Loading...

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Framo/Barkas Museum in Frankenburg. Visited 23rd Feb, 2011

The Factory Museum for the Framo and Barkas Commercial vehicles is in
the small town of Frankenburg, which is about 15km from Chemnitz.
Without my Garmin Sat-Nav we would have had difficulty finding the place
as it's not signposted and is not in the centre of the pretty little German town.
The Museum here is a small, very low key affair, but in some ways it was the nicest
of the 3 museums we visited.

Outside front of Museum


I had noticed that most days and on the day we were visiting, they only opened
from 1pm-4pm. I knew I was returning to Berlin that day, when planning our trip and had
emailed this museum in advance asking them if there was any chance we could
visit around 10.30-11.00 am.

LT 200


Surprisingly, and with typical German efficiency, the lady who works there daily,
emailed me back and said that that was no problem.
Not only that, but when we got there she had arranged an ex-factory employee to be
onhand to show us around the museum and presumably to answer any questions I had.
I say presumably because the poor man didn't speak any English and I only have a handful
of  German, so our meeting initially was somewhat farcical as I realised he expected
me to speak German. I had used an internet translation site to send them an email in German,
so I knew he expected me to be more conversant than I was able to be.

LT300


The Woman receptionist there has a few words of English and regardless of what language
anyone speaks or doesn't speak, it was obvious that these two people were delighted that
someone from Ireland wanted to visit their museum and learn about the history etc.
The man left us to wander around for a while and when I was taking pictures he helpfully
opened the bonnets of the cars so I could take shots of the engine bays and also invited me
to sit into any of the vehicles I wanted to.
Small kindnesses and gestures mean a lot especially when it's difficult to communicate.
This was a nice gesture after visiting the Horch Museum and the one in Eisenach, where the
cars are all kept locked and the Horch museum all had signs up saying 'Don't touch'.

Barkas B1000 


The Museum is small and I doubt it receives many visitors. I met a Trabant Rally driver
who lives only 15 minutes away from it and he admitted he'd never been to see the exhibit.
But although small, it has an impressive selection of vehicles and an interesting history.
The Museum opened to the Public in 1993.

The brand FRAMO is the predecessor of what would become BARKAS and  started
up here in Frankenburg in 1923. Framo is short for Frankenburg Motor Works and the company
was founded by the man behind DKW, Jorgen Rassmussen and two colleagues Richard Blau,
and  local man Paul Figura.


Barkas B1100 prototype with 1500 Moskvitch 4 stroke engine. 1972


Intially though the company was named Metall-Werke Frankenberg GmbH (Frankenburg
Metal Works)
The company was set up to manufacture Motorcycle parts for the DKW Motorcycle Plant
in Zschopau, which it did successfully until 1927.
Then, production started in the Frankenburg factory of a three wheeled motorised Tricycle, the
TV 300. This was no ordinary trike and was sturdily built as a freight vehicle for the transporting
of goods and merchandise for local businesses.
As the name suggests it was powered by a 300cc, 2 stroke engine with only one cylinder.
The engine came from DKW.
The lightweight design and reasonable price made these trikes popular with tradesmen and local
shopkeepers like Butchers and Bakers.
Further, similar designs would follow in much the same vein, with slight variations and engines
 usually of either 200 or 300cc.



Production moved from Frankenburg to Hanichen in 1934 and the company would soon branch into
four wheel vehicles, including a car called the Piccolo.
It is from 1934 that the company was renamed as Framo-Werke Hainichen
 The Piccolo car was not a success and sold in few numbers,
 after which the Factory reverted back to making small commercials with three and four
wheels.

1961 Framo V901/2


In 1938, the Company brought out a range of small vans and pick-up trucks that used a 500cc
DKW engine, with two stroke power and two cylinders.
 This was known as the V500 and was a big success for Framo.
Then development stopped with the onset of War and the factory was retooled to supply weapons
for the German Army.
Around 500 Female Prisoners of War were conscripted to work in the Hanichen Factory for the War
effort. These prisoners came from the nearby Flossenburg Concentration Camp, that had a
sub-camp in Hainichen.

When the War ended in 1945, this area of course was within the Russian Sector and the factories
were dismantled, crated up and sent to Russia as War reparations.
The Hanichen factory regrouped eventually and started again to produce their V500 model from
1949, with the models designated as V501/502.
In 1951, the larger but cosmetically very similar V901 and V902 were created and displaced the
smaller 501 and 502 eventually.
The V900 models used an adapted version of the IFA F9 engine, itself a DKW pre-War design and
copy.





In 1961 a new factory was built in Karl-Marx-Stadt ( now Chemnitz) to produce a new commercial
van type vehicle, named the Barkas.
That year, the Barkas B1000 was launched and was way ahead of its contemporaries
 and the competition.
It used the Wartburg 353, 2 stroke engine of only 993cc and the gear box from the
same car.
Surprisingly it went rather well and wasn't as seriously underpowered as you would think, thanks
to an ingenious exhaust system that generated huge amounts of torque that enabled it to pull
a ton of weight plus its own.
The downside to this was poor fuel economy. Nomatter how hard or easy they're driven, it seems
that 20-23 mpg is all they return. Top speed was good for approx 60mph.
Their weak spot was the clutch that wasn't strong enough for a commercial vehicle, having been
made for the Wartburg 353 car and most Barkas's would have seen a clutch or few in its time.

