The Car Coach: History of Audi
Audi’s logo of four rings symbolizes a merger of four companies back in 1932: Audi, Horch, Wanderer and DKW. Lauren Fix explains the history.
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Born in 1868, August Horch has been the central figure in Audi’s past and a pioneer in German automotive history. The first Horch automobile was built in 1901. August Horch was a former production manager for Karl Benz.
Auto Union was an amalgamation of four German automobile manufacturers, founded in 1932 and established in 1936 during the Great Depression.
The four companies of Auto Union are:
Audi - August Horch founded Audi in 1909, which built inline-4, six and eight-cylinder engine cars.
DKW - This steam equipment company was founded 1916 and branched out into motorcycles, and then front wheel drive cars.
Horch - Founded by August Horch in 1904, Horch built cars starting from straight-two engines to luxury models with V8 and V12 engines.
Wanderer - Founded in 1911, this company built small four-cylinder cars and later more luxurious V6 models.
In 1932, with all four companies still losing money, Audi/DKW, Horch and Wanderer were brought together under the umbrella of communal shareholder company Auto Union. Although all four brands continued to build cars under their own names and brands, the technological development became more centralized, with some Audi models employing engines by Horch or Wanderer.
Dr. Ferdinand Porsche started as a contractor for many German car companies including Auto Union. He built the first Audi racecar, 1939 Audi Union Type C/D racecar with a V16 engine.
Only the DKW brand survived in postwar West Germany, continuing DKW's tradition of producing front-wheel drive vehicles.
Daimler-Benz acquired 87 percent of Auto Union, taking complete control in 1959. As prosperity began to return to West Germany, they sold off the shares.
In 1964, Volkswagen acquired the factory in Ingolstadt and the trademark rights of Auto Union.
In 1969, Auto Union merged with NSU, another German car company, NSU had been the world's largest manufacturer of motorcycles, but had moved on to produce small cars.
The company has evolved into present day Audi, a subsidiary of Volkswagen Group.
The Audi museum has an extremely impressive array of the cars that made Audi what it is today. The museum is a great way to understand the history of Audi and to admire its impressive cars. The tour guides speak English and make the tour informative and entertaining.