Auto Union Type A was the first of the famous Auto Union racing cars from the 1930s. At the time German racing cars were given a silver paint finish, and therefore these cars were also called Silver Arrow.
On June 22, 1934 the Reichsverband der Deutschen Automobilindustrie (RDA) (National Association of the German Automobile Industry) commissioned Ferdinand Porsche for a design of a new people’s car. In Ferdinand Porsche’s opinion, the people’s car, or volkswagen, should be a fully adequate and reliable automobile, although with a comparatively light construction style. It should offer room for four people, reach speeds of up to 100 km/h and be able to overcome gradients of 30 percent. The first prototype had an air-cooled, 700cc boxer engine producing 22,5 hp. The prototype featured an independent suspension with torsion bars and friction shock absorbers. Although there were no hydraulic brakes yet, the braking was boosted mechanically using a corresponding control lever in the cable brake system. More prototypes were built for testing and development purposes before the car was unveiled in 1938 with a 986cc engine. However, because of the war, the mass production of the Beetle didn’t start until 1945.