History of DKW Automobiles
The name "DKW"|DKW Motorcars|DKW in SA | Audi TT vs DKW F91 2 sitplek coupé |
The Auto Union "Silver Arrows" | Post WWII history of AU "Silver Arrows" | KARMANN of OSNABRUECK |
|The name "DKW"
Joergen Skafte Rasmussen was born in Denmark in 1878, and relocated to Germany as a young man, where he studied engineering. He was experimenting with steam engined vehicles round 1917 at his factory in Zschopau, Germany. He called this vehicle a "Dampf Kraft Wagen", in short DKW.
During 1918 he met Hugo Ruppe, an engine designer, who designed a small two-stroke petrol engine with a swept volume of 25 cc for Rasmussen - a toy for boys, which he called "Des Knaben Wunsch", the "the boys wish". This was followed by an auxiliary engine for bicycles which was called "Das kleine Wunder"- a very successful project. They supplied this little engine to about 70 other manufacturers across Germany, and by 1922 more than 30 000 of these engines were built. The fact that this power unit enabled a bicycle to reach speeds up to 40 km/h, inspired Rasmussen to produce the Lomos armchair motorcycle" forerunner of the modern "scooter", and a range of motorcycles.
During the twenties motorcycle production in Zschopau really took off. By 1926 as much as 60 to 65 % of all German motorcycles were either a DKW or were powered by a DKW engine. During 1928 DKW became the largest manufacturer of motorcycles in the world.
The first DKW two-cylinder two-stroke car, the P15, appeared during 1928. It was a rear wheel driven car powered by a 600 cc twin cylinder inline water cooled two-stroke engine of 11 kW, with a wooden unit construction self supporting body, without chassis frame, covered in imitation leather .
In 1930 F.C. Meyer set up 12 international class records at the banked circuit of Montlhéry outside Paris, France. The car had a streamlined body and achieved an average speed of 91.5 km/h over a period of 24 hours.
During 1931 the DKW F1 appeared on the market. The "F" indicated "Front" for front wheel drive. This was the first mass produced front wheel drive car. Power was transmitted by means of a duplex chain to the transmission, which was positioned ahead of the engine. This little car proved an immediate success, especially due to its remarkable performance as a racer on very slippery surfaces. Think what Michael Schumacher could have achieved .
During 1932 four motor manufacturers of Saxony, Audi, DKW, Horch and Wanderer amalgamated under the pressures of the depressed German economy to form "AUTO UNION" therefor the four ringed emblem, which is still to be seen in the modern AUDI logo.
After the DKW F1 a number of uprated models appeared, culminating in the F8 which appeared on the market by the end of 1938.
During World War II, the company AUTO UNION used its recources mainly to produce military material for the Wehrmacht.
While Zwickau, Chemnitz and Zschopau fell into the hands of the Russians at the end of the war, and while most of the production machines were railed to the USSR as war reparations, the management of Auto Union gathered in the West German city Ingolstadt just north of Munich where there used to be a DKW parts depot. They started off by producing parts for the thousands of DKWs in Germany and abroad, which were in need of maintenance parts.
By 1949 they started to produce a ¾ ton truck called the "F89L Schnellaster". It was powered by the 700 cc two-cylinder engine from the F8.
The first post war cars were again produced by 1950 and were called the F89 Meisterklasse because they used the body of the "pre-war" F9 and the two-cylinder engine of the F8. The F9 with three-cylinder engine was supposed to go into production during 1940. WW II put an abrupt stop to Auto Unions F9 project, and only 10 prototypes had been built.
While the resources and tooling were lacking in the years after WW II, it took Auto Union additional time to reproduce the three cylinder engine, and initially DKW fans had to be content with the two-cylinder power plant in the relatively heavy steel body of the F89. The first 25 kW three-cylinder engines appeared during 1953, and the vehicle designation changed to F91 Sonderklasse 3=6 (special class). This vehicle was renowned for its excellent performance and durability, and was an immediate success in motorsport. The same body was used until 1956 when the body was widened by 100 mm in order to promote the vehicle into a higher category. The engine power grew to 29 kW from 900 cc, and by 1958 the first 1000 cc 32 kW engines appeared on the scene in the Auto Union 1000.
