Iconic Cars Of The Past

Some of the most beautiful machines ever built

No. 10 - The Wanderer W25K

Wanderer W25K image

In 1932 the German economy was in a poor state and the car industry was going through a bad time. Four manufacturers, Audi, DKW, Horch and Wanderer, decided to merge to form the Auto Union and this is the reason for the four circle logo which is now used by Audi. One of the companies, Wanderer, had been in existence since 1896 and the Wanderer marque had been used since 1911. It had a well-deserved reputation for creating cars of high-quality with sporting characteristics. The main asset that this company brought to the Union was it's highly regarded two litre six cylinder engine, which was both powerful and lightweight, and which had been designed by Dr Ferdinand Porsche. This was the engine that powered the W25K.

This was a very attractive two seater sports car which, compared to similar cars in Germany at the time, was very light and responsive. It's closest competitor was the BMW 328. Even though it was handmade, the W32K was very competitively priced and aimed at the middle-class market. The 'heraldic shield' shape of the radiator grille added to the car's attractiveneness; it was easy to imagine that it was actually smiling!

This engine produced 85 brake horsepower which powered the car up to around 90 miles an hour; quite fast for a pre-war two seater. Problems came however when the supercharger was added. This only performed reliably at high speed and eventually it was dropped. There was a four-speed gearbox with a centrally mounted gear lever.

This car was, unfortunately, yet another promise which was unfulfilled by the coming of war. Production had to stop in 1939 so the factories could concentrate on military contracts; but bombing of the factories brought all of this to a full stop. Wanderer car production, as an independent brand, never recovered, but Auto Union, after relocating from East Germany to Bavaria in West Germany, lives on under the iconic Audi brand.

It was a beautiful, racy looking car which, but for World War II, may have been a winner. Ultimately only 250 cars were built before the end came.


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