, the first car to bear his stamp being the '300'. This was powered by a 3.2-litre, double-overhead-camshaft, straight eight engine, and power units of this type would be favoured by Horch throughout the 1920s and 1930s. After Daimler's departure Fritz Fiedler (later of BMW fame) took over, designing a single-overhead-cam straight-eight - the Horch 450 - which was followed by 6-litre V12-powered 600 and 670 models in 1931 and the 3.5-litre V8-engined 830B in 1933. In 1932 the company became part of the Auto Union together with Audi, DKW and Wanderer. Horch produced a veritable plethora of model variations in the 1930s, ringing the changes on engine capacity, wheelbase and styles of coachwork, but all were aimed squarely at the prestige end of the market, where Horch was the only serious domestic rival to Mercedes-Benz. Introduced for the 1936 season, the 4.9-litre Type 853 was powered by a Fiedler-designed, single-overhead-camshaft, ten-bearing straight eight mounted in a solidly built chassis boasting a four-speed overdrive gearbox and servo-assisted hydraulic brakes. A stylish and fast (140km/h) sports cabriolet, the 853 was produced up to the outbreak of WW2, by which time only 950 of these exclusive cars had been built. After WW2, Horch's Zwickau factory ended up on the eastern side of a divided Germany where it would eventually be pressed into service manufacturing the utilitarian Trabant - a sad end to a once noble marque that had ranked among the world's very best. Chassis number '854383' was acquired by the current (third) owner in January 1997, part-way through a ten-year restoration carried out by specialist restorer Egon Zweimüller GmbH of Ennsweg, Austria, which was completed in 1999. Details of the works undertaken may be found in invoices on file totalling in excess of 713,000 Austrian schillings. Finished in beige/black with black interior, the car is described by the vendor as in generally excellent condition, having benefited from the regular expert attention of Hans Schori. This rare German thoroughbred comes complete with hardtop and is offered with the aforementioned invoices, operating instructions, expired German Fahrzeugbrief and current Swiss registration papers.

Lot Details
Auction Grand Palais Sale
Bonhams, Paris, France
Lot Number559
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price€330000
Hammer Price (inc premium)€379500
Condition rating1
Registration number
Chassis number854383
Engine number400.884.754
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors