Very Rare 1936 Horch 853 / Model History and Specs

The 1936 Horch 853 featured in this article is one of the most valuable collector cars in the world. The automobile is original and features a 4.9 liter straight eight engine.

horch 853

1936 Horch 853

August Horch

Horch & Cie. Motorwagenwerke AG was founded by August Horch, a former production manager for Karl Benz, in 1904 in the city of Zwickau in the Kingdom of Saxony.  Interestingly enough, due to an internal personnel problem and because the Horch brand was already registered and not to August Horch therefore the company was renamed Audi Automobilwerke in 1910.

The name Audi was suggested to August Horch by a business partner. The word "Audi" is the Latin translation of "Horch". This is why the Audi automobile had it's roots going back to the original company founded by August Horch.

The Horch 853

August Horch gained a reputation for building quality automobiles.  Horch had a goal to compete for the Mercedes-Benz market with OHC 4.5-liter straight eight engines, and also a 6-liter V-12. Mercedes-Benz built engines with superchargers while Horch did not, leaving his great looking cabriolets relatively under powered and with a top speed of around 80 mph. With that being said, the elegant Horch 853 series looked comparable with the Mercedes-Benz 500K and 540K series.

1936 horch

The very first Horch 853 was introduced for 1936 and the 853s continued to be produced up until the start of World War II.

A total of 627 Horch 853's were produced. They sold for the price of 14.900 Reichsmark. These were very luxurious automobiles, looks comparable to Mercedes but carried a price tag lower than Mercedes-Benz.

It's important to note that Horch was one of the most important car companies in Germany before World War II and Mercedes Benz's only real competitor in that country. One reason why the name is not more commonly known is that in 1932 Horch merged with three other car manufacturers. The four brands (Horch, Audi, DKW and Wanderer) formed the Auto Union, the company under which this particular automobile was built. On the hood of the car is the Auto Union's four-ringed badge which continued to be used when the conglomerate eventually evolved into a new company named Audi.

Under Auto Union, Horch presented a new model range consisting of just two basic model series in the mid-1930's. These were the Type 830 with three-litre V8 engines and the Type 850 with five-litre straight-eight engines. The highlight in the 850 series was the 853, a sports cabriolet that was an outstanding success in its class. Its two-color finish gave the car a very elegant look. Car buyers were also able to order this car with a kind of metallic paint finish at an extra cost. The glittering effect of this paint, which was offered in several color versions as “Fish Silver”, was made by adding extremely finely ground fish scales.

The Horch Type 853 Sports Cabriolet was popular among Germany’s rich and famous, as it was the only German built car that offered an alternative to Mercedes-Benz. The 853 was also the car of choice for German NAZI officers and generals before and during World War Two.

Horch automobile photos

The Horch badge

The Horch Series 850 featured the 100 horsepower straight eight engine along with it's luxury and style. The Model 853 was fitted to a shorter wheelbase and used a DeDion axle rear suspension.

Some Horch 853s were produced with bodies in the factory while some chassis were sent to coach builders to add customized bodies for the new owners.

1936 Horch 853 Specifications

The 1936 Horch 853 was built with a 4.9 liter straight eight engine which delivered 120 HP. The 853 had a top speed of just over 80 MPH.

Transmission was a four speed manual.

Brakes were servo assisted hydraulic drum.

The automobile had independent front suspension and a rear DeDion axle. The DeDion tube which connects the two rear wheels keeps both wheels parallel to each other under all conditions. This keeps them perpendicular to the road surface regardless of body roll.

Weight was about 5,775 lbs.

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1933 Duesenberg Model J

1929 Cord L-29

horch 853 specifications

Horch 853 dash

The 1936 Horch 853 Collector Car

The 1936 Horch is a very, very rare automobile and has attained high valuation at auction. The Horch 853 featured in this article was one of 50 which were used by the German forces as General Officer's transportation during World War Two. This automobile was taken over by U.S. forces after the war and eventually found it's way to the U.S. The car was exhibited in several museums and was ultimately purchased by a U.S. individual.

Fifty years later this 1936 Horch 853 was purchased by another individual in 2010 at the Branson Auction. The automobile was awarded second place at the 2014 Pebble Beach Concours in the pre-war preservation class.

A 1936 Horch 853 has been offered for sale in the mid $600,000 range.

References for this article included...Four Rings: The Audi Story by Audi...Legendary German Cars by Whitestar...Hemmings Motor News.

