1899 Horch logo. (source: Audi)
August Horch, one of the pioneering figures of Germany's automotive industry, was the figure behind this company. A graduate of the Technical College in the town of Mittweida, Saxony, he originally worked in engine construction at Carl Benz in Mannheim, gradually working his way up to the position of head of motor vehicle construction. In 1899 he decided to set up business on his own, and founded Horch & Cie. in Cologne.
He was the first in Germany to use cast aluminium for his cars' engines and gearbox housings, a cardan shaft served as the power transmission element, and the gearwheels were of high-strength steel. In 1902 he moved to Reichenbach in Saxony, then on to Zwickau in 1904. Cars with two-cylinder engines were built from 1903, with four-cylinder versions being added after the start of the company's operations in Zwickau. Their performance was so impressive that a Horch car triumphed in the 1906 Herkomer Run, the world's most arduous long-distance race. Two years on, the company recorded annual sales of over 100 cars for the first time.
After a disagreement with the board of directors and the supervisory board, in 1909 August Horch quit the company he had founded, without delay setting up another motor vehicle company in Zwickau. As his name was already in use by the original company and had been registered as a trademark, he arrived at the name of the new company by translating his name, which means "hark!", "listen!", into Latin: Audi.
August Horch moved to Berlin in the 1920s and was appointed a member of the supervisory board of Auto Union AG in 1932, continuing to be involved in the company's technical development work mainly in his capacity as expert. In 1944 he moved from Berlin to the Saale region. Horch spent his final years in Manchberg, Upper Franconia, where he died in 1951 at the age of 83.
August Horch demonstrated hands-on involvement in the development of the motor car from its very earliest days. His principal legacy is that his technical innovations, coupled with his remarkable resolve, paved the way for the transformation of the early motor vehicle into the car as we know it.
The company which still bore the name Horch originally adhered to a range of model types, the structure of which was still the one created by the company's founder. After the First World War, the aircraft engine company Argus-Werke, acquired a majority interest in Horch. Two of the most renowned engineers, Arnold Zoller and subsequently Paul Daimler, son of Gottlieb Daimler, were thus elevated to the rank of chief designers for Horch-Werke's operations in Zwickau.
In autumn 1926, Horch-Werke unveiled a new model driven by an eight-cylinder inline engine created by Paul Daimler. This engine was notable for its reliability and refinement, and set the standard which all competitors sought to emulate. The Horch 8 became synonymous with elegance, luxury and superlative standards in automotive construction.
In autumn 1931, Horch-Werke of Zwickau launched its newest top product at the Paris Motor Show: a sports convertible with twelve-cylinder engine, painted brilliant yellow, with a brown soft top and upholstered in green leather. Between 1932 and 1934, only 80 of this exclusive Horch were sold. The market for such luxury cars slumped. Horch was the clear market leader in the entire deluxe class and it sold one-third more cars than its competitors; for instance, Horch sold 773 cars in Germany in 1932 and was able to export around 300. However, this was not enough. The company encountered financial difficulties, mainly due to the financing of its sales operations.
Horch - Dates in history.
August Horch & Cie established on November 14 in Cologne by August Horch
August Horch & Cie Motor- und Motorwagenbau set up in Reichenbach on March 3.
August Horch Motorwagenwerke AG established on May 10 in Zwickau
August Horch withdraws from the company
Change of name to Horchwerke AG Zwickau on February 16; capital 3 million Marks. Between 1920 and its liquidation on June 29, 1932, HORCH Werke AG belongs to Argus-Flugmotorenwerke, Berlin. Throughout this period, the HORCH management is based in Berlin, on Mittelstrasse 15. Capital: 5 million RM
August Horch - Curriculum vitae.
Born in Winningen (Moselle) on October 12, 1868
Apprentice and journeyman smith
Technical studies in Mittweida
Plant engineer for an engine manufacturer
Worked for Benz in Mannheim until 1899 as manager of the Motor-Vehicle Assembly Department
Opened his own workshop in Cologne
Business transferred to Reichenbach, in the Vogtland region
Establishment of A. HORCH Motorwagenwerke AG in Zwickau
Dispute and departure; AUDI factory set up in Zwickau
Triumphant success for AUDI cars in the world's toughest competition events
Horch moved to Berlin and acted as an expert and consultant on technical automotive matters
Awarded honorary doctorate by Braunschweig College of Advanced Technology on February 20
Member of the Supervisory Board of AUTO UNION AG in Chemnitz
Bombed out several times in Berlin; moved to Langenhessen in Saxony
Fled to Upper Franconia, finally taking up residence in Münchberg
Helped to set up the new AUTO UNION in Ingolstadt
August Horch died on February 3 in Münchberg, at the age of 83
(source: Audi AG).
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