Let’s dig some more into r0b0tr10t’s treasure trove at the Cohort. Here’s a car that was a rare sight even during the time of its production, the Auto Union 1000SP coupe. As we saw the other day with the DKW Junior, the stylists at Auto Union were obviously Ford-O-Philes, from the 1955 era in particular. The 1000SP appeared in 1958, just long enough to transpose the 1955 T-Bird’s styling unto the AU 1000’s chassis. But no Continental spare here!
Of course, the roof is lacking in that fat C-Pillar, but then Germans wouldn’t put up with such crappy visibility, eh? In 1961, a cabriolet version joined the coupe in the lineup. They were built as late as 1965, making them the final variants of a venerable line that dated way back to the F89 in the early postwar years. The 981 cc three-cylinder two-stroke was massaged to 55 hp, giving the 1000SP a top speed of 140 kmh (87 mph).
Here’s the full DKW-Auto Union story
Sure there wasn’t some Pininfarina here? Anyway, it’s hard to imagine a time when Europeans didn’t sneer at American styling & technology trends, & the Japanese copied British cars. But in the postwar ’50s, Germany was in Ludwig Erhard recovery mode while America was on top of the world (i.e. Last One Standing). But they had pretty interesting designs, as if they were Starting From Zero.
Wow, that really does have some T-Bird-ish lines. That taillight/fin treatment is fascinating, the way it curves around the inside of the taillight and then thrusts up and out.
Obviously Auto Union had no fear of complex stampings…
Ein Blitzenvogel? Not a bad-looking car at all. The proportions seem a bit stubby, but maybe that’s just the camera angle.
Wait a sec… Donner is thunder. So it’s a Donnervogel?
Cute car the front belies its origins but the Thunderbird theme works well especially without the traction weight on the rear bumper
Really beautiful car. What impresses me most though is the pictures appear to be taken in a regular old parking lot, parked right there in the middle of everyday rides. It would appear that the owner actually uses the car and with that huge bag on the back looks to be taking a road trip in it. Impressive!!
I would never park such a gorgeous rare car anywhere you could get door dings though, that’s just not worth the risk.
Yes it was a regular parking lot. And there was another DKW parked a couple of meters away, so I guess they were traveling in a pack.
Gorgeous shape; shame about the horsepower.
Same could be said about another German “baby” version of an American classic, the Opel GT.
I just love the look of this car. Detroit influence had to be heavy in 1950’s West German automobiles. Opels designs leaned heavily on the Tri-Five Chevy’s. Clare MacKichan was at Opel during the creation of the Opel GT, the mini-Corvette. So the question is: who at Auto Union was so heavily influenced by the 55-57 Ford Thunderbird? What was Ford’s reaction to this car?
As much as the Opel GT indirectly pays homage to the Corvette through coincidence of a parent owner, the 1000sp owes everything to the TBird. Either way, this is a nice looking little classic automobile and stands on it’s own merits.
In a poetically perfect world, these would have sold in mass quantities, like a sort of German Mustang, so anyone who wanted to could have one today. In unfortunate reality, there were only 6600 or so of them built, ever, so they are a bit hard to come by, at least in decent condition and for a reasonable sum of greenbacks or euros. Pity.
I can’t say that these were common in early 1960s Mexico City, but I do recall seeing and hearing a number of them. Whatever you do, don’t park one next to an actual ’57 T-Bird as it won’t stand comparison. Your first question would be WTF? An anorexic Bird? And furthermore, don’t start it next to a healthy 312. It’s popcorn popper would elicit nothing but scorn.
I finally figured out what didn’t seem right about comparing this stylishly finned car with a Thunderbird: The canted fins over the big round taillights and the smoothly curved top with large rear window say “1959 Buick 2-door hardtop” to me.
Just sent some pics to Paul of one of these cars that I saw at a local garage here in Switzerland about a day or two after this article appeared. Black over whit ragtop and in lovely condition.
Lets see if I can post lo res pics here, I sent the hi res pics to Paul. Only one pic can be posted apparently.
Wow that’s a beauty. Really shows the fascinating lines around the fins. More sophisticated, and harder to make, than the T-Bird’s.
Yes, one pic per comment. Please reply with your other pic, and thanks!