3 fine Framo's with 500cc 2stroke power


The Barkas was made in several variants, a van, pick-up, flatbed truck, a minibus
 and customised versions for the Army, Police, Ambulance and Fire Department.
It was comparable in quality, usability and reliability to the VW Transporter van of the same era.
It's pretty remarkable that a one litre engine could carry a Ton of weight, which added to its own
would be close to 2.5 tonnes, yet the Barkas was well up to the job and was the only small
Commercial of its kind made in East Germany, so it saw plenty of use from Emergency
Services to Tradesmen to Delivery men. It was manufactured  in two stroke form
until 1990 and until 1991 in four stroke, when it received the VW engine that the Wartburg
1.3 got in its final stages of production.

that superb Barkas chassis!


So how did it manage to pull and carry such weight?

front view of chassis mated to 1.3 VW engine


The answer is a combination of things, but the biggest single factor in this is the chassis
of the Barkas which needs to be seen up close to be believed and appreciated.
It's an incredibly sturdy creation made from heavy steel that incorporates a huge outrigger
on each side that takes the bulk of its payload and by so doing, takes the pressure and
stress of the engine and gear box. This, added to the huge torque supplied by the
ingenious exhaust system and you have a very capable, commercial vehicle that belies
its small engine.
The van was also front wheel drive, typical of the Dkw inspired mechanicals, but very
unusual for a commercial van type vehicle in 1961.
The suspension also used semi-trailing arms which was quite advanced for this type
of vehicle.

engine bay of Barkas B1000 between front seats. Two stroke engine


There's a particularly fine Barkas, custom made for Hohenschonhausen Prison in East
Berlin and displayed there. It was made to look like a fish delivery van from the outside
but inside had six individual holding cells for prisoners.
The engine of the Barkas is situated between the two front seats, so the body shape
really makes the most of the space it has inside. The 9 seater minibus type has loads
of room inside and is more spacious than the VW model of the same time.

Barkas, like AWE and Sachsenring made many prototypes of both engines and vehicles
that never made it into production. The Museum has a fine Barkas B1100 prototype that
looks like a fine vehicle, especially when it was made in 1972 and was intended to replace
the B1000. This prototype used a 1500cc, Moskvitch Four stroke engine.
Sadly, this and many others from all the East German auto makers was denied by the
powers that be who would spend as little as possible on new technologies.

I really enjoyed this visit to all three museums and getting to see parts of the former
Gdr was good too. I expected general costs to be cheaper, most consumer goods
and eating out was more expensive than Berlin.
But, Berlin is a very cheap city to spend time in. More competition I guess is healthy!



Author pictured in Barkas B1000

Monday, March 21, 2011

AWE Automobile Werks Eisenach. The Wartburg Museum. Feb 22, 2011

We spent about 3.5 hours in the Horch Museum and then drove to Eisenach which
is roughly 120 miles further East of Zwickau.
EMW 340 Ambulance


We decided to go straight to the Wartburg Museum in Eisenach, which is situated
in part of the old car factory AWE, rather than first checking into our Hotel.
The drive only took 1 hr 45 mins as it was mostly Autobahn and we arrived at the
museum with about 2.5 hours to go before it closed.
The museum is a cracker, although much smaller and less grand than the one
in Zwickau. It was more homely and relaxed though and we saw only two other
people there the whole time we were in it.
The cars though were in superb condition and showed the full range of cars made
there in their production history that dates back to 1898.
We saw Austin 7's built under license in the 1920's to the Bmw's of the thirties and
forties and the EMW models built in the early fifties,
right through all the Wartburgs models from 1955-1991, until the factory closed.

EMW 327 Cabriolet 1953


This factory was the old Bmw factory before WWII and like Dkw in Zwickau, Bmw
left for  West Germany when their Eisenach factory and it's presses, tooling
and pretty much anything of value in the East was about to be plundered by the Soviets and
sent back to Mother Russia.

Unfortunately for Bmw, Eisenach was in the heart of the Soviet Sector, despite the
fact it was actually American forces that liberated Eisenach in 1945.
The Soviets had no compassion for Bmw, who had been making Aircraft engines
for the German war effort in this very factory.
With the stripping of the factory imminent, the workers at the plant managed to assemble
a few cars from salvaged parts and components they managed to forage and gather.
This showed the Soviets what the factory and its skilled work force were capable of
turning out and this in turn persuaded the Soviets that the factory was worthy of remaining
open and plans were drawn up for its rebuilding and recommissioning.
The workers in the immediate aftermath of the War had had to content themselves with
making wheel barrows and handcarts , so this news must have exceeded their hopes and
expectations.

