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Restore or Street Rod? 1932 Adler Two-Door Sedan

This one required a bit of detective work, as it’s a quite rare car, especially in the U.S. Offered on Craigslist in central New Jersey is this 1932 Adler two-door sedan. The body isn’t too bad, but it’s missing just about everything, including its engine, transmission, front and rear axles. The interior is there, but in an advanced stage of deterioration—the seats would be useful as patterns. Dig the suicide doors!

The Adler has obviously been sitting for a long time. The vendor says it “was originally a front-wheel-drive car” that would be “great for making a street rod or drag racer.” The asking price is $2,900. Isn’t that a ’55 or ’56 Chevy wagon next to it?

These Adlers were family cars, not exotics like, say, the Mercedes Benz 540k. The company had quite a range of automobiles. This one appears to be a Trumpf model, and possibly the smaller Trumpf Junior, which would actually date it to early 1934. The two-door sedans were called “limousines.”

The Trumpf was first shown at the Frankfurt show in early 1932, with production starting later that year. As the vendor says, they were front-wheel drive. The 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine delivered 32 horsepower, connected to a four-speed manual on the column, without synchromesh.

Of course, the engine and transmission on this car are missing. Imagine how hard it would be to find an intact Adler engine. The brand went out of business in 1957. So some other powertrain is probably in the cards, but a “street rod,” really? “It’s an Adler with a big-block Chevy,” you’d say. The front-wheel drive might be a complication, but everything’s missing on this car, anyway. It would be fascinating to know its history. Does the “H” on the back end indicate Hungary, or something else?

And then there’s the question of value. A Trumpf Junior of 1936 vintage was auctioned in 2015, and it failed to sell, after being bid to $11,111 without the reserve having been met. That car was an older restoration, looking quite good. Any buyer of this one would wave goodbye to $11,111 without the car being finished. If this was a BMW of similar vintage, there’s no question it would be worth restoring.

Now if you had an Adler parts car with all the missing bits, maybe a good vehicle could be cost-effectively be made out of the pair. What are some other ways this car could go?


  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    Street Rod. Looks solid, and putting the body on another frame and power train would make a neat car.

    Like 16
  2. Dave

    It already looks like it has a mild chop, has a split rear window, so no major body mods will be needed to rod it. All it really needs is . . . everything. Maybe a Camaro or Mustang donor. But why not? Better than leaving it to rot.

    Like 9
  3. Kenneth Carney

    I agree. I’d go with a 3800 GM V-6 and the tranny that goes with it. These engines are bulletproof and the trannies are too. Especially those
    found in the Buick Le Sabres built from 1990 to 2007. These mills respond well to being hopped up a
    turbocharger and some bits from the
    police engines used in Impalas from
    2000 to 2006. The Buick mill puts out
    205HP which would be plenty for a car like this. Not everything has to have a screamin’. LS in it. BTW, you
    might get at least 350+HP when you
    throw a turbocharger on it.

    Like 4
  4. healeydays

    It’s a shame it been gutted, but these cars weren’t exactly speedy. They were family haulers. I would do as Bobhess suggested and find a frame match and street rod it.

    Like 6
  5. Ryder

    Now this is a difficult restoration and good luck finding parts. Looks similar to a Ford from 1932-1933 but a different grill. Ford parts parts can be found easily.Unless an Adler is your dream car, think about a Ford.

    Like 2
  6. Derek

    The H is for Hungary, I think; it’s on the correct side of the car for that.

    Is it a separate chassis car or a unibody? Just wondering how come it’s all hanging together.

    Like 2
  7. Beyfon

    As far as I am aware there were no cars built by Adler after 1940. They did motorcycles into the 1950’s and typewriters for a very long time (my dad had an Adler typewriter that unfortunately went to the dumpster when he sold the family farm a few years ago…)

    And yes, this one needs a fitting frame and drivetrain to make it running again. No chance to properly restore it at any kind of reasonable cost.

