The first diesel racing car
In this video, journalist and author Horst-Dieter Görg takes a reconstructed Hanomag Rekord D for a spin, with the grandson of the car’s designer in tow
7:26PM BST 20 Aug 2015
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In the Thirties diesel engines were generally used in tractors, trucks, trains and ships. They weren’t seen as sporty. Until, that is, German car manufacturer Hanomag set out to create a diesel racing car.
Unveiled in 1936, the Hanomag Rekord D combined a lightweight and streamlined aluminium body with a 1.9-litre diesel engine to stunning effect. Tested on the newly-opened autobahns, the Rekord D set a world speed record for a diesel engine of 165kph (102mph) over a three-mile stretch.
All traces of the world’s first diesel race car might have been lost, if not for one eagle-eyed enthusiast.
“When I found this blueprint in a skip,” says Horst-Dieter Görg, a Hildesheim journalist and author who has been collecting Hanomags since 1981, “I realised that they belonged to the Hanomag Diesel Rekord D.
It’s important to keep old diesel engines in use. That way, the traditions can be handed down to younger generations
“We had to wait nearly 10 years to start the reconstruction. The basis was a chassis which we found in a collection near Aachen. While we were restoring the chassis, we were lucky to find an engine, which was a great motivation for the whole team.”
After years of careful reconstruction, Görg’s small but dedicated team still has some work to do on the Rekord D’s bodywork. But the car can now be driven, and Görg has tracked down the great grandson of the Rekord D’s designer Lazar Schargorodsky to offer him a test drive.
In the video above, as Görg and Gonas Schargorodsky take the car for a spin through the Lower Saxony countryside, they remark upon how advanced the Rekord D was for its time.
“An amateur might say that 165kph (102mph) is normal for a diesel these days but in 1939, that was incredible,” says Schargorodsky.
Görg hopes that, once completed, the reborn Rekord D will provide driving pleasure for many years to come.
“For old engines, especially old diesels, it’s important to keep them in use,” he says. “That way, the traditions can be handed down to younger generations.”
The views in this video about car manufacturers are the author’s independent views and are not endorsed or promoted by Shell.