Imperator - the first Audi eight-cylinder
Audi, then based in Zwickau, Saxony, built exquisite, high-quality automobiles from 1910 to 1940, building about 10,700 vehicles in that time. After a break of 25 years, Audi was revived in Ingolstadt in 1965. How did it get on?
On 19 June 1909, August Horch, who established the A. Horch & Cie. Motorenwagenwerke Aktiengesellschaft automobile factory in Zwickau/Saxony, left his company due to immense pressure from the Supervisory Board. With an initial DM200,000 of borrowed capital, he bought a former woodworking factory and in July 1909 and founded a new company, August Horch Automobilwerke GmbH. The Reichsgerich court decreed that August Horch was not permitted to give the new company his own name, as the right to use the name remained with the A. Horch & Cie. Motorenwagenwerke Aktiengesellschaft. He was compensated with DM20,000 for the loss. A new company name had to be found. After some reflection, he came up with the Latin imperative 'Audi'. In the German language, this means Horch (which is a synonym for listening). Thus, the brand name Audi was born'.
In 1927, the first Audi eight-cylinder came onto the market: the Audi Type R 19/100 hp. Two spare wheels were standard for the 100hp Audis; however, only 145 were sold. At the launch people still spoke of "the majesty of strong cars". A short time later, the Audi Type R was confidently named 'Imperator' (Emperor, which was one of the most expensive automobiles of its time. On occasion, buyers paid more for an Audi than for a Horch. As was normal at the time, Audi handed over the chassis to various coachbuilders.
After economic difficulties, Audi GmbH was taken over by the Zschopauer Motorenwerke in 1928, which was owned by J. S. Rasmussen AG. The Zschopauer Motorenwerke was chiefly known for its DKW (Dampf Kraft Wagen) brand, which was the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world at the time.
Shortly after the acquisition of Audi in 1928, Jörgen Skafte Rasmussen allowed his elegant two-door convertible Audi Type Imperator to be converted by the Berlin coachbuilder Josef Neuss. Rasmussen's cabriolet was presented at the 21st International Motor Show in Berlin in November 1928 by Neuss, painted white, with the aim of boosting the sluggish sales of the Audi Type R. After the fair, the luxury cabriolet was painted black and handed back to Rasmussen in early 192, to use as his personal car.
The only remaining Audi Type R dates back to 1929 and can now be admired in the Audi Museum in Ingolstadt (Germany).