We like different and that’s exactly what you get with a 1/43 scale die-cast resin model from Germany’s Autopioneer.
Autopioneer was launched in 2015 by Thorsten Sabrautzky and plans each year to issue several fine 1/43 scale models of unique autos made by the pioneers in the industry. The brand seeks to create models of rare cars that set styling and technical trends, but that are not widely reproduced by other die-cast car makers.
And that’s what you see here with a fine 1929 Audi Imperator and beautiful 1939 Horch 830BL Woody wagon, the brand’s sixth and seventh models. I’ve never seen either produced in any scale, but they look extremely sharp as 1/43 models. Note too that Autopioneer makes just 50 of each car it creates, so these are very limited editions, adding to their uniqueness.
In 1929 Audi was building high-quality cars in Zwickau, Saxony, after being founded by August Horch in 1909, just after he had been removed from his own Horch car company.
He originally wanted to name the new firm after himself, again, but the courts said no way. So Audi was chosen. It’s a Latin term that means Horch (a synonym for listening) in German. Clever!
Fast-forward to 1927 and Audi launches its first eight-cylinder engine in the Type R 19, creating 100 horsepower and carrying two spare tires on its tail. Bodies were always made by individual coachbuilders. Soon the car was renamed Imperator (meaning Emperor) and was quite pricey, costing even more than a Horch.
But by 1928 Audi was suffering economically and was taken over by Zschopauer Motorworks (known as DKW), owned by J.S. Rasmussen. DKW, which was short for Dampf Kraft Wagen, was then the largest maker of motorcycles in the world.
Shortly after Rasmussen took over Audi he had his elegant two-door Imperator convertible converted by the noted Berlin coachbuilder Josef Neuss and shown at the 21st International Motor Show in Berlin. That’s the car Autopioneer has created. Originally painted white for the show Rasmussen had it painted black before he took possession again and then used it as his personal car.
For the record, the Audi we know now was relaunched in 1965.
The second car here is a 1938 Horch 830BL Woody, what Autopioneer says was the first German/European station wagon. What makes this even more unusual is that Horch cars were low-volume ultra-high-end luxury cars, until this Woody was launched to appeal to a less-monied class and rural buyers.
While an earlier Horch (owned by Auto Union by then) might cost as much as a house, this Woody was more reasonably priced. The Horch 830 was a rear-drive wagon aimed at families and rural farm communities with a 3.8-liter V8 engine making 92 horsepower. Ultimately the V8 series became the most successful Horch, with 9,571 cars produced.
The black Audi features stunning interlaced wire wheels, chrome front and rear bumpers, and a delicate chrome grille, hood ornament and headlights. Plus there are side-mounted chrome lights and a spotlight just outside the driver’s window, all with milky textured lenses.
Each running board includes a chrome ribbed running board inset step and the passenger’s side includes a photo-etched handle that would be used for raising the fold-up hood. Each side of the hood has silver louvers molded into it and there are chrome strips setting off the hood’s halves and where it joins the main portion of the cab.
Window and side trim is painted silver and the roof is a nicely textured almost flat black to represent the cabriolet’s top. Just over the windshield is a silver-trimmed blue-tinted sun visor, a particularly nice touch.
In back is a trunk with leather-look straps and clasps, a chrome gas cap and the two spare tires.
The interior features gray seats and a nicely detailed steering wheel while dash gauges and door window cranks appear to be represented by decals.
As nice as the Audi is, I’m partial to the Horch Woody wagon. This is a slightly metallic gray with attractive fake wood side and rear door panels that have some texture that makes them look all that much more realistic. The fine tan door trim really sets the wood trim off and there are silver door handles and hinges visible on all doors.
Not as fancy as the Audi because this was going to be used on rural roads and farms, the wheels are a more basic steel gray with small chrome hubcaps with two spares riding in fender indentations on each side of the hood.
The front bumper is chromed, but not as bright and shiny as on the Audi and the Horch has no rear bumper. This grille is beautifully detailed, including the Auto Union (later Audi) four interlocking rings logo on it, plus a hood ornament atop the grille. Headlights are the cone-shaped models of that era on either side of the grille, plus two running lights on the bumper. All have textured milky lenses.
Atop each front bumper is a chrome trim piece and a chrome mirror on the driver’s side spare tire, along with a spotlight above the driver’s door on the A-pillar. A photo-etch metal strip adorns the hood top indicating where it splits and would fold up.
The Horch interior is tan with chrome window cranks on the doors and a black and silver steering wheel. Dash gauges appear to be decals, but you don’t see much of those through the closed windows here.
Certainly these are premium 1/43 models and the price you pay includes shipping and taxes. But the key, to me, would be finding models of such rare autos. If you’re a fan of these particular beauties, price may not be your primary concern, but availability. With only 50 made of each, order early. You can only buy directly from Autopioneer.
Vital Stats: Audi Imperator/Horch 830BL Woody
Stock No.: 06 (Audi), 07 (Horch)
MSRP: $260 euros (each), about $280 each