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1938 Horch 853 Phaeton news, pictures, specifications, and information

Phaeton
Designer: Graber
 
In 1899, August Horch founded the auto company that bore his name. He had formerly been a production manager for Karl Benz. In 1909, he founded a second auction company but since the Horch name was already registered, he used the name Audi. Audi is the Latin translation of Horch which is the imperative of the German verb horen meaning 'to hear.' In 1932 Audi, Horch, DKW and Wanderer joined to form Auto Union.

Horch introduced the 853A in 1937. It was built for the Autobahn and is powered by a five litre straight eight overhead valve engine. The engine produced 120 horsepower, 20 more than the 853 model. It weighs about 6,000 pounds and is capable of speeds of over 90 mph. It has eight forward speeds, achieved by use of a four-speed transmission coupled with a two speed rear axle.

While there were about 400 model 853A's produced, this example is one of 3 Model 853 Phaetons produced. Two were destroyed during WWII. This is the only survivor.


This car was originally built for the Luftwaffe(German Air Ministry) for use as a parade vehicle. Everything is heavy-duty for use on the Autobahn. It was brought to the United States after World War II, purportedly by German Curtis LeMay. The current owners found it on a farm in Virginia. The car was completed with all its original parts and was drivable.
August Horch began producing vehicles with Karl Benz prior to 1899, after which he began building vehicles under his own name, August Horch & Cie. In 1909, after disputes with shareholders, he departed from his company and founded Audi, which is the Latin translation of his surname. The production of the Horch automobile continued without their founder using his name.

In the early part of the 20th century, the automobiles began to appear less like horseless carriages and more like automobiles. The tiller steering and high buggy wheels became a thing of the past and the engine found its way to the front of the vehicle.

In 1926, a new model was introduced powered by a straight eight engine. This engine was used by the company for many years. Over the years it displacement size grew as did the horsepower rating. This engine was instrumental in providing the power-plant necessary to propel the luxurious Horch automobiles to quick speeds while maintaining a competitive price. As was the case with most early automotive manufacturers, Horch would either build the entire vehicle or merely supply the chassis for a coachbuilder to outfit the vehicle.

Horch was instrumental in continuing the growth of Audi as a company and on the race track. During World War I, the direction of Audi switched to producing vehicles for the military.

As was the case for most automotive companies, times were changing and becoming increasingly difficult to stay competitive and stay in business. In 1932, due to financial problems, August sold Audi. It became part of Auto Union. Auto Union was comprised of Horch, Das Kleine Wunder, Audi, and Wanderer. The Union was essential a way to continue production of automobiles while providing financial support necessary to fuel automotive racing and technology.

The Horch Series 850 featured the 100 horsepower straight eight engine, luxury, style and sophistication. The Model 853 was fitted to a shorter wheelbase and used a DeDion axle rear suspension. In an effort to stay competitive, The Model 853A became available in 1937 and featured a 120 horsepower straight eight engine.

When World War II began, production of the Horch Automobiles ceased.

By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2008
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