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Manufacturers / Germany / DKW

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DKW vehicles


DKW P-15   (1928)

Danish engineer Jörgen Skafte Rasmussen was the originator of the DKW, derived from Dampf - Kraft - Wagen (Steam powered vehicle), since Rasmussen's first design was a light steam car, produced in 1916.

Rasmussen's DKW engine, which went into production as a motorcycle engine in 1919 in Zschopau, Germany, was a very important development. By the 1930's DKW was the world's largest motorcycle manufacturer.

In 1928 the engine was upgraded to power the first DKW car.

DKW P-15 Roadster concept (1929)

The same engine design was later adapted to power SAAB motorcars and the Trabant in East Germany, where it continued to be manufactured up to the early 1990's, more than 70 years later.

A two-stroke petrol engine was developed by DKW in 1919 as a toy model engine, however the popularity of this engine saw it evolve into a motorcycle engine and then into a car engine.

In 1928 a 500cc two cylinder version was used in DKW's first rear wheel driven car.

Even during the late 1920's DKW cars were used for racing! 1929 a 600cc DKW participated in the Rally of Monte Carlo and during 1930 two 500cc DKW sports cars set 12 new international class records.


DKW 4=8  concept (1930)

Even though this 1934 DKW 1001 Sonderklasse Cabrio-Limousine is in desperate need of restoration, it nevertheless gives a good indication of what this period DKW's looked like.

From 1935 to 1937 this smart looking Sports Roadster attracted lots of attention for DKW.

In 1931 DKW took a pioneering step by adopting front wheel drive, which Audi continues to use up-to today. During the mid 1930's the DKW became a best selling people's car. The phenomenal successes of the DKW racing team was a substantial contributor this it's popularity.


In the late 1940's DKW wanted to re-launch the DKW, to keep their dealer happy, but had no suitable successor to the pre-war model.

While they worked on a replacement, as an interim measure, they allowed Bauer to build their new Bauer bodies on the pre-war chassis which they supplied to them with a few minor improvements. The DKW Bauer F-10 Limousine first went on sale during 1950.

A three cylinder version of their engine was developed in 1940, but only went into production, with the launch in March 1953 of the new DKW-Sonderklasse Typ F-91.

While DKW expanded during the early 30's and had already absorbed Audi, in 1932 they also amalgamated with Horch and Wanderer to form Auto Union and consolidate production during a difficult recessionary period. The combined Auto Union then developed a revolutionary new Grand Prix car, under the direction of Dr.

Ferdinand Porsche, with 12- and 16-cylinder engines installed behind the driver, with independent suspension and aerodynamic bodies.

These cars dominated car racing and set a host of world records during the late thirties.


DKW F 89  concept (1950)

During 1956 Auto Union introduced the F-93 with a wider body and updated both the interior and exterior of the car.

During 1958 Auto Union changed away from the "suicide doors" on the two door models only. This model can also be recognised by the new grill.

During the late 1950's the DKW Monza established five international records on the Monza race track in Italy. The Monza was a privately developed in Germany, based on DKW mechanicals and a glassfibre body.

DKW F 89 estate concept (1950)

During 1958 Auto Union released the new and sporty looking Auto Union 1000SP Coupé which made headlines with it's wings and slight resemblance to the Ford Thunderbird. The car was actually designed to appeal to the American market.

During 1959 Auto Union introduced a revised car, with a wrap around windscreen, which was fashionable at that time.

During 1959 Auto Union introduced the DKW Junior F11, a small, fast and economical car with a three cylinder 750cc engine with 34PS and 12" wheels.


DKW F 11 ,F 12 concept (1963)

During 1963 Auto Union introduced the DKW F12/60, with a larger three cylinder 900cc engine with 40PS and larger 13" wheels.

During 1964 Auto Union Germany introduced a new car with a completely new two door body style plus a larger 1200cc engine, although the experts were convinced that a technical limit had been reached and that a successful two stroke engine larger than 1000cc could not be built. The four door model appeared only during 1965.

A 1000cc 2-stroke V-6 engine was developed for additional power in 1960 by combining two 3-cylinder engines. The capacity was gradually increased to 1300cc and the last V-6 engines were built in 1966.

DKW F 102  concept (1964)

While the standard configuration was with two carburettors which produced 83 HP, a four carburettor version was also built and tested which produced 100 HP and a six carburettor version produced 130 HP with the 1300cc capacity. However, most of the engines were fitted with two carburettors.

Approximately 100 V-6 engines were built for testing in DKW cars. 13 DKW F-102 were fitted with the V-6 engine in the sixties. At least one F-102 with the V-6 engine and two Auto Union 1000SP's which belonged to Mr Muller have survived to this day. A number of Munga's were also fitted with the V-6 engine at the factory in Ingoldstadt, as the German army expressed a keen interest in the more powerful engine.

However, with the premature death of Muller and the take-over of Auto Union by Volkswagen, the project was abandoned in favour of a new four stroke engine which had been developed by Mercedes.

DKW F 12 Roadster concept (1964)

DKW's were not only very popular in Europe and Southern Africa, but also in South America, where a number of special models were manufactured in Brazil. VEMAG produced around 130000 DKW's under licence from November 1956 to December 1967 in Brazil. They produced a four door sedan named Belcar (which means beautiful car), a universal station wagon named Vemaguet (which means small Deke), the Munga named Candango and the Fissore. Jorge Lettry, the legendary DKW racing team boss in Brazilmanaged to coax 106 HP out of the 1000cc DKW engine. He then proceeded to construct the Carcara, the DKW which was used to establish the South American speed record for 1000cc engined cars with 212 Km/h.

The Malzonis and Pumas were also produced in Brazil, but in another factory, first named Lumimari and then renamed to Puma. Both with full DKW mechanical parts and fibreglass bodies.

These are the last two cars produced in 1967 at the VEMAG factory in Brazil. Note the unusual front styling on the four door sedan which also had four forward opening doors, compared to all other four door models produced elsewhere which where fitted with two "suicide" doors in front.

After the war, the East German Trabant continued to use the pre-war two cylinder version of the DKW engine, largely unchanged up to the early 1990's, when the German unification brought production to a halt.

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