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July 3, 2021

1937 Horch 853 Voll & Ruhrbeck Sport Cabriolet shown by Robert M. Lee

August Horch was initially employed by Karl Benz, but founded his namesake company in 1899 and Audi a decade later. Horch would eventually merge with Audi, DKW and Wanderer, forming the four rings of Auto Union (now again called Audi).

The 850, with a 5-liter straight-eight engine delivering about 100 bhp, was first offered in 1935. The shorter, sportier 853, with DeDion rear suspension, followed about a year later, and the 853A, with an engine delivering 120 bhp debuted in 1937. While these cars were not supercharged, their transmissions were equipped with overdrive, so they competed for market share with the Mercedes-Benz 540K. Sadly, war stopped their production. About 950 to 1000 853s and 853As were made.

1937 Horch 853 Voll & Ruhrbeck Sport Cabriolet
1937 Horch 853 Voll & Ruhrbeck Sport Cabriolet shown by Robert M. Lee

This car (chassis 853558 with engine 851186) is believed to be the second Horch bodied by the German firm of Voll & Ruhrbeck. The early ownership of this car is unknown, but it was claimed at one point by the French Army during the World War II and was found thereafter in Switzerland. It was largely complete when acquired by Robert M. Lee, but new fenders and bonnet had to be recreated in accord with period photographs—and the long sweep of the front fender line is a wonder to behold.

The dull metallic finish of the car seeks to replicate the look of the reflective paint that Horch made of fish scales.

“This was extra special for us,” said Anne, “as the restoration of the Horch was done in house, by our team, our family. Every nut and bolt, every detail. It was the equivalent of your home football team winning the Super Bowl!”

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