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Record expected for Auto Union sale

Published: 07 February 2007

A rare 1939 Auto Union Type D grand prix car is tipped to tear up the record books this month when it goes under the hammer – for an estimated price of up to £7.8 million.

Auto Union developed the Type D racing car with a mid-mounted 3.0-litre 12-cylinder engine; in 1939, it was modified with the addition of a twin supercharger, increasing power 420bhp to 460bhp – enough for a top speed of 205mph. This particular car won the French and Yugoslavian Grand Prix in 1939, but at the end of the Second World War it was transported from East Germany to the former Soviet Union by Russian occupation forces as spoils of war. Auto Union's first racing cars were funded by Hitler's government, which saw the benefit of racing for the promotion of the Third Reich. This rare Type D was rediscovered in pieces in the 1980s – and painstakingly reassembled by car restoration experts Crosthwaite & Gardiner in East Sussex, England. The racer is now expected to raise somewhere between £5.8m and £7.8m when interested parties from all over the globe fight it out for this unique slice of pre-war grand prix history. Christie’s will hold the auction at the Retromobile international vintage car fair on 17 February. Watch this space to see if the Type D smashes the previous record held by the 1931 Bugatti Type 41 Berliner Royale Sports Coupe, which sold for £5.5m in 1987.

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