(Article and photos copyright Auto Museum Online)


1933 Auburn 12 / Specs and Model History

The 1933 Auburn 12 featured in this article was the top of the line Auburn model at that time and today is a very rare and high priced collector vehicle. These were luxury automobiles and Auburn had a reputation for great styling and superb engineering. Designed by chief engineer George Kublin, Auburn unveiled their new 391 cubic inch V-12 engine that delivered 160 HP at the end of 1931.

auburn 12 specifications

1933 Auburn 12

Interesting fact is that Auburn is said to have spent about one million dollars to develop their V-12 in 1930. A very high sum in those days and especially after the shocking stock market crash of 1929. Some have said that the company's president, as well as a few others, believed the economic downturn would be short lived and the go ahead was given to spend the money. Obviously it wasn't a short bump in the road and while 1931 was Auburn's best year ever, the company lost about one million dollars in 1932.

E.L Cord priced his dramatically styled and multi cylinder high performance luxury cars at prices noticeably lower than luxury competitors which may have been a big reason for  profit shortfalls. By the same token, selling luxury automobiles during the early 1930's required superb marketing which Cord did have a gift for.

The Auburn Automobile Company

The Auburn Automobile Company was founded in 1900 and began by producing a one cylinder automobile. The company grew out of the Eckhart Carriage Company, founded by the Eckhart brothers in 1875 in Auburn, Indiana.

1933 auburn car

Great styling

Auburn found itself in financial trouble in 1919 and was purchased by a group of Chicago investors. These Chicago investors also had a difficult time trying to make a profit, not helped by the recession of 1921-22, and as a result eventually hired a man named E. L. Cord with the goal of turning things around.

Cord was a Chicago car salesman with a keen ability to market automobiles. Cord's overall ambition was to someday own a car company and reportedly had a deal with the investors to at some point take over the company himself.

Cord did indeed increase sales and was named company president in 1926. E.L Cord would later partner with Duesenberg and also build the Cord automobile. That first automobile was the 1929 Cord L-29. Eventually, the Auburn Automobile Company became part of "Cord Corporation" led by E.L. Cord.

Like any luxury automaker, Auburn and E.L. Cord were hurt by the Great Depression. The problem was building a luxury automobile at a cost where a profit could be made. Price pressure from competitors was a major factor during the 1930's and profits were being squeezed like never before.

One great venue to view and learn more about the cars from Auburn is a visit to the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum in Auburn Indiana. The Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum is a National Historic Landmark and is located in the building that was once the national headquarters and showroom for the Auburn Automobile Company.

The 1933 Auburn 12

There were only about 100 of these Auburn V-12's produced. Today, there are only a very small number in existence. The high styled and elegant body is credited to Chief stylist Alan Leamy. Leamy was a self taught designer who built some very good looking cars for Cord during the 1920's and 30's.

On the engineering side, which Auburn had a fine reputation, the company utilized their V-12 with a Dual Ratio rear end that by using a lever on the dashboard would offer either a 3.0 or 4.5 ratio for each of the transmissions three gears. Because this reduced engine strain better fuel consumption was attained. This was even with a 160 HP engine and a high cruising speed.

Another novel addition to the 1933 Auburn 12 were headlights that turned in conjunction with the steering wheel.

auburn 12 photos and specs

Grille and headlamps. Headlamps were made to turn with the steering wheel.

1933 Auburn 12 Specifications

Engine for the Auburn 12 was a Lycoming 391 cubic inch V-12 that put out 160 horsepower. As mentioned above, Auburn invested one million dollars to develop their V-12.

Transmission was a three manual with overdrive.

Brakes were four wheel vacuum assist hydraulic drums.

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1929 Cord L-29

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Reference material for this article includes...Auburn & Cord by Lee Beck and Josh B. Malks...Errett Lobban Cord: His empire, his motorcars : Auburn, Cord, Duesenberg by Griffith Borgeson...Auburn, Cord, Duesenberg by Don Butler and George H. Dammann.

Auburn 12 Collector Car Values

auburn motor company

Auburn 12 dash

As we have mentioned, the Auburn 12's are rare automobiles. Some of the rarest out there.

Auburn automobiles in general are high priced collector cars and values easily get into six figures. We have seen 1932 and 1933 Auburn 12's selling at auction in the neighborhood of $200,000.

(Article and photos copyright Auto Museum Online)


1930 Austin Bantam Coupe / Specs, Model History

The car featured in this article is an American built 1930 Austin Bantam Coupe. The company that manufactured this automobile is certainly not a household name but it's story is quite interesting. It's a story of how a start up automaker strove to survive during one of the greatest economic downturns in world history.

