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Audi Revived a Never-Built, 16-Cylinder Supercar From the 1930s

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We love weird old classic cars, don’t we folks? This one comes from Audi—more specifically, Auto Union. Internally known as the Type 52, the so-called “Schnellsportwagen”—or “fast sports car”—was supposed to be a road-going version of the Type 22 Grand Prix race car from the 1930s. It would have had a 16-cylinder engine with upwards of 200 horsepower, and a top speed of 125 miles per hour, making it one of the fastest cars of the day.

Sadly, this amazing supercar never made it past the design phase; The Auto Union Type 52 project was scrapped by 1935 ahead of World War II. But Audi decided to dust off its history books and bring this special vehicle to life for the 2024 Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Auto Union Type 52 Concept

Audi

Audi commissioned Crosthwaite & Gardner—a historic race car manufacturing company—to recreate the Auto Union Type 52 from scratch. Using original sketches and blueprints, everything from the chassis and body panels to the engine was custom-made for this one-of-a-kind concept. The project started early in 2023 and took more than a year to complete.

Under the hood—er, rear deck—is a mid-mounted, supercharged 16-cylinder engine similar to the one that would have been used in the original car. This version uses a 6.0-liter motor instead of the original blueprint’s 4.4-liter engine. Audi also upped the power output from an estimated 200 horsepower to a healthy 512 horsepower. It’s paired, of course, to a manual transmission.

But in order to fit the new engine and chassis underneath, Audi had to stretch the dimensions. The Type 52 has a 130.5-inch wheelbase, instead of the original’s slightly shorter 118.0-inch wheelbase, and weighs 3,196 pounds. The original would have tipped the scales at 2,866 pounds.

Auto Union Type 52 Concept

Audi

Pop open the rear-hinged doors and you’ll find a three-seat layout inside, just like the McLaren F1—only 60 years earlier. And Audi made sure to keep the interior looking retro with old-school cloth seats, lacquered wood paneling, and huge throwback gauges.

But don’t think this stunning one-off is just a garage queen. Audi will actually run the Type 52 concept at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed with Le Mans record winner Tom Kristensen and Hans-Joachim “Strietzel” Stuck behind the wheel. We can’t wait to see this thing in action.

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