IFA F9 Built in Eisenach


After the War and Bmw left their Eisenach Works to the Communists, the pre-war
Bmw models continued to be made and sold from Eisenach (mostly export sales).
The continued to be badged as Bmw's until 1952, when Bmw took the factory to court
for continuing to use their brand. Thus, the cars were then made same as before, but
now branded as EMW's ( Eisenach Motor Works). They even used the same style
of badge, but substituted the blue squares of Bmw for red ones ( Red signified
Communism of course).
The museum has some superb examples of these cars on display and the quality
of the workmanship is a joy to behold. The paint and quality of the coachwork and
flowing lines rival the cars produced by Horch in Zwickau.
That car makers were capable of producing such superb feats of engineering and
finish in these times is hard to believe and a real eye opener.
The 340 and 328 models are particularly fetching and cars to be put on the wanted list
for when I win the National Lottery!

EMW Badge


Production of the EMW's stopped in 1955 and car production here would be
for two stroke vehicles until some Wartburgs were produced briefly in 1989/1990
with a four stroke engine.
The IFA F9 had been made in Zwickau from 1950-53 and this was now switched
to Eisenach, who made it up until 1956.
This was a popular car in East Germany and it was available in many formats,
saloons, estates, cabriolets and commercial variants.


I know from research that the workforce that had learnt its skills building Bmw's and
Emw's were more than a touch dispondent to find themselves now building the F9
which was seen as a mass produced and somewhat basic car.
Their enthusiasm and optimism returned though with the development of the 311,
whose stylish looks and classy design more than made up for whatever reservations they
had about using two stroke engines.



F9 built in Eisenach 1954


The Wartburg 311 appeared in 1955 and was built exclusively at the Eisenach
Works. Although it had a new, very beautiful body, the engine, gearbox and
chassis came from the F9, which the new car replaced.

Fabulous 311 cabriolet


The name 'Wartburg' was also reintroduced as a car marque, but not until 1960,
the name having been dormant for many years.

Using the major mechanical components from the F9, enabled the IFA to
produce what looked like a totally new car, and keep development costs down
to a minimum. ( in modern times, Peugeot and their sister company Citroen have done this
to great and profitable effect. Likewise VW have done the same with Seat and Skoda
sharing platforms and engines.)
Although the chassis was the same, the 311 is a bigger car than the F9, with more
road presence and usable space inside the car.
The engine of course was developed by Dkw in 1939, but held back by the War
and first used by the Communists since 1950, whereas Dkw took time to regroup
in the West and didn't get to use their own engine until 1953.

Wartburg 313/1


All the cars made here from this point onwards would use the separate chassis
that these days, Wartburgs have become famous for.
The chassis is remarkably sturdy and resists rust particularly well, helped by
the rust-proofing carried out at the factory.
Later models would have a revised chassis that had coil springs at each wheel,
but otherwise the chassis shape and solidity remained the same.
The early cars had leaf sprung suspension that gave the 311 unparalleled cornering
abilities for its time, as the set up virtually eliminated body roll.
311's from its inception in 1956 to 1960, were branded 'Eisenacher', with Wartburg
being the model, not the brand.
From 1960 onwards the brand was known as 'Wartburg' and the car was known as
the Wartburg 1000.

Gorgeous interior 311 cabriolet


Looking at the various 311's in the factory museum, they were a thing of beauty
which is unusual for cars made under Communist enterprise of any era.
Communist vehicles typically are made for ruggedness, simplicity and ease of
maintenance, and ascetic properties.
The 311 and to a lesser extent, the F9 had the rugged and simplistic traits, but
also embodied flowing lines, luxury of fittings and pure look of quality that harked more
from the BMW/EMW era than from a Communist one.
In 1962, the engine 900cc engine of the 311 was changed for the new 991cc, 2 stroke
unit with more power and higher speed.

It's only when you see the 311 and the F9 side by side, that you appreciate the
difference and what an accomplishment the styling of the 311 was.
The F9 viewed separately is a very nice looking car, but next to the 311 it looks
somewhat cheap and  crude.

Wartburg 311 Limousine



The early 311's had 37hp , while the new one had 45hp. The 0-60 time was also improved
by 6 seconds on the standard cars respectively.

313/1 Isn't it a beauty?


The 311 was a gorgeous looking car in all its variants and there were many of them.
Saloons, Convertibles, Coupe's, estates, coupes, even Army versions.
The Sports coupes made are in my view absolutely fantastic looking and
are the most desirable two stroke cars ever produced by anybody.
The 313 Sportwagen Coupe and Convertible models are arguably the pick of
the cars on display in this museum.
They had two carburettors and were only produced from 1957-1960, so used
the 900cc engine. Nevertheless they produced 50 Hp and had a top speed of
140 Km/h. They had sumptuous leather seats and when you look at them, you
could just as easily believe you're looking a Mercedes, the appearance and overall
quality apparent, being of the same standard.
I don't know why they named it the 313, as it is the same as the 311, other than
the changes mentioned.
Other notables in the museum are the 311 Convertibles and the Camping, estate
versions offering great versatility and practicality with style.



