This $60,000 Masterwork Immortalizes the 1936 Auto Union Type C Racer – Robb Report


Every great artist has a muse – Monet had Camille Doncieux, Picasso’s was Fernande Olivier. For Michael Etrick, cars are what keeps his creative drive strong. The automobile has long inspired the artistic expression of Etrick, an automotive design sculptor formerly employed by Audi, whether his medium is clay, foam and polyester resin, or any other material in the industry. But what may be its pinnacle to date has no application in the industry.

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Etrick’s masterpiece, which he worked on for 12 years, gives shape not only to his talent but to the legacy of Audi in general. Recently unveiled at The CarLab, an automotive consulting firm in Orange, California, the first of its aptly named Reflects series is a highly polished billet aluminum sculpture that pays homage to the German marque’s roots and a race car that set an early benchmark for the Brand.

Michael Etrick’s sculptural tribute to the 1936 Auto Union Type C Racer.

trick art

The 302-pound piece is inspired by the 1936 Auto Union Type C race car, a car developed in collaboration with Ferdinand Porsche, who developed a V-16 engine for Auto Union. The latter was a collective that included the car manufacturers Audi, Horch, DKW and Wanderer. It was founded in 1932 and the timing proved impeccable.

“The year 1933 was a big one for racing, especially in Germany,” says Alexander Sadowski, consulting director at The CarLab, adding that new regulations set the maximum weight for racing cars at 750 kilograms (1,653.47 pounds). “That helped push what Auto Union was so famous for – the A-, B-, C- and later the D-series cars, which were in many ways a huge stepping stone for Porsche at the time,” says Sadowski .

Measuring 3.9ft x 1.9ft x 0.7ft, the 302-pound presentation is made up of seven parts.

trick art

In the first year that the Type C was used in motorsport, it won three Grand Prix races and was the vehicle with which Bernd Rosemeyer ultimately won the European Drivers’ Championship. It’s a story that resonated with Etrick, who grew up watching his father build and race hot rods in Long Beach, California. With his own eye for aerodynamic surfaces, Etrick presents a stylized interpretation of the Type C, seemingly cast from a drop of mercury, that simultaneously conveys heaviness and an ethereal aesthetic.

Starting with sketches and CAD renderings by CAD designer Raul Cenan, Etrick then went about the process of milling the 6061 billet aluminum and developed seven parts for the unique presentation – the four wheels (separated from the central structure), the body, the grille and the platform on which everything rests. Beneath each wheel, which fits into the base like a finely crafted piece of a puzzle, is the branding of one of Auto Union’s past car manufacturers.

The Auto Union Tribute, the first in the artist’s Reflects series, will be limited to nine examples, although 99 desktop versions will also be available.

trick art

In the official announcement of the sculpture’s premiere, Eric Noble, Professor of Automotive Technology at ArtCenter College of Design and Founder of The CarLab, stated, “Michael is a true craftsman and renowned master of vehicle form. We are proud that our studio was chosen to exhibit his first ever solo work.”

Etrick later accepts customer orders and has his first Auto Union Tribute priced at $60,000. He plans to produce nine specimens, each measuring 3.9ft x 1.9ft x 0.7ft. An 11.81″ x 5.31″ version – perfect for a desk or table – will be limited to 99 copies priced at $3,900 each.

Nevertheless, it is difficult to assess a life’s work quantitatively. Etrick says, “From where I grew up and where I’ve worked as a clay model maker for 34 years, this is a graduation work for my time in the automotive industry.”





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