Founded in 1899 by August Horch, the Horch automobile company was one of the pioneering luxury car manufacturers in Germany. August Horch was an experienced engineer who had previously worked for Karl Benz and then founded his own company in 1899 in Cologne. However, after some disagreements with his business partners, he left the company and started a new one in Zwickau, Saxony in 1904, which would later become the Horch automobile company.
The early years of Horch were marked by success, as the company produced high-quality luxury cars that were popular with the wealthy elite. The company’s first model was the Type A, which was introduced in 1901 and featured a four-cylinder engine and a top speed of 40 km/h (25 mph). The Type A was followed by the Type B, which had a six-cylinder engine and a top speed of 60 km/h (37 mph).
Throughout the early 1900s, Horch continued to innovate and develop new technologies for their cars. In 1909, the company introduced its first car with a six-cylinder engine, the Horch 26/65 PS. This car was a huge success and helped establish Horch as one of the leading luxury car manufacturers in Germany.
Merger with Audi
In 1932, Horch merged with three other German automakers – Audi, DKW, and Wanderer – to form Auto Union AG. The new company was based in Chemnitz and was intended to be a response to the growing competition from foreign car manufacturers. Each of the four brands within Auto Union AG would continue to operate independently, but they would share resources and technologies.
During the 1930s, Horch continued to produce high-quality luxury cars, many of which were used by the German government and military. One of the most famous Horch models from this era was the Horch 853, which was introduced in 1937 and featured a powerful eight-cylinder engine and a top speed of 160 km/h (100 mph).
After World War II, Horch, like many other German automakers, struggled to regain its footing. The company’s factory in Zwickau was located in the Soviet occupation zone, and the Soviets dismantled and removed much of the factory’s equipment as reparations. Horch tried to restart production in West Germany, but the company’s attempts were largely unsuccessful.
Eventually, the Horch brand was absorbed into Audi, which had become the dominant brand within Auto Union AG. Today, the Horch name lives on as a part of Audi’s heritage, and many of the company’s classic cars are highly sought after by collectors and enthusiasts.
The Horch automobile company was one of the most important luxury car manufacturers in Germany during the early 20th century. The company’s commitment to innovation and quality helped establish it as a leading brand in the luxury car market. Although Horch’s post-war decline was a setback for the company, its legacy lives on through its contribution to the development of the German automotive industry.