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Concept Car of the Week: Audi Rosemeyer (2000)

Fri, 22 Mar 2013

When the Volkswagen group opened Autostadt in June 2000, rumors of a mysterious prototype drew the crowds in the Audi Pavilion. The German brand unveiled an impressive concept that crystallized its latest design philosophy, while also nodding to its glorious racing history.

Designed under Peter Schreyer's supervision, the rounded volumes of the Rosemeyer are animated with precise geometric details expressing quality, rationalism and honesty – the foundations of Audi Design. From the side, horizontal lines connect the prominent wheel arches while visually elongating the already generous wheelbase.

The headlamps seems to have been taken straight from a TT, but look closer and you'll see why the delicate inner workings are protected behind flush-fitting metal panels that slide upwards when the lamps are switched on. When shut, they only leave a thin slot of light visible. Little cameras that bulge from the roof transmit their images to monitor screens in the cockpit, replacing the side mirrors.

Compared to its rectangular surroundings, the bold radiator grill appears somewhat out of place. It recalls the original Auto Union Type C "Silver Arrow" from the 1930s, successfully driven from victory to victory by Bernd Rosemeyer and Tazio Nuvolari.

Just like the Type C, the gently sloping engine cover is punctuated by a series of vertical air inlets suggesting the use of a similar type of engine. Together with the engineered aesthetics, the combination of a brushed aluminum finish with exposed bolts provides a very solid and industrial look.

The clarity and elegance defining the exterior can be found again when you sit inside. Far from being a stripped-out race machine, the interior is actually a rather cozy place for two. Brushed aluminum, carbon fiber, leather and fire-resistant quilted Nomex give the interior character without compromising its overall purity. The four-spoke aluminum steering wheel is a particularly exquisite detail taken from the Type C again. For the petrolheads, a window at the back of the cockpit offers unique views on the heart of the beast: an 8-liter W16 delivering 630bhp, mounted in front of the rear axle.

Designed solely for the show, the bold yet pragmatic approach became an instant classic, as was its older sister the TT in 1995. From the Quattro transmission to the all-aluminum body and the timeless engineering precision, the Rosemeyer was an inspiring vision and an excellent interpretation of the quintessential Audi.

Length 4,540mm
Width 1,920mm
Height 1,240mm
Wheelbase 2,910mm
Engine W16, 8,004cc
Power 630bhp
Transmission 6-speed manual, all-wheel drive Quattro

Your author, Flavien Dachet, is a UK-based, French-born car designer. You may know him as the purveyor of KarzNshit, a photo blog that if isn't already in your bookmarks, certainly should be.

By Flavien Dachet