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AD 617 Dual Cowl Tourer
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  Austro-Daimler AD 617 Dual Cowl Tourer

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Country of origin:Austria
Produced from:1920 - 1926
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:Before December 1st, 2004
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Click here to download printer friendly versionWhen the Stuttgart, Germany based Daimler set up shop in Austria's Vienna in 1899, Austro-Daimler was born. Initially the results of Daimler's Austrian branch were not as good as expected, but a series of personnel changes turned things around. Gotlieb Daimler's son Paul was sent down to Austria to set things straight. He made one of his best business designs of his career by hiring Ferdinand Porsche as technical director in 1905.

Porsche had made quite a name for himself already in Austria with the Lohner Porsche, which was unveiled in 1900. This unique machine featured four electric engines, each one powering a seperate wheel. The first Austro-Daimler completely designed by Porsche was released in 1910 and was an immediate success. Although it was not as complicated or advanced as the Lohner-Porsche, the Austro-Daimler Prinz Henreich was capable of a top-speed of 140 km/h and scored many racing victories.

Production and development in Vienna was brought to a dead-stop with the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. By that time Austro-Daimler had grown out to be Austria's largest manufacturer of cars and was also involved in production of various other means of transportation, like electric trains. Production started again after the War and Porsche set-out to design a completely new engine, which would power many Austro-Daimlers to come.

Replacing the pre-War four cylinder engines, was the all-new overhead-camshaft six cylinder engine. It made its debut in the AD 617 model launched in 1920. Displacing just under 4.5 litres the engine provided plenty of torque and horsepower for refined and fast motoring. Porsche's success did not go by unnoticed and by 1923 he moved up to Stuttgart as chief-designer at Daimler. One of the best known Porsche designed Daimlers was the Mercedes S-series.

Although the Porsche designed Austro-Daimlers were quite a success, very few remain today. Pictured is a AD 617 constructed in 1922 and fitted with a Dual Cowl Tourer body. In a stunningly original state it was offered by Christie's in their 2003 Paleis 't Loo Concours d'Elegance auction. Christie's sale-estimate was $140,000 - $180,000, but the highest offer did not meet the reserve set.

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