Klaus-Detlev von Oertzen (1894-1991), previously in charge of sales at the Wanderer Werke and later the sales director of Auto Union, became uneasy in Nazi Germany of the time due to alleged Jewish connections, therefor he decided to relocate to South Africa in order to get some distance between him and the "system". He initiated the export of the DKW motorcar to South Africa by the end of 1936. During 1937 he arranged for the AUTO UNION Grand Prix racing cars to be brought out to South Africa for promotional purposes, where they competed on a handicap basis in Cape Town and East London. Berndt Rosemeyer, Rudolf Hasse and Ernst von Delius were the drivers.
The DKW F5 and F7 sold like hot cake, partly due to the huge impression that the racers had made on the local motoring public. They were renowned for their reliability, endurance and economy during the thirties and fourties. The DKW F7 and DKW F8 were very popular locally during World War II because of their economy and for the ability to consume all sorts of petrol/ paraffin mixtures at the time when petrol was rationed. This was also the case in other neighboring states like Rhodesia, South West Africa and Mozambique.
Since the outbreak of World War II no DKWs were imported till about 1953, when Jacob Bos from Pretoria, a DKW dealer before WW II, got news that the new three-cylinder engine was in production. He allegedly flew to Germany by DC3, a journey that took him a week. He ordered a special version of the F91, the two-seater coupé which was built by Karmann, though the original body shape was designed by Hebmueller. Only 25 of these vehicles were ever built, and only two runners are said to have survived the ex Jacob Bos vehicle and another specimen in the Audi Museum in Ingolstadt. Jacobs DKW was the first three-cylinder DKW, and probably the first DKW that crossed our shores since WW II.
Jacob Bos used this vehicle for rallying and it is said that he used it in the East Africa Safari Rally in Kenya during the mid-fifties. One can just imagine what this venture entailed he had to travel thousands of kilometers from Pretoria on his own without a support team, and without any sponsors. He related that it was so dusty that the oil-bath air cleaner was clogged completely, causing significant engine power loss. It had to be cleaned regularly due to the dust build up in the oil bowl.
Die AUDI TT se
treffende bakontwerp het wêreldwyd vir hom ‘n besondere plek in
die harte van motorliefhebbers verwerf. Hierdie is ‘n voertuig wat
koppe laat draai, en vir die eienaars groot rygenot verskaf. Die bekende
turbo-enjin van AUDI tesame met die quattro-aandrywing en baie hoë
bougehalte maak hierdie motor ‘n droom vir enige fynproewer.
Die rondings in die ontwerpe van die twee bakwerke op die foto verraai ‘n gemeenskaplike verlede van die twee motors.
1950 het AUTO UNION GmbH, die voorloper van die huidige AUDI, ‘n
ooreenkoms met die bakbouer Hebmueller, van Wuelfrat in Duitsland,
aangegaan om vir hulle tweesitplek coupés en cabrios te bou. Die kenmerk
van hulle ontwerp was die lang bagasiebak en verkorte daklyn. ‘n Groot
brand in Hebmueller se fabriek het die firma ernstig benadeel,en ‘n mens
kan jou voorstel dat daar net na die oorlog nie juis geld beskikbaar was
vir versekering nie, en die gevolg was dat hulle in 1952 gesekwestreer is.
Hebmueller het egter reeds ‘n aantal coupés en cabrios vir AUTO UNION
op die F89P onderstel (vaartbelynde staal bak met tweesilinder enjin)
gebou wat vanaf 1950 geproduseer is. Na die sekwestrasie het AUTO UNION
toe vir Karmann van Osnabrueck gevra om verder te gaan met die Hebmueller
projek. Intussen het die eerste DKW driesilinder enjins gedurende 1953
beskikbaar geraak, met die gevolg dat Karmann 25 van die tweesitplek coupés
met die driesilinder enjin toegerus het. Die foto wys die DKW F91
tweesitplek coupé, waarvan daar slegs twee lopende voorbeelde oor is. Dit
is die eerste driesilinder DKW wat in Suidafrika wiel aan wal gesit
het. Die ander oorblywende eksemplaar is in die AUDI museum in Duitsland.
Die spesifieke voertuig is in 1953 deur Jacob Bos van Pretoria in
Duitsland bestel, ‘n vliegtog wat glo ‘n week geduur het met ‘n DC3
Dakota. Hy het die voertuig ook gebruik in die Oos-Afrika Safari Tydren.
900 cc driesilinder enjin het die motor in staat gestel om ‘n topspoed
van 125 km/h te bereik. Versnelling vanuit rus na 100 km/h was ongeveer 26
sekondes. Soos by die moderne Audis is hiedie enjin ook toegerus met ‘n
ontstekingspoel per silinder.
