1938 Adler Trumpf Rennlimousine

There are classic cars that are very rare, that you rarely get to see. Of course, almost everyone thinks of very rare Ferraris like a 250 GTO.

Adler Trumpf Rennlimousine Of 1938

However, there are also often vehicles from smaller manufacturers that just as rarely see the light of day. Last year, I had the pleasure of getting a Pierce Arrow in front of the lens of my camera. A truly rare pleasure.

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While looking through my archives, I now discovered pictures of another really rare and equally unique vehicle, an Adler Trumpf racing saloon from 1938. I was working as an event photographer at the Masterpieces and Style at Schloss Dyck and had the opportunity to marvel at and photograph this fantastic-looking vehicle.

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With its cream-white paintwork and unconventional body shape, this Adler Trumpf stood out from the great abundance of classic and rare automobiles. The exterior shape of this racing saloon reminded me very much of aircraft construction. The cockpit structure with the almost 180° windscreen really does look like an aeroplane cockpit. And the rear end, which slopes steeply backwards and ends in a horizontal fin, looks like an aeroplane wing.

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In fact, this was the only time I had the opportunity to see this synthesis of the arts of German automotive history. It really is a unique car in every respect.

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In the 1930s, Adlerwerke was actually the third-largest car manufacturer in Germany – after Opel and Auto Union. They employed very important designers of the time, such as Edmund Rumpler, the designer and builder of the Tropfenwagen. Adler Werke also liked to draw on bodywork designs by a certain Walter Gropius. Walter Gropius was an architect and founder and first director of the famous and style-defining “Bauhaus” in Weimar and later in Dessau. Walter Gropius also designed the prominent Adler logo of the time, a stylistic blend of Art Deco and the straightforward design language of the Bauhaus.

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This type of vehicle, a streamlined, closed racing car, wrote automotive history for Adler Werke in the 1930s, partly because it was the first closed racing car to win its class in the traditional and demanding 24-hour race at Le Mans.

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The Adler Trumpf racing saloon, which was restored to its original condition of the 1930s in terms of technology and appearance exactly according to the available documentation, is in almost perfect condition today. It is one of probably three, possibly six, vehicles of this type still in existence and is therefore a real rarity. And marvelling at this extraordinary car in public was a pure joy. With its streamlined body and uncompromising design, it seemed almost a little surreal to me.

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The streamlined shape was the result of the efforts of the time to reduce the aerodynamic drag on vehicles, which was becoming increasingly important at the time with ever-increasing high speeds. To follow this idea, the designers developed a wing-like streamlined car that appears to be composed of a wing and half a zeppelin – the unmistakable and aesthetically beautiful shape of the Adler Trumpf racing saloon.

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Sometimes I wonder whether I’ll ever get to see a “new” old car again when I’m out and about with my cameras. When I do get to see and experience such an extraordinary and unique car, it’s always worth the effort, apart from the usual old Ferraris and Porsches, however beautiful and rare they may be.

Sometimes it’s the less well-known vehicles that can inspire you. Find out more about our photographer Ralph Lüker.

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