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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horch 853 specifications
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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)