The theme of the new special exhibition at the Audi museum mobile could hardly be more topical, as electric mobility has once again brought aerodynamics more into the focus of vehicle development. But the topic is by no means new, even if many at Audi associate it primarily with the Audi 100 (C3) from 1982.

Audi Tradition is now taking all those interested in technology on a journey through the history of aerodynamics and is showing the beginnings of aerodynamic concepts in automotive engineering up to 1945 in the "Windschnittig" exhibition at the Audi museum in Ingolstadt.

At the same time, the August Horch Museum in Zwickau follows on from this with the "Form completed" section, spanning the arc of aerodynamic development right up to the present day. Both exhibitions can be seen until June 2024. From July 2024, the second part of the exhibition, "Form completed", will then be on display at the Audi museum Ingolstadt. Incidentally, not only Auto Union and Audi vehicles will be on display, but also exhibits from other brands.

Gallery: Audi aerodynamics exhibitions Ingolstadt/Zwickau

Edmund Rumpler, Paul Jaray and Baron Reinhard von Koenig-Fachsenfeld - if you are interested in the history of aerodynamics, you cannot ignore them. Shortly after 1900, these three pioneers of aerodynamics began to adapt the body shapes of motorised vehicles to the airflow. They came up with some astonishing ideas, fuelled by the growing enthusiasm for aviation at the time and often inspired by patterns from nature such as wing and droplet shapes being key sources of ideas for inventors.

However, it was initially anything but easy for the engineers to gain acceptance for their ideas, as their aerodynamically designed bodies, based on scientific findings, deviated too much from what customers and manufacturers wanted a car to look like. But the rethink is beginning - and new research and design methods, such as wind tunnel research, are contributing to this development.

The term "streamline" is from fluid mechanics. Between the two world wars in particular, this special shape captivated aerodynamics researchers. The aim of the engineers was to reduce the aerodynamic drag of vehicle bodies, lower fuel consumption and make cars more suitable for long journeys.

Audi aerodynamics exhibitions Ingolstadt/Zwickau

The ideal testing ground for manufacturers is motorsport. The racing department of Auto Union AG, for example, began developing a full streamlined car based on the Auto Union Type C at the beginning of 1937. The engine and chassis remain virtually unchanged. The design of the streamlined body was largely based on the work of Josef Mickl, the aerodynamicist at the Porsche design office. The streamlined car had its first outing at the AVUS race in 1937 and achieved record speeds of over 250 mph in numerous record-breaking runs.

The new special exhibition "Windschnittig" (streamlined) at the Audi museum presents research and development, the driving personalities and the fundamental aerodynamic concepts of the period up to 1945, as well as rare and unique vehicles - more than a dozen large exhibits in total. They document the special combination of efficiency, sustainability and design in the field of aerodynamics.

Stefan Felber, curator at Audi museum said, "The highlight of our cross-brand special exhibition is the Audi Type C Jaray model, which will be completed in 2023. Until now, experts had assumed that this car was built by Paul Jaray on an Audi Type K at the time. During the preparations for the special exhibition, the exhibition team's research proved that the basis of this vehicle must have been an Audi Type C." You can see said Type C Jaray on our cover picture.

Audi aerodynamics exhibitions Ingolstadt/Zwickau

If you want to find out how aerodynamics continued to develop after 1945, you should immerse yourself in the post-war history of aerodynamics in Zwickau. Museum visitors can look forward to almost two dozen large exhibits and other models in the follow-up exhibition "Form completed". These include an NSU Ro 80 and the little-known Audi Scorpion, which was designed in 2013. But a visit to the August Horch Museum is also worthwhile overall, especially with regard to GDR automotive history. 

Thomas Stebich, responsible for both the Audi museum mobile and the August Horch Museum, emphasises, "In our two-part exhibition series, we are showing the topic of aerodynamics in both museums for the first time in a complete overview from the beginnings to the present day."