Schlueter in ‘n DKW F91 was gedurende 1953 en 1954 die Europese
Tydrenkampioen, en in 1956 het die DKW Monza (dieselfde onderstel maar met
‘n glasveselbak) verskeie wêreldrekords opgestel (in die klas tot 1100
cc), onder andere vir 4000 myl, 5000 myl, 48 uur en 72 uur. Die gemiddelde
snelheid was ongeveer 140 km/h.
was die eerste vervaardiger wat voorwielaandrywing op ‘n groot skaal in
‘n produksiemotor gebruik het. Hierdie konsep is gedurende 1931 in
die DKW F1 (nie formule een nie, maar “Front” 1, die eerste
voorwielaangedrewe DKW) gebruik, waar die enjin dwars gemonteer was. Die
konsep was dadelik baie suksesvol en het tot wedrensuksesse in die
noordeuropese winters gelei, waar renne op ys gehou is.
eerste DKW motors (agterwielaangedrewe) is gedurende 1928 gebou. Die DKW
P15 was ‘n houtkissie met ‘n waterverkoelde 500 cc twee silinder, twee-slag
enjin wat uit die Super Sport 500 motorfiets afkomstig was. DKW was
gedurende die middel twintigs die wêreld se grootste
Union AG is in 1932 gestig toe die vier motorvervaardigers van Sakse,
Audi, DKW, Horch, en Wanderer saamgesmelt het. Vandaaar die embleem met
die “vier ringe”.
Die eerste DKWs het gedurende 1936 in Suidafrika aangekom toe Auto Union Suidafrika deur Baron Klaus-Detlev von Oertzen en ‘n paar kollegas gestig is. Teen die begin van 1937 het die beroemde Auto Union renmotors in Oos-London en Kaapstad aan wedrenne deelgeneem wat die verbeelding van baie Suidafrikaners aangegryp. Dit het ook die verkope van DKW motors, wat baie betroubaar en goeie waarde vir geld was, baie positief beinvloed.
may recall that we have mentioned that “AUTO UNION SOUTH AFRICA (PTY)
LTD” was registered on 19 December 1936 in order to promote the export
of vehicles from Germany. Count Klaus Detlev von Oertzen, one
of the founders of Auto Union SA, arranged for the famous racing team from
Germany to visit South Africa in support of the marketing campaign for DKW.
It is interesting to note that Count von Oertzen was uneasy to stay on in
Germany during the mid-thirties, due to the growing strength of the Nazis
while his wife was of Jewish descent. Therefore he concentrated his
export efforts on South Africa and Australia.
The AUTO UNION racing team arrived in South Africa by ship after some weeks with all their spare parts, tools, fuel, oil, tyres, etc. in order to tackle the competition, the climatic conditions and the local rules in the three race series. The local racing fundis of those days commented on the “bad quality” of the German Continental synthetic rubber tyres while they were lasting only 12 laps. Berndt Rosemeyer requested the fitment of the “best” available tyres which could be found locally. After only 4 laps, the 500 hp 16 cylinder supercharged power plants wore them down to the canvas. This changed the tunes of the so-called fundis.
first race in South Africa took place in East London on the first of
January 1937, but it proved to be very unrealistic due to the handicap
system that was used. Rosemeyer started 53,5 minutes after the slowest
vehicle, and also 28 minutes and 13 seconds after the eventual winner, Pat
Fairfield in his ERA. Little consolation for Rosemeyer was his fastest lap
of 181,8 km/h, because he finished fifth. Rosemeyer really thrilled the
crowds with his aggressive driving style, colossal speed and the majestic
roar from the 16 exhaust pipes. He also once executed an alarming
broadside when a tyre bust on a corner. von Delius retired on lap 15
apparently due to tyre problems.
