Audi Concepts: The Rosemeyer
I honestly wasn’t sure what to make of this one when I first saw it.
Audi’s Rosemeyer concept, one of the highlights of the 2000 auto show circuit, certainly isn’t a conventionally beautiful car. It is, however, fascinating in the sense that when I first beheld it, I was immediately curious about its design influences; I wanted to know why Audi had decided to shape its lines and details how they did, and even the genesis of its name. There had to be a lineage, a reason—Audi is too deliberate a car company to pen such a car on a whim.
In a nutshell, the Rosemeyer concept is Audi’s homage to the all-conquering
1934-1939 “Silver Arrows” Grand Prix racers. This crop of pre-war German monsters, fitted with massive, supercharged engines channeling, in the end, well over 600 hp through the skinny tires of the era were only truly mastered by a handful of top tier drivers, among them Rudolf Caracciola, Tazio Nuvolari and the concept’s namesake, Bernd Rosemeyer, killed during a land speed record attempt in 1938 on the then-brand-new Autobahn.
The Rosemeyer exudes a brutish, imposing, almost industrial presence. The brushed aluminum finish is catnip to a design enthusiast and the almost Art Deco features like the headlight eyebrows and four-spoke steering wheel make it look like something out of Fritz Lang’s landmark sci-fi epic Metropolis. Every line is rational, crisp, utterly Bauhaus, not classically lovely but completely mesmerizing. In a way, it reminds me of a Porsche 911 in the sense that if described objectively, someone not able to observe the car wouldn’t visualize a beautiful vehicle, but actually seen, everything works together perfectly; no detail seems to have been overlooked.
Furthermore, its shape whetted our appetite for that of the Bugatti Veyron. Even a casual comparison of the two brings out their similarities: The relatively small greenhouse, the horse-collar grille, the same general stance and proportions; they even share a mid-mounted W16 engine configuration (the Veyron’s fitted with quad turbochargers) and all-wheel-drive. But where the Veyron shares little with its marque’s predecessors save its grille shape, the Rosemeyer’s design connects with Audi’s lineage at too many points to count. I’d call it the superior design, and it’s a shame its creator declined to produce it, citing potential brand conflicts with Lamborghini, which Audi had recently purchased, as well as difficultly in translating the design into a production form at a certain price point.
Image credits: fourtitude.com
Editor’s note: This post is part of an ongoing series discussing Audi’s rich history of legendary concept cars. Read the other installments here: