The Lost Pioneer- The Story of Adler
A once-great pioneer of automotive excellence, this is the story of the long-lost legend, Adler.
The story of Adler begins in Germany during the late 1800's, with the successful typewriter and bicycle manufacturer Adler, around 1902, like many other engineering firms and manufacturers at the time, decided to take a gamble at making a car, the result being the Adler 4. It was altogether a typical car for the period, and nothing special, having an astounding power output of around 1 to 2 HP.
The Adler 4, a typical automobile of the early 1900's.
But this was only the start, Adler then started to build their own engines (they were using engines from the company De Dion.) Adler also started to get into racing in the early 1920's, mainly using the Adler Standard model line. Eventually, at the 1926 berlin Motor Show, the Adler 6 made its debut, sporting a powerful (for the time) 194 HP straight 6, and the revolutionary Lockheed hydraulic brakes (it was the first European car to be fitted with these brakes.) Soon after, Clara Clarenore Stinnes, a German racing driver, gave Adler HUGE publicity as the first European woman to circumnavigate the world in an automobile. With the car being ,of course, an Adler Standard 6. This being a great historical event, gave Adler a wonderful reputation, with a film being made of the journey, showing that you could rely on Adler no matter what the conditions were, and also showing the public that an Adler could navigate and overcome any type of terrain or obstacle. Adler sales did jump quite far after the circumnavigation.
The Adler Standard 6, a car of great historical importance, and pioneered the way for the circumnavigation by Stinnes in 1927.
After the events of the 1920's, it became 1930, and Adler assigned Josef Ganz to become a lead engineer for Adler, eventually producing a prototype chassis for Volkswagen, with a revolutionary design, including things like a tubular chassis, independent suspension, and mid-mounted engine. Soon after, however, a new head engineer was appointed, Hans Gustav, who wanted the company to focus more on affordable, front wheel driver cars. This was the beginning of the Adler-Trumpf series of cars.
The Adler Trumpf Rennwagen (or Rennlimousine) was designed with aerodynamics in mind, pulling off wins in the 2-liter class at Lemans.
In 1932, Adler began mass-production of their front-wheel cars, using Tracta Universal Joints, they actually managed to be quite good performers in racing, and in everyday use, which they were maily used for. But, in 1939, of the 100,000 Adler Trumpf Juniors that were made, around five of them were purpose built racers, streamliners to be specific, a design that was used in the early days of racing to prove that aerodynamics did matter. Adler, among other companies, such as Auto Union (Audi), and Mercedes were at the forefront of this. The Adler specifically used many of the aerodynamic principles and theories from engineer Paul Jaray (Paul's designs were used by many different companies, such as Mercedes, Tatra, and Adler.) Most of the Adler Trumpf Rennwagen racers were made without bumpers, and were intended for racing specifically, beautifully designed, they were known for their strange, bulbous front appearance, and sweeping boat tail design in the rear.
The Adler's sweeping boat tail on full display.
They were, really quite the marvel of engineering, with drag coefficients of around 0.23 to 0.30, estimated by researcher Karl Ludvigsen , these numbers are quite impressive, since those numbers are actually the same drag coefficients as some modern vehicles, and this car was made in the 1930's! They also had all independent suspension, with strong and durable chassis, but one of the most astounding things is the engine, they only produced around 70 HP, and that was with the top of the line engine, A 2 LITER! These cars also ran at Lemans, taking two wins in the two-liter class, and finishing 6th overall, TWICE. Despite being a racing car, they were quite long, of course intentionally for aerodynamics, but it is quite impressive, as despite being massive (and almost capable of seating four), the only hindrance to the aerodynamics overall were the large hood straps (needed since the hood was so wide). Today, there are only a handful known to exist, one when up for auction recently and I believe was sold for around $1.8 million. Sadly, the Adler Trumpf Rennwagen, despite being a pioneer in aerodynamics, is actually not very well known, mainly since only a few exist. Here is a collection of photos of the Adler Trumpf Rennwagen. Credit to Photos: Car-Revs-Daily.com
But as all was going well for Adler, WW2 broke out across Europe, and Adler decided to cease production of all automobiles, only continuing production of small motorcycles a few years later. Soon, the company ceased production of vehicles altogether, and focused instead on producing typewriters, and other things of the sort. Later, they became associated with Triumph, before being bought out buy two other companies, later forming Adlerwerke AG. The company ceased typewriter production in the late 90's, and was bought out by a German real-estate company, making Adler Real Estate, which still exists today in Germany. The sad thing is that Adler, despite being a great and important auto manufacture at one time, has become almost completely forgotten today, better known in Germany, however. Overall, another sad ending for such a great and pioneering company.