In the late 1990s we came across a German WWII staff car the Horch Kfz.21 which was in extremely poor condition. Initially we ignored it, as we were looking for parts for our other projects, although the dealer offered it to us at a good price. Apart from recently being recovered from Nairobi, the dealer had little knowledge of the car’s history.
Known as a Kommanderwagen, this type of vehicle was generally only issued to Field Marshals or officers of Divisional rank. Only around 45 had been made. A large number of these Kommanderwagen bodies were built by the famous coach builders Gläser of Dresden. The primary chassis suppliers for these vehicles were Horch and Steyr of Graz in Austria. Other suppliers included Mercedes Benz and Skoda of Bohemia-Moravia.
However we decided to purchase the Horch, as it was too good an offer to disregard and had it shipped back to the UK.
Eventually having stored the vehicle for awhile, we decided to restore the Horch and appointed a Berlin based restorer. This decision was based on the company having restored vehicles for the Audi museum. Interestingly, Audi itself was once a subsidiary of Horch.
Over the course of the restoration, many features were discovered which led to the uncovering of a large amount of detail. Also, all the available wartime photographs of the Horch 21s were studied and reviewed. It emerged that nearly all the vehicles had different finishes both internally and externally, just to add to the restoration challenge.
In addition to the vehicle differences, many questions remained about the vehicle These included how the Horch had ended up in Kenya and its general post-war history. Nevertheless as the project progressed, our research started to suggest that the Horch may have been issued to Field Marshal Rommel.
This Kenya angle would lead to an initial conclusion and then a later twist would emerge which would offer an alternative history for our Horch Kfz. 21 Typ 901.
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