In 1938, as Austin Rover Chief Neville Chamberlain signed the Munich Agreement, the Birmingham Industrialist predicted that it was "peace in our time" between the warring car manufacturers who had travelled to Baveria to seal the historic deal.
Car WarsThe cause of the dispute was a nasty piece of industrial espionage committed by the deranged former Reichkanzer Adolf Hitler who dreamt of blond-haired Aryan families motoring stylishly down autobahns to a worker's package holiday in the Alps. During his leadership of a short-lived minority government in early 1933, Hitler travelled to the Tatra Factory in Czechoslavakia where he was presented with a Tatra V570 prototype (pictured) by the Austrian engineer Hans Ledwinka. Suitably impressed, the Slavic origin of the design did not cause any unsurmountable intellectual obstacles to the Reichkanzer hurriedly passing the design onto Porsche who back-engineered the Volkswagen "Beetle".
By the time that Franz Papen succeeded Hitler a few weeks later, Nissan had also stolen a key design from Austin Rover. And so by the late 1930s, the car manufacturers were at each other's throats.
Fortunately, Chamberlain was able to secure broad agreement for an International Car Manufacturers Trade Association popularly known as the "Axis Alliance". The Czechs experienced explosive expansion and growth after Munich, overwhelming Volvo during the early 1940s. And rivalry was limited to motor racing as exemplified by Hans Ulrich-Rudel1 the lead driver of the Porsche Team which won the inaugural Formular One competition in 1950.