I was looking at the Bonhams Les Grandes Marques du Monde, Paris, 2023, auction catalogue and this unique car caught my eye –
I had never seen photographs of this streamlined car before: I read the description in the Bonhams catalogue and discovered the car’s history. Incidentally, the car was being offered with a guide price of €1,800,000 – €2,600,000 but it was withdrawn before the auction.
Kurt C. Volkhart, came to prominence in 1928 when he was involved with Opel’s RAK1 and RAK2 rocket propelled cars. Volkhart left Opel because he felt that Opel’s Director of Product Development, Fritz von Opel, grandson of the company’s founder Adam Opel, had taken credit for the rocket cars that Volkhart had been responsible for designing. Prior to his employment with Opel Volkhart had been a successful car and motorbike racer. After Opel he put his driving and engineering skills to use in various projects. In the mid-1930s he teamed up with an amateur aerodynamicist, Baron Reinhard König von Fachsenfeld to design prototype cars for Imperia Fahrzeugwerk, a motorbike manufacturer that was considering entering the car market. This project was “stillborn” when Imperia went out of business in 1935.
It should be mentioned that von Fachsenfeld was a follower of the work done by the Austrian aerodynamicist Paul Jaray. Jaray honed his ideas at the Zeplin factory and then set up as a freelance designer 1927 he founded Stromlinien Karosserie Gesellschaft in Switzerland and became a consulting engineer. One of the cars that he had a hand in is the futuristic, at the time, Tatra 77 –
The next time we hear of the Volkhart and von Fachsenfeld collaboration is when they were commissioned by the German Government’s Aviation Department to design a “courier car” for the Luftwaffe. This resulted in the V1 Dunker, the latter being the name of the bodybuilder that constructed the car. It used a rear-mounted 1172 cc 4 cyl. engine from the Ford Eifel. The aerodynamically efficient bodywork of the V1 allowed the modest 34 BHP output of this engine to propel the car to 85 mph.
As WWII approached other considerations became more important and further work on the Luftwaffe Courier project was cancelled.
However, both Volkhart and von Fachsenfeld wanted to pursue their ideas on aerodynamics as applied to car design. Volkhardt ordered a KdF Wagen Typ 60 (Beetle) chassis and powertrain from Volkswagen. KdF is an abbreviation of “Kraft durch Freude” – “Strength through Joy” made by Volkswagen -“the People’s Car”.
The KdF chassis was not delivered until 1944 but by that time things were not so good in Germany with all effort and materials being sacrificed to the, ultimately doomed, war effort. The V2 components were put into storage at the Kassel-Rothwesten Airfield. It was only in 1947 that Volkhart was able to complete the car and submit it for testing. This work took place under the guidance of enthusiastic British Army officers who organised the supply of sheets of aluminium from which the body was constructed. The car was given the name V2 Sagitta, Sagitta being Greek for Arrow, very apt, given the car’s shape.
Volkhart and von Fahsenfeld had carried over the basic V1 design concept into the V2 but incorporated the results of further research they had conducted in the meantime. Despite the Volkswagen air-cooled flat-four 1.1 Ltr. engine only producing 24.5 BHP it was sufficient to propel the slippery V2 to a maximum speed of 86 MPH. You can read the full details of this car in Hanspeter Bröhl’s ‘Austro Classic’ article.
Further reading about Baron Reinhard König von Fachsenfeld led me to discover these other aerodynamic vehicles that he played a part in designing –
In his later years, von Fachsenfeld turned his attention to preserving and developing Schloss Fachsenfeld (Fachsenfeld Castle) located in Aalen, Baden-Württemberg, about 70 Km. east of Stuttgart – https://schloss-fachsenfeld.de/