#0054 - Wanderer W 25-K Sports Roadster, 1939
Photographed: Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, 2009. Owner: Peter Harburg
A Nice Encounter: The Wanderer W-25 K is the sort of classic you stumble across, consult your bank of coincidental motoring history, and then conclude, in spite of its anonymity, that you're better off for having met its timid little self. I humbly suggest that there's absolutely nothing superlative about this little car. We tend to get caught in contests of the mostest this or that when looking back on these vehicles, but the W-25 K is merely a small piece in a large empire wrapped up in wild stories of auto company comglomerates and a giant battle for racing supremacy. It is, however, not representative of any of that glamour. It's just itself, a pleasant little roadster.
Foibles: There are a few aesthetic shortcomings that place the Wanderer design to an inferior position compared to contemporary German works such as the BMW 328 Roadster and Audi Front 225 Roadster, mostly owing to the discrepancy in height between the bonnet and the rear deck. The tall, straight posture of the bonnet comprises a table out in front, whereas the tail is rather low and squat. This imbalance is reconciled by a swooping, chrome-rimmed belt line around the cockpit, but ultimately the dip in the arch is too deep. Without much substance aft of the door handle, the tail almost manages to hide behind an already small rear skirt, presenting a diminutive posture for the drive wheels.
That greivance well aired, the best perspective for the W-25 K is to the quarters, rather than in profile, and I hope my depiction keeps things comfortably in proportion. I did, in fact, photograph this car in profile, and it was during the full work-up of the profile shots that I noticed an unpleasantness about the way things matched up, front to rear.
Features: To get on better footing, that shield of a grille is fascinating, and rather imposing for such a small car, (much like the Audi 225). Compared to the Audi, it's more rakish and fine, with a complicated rectangular structure beneath a delicate weave. The chrome accent is rather nice, circumnavigating the coachwork in a way similar to the Audi, and perhaps better still as the rounded off nose on the Wanderer allows the chrome to loop back along the joints of the bonnet, completing the circle. While complete (and perhaps better presented), the chrome treatment is still shy of the dramatics pulled off by the massive Horch 853 Sport Cabriolet, which extends its wrap-around chrome all the way past the continental kit on the rear deck. Amazing, but encroaching on overkill.
Lastly, we must remark that the Germans have always had a knack for pretty dash displays, and this is probably the prettiest I've seen on a pre-War German car. There, we found a superlative quality! Lined in chrome (of course), the sweeping over-under panel, body-matched paint, Wanderer gauges, and banjo steering wheel come together in an astounding composition. I'd long been a fan of the simple metallic beauty of the BMW 327, but the W-25 K is worlds more enticing from a driver's perspective.
Technically: Nothing amazing, but nothing to snip at, either, the W-25 K has 85 brake horsepower to play with courtesy of a 1,963cc straight 6-cylinder fed through a supercharger. Two valves over each cylinder are actuated by pushrods, and top speed is brisk, around 90 miles per hour. Designed by Ferdinand Porsche, the small unit is well suited to this small car, which weighs slightly more than 2,000 pounds. The W-25 K was produced as both a cabriolet and roadster in a quantity comparable to that of the 328 hemi-head variety of the BMW 327, although, for its size, the Wanderer has an edge on the 327 in performance. Most sources estimate that a round number of 250 units were produced.
Fin: And that's it—along the way we did uncover a superlative quality for this little car to claim. I'm not one to assume every classic has greatness within its sheet metal, and then go stomping through prosaic terms to prove the point. But this roadster's great triumph—that lovely dashboard—comes to attention naturally, and then can't be ignored. The car itself isn't too bad, of course, and from first glance is quite desireable. Of course, most any roadster is hard to resist in cobalt. From 1939, perhaps even more so.
One final note, attending the Pebble Beach Concours is such a privilege, and part of that privilege is in seeing important automobiles gathered from around the world. The owners of this Wanderer traveled all the way from Brisbane, Australia, making this "nice encounter" a truly rare one as well.
Audi Centre Brisbane: It's fitting to source Audi in Australia given the hometown of this classic, though any Audi site will have a bit of historical information on this and other Auto Union cars.
Ultimatecarpage.com: Notable more for its technical data that its pictorial in this case.Back to Index