American Austin Car Company and American Bantam

austin bantam photos

The 1930 Austin Bantam

The American Austin Car Company was a U.S. corporation which was founded in 1929 in Butler, Pennsylvania and built automobiles under a license from the British Austin Motor Company. The American company styled automobiles based on the British Austin Seven.

Starting a new automobile manufacturing company in 1929, just short of the stock market crash, proved to be a daunting task. The Great Depression that followed the market crash forced established American automakers to slash prices. The Austin Car Company was building smaller vehicles like the Austin Bantam shown her. What was not anticipated was that larger automobiles from the established automakers were being sold for a price that Austin Bantam required for their vehicles. The price squeeze was on. It's well known the difficulties luxury car makers had during the Great Depression. In the case of the American Austin Car Company, they were hurt on the lower end.

1930 austin bantam specsA smaller automobile like the 1930 Austin Bantam was proven to be popular in Europe. European taxes favored smaller cars with less horsepower. The question was, can this same automobile make it in the U.S. where many car buyers felt that bigger was better. You could make the case that the economical Austin Bantam was like the Volkswagen many years before Volkswagen was imported to America.

American Austin Car Company Opens for Business in 1929

When the American Austin Car Company marketed their new small yet well designed car, orders went through the roof. They received orders for over 50,000 vehicles but had a factory in Butler, Pennsylvania that could only turn out about 100 cars per day. This was a huge problem but it was remedied before too long. When the Great Depression began settling in, orders dropped drastically and the factory in Butler closed it's doors in 1932.

A young auto dealer from Florida named Roy S. Evans along with investors bought the Butler, Pennsylvania plant and began turning out vehicles once again. The plant still couldn't meet the relatively low demand and the money investors pulled out leaving things with the young yet still optimistic auto dealer.

As it turned out, the American Austin Car Company went bankrupt in 1935 and was taken out of bankruptcy by Evans who renamed the company American Bantam. All formal ties with the British company then ceased. American Bantam began producing cars from 1938 and ended production in 1941.

When American Bantam started selling cars again in 1938 the economy was still a giant headwind. Prices for larger automobiles were still heavily discounted and when all was said and done, American Bantam lost about $75 for each of the 6,700 vehicles they produced from 1938 through the next two years.

austin bantam automakerMilitary Orders

During 1939 and into 1940  the U.S. military was awarding vehicle contracts for all purpose vehicles. Ford and Willys had complete access to Bantam's design and submitted their own designs.

There was the question of whether American Bantam had production facilities that could meet the demands of a military contract. In the end, American Bantam received a government contract for a vehicle known as the Bantam Reconnaissance Car (BRC). The army had requested an all-purpose military vehicle, and it was the BRC that became the prototype of the jeep, later produced by Willys and Ford.

1930 Austin Bantam Specifications

The 1930 Austin Bantam like the model featured in this article came with an 46 Cubic Inch Inline 4 cylinder engine. The engine produced 15 HP. The Bantam was very economical to operate achieving about 40 miles per gallon. Top speed was also about 40 MPH.

The automobile came with a three speed manual gear box.

Bantam's wheelbase was 75 inches. It's length 105 inches and weight averaged about 1,100 lbs.

New car price in 1930 averaged about $375. This was just slightly cheaper than than Ford's V-8. As an example a 1930 Ford Model A could be bought for about $400.

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Reference material for this article includes...Collector Automobile Magazine...American Austin Bantam Club...Standard Catalogue of American Cars.

Austin Bantam Collector Car Values

The American Austin Bantams produced from 1929 to 1934 are affordable for just about any collector. Good automobile to start a collection with. These cars are indeed rare since only about 20,000 American Austins of various body styles were built before the factory in Pennsylvania closed in 1935. Another 8,000 were built from 1938-40.

austin bantam engine

Austin Bantam Inline four engine

As of this writing we're finding running 1930-1934 Bantam Coupes in the $6,000 to $15,000 range. Full restorations and frame off restorations will command a higher price. Restored American Austin Roadsters are seen in the $20,000-$29,000 range.

The American Austin Bantam Club is the world's first organization dedicated exclusively to the restoration and preservation of American Austin and Bantam vehicles that were built in Butler, Pennsylvania. The club welcomes owners and fans of American Austin, American Bantam, Bantam Reconnaissance Cars, as well as the English Austin Seven and its derivatives. Check out their website at

(Article and photos copyright Auto Museum Online)