The 312 model replaced the 311 in 1965 and was produced for less than 2 years.
It was a cross over model used to test a new chassis that had been developed
with coil springs. The body looked the same but it had a wider front track
and later models would use a different carburettor.

The other changes of note at this time was a new gear box and newly designed
drive shafts that used needle bearings and were far advanced for their time.


In time the power output increased from 45 to 50 hp, yet even with this increase
the 311 is regarded as being faster than the 353.

The coil springs gave the car a softer ride over poor road surfaces, but also increased
body roll and lesser cornering ability at speed than the transverse leaf springs.



The reason for this model was for the impending new car that Wartburg were
putting the finishing touches to and would be the Wartburg 353 which was
available to buy from 1966.
Gone were the flowing curved lines of before and replaced by a 3 box type
design, so commonplace amongst Communist car manufacturers from this
point onwards.
It would have been seen at the time I suppose as modern and progressive,
especially with an eye to what the West were producing at the time, but
with the benefit of hindsight, I think this styling was a mistake.
The 353 shared the engine of the 312, albeit in time with an incease in Hp and
of course the chassis etc. Basically it was the 312 with a new body in the same way
the IFA F9 was used in the development of the 311.

The early 353's were the nicest  as they used quite a bit of chrome in the
bumpers and trim etc. They also appear to have had better seats and are not as austerely
finished as later models became.
The finish of the 353's got cheaper as time went on and this probably reflects the overall
state of the Gdr at the time throughout the eighties. They were hemorrhaging money
as fast as their planned economy and 'Workers Paradise' was failing.
The export models of the 353 were much better finished than those for their own
domestic market and the cars that went to other Communist States.
By the mid eighties, the chrome trim was replaced with plastic, the switchgear inside
the cars had a cheaper feel and the seats were of a lesser quality.
Although the 353 was a good car and mechanically similar to the 311, it's a poor
looking car by comparision, in terms of style and visual appeal.
It was utilarian, robust and practical, none more so than the estate version known
as the Tourist.
The Tourist is practical and a great load lugger, but the estate styling is even boxier
than the saloon and looks very Eastern European, and Lada-like.
I think the styling of the 311 reflects the hope of a new country, the establishment
of the Gdr and all its hope and dreams for the future. The bland, cost cutting,
practical styling of the last 353's by comparison reflects the failure of those dreams
and a country falling apart at its political and financial seams, hanging on and making do
as best they can.


The 353 used basically the same engine as the 311, with only minor changes until
1989, when it got the four stroke 1.3 VW Polo/Golf engine fitted until the factory
dissolved and was bought out by Opel in 1991.
The IFA had been making this engine under contract for a few years and also
the 1.1( 1043cc) engine that saw use in the final Trabants, for VW and probably
received the engines in part payment.
As in the case of the last Trabants, it was thought these engines would make the
two home grown cars more appealing to their own people who could buy any
Western brand of car they liked since the Wall opened in Nov '89.
It was a vain effort and one that failed on both counts.



Eisenach itself  is a nice looking Town, dominated by the Wartburg Castle that was
used by Martin Luther. It's quite hilly and almost Alpine looking in it's layout,
appearance and style of its houses.
The Town centre is quite small and easily traversed on foot.
There's not much to it really but the streets have a nice layout and everything
is compact and easily accessible within a small area.
Like Zwickau though, after 7pm it seemed empty and dead.
I had booked a Hotel/Guest House in advance in 'Villa Bomberg' a 3 storey
house that was most unusual in its layout and style, but very comfortable and
very nice.
It was roughly towards the Castle if heading there from the Town Centre, set
back amidst a nice residential area. Parking was freely available on the street
outside which was welcome as there was no private car park.
The Vendor made clear to me that I was best to leave the car on the street
and walk into the Town, rather than park there.
After the experience in Zwickau with the parking ticket, I knew exactly
what he was saying!
The Vendor was an extremely nice and helpful man, who although only
spoke a minimum of English, made himself understood with gestures.
The Room here was 50 euros for the night, with 5 euros extra per person
each for breakfast.
Rooms in Eisenach are a bit dearer than those available elsewhere in Germany
as the Town receives a bit more Tourism than the likes of Zwickau and Chemnitz.
My internet search beforehand yielded only the 'Ibis' Hotel as being slightly cheaper
than our choice and it was outside the town a bit and had a lower star rating.
I've stayed in Ibis hotels before and it would have been very similar to the Etap
in Zwickau, but at about double the price.
Villa Bomberg was a good choice and I would recommend it. The house was
very warm and comfortable in contrast to the minus ten weather outside.
After a good night's sleep and a nice breakfast, We set off back towards Berlin,
via Frankenburg, near Chemnitz, where we had arranged to see the Framo/Barkas
Factory Museum there.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Adventures in East Germany 21-24 Feb 2011. Horch Museum

For some time now I've wanted to visit East Germany, or more correctly the regions that were
formerly the Gdr as it is now no more.
It is still different though to the rest of Germany, or what used to be West Germany.
It's poorer for one thing and cities like Zwickau and Chemnitz, former industrial giants, are full
of run down areas of grey concrete desolation, that no investor will touch and now shoulder the
 highest rates of unemployment in the country.

