Horch (August Horch & Co.)
Automotive manufacturer Reichenbach; Germany From 1900 to 1939.
Horch was a car brand manufactured in Germany by August Horch & Co, at the beginning of the 20th century.
It is the direct ancestor of the present day Audi company, which in turn came out of Auto Union, formed in 1932 when Horch merged with DKW, Wanderer and the historic Audi enterprise which August Horch founded in 1910.
August Horch and his first business partner Salli Herz established the company on November 14, 1899 in the district of Ehrenfeld, Cologne in Cologne. August Horch had previously worked as a production manager for Karl Benz. Three years later, in 1902, he moved the company to Reichenbach im Vogtland. On May 10, 1904 he founded the Horch & Co. Motorwagenwerke AG, a joint-stock company in Zwickau (Kingdom of Saxony). The city of Zwickau was the capital of the South Western Saxon County and one of Saxony's industrial centres at that time.
After troubles with the Horch chief financial officer, August Horch founded a second company on 16 July 1909, the August Horch Automobilwerke GmbH in Zwickau. He had to rename the company because Horch was already a registered brand and he did not hold the rights to the name. On 25 April 1910 the name Audi Automobilwerke was entered in the company's register at the Zwickau registration court. Audi is the Latin translation of horch, from the German verb "horchen", which means "listen!" (compare English "hark"). The Audi name was proposed by a son of one of Horch's business partners from Zwickau.
In 1932 both companies from Zwickau (Horch and Audi) merged with Zschopauer Motorenwerke J. S. Rasmussen (the DKWbrand) and the Wanderer car-production facilities to become the Auto Union corporation of Saxony. The Silver Arrow racing cars of the Auto Union racing team in Zwickau - developed by Ferdinand Porsche and Robert Eberan von Eberhorst, and driven by Bernd Rosemeyer, Hans Stuck, Tazio Nuvolari and Ernst von Delius- became known the world over in the 1930s.
The company initially began producing 5 hp (3.7 kW; 5.1 PS) and 10 hp (7.5 kW; 10 PS) twin-cylinder engine automobiles near Cologne in 1901.
The first Horch had a 4.5 hp (3.4 kW; 4.6 PS) 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 (20 mph). 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.
In March 1902, August Horch produced a 20 hp (15 kW; 20 PS) four-cylinder car with a shaft drive in Reichenbach in Vogtland. Horch cars were considered more 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, August Horch developed the first six-cylinder engine, which appeared in 1907. In 1906 a Horch automobile driven by Dr. Rudolf Stöss from Zwickau won the Herkomer Competition (equivalent to a 'brand-name' world championship at the time). In the 1920s, Moritz Stauss, a cosmopolitan Berliner, was the principal stockholder of the Horch company. He succeeded in making the Horch brand highly desirable by introducing art into the advertising of their products. He recognized that only a brand emphasising Horch's unique characteristics would be successful.
In 1923, Paul Daimler (a Stauss associate) worked for Horch as the chief engineer for 8-cylinder engines. Horch vehicles were subsequently the first to introduce 8-cylinder engines in series production.
In 1909, the supervisory board (the German equivalent of the Board of Directors) of the corporation forced out Horch. Horch went on to found Audi as 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 and a clever play of words ("audi" is the literal Latin translation of the Old German "horch", meaning the imperative "Listen!").
In 1928, the company was acquired by Jørgen Skafte Rasmussen, owner of DKW (from the German Dampfkraftwagen, or steam engine vehicle) who had bought the remains of the US automobile manufacturer Rickenbacker in the same year. The Rickenbacker purchase included their manufacturing equipment for eight-cylinder engines.
Auto Union (1932-1969)
Eventually, on 29 June 1932, Horch, Audi, DKW and Wanderer merged to form the Auto UnionAG, Chemnitz affiliated group. The current Audi four-ring logo is the Auto Union logo that represents the merger of these four brands. In the 1930s, Horch introduced a new line of smaller and cheaper, but still presentable, V8 automobiles. In 1936, Horch presented the 25,000th 8-cylinder luxury car in Zwickau.
The Auto Union Grand Prix racing cars types A to D, were developed and built by a specialist racing department of Horch works in Zwickau between 1933 and 1939. Between 1935 and 1937 Auto Union cars won 25 races, driven by Ernst von Delius, Tazio Nuvolari, Bernd Rosemeyer, Hans Stuck and Achille Varzi.
Auto Union became a major supplier of vehicles to the German Wehrmacht, such as Heavy standard passenger car (Horch 108), Medium standard passenger car (Horch 901 and Wanderer 901) and Half-track Sd.Kfz. 11. Civilian production was suspended after March 1940. After the war the Auto Union AG at Chemnitz was dissolved and in Ingolstadt, West Germany the new Auto Union GmbH was founded, where civilian car production continued. Due to widespread poverty in postwar Germany, only small DKW vehicles with two stroke engines were produced. After Auto Union was purchased in 1964 by the Volkswagenwerk AG, the old brand Audiwas introduced again, together with the new four stroke vehicle Audi F103. Daimler-Benz retained the trademark rights to the Horch brand until the mid 1980s. Daimler-Benz then transferred the rights to the Horch brand name to Audi who in turn signed a waiver to use the name „Silberpfeil“ (silver-arrow) for any modern Audi racing car.The brand has, however, remained dormant.
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.
From 1955-1958, old Horch factories produced the Horch P240, a 6-cylinder car that was respected at the time. The former Horch and Audi operations from Zwickau were unified in 1958. A new brand, Sachsenring, within the East German corporation IFA was born. After unification in 1958, the P240 car was renamed as the Sachsenring P240. As the Soviet Administration inexplicably banned the foreign exportation of the P240, the East German economic administration decided to stop production of the vehicle. IFA also produced the initial Trabant "P-50" model from 1957.
The Zwickau site was acquired in 1991 by Volkswagen, effectively restoring its connection with Audi.
Horch from 1939 3.8 litre