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Watch: The History of the Four Rings


Audi’s four ringed history is no mystery, but it’s always nice to be reminded. This new video from Audi Deutscheland, translated into English by Autogefuhl, tracks the history of this fellowship of the rings.

The four ringed logo came as a result of the union of four German autmakers: Audi, Horch, DKW, and Wanderer.

August Horch plays a large part in the history of the company, founding both August Horch & Cie Motorwagenwerke AG and later Audi Automobilwerke GmbH Zwickau.

Horch left the former company in 1909, only ten years after founding it, following a disagreement with the CFO. He founded another company in his name that year, but the German courts ruled that the company owned the rights to the name.

The story goes that ol’ August was at a friend’s apartment, trying to find a new name for his company when his friend’s son, who was studying latin, came over and suggested “audi” since both it and Horch mean listen.

DKW, meanwhile, was started in Germany by Denmark’s Jorgen Skafte Rasmussen. The company originally produced steam fittings, and it wasn’t long before it tried its hand at producing a steam powered car.

The experiment was, unfortunately, a failure, but Rasmussen kept trying, eventually building a two-stroke engine for motorcycles, called Das Kleine Wunder (the little wonder) whose initials would become the name of the company.

By the late ‘20s, DKW was the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer and eventually a majority share holder of Audi.

In 1932 Dresdner Bank, which owned Wanderer, was divesting itself of the company, which was purchased by the forming Auto Union. Interestingly, though, the four rings were only used for racing, with the brands retaining their own identity commercially.

Despite that, the logo was irrepressible. Even after VW removed the four-ringed flags from the Neckarsulm plant, which it bought only help with its own production. Now it’s one of the Group’s most  profitable units and the 85 year history of the four rings marches on.

Below, you can watch the original German version of the video, if that’s what you’re into.

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