This history article is about a German manufacturer from the 1940s who like several surviving manufacturers used a Latin word for their name. Veritas means “Truth” in Latin. The company was not related to another German company with the same name who made tyres for a while and specialises in machine components – and who still exist today.
The first incarnation of the Veritas automobile company was founded in 1947 by ex-BMW staff, notably Ernst Loof who worked in the pre-war racing division and who was chief of styling for the team, Lorenz Dietrich an ex-BMW director and motorcycle racer, and Georg Meier who had raced in Grand Prix for Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union. They started by buying old BMW 328s that had been wrecked and cobbling together new cars with some styling changes.
Their first client was Karl Kling who raced a streamlined BMW-Veritas to become the 1947 German 2-Litre Champion. In fact Kling’s car was an oddity in that he couldn’t afford to buy the car, so as a friend of Loof’s, he borrowed the construction plans and built it himself! BMW weren’t happy with the naming so they became known simply as Veritas.
After the war, Germany was being run by the Allies and the French were the only country to let them start a factory, so they did so in French occupied Baden in South West Germany. Firstly at Hausen then they moved to Messkirch. At the end of 1947, four cars were completed and these were known as the RS model for Rennsport. The cars were basically rebodied and unpainted BMW 328s with all running gear under a streamlined body and they started the 1948 season with a bang. Three cars entered the first 2-litre race of the year and dominated it against other local manufacturers who were still using pre-war designs.
Formula 2 and Formula Libre classes were designed in Europe for single seaters during the late 1940s with the 2-litre motor and Veritas used one of their sports cars with a highly tuned 328 motor to win the first race run under these rules. They were also getting ready to release their first single seater. An interesting historical note was that Germany was banned from international motorsport after the war until 1950. To get around this, Veritas provided a French team with two racing RS and renamed them Meteor – not related to the later Veritas Meteor racers of the 1950s!
Kling continued his domination of the 2-litre class through 1948 and 1949 with an updated RS and he was only beaten by other drivers in Veritas cars! The company also dominated the 1.5 litre class as well – also with BMW based engines. The first single seater was produced in 1948 ready for the 1949 season and initially had a Bugatti motor fitted until a suitable BMW replacement was found. Veritas sold the car to an American to enter in European races under a variety of names to hide the fact that it was German! Moving forward, Veritas couldn’t find an engine for their own cars, so they ditched BMW in favour of their own design which was built for them by Heinkel in Stuttgart – who would also build their own cars for a while during the 1950s. It was a straight six with three carbs and the car looked like an evolution of a pre-war Auto Union!
By this time, Veritas also started to extend themselves into road cars – firstly by producing a road going version of the RS called the Komet – at the time Germany’s fastest and most expensive car. They also signed a licensing deal with Panhard to build their Dyna model in Germany however this lead to the company being overstretched. In 1950 with the restriction on German cars racing internationally lifted, the company received many orders from Switzerland and other countries to provide race cars. Veritas took the money and invested it in road-going touring cars rather than develop the racing models. With the buyers demanding their cars, the factory – which had been moved to Muggensturm – knocked up some racers quickly with no thought to quality. Subsequently they were unreliable over longer distance races and the company’s reputation took such a battering that they went bankrupt in November 1950!
On the international scene Veritas struggled against Ferrari and Gordini, but cleaned up again in the German championships. With the collapse of the company, Dietrich went off with the designs for the Dyna and opened a factory in Baden-Baden to build the Dyna-Veritas whilst Loof bought the Auto Union facilities at the Nurburgring and started to produce cars called the Veritas-Nurburgring, a 2-litre convertible using Ford or Opel motors. Only twenty cars were built before this company also collapsed thanks to spreading themselves too thin (again). With no real factory, the cars owners were on their own to maintain and develop them further and one was even entered by the Swiss racer Peter Hirt into an F1 car although it was the first to retire with mechanical problems!
What is amazing is that during the 1950s, the cars were competing in Formula 2 and sports car racing with a variety of body shells – some single seater open wheelers and some aerodynamic closed wheelers. It seems that their owners had the cash to build new bodies for different styles of races and some, notably Paul Pietsch developed the streamlined body to slot over the single seater version for a quick change. In 1953, two owners persuaded Loof to build two more cars – RS2’s – and they raced them under the Veritas banner as a works team with little success. It was this investment that truly killed the Veritas-Nurburgring marque and they were bought by BMW. Loof re-joined them for a while, but was already suffering from illness and died three years later in 1956.
The Dyna-Veritas company didn’t last long either. It was in existence for about three years and managed to assemble only around 180 vehicles from the Panhard kits and designs provided from France. It competed against VW and DKW at the higher end of the small car segment and therefore wasn’t as successful.
Then there was a new incarnation: in 2001 a company called Vermot AG launched the Veritas RS3 concept powered by a BMW 6-litre V12 delivering 670 horses. It was designed by a company who had been developing luxury yachts and actually looks like the evil twin of a Maserati GranTurismo! The car was expected to first go into production as a monoposto – or closed wheel single seater with a BMW M5 V10 tuned to 600hp with thirty cars planned to be built in Germany with a price tag of €342,000 each!
That production plan was never implemented and not much was known about Vermot – a Reuters sourced story from 2008 said that it was managed by a small international group of racing enthusiasts. By 2011 the company announced that the power would be a hybrid system and then in 2018, a report suggested that the motor would still be a BMW V10, now tuned down to 500hp with a 105 KwH electric motor as well. It hasn’t arrived and is like a great many of these “revivals” – they never actually get a new life.