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Horch 853A Sport Cabriolet 1939


1939 Horch 853a Sportcabriolet

Coachwork by Gläser (see text)
Chassis no. 854 375

•Premier German marque
•One of only a handful of surviving Sportcabriolets
•Fully restored by Horch Classic 2012-2017
•Getrag five-speed gearbox
•Spectacular condition

Part of the Auto Union since 1932, Horch produced a veritable plethora of model variations in the 1930s, ringing the changes on engine capacity, wheelbase, and styles of coachwork, but all were aimed squarely at the prestige end of the market where Horch was the only serious domestic rival to Mercedes-Benz. Introduced for the 1936 season, the 4.9-litre Type 853 was powered by a Fritz Fiedler-designed, SOHC, ten-bearing straight eight mounted in a solidly built chassis boasting a four-speed overdrive gearbox and servo-assisted hydraulic brakes. A stylish 'Sportcabriolet', the 853/853a was produced up to the outbreak of war, by which time a mere 950 of these exclusive cars had been built. 

This particular car was in a derelict state when discovered; sadly, all wooden parts of the original factory body were either rotten or missing, while the outer body panels, more than half of which had disappeared, were very rusty. The surviving body parts, together with the engine, gearbox, rear axle, front axle, etc were then dismantled and checked for usability. Carried out by Horch Classic, the restoration commenced in 2012 and was finished in 2017.
The chassis was cleaned, measured, and tested to assess its material strength and corrosion damage, with any areas found below the required standard replaced for reasons of safety. After the body restoration was completed, the chassis was primed and painted in multiple coats for rust protection.

The wooden body frame was constructed anew from ash using drawings and patterns taken from the surviving original parts. As the outer body panels were in poor condition, the body likewise was completely reconstructed. This was done using laser measuring; the body parts were then nailed in place as was usual in period.

Fortunately, the original hood frame was still present and in good condition, and could be fitted to the newly constructed body. Then a new hood was painstakingly fabricated and fitted to the frame.

All mechanical parts such as engine, front and rear axle, differential, gearbox, and steering were dismantled and measured, and any damaged parts repaired or renewed. The windscreen and side-window glass was replaced with laminated glass for safety reasons, and a new wiring loom fabricated using period-correct fabric-insulated cables. 

The original engine was subjected to a comprehensive overhaul: the crankshaft was balanced together with the flywheel and vibration damper, while to reduce smoke emissions, special valve guides and seals were used together with special pistons and piston rings. After the overhaul, the engine was bench-tested and adjusted.

A five-speed Getrag gearbox was chosen (later Horch 853 models were available with an optional overdrive) and this modern all-synchromesh transmission makes the car much more pleasurable to drive, as does the special ZF power-assisted steering (easily removable). All fuel lines are copper, and all brake lines made from Kunifer (copper-nickel alloy). The exhaust system is made from stainless steel.

The car was professionally painted in black and then finished with a clear topcoat. A silver coachline was hand-painted on the sides, matching the colour of the interior. The latter was trimmed with new high quality silver leather to the original patterns, and piped in black to match the exterior colour. The dashboard and additional interior woodwork was painstakingly constructed, clad with wood veneer with inserts, then lacquered and polished to a mirror finish. A black woollen carpet, silver-piped to match the upholstery, completes the interior. As one would expect of a car restored by Horch Classic, the quality of the workmanship throughout is outstanding and worthy of the closest inspection.

A worthy rival for the contemporary 'Grösser' Mercedes, this rare German sporting thoroughbred is offered with German registration papers and valid TüV.

Please note that this motor car will be subject to the TVA at the prevailing local rate on Hammer Price and Buyer's Premium


Horch 853A Sport Cabriolet 1939


Sold € 391,000


  • Model: Horch 853A Sport Cabriolet
  • Year: 1939
  • Coachbuilder: Gläser
  • Seller: Bonhams
  • Country: France
  • Contact: www.bonhams.com
  • Auction: The Monaco Sale 'Les Grandes Marques à Monaco'
  • Auction date: 11 May 2018
  • Tags: Bonhams, cabriolet, Glaser, Horch

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