Trabant P50 prototype 1957


I was fortunate enough to visit parts of the former Gdr in the last week of February, this year.
My son and I flew from Dublin to Berlin on a Monday, stayed three nights and flew back
again on the Thursday. Not a long trip, but I planned it well and we packed plenty into our
time there.
I booked the flights around Christmas time, so about two months in advance and got a
great deal. We paid 57 euros each return, including taxes and all charges, which included
5 euros on each flight, credit card charge. We just had a carry on bag each, which keeps the
costs down a lot nowadays with budget airlines.

People complain about Ryanair and it's true they give you less baggage allowance, the
planes are not the biggest or the most spacious. But their flights are usually on time and
they're consistently the best value out there.
There was a girl on the plane I overheard telling her friend that she'd never fly with
Ryanair again and it was a pity they didn't fly with Aerlingus, who also fly Dublin-Berlin.
Turns out, she was refused  her oversized bag onto the plane and made pay for it
to be put into the hold to the tune of 35 euros.
In all likelihood, she would've had to pay the same to Aerlingus.
The baggage restrictions are made clear on the boarding passes, which clearly states
the weight, length, height and depth allowed, so the information is there for all to see.

I had booked car hire for our trip with an online price comparision site and got 4 days
hire with insurance for 145 euros, which wasn't bad value.
The car we got was a practically new Ford Fiesta and it did the job for us well, being
big enough for our needs with small running costs. It was actually quite quick too and
drove well on the Autobahns for hours at 90-100 mph, with no ill effects.
Motorway services are like most everywhere nowdays, very expensive and you usually
have to pay to use the toilet in German ones, which usually costs 50 cents to spend a
penny!
Our first leg of the trip was to drive to Zwickau, which is roughly 175 miles from Berlin and
we got there in about 3 hours driving time, which included some slow going due to roadworks.
The roads in Germany are superb and I found myself reminiscing about the travels I had a
number of years ago driving the length and breadth of France, yes chasing classic cars!
The roads are on par with the French ones but unlike France, I didn't have any hefty tolls
to pay for the privilege of using the motorways.

It was a bloody cold few days with temperatures ranging from minus two to minus
fourteen and usually averaging minus six or seven in the afternoons.
For our first night's accomodation I booked an Etap Hotel, which is situated in a place
called 'Crossen',  about five miles from Zwickau town centre.
Although Zwickau has city status based on its population, its centre is quite compact and
it feels much more like a smallish town.
The Etap hotel was a good choice and only cost twenty two euros for the night, as I'd
booked more than thirty days in advance. Normal price was still a very cheap twenty nine
euros at short notice.
They're a chain of hotels very similar to the Formule 1 and Premiere Classe franchises,
where the rooms are modern, made of low maintenance materials and comprise of
a Double bed with a single overhead, so the room rate is for 1-3 people.
There's 400 Etaps all across Europe and some of them charge per person, but most by
the room.
The room also had a small writing desk and a Television.
The room isn't the biggest but it's adequate and has its own shower and toilet and the
security in these new build type of hotels is excellent.
There's free internet and vending machines where you can get a hot drink.
We headed into Zwickau town centre for a bite to eat around six and I was surprised how
quiet the place was. Even traffic was minimal.
The whole place seemed a bit dead, although it was a Monday night I suppose.
Compared to Berlin and other cities in Germany, the former East states of Saxony and
Thuringia where we stayed are not as used to seeing tourists and the people have a habit
of staring as they realise you're from foreign climes.
There's a distinct lack of English spoken in general, which is not surprising as they're not
dependent on tourism and English didn't appear on the school curriculum until after the
opening of the Berlin Wall and subsequent  fall of Communism.

1951 IFA F9


We ate dinner and had a coffee in Zwickau Town centre and just went back to the hotel.
Zwickau seems an extremely subdued and almost melancholy place, with very little
life or much going on after 7pm.
We went to bed early and also rose early as we were heading to the Horch Museum
in downtown Zwickau the next morning.
We got to the Horch museum at opening time of 9.30, after first having breakfast in a
small bakery cum coffee shop in Zwickau's indoor shopping centre.
I also got a parking fine notice slapped on my windscreen when we got back to the car
after breakfast, despite having paid for a ticket. Apparently, you also have to have a permit
from the Town council!    No doubt I'll hear more about it in due course.




