Meaning to 'hear' or 'listen', August Horch's line of automobiles certainly something more to behold than just to hear, for it would be what the eyes would see that whole could be truly appreciated. And perhaps none of the Horch models could be more appreciated for their beauty and elegance than the model 853.
In 1896, August Horch would see his first automobile, which would be a Benz. In a matter of months, Horch would be working for Benz and would ultimately be a plant manager. By 1899, Horch would manage to find enough financial backing to start his own automobile manufacturing company. And, just before the turn of the century, he would found Horch and Co.
From its very beginnings, Horch would become synonymous with quality and innovation. However, by 1910, the turmoil in Europe was beginning to brew and sales lagged for Horch's company. Known for quality and reliability, Horch's automobiles began to suffer from problems in touring events and he would soon be forced out of the very company bearing his name.
Unable to use his name, Horch would turn to the Latin translation word meaning 'to hear', or, 'listen'. So, instead of Horch, 'Audi' would be born. Soon, Horch's new company would pick right up where his old one had left off. Audi would become known for quality and performance. However, the end of the First World War would leave much of Europe, especially Germany, in shambles, and such luxury cars, as the Audis were, would not fare so well in the financial climate. As a result, Horch would leave the company in 1920. Unfortunately, for Audi, and fortunate for Horch, the economic woes facing Germany and Europe in the late 1920s and 1930s would leave production flat, if not in the decline. This potentially spelled doom for Audi and a few other companies.
The four struggling companies, two of them started by August Horch, would join together. Together, Audi, DKW, Horch and Wanderer would create Auto Union, and quickly, Auto Union would begin to rival Mercedes-Benz as Germany's great automobile manufacturers. And in the racing world, the Silver Arrows of Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union would become a force that would not only dominate grand prix races, but that would also set records that would take years to overcome.
When Auto Union came into existence, August Horch, who started two of the companies that made of the union, would be reinstated as head of Horchwerke. The union of the four rings would allow Horch to continue on as a luxury automobile manufacturer.
Auto Union would enter the world of grand prix racing and would routinely battle with Mercedes-Benz for victory after victory. This dominance would give rise to the name 'Silver Arrows'. But the competition between the two German automobile manufacturers wouldn't just be reserved for the circuit. And by the later-part of the 1930s Horch would find itself in competition with Mercedes-Benz, not on the track but in the production of luxury road cars.
Horch had always been known for its quality and innovation but its reputation would be challenged greatly when Mercedes-Benz unveiled its new 540K. Immediately, Horch began to design a concept meant to compete with the new Mercedes. Carved out of wood, the Horch Special Roadster would be undertaken by the factory works in Malan. And though the cars chassis would begin production, the cars would not be made available for sale, at least not right away. The delay would have to do with whether or not the engines would be supercharged.
The decision would be made not to supercharge the 5.0-liter inline eight cylinder engine. However, the transmission would be equipped with overdrive, which would give it performance close, but not quite the same, as the 540K. However, the chassis would boast of a fully-independent De Dion rear suspension placed on double-jointed rear axle shafts designed by Porsche.
What would be considered the 'First Series' would be quite similar to the concept that had been carved out of wood. The first example would be built by the factory. The second example would be designed and built by the exceptional coachbuilders from Berlin, Erdmann and Rossi.
At the time, the Second World War loomed and the Nazi party had complete power throughout Germany. Therefore, Horch would be competing with Mercedes-Benz building cars, especially parade cars, for high ranking members of the Third Reich. Horch would build the first example of the 'Second Series' especially for Hermann Goering, commander-in-chief for the German Luftwaffe. However, Mercedez would also be building a special 540K for him as well, an example with beefed up protection, more so than that would be employed on the Horch. Goering would go with the Mercedes and would have the Horch, that had been built especially for him, dismantled.
Just five of the 'Second Series' 853s would be built. The first would be dismantled by Goering and the last would be lost. This would leave just three examples of the 'Second Series'. And though all five would share the same 'sweep panel' in the body sides and the beautifully-shaped fender skirts, each one would be quite unique in its design.The Voll & Ruhrbeck Cabriolet
This particular example appears to be only the second example ever to wear coachwork by Voll & Rubrbeck. Voll & Ruhrbeck was a German coachbuilder in business from 1920 until 1939. They created bodies for many of the best and most prestigious automobile firms such as Bugatti, Maybach, Mercedes-Benz and Rolls-Royce among others. During World War II, the firm was destroyed from allied bombing raid and records were also lost.
The car spent some time in Switzerland before being offered for sale by the Oldtimer Garage of Berne. It was purchased by Dr. Herbert Boyer in San Francisco, CA who had it displayed at the 1988 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. At that time, the car was painted in black.
After completing a long and detailed restoration, this Horch 853 Sport Cabriolet with coachwork by Voll & Ruhrbeck was brought to the 2009 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance under the care of Mr. Robert M. Lee of Nevada. It sat among many other amazing vehicles but none could compare to its elegance. This short wheelbase, 5-liter, Sport Cabriolet was awarded Best of Show honors.
In 2014, it was awarded Best of Show at the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance.
'The Horch has wonderful lines, a great proven chassis and all the beauty that make it the whole package,' said Lee, who also won best of show at Pebble Beach in 2006. 'Pebble Beach is the greatest car show in the world and winning here is indescribable. It's been a wonderful day for us here and I have the best team to thank for making it happen.'
Exhaustive efforts were made to restore this 853 to original standards, thus no part went un-researched as to authenticity or originality by the restoration team.By Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2014