Friday, March 2, 2007

Me-n-the big shots

I got a nice letter today from Ken Gluckman, a DaimlerChrysler Associate General Counsel and vice president, who's been following my exclusive series on the Christie's Auto Union. His email followed by a matter of minutes an off-the-record conversation with Christie's...I'm feeling like a bigshot today:

I have been reading your blog for a while and have followed the story of the Auto Union car with great interest. Last year I was lucky enough to visit the Riga auto museum. While there I saw the original Auto Union racer, which I immediately recognized from the photos in the blog. I was told that this original car was sent to Audi some years ago and they helped restore it (and displayed it in their museum for a while). The original restored car was eventually returned to the museum, but while Audi had it, they made a copy, which is the vehicle now on display in their museum. I am attaching a photo of the car -- sorry it isn't better, but we weren't trying to document the car when we were there.

By the way, this is a fantastic little museum with some incredibly rare and interesting cars. It would be well worth an article in Hemmings Classic Car (which I subscribe to and read cover-to-cover every month). I have friends in Riga who would be happy to help arrange this -- let me know if you are interested.

I said:
The Riga car is yet another murky chapter in this whole episode, but there are a few things of which we feel confident:
--There is ONE known A U of any kind with GP racing history: The 1938/1939 Christie's car, chassis 19.
--The #21 chassis which actually did win the French GP, and which Christie's originally thought they had, is not accounted for.
--Prior to all this, Audi seems to have thought that their car was #19.
Whatever the 1938/1939 Riga car is, it's not a race car. Is it actually another real Type D? Maybe that would explain the provenance of the 1938/1939 car in Audi's possession, which should be a copy of that car, of which they said: "It’s “a reconstruction of mostly original parts...The chassis is actually original, but there is no exact number.” But if the car they have has always been a copy of the Riga car, why did they think it was a GP car?
So now I must wonder what Audi returned to Riga? Where did they get another original chassis without a serial number? It seems as though it would at this point be in Audi tradition's interest to issue a statement including the disposition of all known cars, but they aren't a very talkative bunch.
Anyway, I'll pass your offer along to Richard Lentinello and see what he says. I've long been aware of the museum and interested in its contents, but we haven't had a means of getting good photography.
Thanks for reading...I read The Firehouse, so right back 'atcha.

This is all on the heels of an offer to appear on the Discovery Channel about this car. I rule!