The Horch Museum is most impressive, aided by Audi's money in developing, building and
maintaining it. It's not situated on Audi Street for nothing!
My satnav brought us right to the door, but it's easy to find anyway as it seems all roads
in and out of Zwickau have signs for it.
The museum is built on the site where August Horch started his Audi works in 1909.
The same site along with the nearby Horch factory would eventually build the Trabant,
when both factories became AWZ( Automobile werks Zwickau) in 1958.
A lot of the staff here are middle-aged and elderly as the museum employs many former
members from the Trabant/ Sachsenring factory, some of which is still visible behind the
 museum. It's derelict and forlorn appearance in stark contrast to the new showpiece
within the same grounds.
There's a huge tradition and abundant history in German car-making within this place
and the museum highlights over 100 years of Zwickau Car production.
The museum is dedicated to August Horch, who was the founder of the 'Horch' and
subsequently 'Audi' brands.
Horch first started building cars in Zwickau in 1904, but left the company to set up a rival
factory( also in Zwickau) in 1909, when he had a falling out with management.
His rival company initially also used the name 'Horch' on its cars, but he changed the
name to 'Audi' for legal reasons, after a  court ruled that the 'Horch' name was registered
to his former partners and he couldn't use it.
Audi means 'Horch' in Latin and the first Audi badged cars appeared in 1910.
August Horch left Audi in 1920.
Cars carrying the Horch name were large, luxury cars, handbuilt by the very best
craftsmen and they were serious competitors to Mercedes. They were renowned for
their smooth, powerful engines, class and comfort.
In 1932, Dkw acquired Horch, Audi and Wanderer, another German car manufacturer
and they amalgamated to form Auto-Union, although the four brands would still
make cars under their respective logos for many more years.
The four ringed logo on Audi cars today represents each of the four marques that
comprised Auto-Union.
The museum showcases some of all the marques in its display.
It's interesting that Dkw was the only one of the 4 manufacturers to use two stroke
technology exclusively and yet they were successful enough to buy out the others.
Although there were many fantastic pre-WWII luxury Horch cars to look at, my main
interest was in the Dkw era from 1931 onwards, up to the production of the Trabant models.



Dkw also had a factory in Zwickau and they are the ancestors of practically all two
stroke cars that came after them, so far ahead of the competition for their time.
They were using front wheel drive and mounting their engines transversely as early as 1931
with the Dkw F1. Citroen with their Traction Avant would claim to be the first front wheel drive
 car, yet their fine car didn't make production until 1934.
Dkw made cars from 1928-1966 and only used two stroke engines.
They did however also make some cars with conventional rear wheel drive, although the
majority of their work was front wheel drive cars.
Their range of small front wheel drive cars sold remarkably well as they were inexpensive
compared to offerings from rivals and well appointed for their time with faux leather seats.
Their F1 car was the least expensive car available in Germany in 1931 and was a two seater.
The early thirties were severe times of economic crisis and these cars signalled the move
away from luxury, expensive cars that only the rich could afford, to cars that were a bit more
affordable to folk with more modest means.
I think the F1 sowed the seeds for the drive for a people's car that consumed Hitler for many
years and eventually spawned the Beetle and a spate of others that followed across Europe,
including the Citroen 2Cv in France and to a lesser extent the Morris Minor in Britain.

Other models followed the F1 and the F signified 'Front' meaning front wheel drive.
There were four seater models and also commercial, small van types.
The range went from F1- F9 up to 1939 and the outbreak of WWII.
Obviously there was no development during the War years and in the immediate aftermath of
the War, any development was in making trucks and tractors to try and get Germany
productive again after their country was ravaged and razed. There was no money in these
early post War years for buying cars.

After the War, Dkw and many other German manufacturers operating in the East, found
themselves in the Russian sector, which was to become Communist.
Furthermore, the Russians were confiscating, crating and sending back anything and
everything of industrial value to Russia in the name of War reparations.
Dkw and many others left East Germany and their factories behind and had to start over
in West Germany from 1949. They too found little demand for cars in the post War period
and concentrated their efforts on Motorbikes and the remarkable 'Schnellaster' van which used
the same two stroke, two cylinder engine as the F8 car, which dated from 1939.
These small vans were a tremendous success for Dkw and helped create much needed
revenue to boost their business in those lean times.

Mock street full of Dkw's and an Ifa F8
                                      

Eventually, the Dkw factories and their technology would be put to good use by Sachsenring,
AWE ( Wartburg) and also Barkas. All the East German vehicle manufacturers were controlled
by the Industrial Association for Vehicle Construction, known as the IFA, who in addition to
the Sachsenring and Wartburg badged cars, also made cars under the IFA logo.
The IFA determined that all East German car and motorcyle manufacture would use two stroke
engines, thus utilising the existing technology that Dkw had created and left for them.
The Horch and Audi factories in Zwickau were merged by the IFA in 1957 and the
new company was called 'Sachsenring'.

The first car the IFA made under Communism was the IFA F8, which was basically
the DKW F8 with a different badge. This car was made in Zwickau from 1949-57.