    Like 2
  8. Till J.

    yes this is a Adler Triumpf, a 2 door Limousine by the way.
    The “H” indicates Hungary.
    This cars even have something to do with BAUHAUS design.
    Walter Gropius, one of the most important persons from Bauhaus,
    have something to do with the design (what exactly, I don`t know).
    Well, it`s not the last one of these cars.
    In my opinion it`s a good base to create a
    small, stylish, powerful, vintage Hot Rod…

    Like 4
  9. Troy

    Roof looks caved in under the ladder but a fun project I think I would find a all wheel drive Volkswagen Tiguan or Taos to use as a donor vehicle

    Like 1
  10. icee3

    Drop it onto a S10 and use the S10 interior.

    Like 4
  11. Shuttle Guy Shuttle Guy Member

    ’56 Nomad

    Like 1
  12. Chris Londish Member

    Adler is German for Eagle so this will soar as a hotrod project to rubout it’s terrible past

    Like 2
    • Mike

      Street rod with a twist by sourcing BMW or Benz running gear for it. At $2500, I’m kind tempted.

      Like 0
  13. Dennis M Young

    Looks like a 1932 Ford Vicky wanna be to me.

    Like 1
  14. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    When I was living in Central Germany 50 years ago, Adlers could be found in 2 locations, car museums and on rare occasions one might show up at an “Oldtimer treffen”[antique car meeting]. Very few survived WW2.

    I’ve driven one of these, and while a bit underpowered, the front wheel drive worked well except on tight corners or trying to parallel park. Compared to similar European cars The Adlers were fairly low-slung, and this meant they didn’t need running boards, as one can see on this example.

    Look closely at the forward edge of the roof drip edge, above the front door window, and you will see a square piece of raised metal about 2” long. This is the forward drain [one on each side] for the sliding sunroof, probably a fabric folding version. The taillights are more modern additions, I suspect they are from a 1960s Moskvich 402, but not 100% sure.

    If I was going to create a street rod from this, I would probably build a tube frame to fit the body and replace the missing frame, and choose an older BMW drive train with RWD, perhaps a 2002 Tii and 4 speed. Ditto for suspension. Note that the space between the front fenders is quite short & narrow, and fitting a V8 under the hood will be a challenge, as the engine & gearbox assembly was very compact.

    30 years ago when I had my shop, equipment, youth and energy, I’d be on my way to New Jersey with cash, as this would make a great rod.

    Like 4
    • nlpnt

      The Wehrmacht used, and used *up*, quite a few confiscated civilian cars. That accounted for a relatively high survival rate of prewar DKWs – they didn’t like two-stroke engines and left them with their owners.

      Like 0
      • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member


        I’ve heard that too when I was doing research 30 years ago, on my 1958 Munga. The primary reason given was the need for a special type [viscosity] oil to mix in the fuel tank, and that oil was in very short supply, basically not available to the soldier in the field.

        During the last couple of years of WW2 in the European theater, the vast majority of German conscripts had never even driven a car, much less knowing about the need for oil/petrol mixing on a 2-stroke, hence the cars were often driven with no oil in the fuel, the wrong mixture %, or wrong weight oil.

        Like 1
  15. Gerard Frederick

    Adler was one of the most forward looking companies of its time. The Adler Diplomat was an ultra modern car, pioneering in front wheel drive technology as well as aerodynam,ic design features. The Adler Autobahn of 1938 was a mindblowing example of aerodynamic modernity, far outstripping any other manufacturer of the times. The Adler 250 2-stroke twin of 1954 was copied nut for nut by Yamaha and formed the basis for all Japanese 2-strokes. It was also copied by Ariel, resulting in the best selling and by far most reliable bike Ariel ever manufactured.

    Like 0
  16. NPDion Member

    I had an Adler typewriter in the mid 1960’s – it was a very well designed and manufactured machine – same company?

    Like 0
  17. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member


    Yes, same company!

    Like 0

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