In 1964 the obscure (at least for
most Australians) company "Auto Union" of
Germany introduced their new model DKW F12/60, which
was available in both sedan and roadster forms and
was fitted with a sweet 899cc 2-Stroke engine.
DKW I hear you ask. In 1916 Danish engineer Jörgen
Skafte Rasmussen designed a lightweight steam car -
and the letters DKW were derived from Dampf - Kraft
- Wagen (which is German for steam powered vehicle).
While steam powered vehicles did not find favour with
the (pioneering) motorists of the day, Rasmussen went
on to design a small lightweight petrol driven engine.
The "DKW" engine was perfectly suited to
motorcycles, and in 1919 a factory was set up to manufacture
these in Zschopau, Germany.
By the 1930's DKW had become the world's largest motorcycle
manufacturer, and in 1928 the company upgraded the
engines size and capacity to make it suitable for use
in a motor vehicle, thus the first "DKW" car
Interestingly, this very same engine design
was later adapted to power SAAB vehicles and the humble
Trabant that was manufactured in East Germany until
the mid 1990's!
Many would claim the F12 to be the pinnacle of DKW design,
with Auto Union being taken over in 1967 by Volkswagen
and providing the platform for the new 'Audi' luxury VW
Motoring journalist Alex Walordy had this to say at
the release of the F12, "We know from past experience
that DKW is very adept at extracting power from their
little 3-6 mill.
We also found out that the displacement
of the engine had gone up from 796 to 899 cubic centimeters,
but in American measure translates to 5 3/4 extra cubic
inches, which isn't really too much by Detroit standards".
"Don't let appearances deceive you, just jazz the
engine a bit to clear the cobwebs and go, for this little
roadster manages to keep up with any traffic on the straight.
For some mysterious reason, when a small import passes
one of the Detroit products, the driver often feels duty
bound to assert his superiority and retake his place in
the line. We found that after trying to follow the DKW
through a few fast corners, they invariably lost their