The IFA F9 model first appeared in 1950 and it used a new 3 cylinder, 2 stroke engine of 900cc.
This was developed by DKW pre WWII but the onset of war delayed its production until
it appeared under the IFA badge. The similar DKW car 3=6 Sonderclasse, or F93 would not
make its debut until 1953. Somewhat of a propaganda victory here for the Communists!
The F9 was made in Zwickau from 1950-1953 and then production transferred to AWE
Eisenach from 1953-1956.



It is the engine from the DKW F5 and F7 cars that are remarkably similar to all the
Trabant engines and the 700cc Zwickau P70 that would be produced nearly two decades later.
The P70 used water cooling but all models bearing the Trabant name would be air-cooled.

Dkw always used water cooling for their engines.

The Horch museum has a number of perfectly preserved Dkw's on view, including a mock
period street with different models on display. There's a particularly fine F7 van and of
course the progenitor of them all, a concours F1.
There's a Ifa F8 prototype with some Duroplast panels.

There's a number of Zwickau P70's, including a lovely coupe in white.


When you look at the styling of the P70 coupe, there's a striking resemblance to the
Nissan Figaro, the retro styled car made in the early nineties, based on the Micra.
It's clear and somewhat flattering to the stylists in Zwickau that their car would
provide inspiration for Nissan's development, of that being the case I have no doubt, if
not proof.
The Zwickau P70 was created due to problems the Sachsenring engineers had with fixing
duroplast panels onto the steel body cage of the Trabant P50 and its creation gave much
needed breathing space and time for the engineers to iron out these problems and create
a new technology for mounting duroplast to steel.
The Zwickau P70 used the wooden chassis of the F8 and the duroplast panels were basically
nailed or screwed on, somewhat crudely. The P70 also shared the F8's engine, albeit with
some minor changes and a different carburettor that raised the Hp slightly.



At the same time the Sachsenring Engineers were busy with the P70, they were also
producing the Sachsenring P240, which was formerly known as the Horch P240.
This was a conventional, high quality, large saloon car with a 2.4 litre, 6 cylinder
engine and rear wheel drive. It had all the typical Horch qualities, smoothness, luxury,
refinement and build quality. The export market was where this car was aimed, as
Germany was still economically challenged and few could afford luxury cars.
The Horch designed car was built from 1956-1958.
The exporting of this car brought much needed foreign currency into the Gdr
economy.
It was badged ' Sachsenring' from 1958-1959 and only dropped when the Russians
inexplicably banned its exportation.
There's a cracking P240 on show in the Horch Museum.
Sachsenring P240


interior of Sachsenring P240



All the subsequent Trabant models which followed of course had a monocoque body and
chassis, with the duroplast panels bolted on. The P70 was the only one to use a separate
chassis. All the models bearing the Trabant name would share basically the same chassis
and wheelbase, although there were modifications as time went on.
This explains how many cars that started out as Trabant P50's and 60's would later
be updated with P601 body panels. This happened quite regularly.


The museum devotes quite a few exhibits showing how the Trabant was constructed
and in particular shows nicely how thw duroplast panels were mounted onto the
steel frame of the cars.





Then there's all the Trabant models on display including many prototypes that never
made it past the Politburo, including a fine looking three cylinder diesel engine,
from 1983 of 1100cc and 34Hp at 4500 rpm.
It's claimed top speed was 74 mph and average fuel economy was
reputed to be over 50 mpg, making it comparable to the VW Golf 1.5 diesel of the
same time.

Trabant Diesel prototype 1983


Trabants were ridiculed as being archaic and poorly engineered by Western opinion,
yet prototypes such as these shows that Sachsenring were severely handicapped
not only by the financial constraints of a failing planned economy, but also by their
Government in what they were allowed to develop and put into production.
There were also many planned and proposed petrol engines and prototype cars
that were never given the green light.

Trabant Kubel 1988

I wonder how the skilled work force who honed their skills on luxury Horch and
Audi cars felt about making  two stroke cars with plastic bodies!
It also shows that despite their handicaps, their engineers were extremely talented and
savvy of developments in the West.
Basically, there was no money for new development available and they were forced to
stick with two stroke power until were allowed to use the Vw Polo engine in 1990.

Trabant 1.1 1991


It's like they were given a directive stating, let's make a car as mechanically simple
as possible, that's cheaper to make than anything else in Germany, yet is as good
as can be within the imposed restraints and limitations throughout the car's lifespan.
In being forced to continue for decades with two stroke engines they, along with
the Eisenach factory producing Wartburgs made as many improvements as they
could and bettered the original Dkw engine designs over time.
This can be seen in the proportion changes in the two stroke oil necessary, over
time. Early engines needed 25:1 petrol/two stroke oil, then it improved to 33:1
and eventually the last two stroke engines used only 50:1.

1964 Trabant 601 with trailer

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Rally Driver:

On my recent trip to Germany, Feb 2011, I met up with Trabant rally driver and owner
Lars Lorenz. By day Lars works in the VW plant in Mosel, near Zwickau where he works
in Planning and Design.
By weekend, he can often be found in any part of Germany, but predominantly in the Eastern
parts, rallying his Trabant.
I met up with Lars over a couple of beers in a very nice little bar, close to my hotel in
Crossen, about 5 miles from Zwickau.

