Auto Union D-Type Silver Arrow
The history of the notorious Silver Arrow racers parallels that of the nation which bore its birth. In the years leading up to WWII, Adolf Hitler was bent on world conquest - not just on the battlefield, but on the race track as well. Convinced that motor racing was the perfect venue to exhibit what he viewed as Germany's superiority, the Fuhrer commissioned Germany's top engineers at both Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union to develop a generation of advanced racing machines that would later become known as the Silver Arrows. The 1938 Auto Union D-Type was Hitler's favorite.
The cars reigned victorious in the 1930s, but with the outbreak of the war, racing in Europe ground to a halt. The following decade Nazi Germany lay in ruins, Hitler was dead, and the Soviets seized the D-Types from the Auto Union factory in East Germany. With an Iron Curtain cutting off contact between the Soviet Bloc and the Western world, enthusiasts and historians were convinced the Silver Arrows remained intact somewhere in the Communist empire, but all the while they were being brutally dismantled. Although many of the Mercedes pre-war racers survived, few of the Auto Unions did. Only three of these D-Types are known to remain intact.
The example you see here, Chassis 19, was painstakingly restored to original condition, and was set to hit the auction block at Christie's two years ago until it was withdrawn at the last minute due to unanswered questions over its heritage and provenance. With the questions answered and its pedigree assured, Bonhams is now offering this extremely rare and most desirable piece of automotive history at its upcoming auction at the Quail Lodge this coming August, where it is expected to fetch in excess of $8 million. But with previous estimates having placed it closer to $12 million, it stands a real chance of breaking the $12.2 million record set by the 1957 Ferrari 250 Testarossa at the RM Auction in Maranello just last month. Check out the press release after the jump and the high-res pictures in the gallery below.