“Grosvenor Grand Prix of Cape Town” held on the 16 th of January 1937,
turned out to be a double victory for Ernst von Delius and Berndt
Rosemeyer who came first and second respectively. The race was organised
on a handicap basis, with huge handicaps for the AUTO UNIONS. von Delius
started 2 minutes ahead of Rosemeyer who started 14 minutes after Earl
Howe in his ERA (some reports say it was a Bugatti). Howe ended third 10
seconds behind Rosemeyer. The average speed of von Delius was 132,9
general dissatisfaction had been expressed at the handicapping by certain
drivers and Auto Union returned home without waiting for the final race of
the series, which proved to be a popular win for Earl Howe.
is interesting to note that Auto Union were very proud of the support from
their pit teams, while a good pit stop took them 28 seconds. Not bad if
the mechanical tools of those days (copper hammers, etc.) were taken in
account. Also noteworthy is the fact that Auto Union used the tubular
frames of their cars to conduct the water from the rear mounted engines to
the radiators in the nose of the vehicles. This practise was abandoned
later because small cracks in the welds would cause water leaks and engine
overheating. These rear engined racers were the real forerunners to the
design of the modern Formula 1 racers of today.
From a marketing point of view, this expedition was a huge success for Auto Union and DKW in particular, because sales of DKW cars in South Africa rocketed during 1937 and 1938. The DKW F7 became very popular because of its reliability and economy, compared to other small cars of those days.
Auto Union and the Mercedes Benz racers of the thirties were both called
“silver arrows”. Prof. Ferdinand Porsche designed the Auto
Union racing cars, and his concept of a rear engined car was very
futuristic for the time, when all other cars had front engines and rear
wheel drive. The handling was very unconventional, and few drivers knew
how to handle them. Berndt Rosemeyer was an artist with these cars, partly
while he was not exposed to driving conventional racers of the time. The
Type C (or C-Wagen) design, a 6 litre 520 hp at 5000 r/min (383 kW) and
850 N-m at 2500 r/min V16-cylinder supercharged car, was in use till the
end of the 1937 season when the racing regulations were changed. This
engine was renowned for its massive torque and wheel spin was possible in
most gears under acceleration. The original Porsche design of 1934 was
dubbed the A-Wagen, and it had a 4,4 liter engine developing 250 hp at
4500r/min. the 1935 model was called the B-Wagen.
1938 onwards, the Type D used a 3 liter V12 motor, also supercharged
(485 hp , 357 kW at 7000 r/min and 550 N-m at 5000 r/min). Due to the
radical design changes, breaking new technological ground, the cars were
not sorted out for the 1938 season and many difficulties hampered their
success. At the end of the 1938 season, Nuvolari changed the tune and
scored two consecutive wins in Monza and at Donington. In 1939 they
performed very well and were worthy opposition for Mercedes Benz, when
the middle of the fifties Cooper designed their first F1 car with the same
engine-transmission layout as these early vehicles. Porsche’s design of
more than twenty years before was a real stroke of genius.
Mercedes Benz silver arrows were mothballed at the end of WWII and two
were stored in Tessin, Switzerland where Rudolf Caracciola, one of their
drivers of the time lived. Mercedes Benz nearly got all of their
history back Lucky for them they were not sent abroad as “war
post WWII saga is a most interesting “cold war” espionage type novel.
WWII 18 AUTO UNION Silver Arrow racers were loaded onto a train and
transported to the USSR, where they disappeared in the vastness of this
huge country. It must have been some very sad moments for the onlookers,
who knew this was a war reparation action. It is said they were to serve
as guinea pigs for the local motor industry, research objects. Some of
these cars were researched so thoroughly that nothing remained of them.
following are the known examples of these famous Grand Prix racing cars to
A quarter of a century after the end of WWII, a group of engineers from the then German Democratic Republic visited an Institute for Automotive Engineering in Moscow, and saw four V16 Auto Union racing cars inside a building. A few years later, during a next visit only one was left.
addition, they built another replica of the type C which is exhibited at
the new Volkswagen museum, Autostadt, in Wolfsburg, Germany. This museum
is a must for every car lover. A magnificent experience! The exhibition
covers the whole family of vehicles in the Volkswagen Group.
Union, Die grossen Rennen 1934-1939, Cancellieri, DeAgostini, Schroeder.
Neusilber,Vann, Kirchberg, Juergens, Koenig, Noetzli, Riedner, Voelker
The name Karmann is reminiscent of the
“Karmann Ghia” based on the Beetle floor pan and mechanicals. The
concern was started by Wilhelm Karmann in 1901 when he bought the company
of an able coach builder called Christiaan Klages, which was founded in
1874. Initially they were building coaches and the first order for an
automobile body was placed by the Duerkopp factory in 1902.
In those days, the chassis and drive train
manufacturer ordered the bodies from specialist coach builders who
was issued with a chassis.
