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Audi Birthday

August 1

Written August 5

Dear Friends and Family,


Today was my 65th birthday. In the olden days, this was when one got a gold watch and a small pension. We went on a tour of the Audi factory instead.

We started with the Audi Mobile Museum and another experiment with HDR pictures. This may have been the best option for this type of picture-taking since the subjects were all stationary, most were shiny, and and many were colorful. I do know this allowed pictures in an area where otherwise the glare from windows would have been difficult to handle.

Enough technical. Personally, the Audi story was pretty fascinating. It is an old German combination of four car makers, kind of like General Motors, except more difference in brand to brand, from the small DKW to the massive Horch, open touring cars made famous in movies about the thirties government leaders. Woven in and out was the story of August Horch, the visionary who built the company through two wars and the boom time in between.

While waiting for our tour, we had plenty of time to just watch people -- happy people. The happiest were those picking up their brand, new cars. Ten percent of Audi purchasers pick up their cars at the factory and there were some very big smiles. Considering that we saw three R8's go out the door at well over 100,000 euros each (more than $150,000) , we'd have to assume the German economy isn't hurting.

But the highlight of the day was the tour of the Ingolstadt factory for Audi. (No pictures allowed.) We walked for two hours, over 3.5 kilometers (2 miles!) and watched coils of sheet steel become real cars at a rate of 2,500 per day, 24 hours a day, five days a week.

The organization and planning has to be just unbelievable as virtually every car is unique. The line we followed made Q5s and A4s, sedans and station wagons, from simple versions to completely loaded cars with dozens of options, including color. Even the wiring harnesses were custom built for each car. The pace of assembly was smooth but relentless. Each of 105 assembly stations has 87 seconds to accomplish their task, car after car. The heaviest and most dangerous jobs, such as welding, are done by robots, but teams of workers do all the intricate assembly. All in all, pretty amazing.

The next day we would see another factory, and two auto museums, but that's another story.


John and Marianne


Audis to be picked up by new owners.
Marianne looking at cute DKW.
A gorgeous old Horch, with jump seat.
A sportier version of an old Audi.
DKW - one of the last.
The "last" Horch. Stored in Texas from the end of the war until 1987, unrestored.
Van with little motorcycle engine.
Cut-away Audi.
Original Audi engine.
Audi even built army vehicles and motorcycles.
Lamborgini, the sportiest horse in the Audi street-legal stable.
Audi Le Mans car.
Just before the tour, Marianne was shopping.



Audi Museum Mobile



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