August Horch founded the car company that bore his name in 1899. He left it ten years later and set up another firm with the same name, only different: the German word horch is the imperative form of hoeren, “to hear.” In Latin: Audi. In 1932, the Auto Union company was formed, a fusion of four smaller firms, including both Horch and Audi. Auto Union’s four-ring logo survives today as the Audi logo.
A firm that’s lasted this long has a lot of history, not all of it easily accessible. Officially, the Horch line ended in 1940; apparently, however, the Ingolstadt works (still used by Audi) apparently turned out a one-off Horch 830 BL in 1953, a copy of Horch’s last big, opulent V8-powered sedan, for Auto Union president Dr Richard Bruhn. Bruhn drove it for a while, then let it get away; an American serviceman stationed in Germany bought it and shipped it home to the States circa 1957, and the story might have ended there.
Except that car collector Al Wilson, outside San Angelo, Texas, bought the thing from a junkyard back in the 1960s, figuring it might be worth something more than scrap metal. It ran, briefly; then it didn’t. Replacement parts were of course out of the question, though Wilson fired off queries to various connections in Europe, and eventually he just let it sit — until someone at Audi, circa 2006, realized what it was that Wilson had.
Negotiations took place, and in 2008 Audi sent a film crew to cover the retrieval of the car; that film has now been released. They plan to restore the old Horch, but for now, visitors to Audi’s museum seem to be fascinated with it as is.
(Spotted at Autoblog.)