Tthe body was constructed according to the requirements of the customer.
Manufacturers like Opel, Minerva and F.N. were some of the early
The First World War was devastating for the
company, and shortly after the war, Wilhelm undertook a study tour of the
USA, and informed himself about the latest production methods.
Mass production was the aim, and the first
large order for a 1000 bodies came from the company AGA. Then folowed a
close collaboration with Adler and Hanomag.
The company became a specialist for
convertibles and in 1932 two shifts were worked to satisfy demand. By 1939
the workforce consisted of 800 employees producing 65 bodies per day.
The Second World War reduced the factory to
rubble and ashes. During the war they produced products for the war
effort, and became a supplier of components for the aircraft industry.
After the War, an order for 800 Ford pickup
trucks arrived, and Hanomag ordered 1000 cabs. Contact was made with VW
and a body for a 1 litre Adler car was developed.The first order for
Beetles was for 25 convertibles, and an order for another 1000 followed,
finally resulting in the manufacture of 332 000 vehicles.
In the autumn of 1949 a business relationship
with DKW was established. An order for 5000 DKW 4-seater convertibles was
Among the rare examples are the F89 and F91 two
seater cabrios of which one is to be found in South Africa. It was
imported by Luki Buehner who started working for Bos Motors in Pretoria
during 1956. He replaced the two-cylinder engine with a 900 cc three
cylinder, and later sold the vehicle to Coen Combrink.
Another rare example is the F91 two-seater coupe of which only 25 units were built. The late Mr. Jakob Bos from Bos Motors imported one of them during 1953. It is said that he travelled to Germany by DC3 which took a week, in order to place the order with the factory in Duesseldorf. According to DKW Fundis, this car was the first three-cylinder DKW in South Africa. The distinctive body design with its “ long rear end”, stems from the company Hebmueller who produced the F89 two cylinder two seater coupes for DKW. Hebmueller was struck by a devastating fire , which ended their existence during 1952. After the death of Jakob Bos, this vehicle belonged to Dr. Howell, a well known DKW collector from Pretoria, and it was handed down to John Howell his son after his own death. The only other known running specimen is to be found in the AUDI museum in Ingolstadt, Germany
Daar sal waarskynlik ‘n aantal lede wees wat sal sê: “wat se ding is dit”.
Hierdie was ‘n besondere sportkoepee waarvan die eerste prototipe gedurende 1955 gebou is. Die glasveselbak wat ‘n baie goeie windweerstandskoefisient het is op ‘n 3=6 onderstel gemonteer, en het sy debuut op die Frankfurtse motorskou gehad gedurende dieselfde jaar. Die Stuttgartse bakbouer “Dannenhauser & Stauss” het die inisiatief geneem om hierdie voertuig te bou en Auto Union was self beindruk met hulle ontwerp en het ingestem om aan die bakbouers onderstelle/enjins ens te lewer. Die 900 cc enjin het 29 kW gelewer. Lateraan is die 1000 cc enjin gebruik met ‘n uitsetdrywing van sowat 32 kW. Die Monza is deur die destydse handelaarsnetwerk van DKW verkoop.
Gedurende Desember 1955 het die DKW 5 wêreldrekords op die Monza baan in Italië opgestel en het in die proses meer as 10 000 km in 72 uur afgelê teen ‘n gemiddelde snelheid van 140 km/h.
Die glasveselbakwerk het van agter trekke vertoon van die Mercedes Benz 300SL. Daar is onder andere van die 300SL se agterligte en bagasieruimdeksel gebruik gemaak, terwyl die ligte ooreenstem met die van die Opel Olimpia. Ander komponente vir die bakwerk kom van die Ford Taunus 15M en die Karmann Ghia. Daar is ongeveer 200 tot 240 van hierdie voertuie gebou en daar is vandag nog sowat 43 Monza’s oor.
Toe die AU 1000Sp deur Auto Union op die mark geplaas is, was hulle nie meer so vriendelik teenoor die bouers van die Monza nie, en het die lewering van onderstelle gestaak.
Walter Steffen van Switserland besit een van die mooiste voorbeelde wat hy gedurende 1984 in Hamburg gekoop het vir die bedrag van DM 10 000. ‘n Monza in goeie toestand behoort ‘n waarde van ongeveer DM 40 000 te hê.
Dit sou interessant wees om te weet of daar van ons lede is wat hierdie voertuigie onthou of ondervinding daarvan gehad het.