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Horch

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Defunct

Horch was the popular name for high-performance luxury motor cars manufactured in Germany by the company, August Horch & Cie, at the beginning of the 20th century.

Founder

The company was established by August Horch, a former production manager for Karl Benz, and a partner on November 14, 1899 with a capital of 30,000 Goldmark at Ehrenfeld, near Cologne. Horch was also later the founder of the German automaker, Audi, which is named after the Latin translation of his surname (latin word for the regional Saxon expression, horch, which is the imperative form of “hark” - "listen to me" in German).

1938 Horch 853 Sport Cabriolet

Initial cars

The company initially began producing 5 and 10 hp twin-cylinder engine automobiles near Cologne in 1901.

The first Horch had a 4.5 hp engine, with an alloy crankcase, a unique achievement in those days. It had an open-body design, with lighting provided by lanterns with candles in them. In contrast with the powerful cars of later years, the first Horch could barely reach a top speed of 32 km/h. It was significant at that time because it used a friction clutch, and also had a drive shaft to power the wheels.

The firm soon ran into financial troubles, not surprising considering the pioneering nature of the automobile business at that time. Horch had to seek new partners.

The company was moved to Reichenbach (Vogtland) in March, 1902, where it produced a 20 hp four-cylinder car with a shaft drive. Horch cars were considered much advanced and superior to those being then built by Mercedes or Benz (who were then separate manufacturers).

By 1903, Horch had built a car with a four-cylinder engine. In March of the following year, he introduced his new car at the Frankfurt Fair.

In 1904, Horch was forced to convert the firm into a joint-stock company, A. Horch & Cie. Motorwagen-Werke AG, an action that he was to later regret.

On May 10, 1904, he moved the new corporation to Zwickau, a city to the southwest of Chemnitz, in the eastern German state of Saxony.

The first six-cylinder Horch appeared in 1907.

Audi connection

In 1909, the supervisor board (German equivalent of the Board of Directors) of this corporation forced out Horch. Horch went on to found Audi, Audiwerke GmbH, which became effective on 25 April 1910. The name was a solution to the legal dispute with his old company over use of the Horch brand.

In 1928, the company was acquired by Jörgen Skafte Rasmussen, owner of DKW (which comes from the German word, Dampfkraftwagen), who bought the same year the remains of the US automobile manufacturer, Rickenbacker, including the manufacturing equipment for eight-cylinder engines.

Eventually, on 29th June, 1932 Audi merged with Horch, DKW and Wanderer to form the Auto Union. The current Audi four-ring logo is the Auto Union logo. In the 1930s Horch introduced a new line of smaller and cheaper, but still presentable, V8 automobiles.

Auto Union became a major supplier of automobiles to the German armed forces. Civilian production was suspended after March 1940.

Trabant connection

During the Second World War, the factories suffered heavy bomb damage. Later, the advancing Soviet forces captured the area, and it became part of the Soviet sector of divided Germany in 1945, and later became part of East Germany.

The factory was renamed as the Sachsenring factory after the East German firm IFA took it over, and produced the Sachsenring "P-240" in 1955. It produced the initial Trabant "P-50" model from 1957. [1]

Rare Collectibles

On Saturday, June 24th, 2006, an incredibly rare 1937 Horch 853A Sport Cabriolet in original unrestored, unprepared condition sold at auction in Cortland NY for $299,000 US.[2]

Famous Horch models

Some famous Horch automobiles (year introduced):

  • Horch 350/375/400/405 (1928-1931)
  • Horch 930V (1934)
  • Horch 850 (1935)
  • Horch 851 (1935)
  • Horch 853 Sport Cabriolet (1937)
  • Horch 853A Erdmann-Rossi Sport Cabriolet (1937)
  • Horch 853A Voll-Ruhrbeck Sport Cabriolet (1938)
  • Horch 855 Roadster (1939)
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HORCH

Auto Union


Audi | Horch | Wanderer | DKW


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August Horch [Corporate website] A member of the Auto Union