1933 UW Front ‘Prototype’ by Gläser

 1933 UW Front ‘Prototype’ by Gläser

1933 UW Front ‘Prototype’ by Gläser

Chassis Number 17505
Engine Number 65407
Odometer reading 3,060 km
Estimate £350,000 - £380,000
  • Historically important unique prototype
  • Fully restored
  • Hidden just after World War II from the Russian Government

The Audi UW Front was manufactured in the Horch factory in 220 and 225 versions (depending on the engine 2.0 and 2.25 litres). In 1933, the UW Front became the first European car combining front-wheel drive with a six-cylinder engine. The original vehicle (220) had OHV straight six-cylinder with 1950 cm³ and maximum output 40 hp at 3500 rpm. The letters ‘UW’ in the car’s name stood for ‘Umgekehrter Wanderer’ and referred to the fact that it featured a Wanderer engine that had been ‘umgekehrt’ (turned around) through 180 degrees to drive wheels which, on this application, were actually ahead of the engine. In other words, the engine was located behind the front axle, which was quite common in vehicles at the time. The UW Front model was the only serially produced Audi car. There were altogether 1817 vehicles of various types depending on the body, starting with four-door sports sedans up to two-door cabriolets.

And then there were body shops talking about the UW Front model; Gläser from Dresden in particular. It was established in 1864 by Carl Heinrich Gläser in Rampische Straße and the original intent was to have a workshop to make carriages and sledges. Due to the high quality the workshop even received assignments from royal stables. In 1898 Friedrich August Emil Heuer, son-in-law of Gläser who was a blacksmith originally, became co-owner. Gläser died in 1902.

Emil Heuer extended the company and unified all operations in the factory in Dresden-Johannstadt in 1913. The company employed more than 200 people and had state-of-the-art technology. Before too long they started producing bodywork for many famous brands. The base was traditionally wooden skeleton cladded with textile or based on the Weymann patent with a flexible textile, and later, metal. Gläser produced classical bodywork such as phaeton, coupé, landaulet, limousine, pullman or cabriolet. During World Word II Gläser-Karosserie GmbH focused on the production of panzers and bodywork for war vehicles and parts of planes. The airstrikes on 13th and 14th February 1945 destroyed almost all the Gläser factory.

The owner bought this fabulous car in Kalningrad in 1984 from a Russian citizen who inherited it from his father, who had kept the car hidden in his basement because, after World War II, the Soviet Goverment confiscated all the cars from its citizens, as there was a substantial lack of vehicles. From 1984 to 2012 it was stored in a garage in Yerevan, Armenia and then renovation began. The history before 1984 is vague. The only thing that is known for sure is that someone disassembled the car after the war (it was usual to do that with German cars to prevent the government from confiscating them) and hid it. The previous owner was completely unaware he had a unique and valuable vehicle at home, let alone knowing about its history.

The owner set about discovering the history of this vehicle but neither the official Audi museum nor other experts were able to help. However, all agreed on the fact that this was not a serial-production car as there were no others of the kind. Firstly, its equipment featured several things that were only seen in later produced models; for instance, flaps built in the windscreen frame, inner steering wheel frame, leather seats, fog light and wire wheels and secondly, it had a 3-litre engine.

It was presumed, therefore, that it could have been a one-off concept tailor-made cabriolet for someone of importance. With its production in 1933 coinciding with the NSDAP getting to power in Germany, it is entirely probable that the car was manufactured for a prominent member of the German military. A commoner was unlikely to be in a position to order such a vehicle and the symbol of the eagle and swastika on the keychain support this hypothesis.
Another possibility is that someone made changes on the car during the war or just after. However, this would appear unlikely because of the Gläser and Luxus Cabriolet tags.

With its leather interior, walnut dashboard and cabriolet styling, this fabulously rare and historically fascinating pre-war luxury vehicle is indeed something to behold. Powered by a 3 litre UW engine and mated to a 4 speed gearbox, it would grace any collection or would be suitable at many Concours d’Elegance competitions worldwide.

Interested parties should satisfy themselves as to the description and condition of each lot prior to the sale. Accordingly, buyers are on notice that each vehicle is offered ‘as is/as seen’ subject to the Terms and Conditions for the auction. Buyers are advised to inspect the vehicle in person or use a professional to carry out this service. Historics will not entertain disputes over descriptions.

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