After working with Karl Benz for a couple of years, August Horch started producing cars under his own name as August Horch & Cie in 1899. In those early years, August engineered many ground breaking designs, including a friction clutch and shaft-driven rear wheels in lieu of chains. He left the company he began, to form Audi (the latin translation of his surname) in 1909 due in part to a dispute with his shareholders. Production of Horch models continued without him and in 1926 the Horch company introduced a new model powered by a straight eight engine. This powerplant would form the base of the Horch company's most famous designs to come.
In the following several years the Horch eight cylinder engine grew in size and displaced just under 5 litres by 1935. This 100 bhp engine made its debut in the Horch '850' series. The shorter wheelbase '853' model was especially popular among Germany's rich and famous. It offered 'Mercedes-Benz luxury' at a very competitive price. August, in the meantime led Audi to some brief racing and rallying successes until World War I forced him to supply the military with armored vehicles.
In 1932, financial problems forced August to sell Audi, which joined the Horch company, DKW (Das Kleine Wunder), and Wanderer as Auto Union. All four manufacturers continued production of road cars independantly but jointly backed the Auto Union racers. Some of the racing car technology made its way onto the recently introduced '853' chassis. Most evident was the rear suspension, which consisted of an exotic DeDion axle.
To keep up with the competition, Horch introduced the '853 A' model in 1937, fitted with a more powerful 120 bhp version of the straight eight engine. Production lasted until the outbreak of World War II. Today the '853' and '853 A' are considered some of the finest cars constructed in the 1930s and can be regularly seen in Concours d'Elegances all over the world.
Horch offered both completed cars and rolling chassis to be bodied by coachbuilders. Pictured is a '853 A' fitted with a Cabriolet body designed and built by Erdmann & Rossi. Based in Berlin, Erdmann & Rossi was Germany's most exclusive coachbuilder. After a thorough restoration by RM Auctions' restoration department, it received the prestigious 'Best in Show' award in the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. A year later it repeated that feat in the inaugural New York City Concours d'Elegance.
The multiple award winning Horch is seen above at Pebble Beach in the first six shots and in New York City's Central Park in the remaining shots.