We recently reported that famed auction house, Christies, had pulled one of its Retromobile headline vehicles in the 11th hour. The Auto Union D Type Grand Prix car was expected to draw bids as high as $12 million, so the withdrawal was quite shocking. We guessed that the decision to pull had something to do with the validity of the catalog claims about its racing history, and that guess ended up being pretty accurate, but with a twist. In a statement just released, Christies announced that there were a couple of reasons for its decision. You can read the whole press release after the jump, but basically they determined that rather than this car being chassis number 21, it is in fact chassis 19. That makes this car the only known Type D with a racing history at all, but takes away the reported French GP win attributed to chassis 21. In lieu of bringing it to a future auction, Christies will be accepting sealed bids for the next week. We'll keep you posted on the outcome.
In a joint effort with Audi Tradition over the past three weeks, we have completed considerable additional research on the race history of the 1939 Auto Union D Type V12 Grand Prix Racing car originally scheduled for sale at Retromobile in Paris on February 17. Our joint research confirms that the car's chassis is frame 19, and not 21, the chassis of the 1939 French Grand Prix winner.
Regarding racing history, Audi has confirmed that chassis 19 is a genuine 1939 D Type chassis and that it was first raced by Rudolf Hasse in the Eifelrennen on the 20th May 1939 at the Nurburgring, in which Hasse finished in 5th place. It was next raced at the 1939 French Grand Prix in the hands of legendary Auto Union pilot Hans Stuck, who brought the car home in 6th place, behind the company's 1st and 2nd finishers. Audi has kindly been able to support these race results with extensive documentation.
During our now completed verification process, no alteration has been made to the car itself which we believe to be the only Auto Union to which Grand Prix racing results can be attributed.
Christie's was delighted at the response and interest that the car received in the run up to and while on view at its highly successful Eu7.2m auction in Paris. Based on our now completed research, we are accepting sealed tender bids for a period of one week today and invite prospective bidders to contact Christie's London office directly to receive applications for this tender.