Lars on the right.

Lars hails from Glauchau, a small town about 7 miles from Zwickau and 13 from Chemnitz.
He has lived in this area all of his life and remembers a little about life under Communist
times. He is 33 years old now and lives with his girlfriend and baby son.
He says money was very tight, but nobody really was any better off than anybody else, so
it seemed normal. He told me that the waiting list to get a new Trabant, for his parents was
about 12 years, so they always bought used cars.
Their family cars were always a Trabant, Wartburg or Skoda.
Like many East Germans they holidayed in their car and he remembers trips to other
parts of East Germany, he and his brother squashed in the back of their Trabant, but
good memories and happy times nonetheless.
Although, he certainly doesn't miss the Communist times, he acknowledges that everyone
in the Gdr had a job. Now there's huge unemployment all over the former Gdr and
the populations of many towns are declining every year.



Lars has been rallying Trabants since 1996 and has been fairly successful.
He told me there are between 40-50 racing Trabants in the whole of Germany, with
usually 10-15 cars per race.
He races sometimes as the driver and alternately as co-pilot and often finishes in the
first 3. Competition is fierce and races are extremely hard to win.

He has had a couple of different cars over the years.
His current car he started to build in 2000, from a 1984 standard Trabant 601.
He has two engines for his car, a 600cc one and an 800cc one, which he uses
alternately in different races.



Interestingly the 800cc engine is the same one as used by the Trabant factory
team that rallied so successfully with many wins over many years.
It was still a two cylinder engine as before but made bigger with larger cylinders and
a different carburettor amongst other changes.
They had a lot of wins with their 600cc cars too, even though they were competing
in the 850cc class and regularly beat Bmw among others.



The Trabant team officially had 3 competition cars with this engine fitted and
raced between 1986 and 1988. This factory engine produced 60 Hp at 6000 rpm,
( standard car 26 hp @ 4000rpm) and had greatly improved acceleration and a top
speed of 93 mph. Some of the rally trabants had a fifth gear fitted.
There were only 6 of these 800cc engines officially made for the factory. 3 for each
car and a spare one for each.
The man who designed and built this engine was Gernot Sammet, who still lives
in the Zwickau area.
Lars got the component parts he needed from Sammet to build his 800cc engine
and reckons with the aid of modern electronic igniton his engine has an extra
 5-10 hp over the original factory versions.
Sammet still has some replacement parts for these engines, but are now in
very short supply.



The 600cc engine that Lars has for his car is extremely fast, benefitted by the use
of modern technology in tuning it to maximum levels of performance.
His 600cc engine has a power output of 60 Hp, is frighteningly fast and will top
100mph. This sort of power from a two cylinder, two stroke engine is nothing short
of amazing and shows how tunable trabants are.
This car uses a Japanese 'Mikuni' carburettor and a special exhaust system that
recycles spent emissions into extra power. The electronic ignition has also been
remapped.


He told me that that racing guidelines are strict in each class and the major components
of the car must conform to originality to a large degree.
 Modifications are strictly limited and regulated.
Similarly, the cylinders cannot be substituted for bigger or non-original ones, any
changes must be made within the original specifications of each major component.

There is more leeway in allowed safety modifications  particularly in the brakes and
suspension areas where improvements and upgrades are necessary to deal with the extra
speed and hardships that rallying inflicts on a car and on its driver!




His car has two-way adjustable suspension and front disc brakes (Volkswagen).
The body of the car has been strengthened and has a roll cage, plexiglass windows,
OMP bucket seats, a nightface, 6 point seatbelts and a number of different wheels to
suit varying road surfaces and driving conditions.
He has two gearboxes for his car, a short 4 speed box and also a 5 speed box
operated by column change.

His car is in perfect condition and as he's now a recent Father, he feels now is the
time to stop racing. Therefore  the car, the engines, gearboxes and all that goes with
 them is for sale.
The price is not cheap, but this is a highly unusual, rare and authentic rally car that
has been maintained regardless of cost.
It can be raced or ideally put in a museum somewhere with that unique and rare 800cc
engine fitted. There are only two of the Factory rally Trabants with this engine left in
existence. One is in the Horch Museum in Zwickau and the other is owned by the
engine creator himself, also resident in Zwickau.



Lars will sell the car with both or just one of the engines, with or without the massive
range of spare and interchangeable parts.
I would buy this car myself for the rarity of it, to keep and cherish for occasional show use
only, but it's beyond my means unfortunately.
It's not cheap by any means but I feel it's a superb collectors item.
Someone will buy it and realise the uniqueness of it with the 800cc engine.
Or maybe someone will buy it and race it, I don't know.
It would be a shame to race the car ( I think) and possibly damage it as it has been
 systematically maintained and updated to ensure its remarkable condition.



If you are interested in this car, contact me directly and I will`put you in touch with
Lars, or contact him on your behalf if you wish.

I can confirm the car is a cracker.