One of the finest surviving examples of the grand eight-cylinder Horch
Marvelous original Preservation Class condition
Extensive documented history spanning eight decades
Subject of nearly $200,000 in mechanical sorting by RM Auto Restoration
A worthy competitor to the Mercedes 540 K.
Chassis No. 853392 Engine No. 850981
In the 1930s Horch was the luxury marque of the German conglomerate Auto Union. Horch’s 853 was one of the grandest European automobiles of its era, a robustly engineered eight-cylinder luxury tourer with an overhead-cam, ten-main-bearing engine, four-speed transmission, and servo-assisted hydraulic brakes intended as direct competition to supercharged Mercedes-Benz 540K. It was an imposing, smooth fast autobahn automobile, favored by wealthy society.
During the early postwar years, this magnificent 853 Cabriolet, was in the possession of Karl H.W. Tacke a successful textile factory owner in the 1930s from Wuppertal-Barmen. Mr. Tacke served in the German Army for five years during the Second World War, three of which were served in Russia. After the war he returned to Germany and restarted his business, and acquired this Horch in the postwar 1940s. By this point the ivory body sides had likely already been painted black to match the rest of the coachwork, and the car was registered BR 497-391.
In 1951 Mr. Tacke consigned the car for sale to the dealer Fritz Ihle of Oos. In August 1952 the car was sold by Ihle to U.S. Army Captain Harold D. Young, as noted by a Headquarters European Command Motor Vehicle Bill of Sale, and was registered under its first U.S. Forces Germany license plate number 2C-46092, a plate which amazingly still accompanies the car today. In addition is a 1954 U.S. Army Europe Registration Certificate in Captain Young’s name. Invoices from the Auto Union facilities in Frankfurt indicate that the engine was rebuilt, a new cylinder head installed, and other mechanical sorting completed for the serviceman in 1953-1954. In June 1954, Captain Young then returned home to Groton, New York, bringing the Horch along with him, and photographs on file from 1954 show the car landed in the United States evidently parked alongside other old cars at an enthusiast gathering.
According to the documentation on file in 1955, Captain Young traded his Horch in to James C. Stevens, Jr., of Cortland, New York, owner of the local Oldsmobile and Studebaker dealership, presumably against the purchase of a newer car. Mr. Stevens was a founding member of the local car club and in the 1950s and 1960s quietly assembled a collection of eighty vintage automobiles, as well as a hoard of parts, on his property. Following his passing these cars were dispersed in 2006, and the Horch, still very well-preserved, was sold to Jim Taylor, who was attracted to it as the centerpiece of a longtime local collection.
The car as acquired retained all its original numbers-matching components and identification tags, as it does today. It subsequently underwent considerable mechanical sorting by RM Auto Restoration resulting in close to $200,000 in receipts, copies of which are on file. All components were carefully rebuilt as-necessary, while carefully maintaining their patinaed finishes; the same treatment was even given to smaller components such as the gauges, switch gear, and wiring. A modern gear-reduction starter was fitted to enable easier starting, though the original starter is included with the car. The Horch has since been extensively detailed, with black paint applied during the war years and chrome trim still found to be intact under layers of age, the running board mats in place, and the black leather interior with ivory piping still in very presentable condition – and surprisingly comfortable, to boot! Other than the wartime repaint, only the top has been replaced, its age and patina now fully in keeping with the car’s character and charm.
The knobs on the dashboard, the ashtrays in the top of the doors, the felted window seals, and even the piping and grab handles on the inner door panels are original intact. All instrumentation is intact except for the clock, sourced from a Lincoln Continental, while a factory Bosch heater is fitted. Amazingly, even the original etched glass is still in the windshield. The headlights are more streamlined Willocq Bottin units, which are extremely stylish and importantly, visible in the seventy-year-old historic photos, while the factory taillights, gas cap, and luggage rack are original and present, as well as the second U.S. Forces Germany license plate, number 3C-42171, which was originally fitted by Captain Young. Such is the car’s originality that it was judged a class award-winner at Pebble Beach in 2008, after which it was photographed with Arturo Keller’s own Horch cabriolet, and has been used as a reference for other examples undergoing restoration.
Accompanied by the aforementioned cache of original paperwork, correspondence from Mr. Stevens, as well as the extensive invoices and over 200 photos documenting the preservation work. Today the odometer records 36,098 kilometers which is just over 20,000 original miles; as such a low-mileage examples of this era that has lived a charmed life, this is considered one of the purest, most original, and utterly finest surviving examples of the eight-cylinder Horch.
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4- Speed Manual
Smithfield, RI 02917
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