∙Ultra rare RHD example ∙Subject to a recent engine and mechanical overhaul ∙2-Stroke novelty ∙Very clean interior
The Auto Union DKW brand had long been connected with the evolution of the automobile, having been early adopters of the FWD engine layout as well as a defined connection with pre-war Grand Prix cars. DKW was part of an umbrella firm known for its four constituent brands which included Audi, Wanderer and Horch.
With this wealth of expertise and know-how, the DKW brand flourished to develop its engineering muscle, maintaining a reputation for quality. This culminated in what is likely to be the best-known model in the UK. The sporting ability and heritage is still very evident, and as a result, they were well suited for the age of the motorway, thanks in part to their solid construction and eager performance. They were sold in several body shapes, with the practical and capacious estate model, known as the Universal being pitched as a viable alternative to the usual suspects.
The car was imported from South Africa last year and comes with a swath of paperwork of its previous of its previous life. It has already gone through the Notification of Vehicle Arrival documentation and is now UK registered with an age-related UK plate. The owner took a chance at the car, swayed by its rarity and its practicality and needless to say, he was pleased with what finally arrived at his doorstep. Having done some research and read positive things about the DKW 1000, he became fascinated by the novel technical aspects of the engine and committed to this rather rare bird. A change in plan, with the decision to focus his attention on his other classic cars, means that the DKW is now up for grabs. A rare opportunity indeed!
Unusually for an import, the DKW does come with a refreshing amount of paperwork pertaining to its mechanical attention, while it was still in South Africa. The car has seen a complete engine overhaul, with a list of items replaced or renewed in 2018. Other components include a new clutch, brake (including cylinders plus flexible hoses) and steering parts and a new stainless steel exhaust. A handful of service and maintenance items carried out in the UK which also includes a new fuel tank. The owner has pointed out that there are several enthusiastic and helpful DKW owners clubs not just in Europe and the UK, but also as far away as New Zealand meaning that obtaining parts isn't as difficult as you might expect.
The elegantly finished interior, with the wrap-around glass and comparatively well-equipped dashboard, helps place the car as a quality product. The interior has been well maintained and the overall condition of the leather seats suggest that they have been reupholstered at some point as they are in good condition, with good springs and well finished trim details and show virtually no signs of wear. There are a handful of jobs that need to be completed inside, such as reattaching the leather belt door retainer on the driver's side.
The steering wheel has a couple of cracks, no doubt due to age and nothing out of the ordinary. The dashboard is fitted with all of its original items, with an addition of an aftermarket fuel gauge as the original is not functioning. The consensus is that the dashboard is in good condition with the expected wear on some of the bezels and controls. The door cards are complete, with small signs of age evident, but are rip free. The headlining is good, with no tears or significant discolouration. The car has no carpets, just a rubber mat that covers the entire footwell, which has some damage. The boot area has been decked out with wood panelling, which is not believed to be an original fitting but adds a little charm.
The estate version of the 1000 has an instant impact when you feast your eyes upon it, with hints of Saab 95 or Austin A35 to the rear flanks. The finishing of the metalwork is good, the panels are in good condition with the odd minor dent or scuff evident. The panel fits appear to be even. The doors open and close without issues, all are in decent condition with no evidence of significant corrosion under the doors. It has spent its life in a far dryer climate than that which we have here, which means it has been spared of the usual corrosion, but it's worth pointing out that the near-side section of the floor pan chassis rail and inner wing may need some attention somewhere down the line. The external hinges are capable of dealing with the weight of the doors. The engine bay is solid.
The car has almost certainly seen some level of work in the past, seemingly orientated around the paintwork with the finish showing good coverage. It is a little mottled in places, most evident on the boot lid which has evidence of paint blistering but overall it retains a good lustre and the colour match is good throughout. There are no significant stone/wear chips on the car, with door edges, front and lower sides of the car in remarkably good condition. There are a few paint cracks in places, most noticeably on the lower section of the A-pillar.
The external chrome work is in good condition, with 99% of the trim in place. Much of it is in decent condition, with items like the door handles, fuel cap and headlamp bezels likely to have seen some level of restoration in the past. Part of the driver's side door rubber has perished but all of the window rubbers are in excellent (new) condition but are said to be missing the chrome trim finishers. The boot door has a decent rubber seal too. The rear bumper has seen an over-zealous application of reflectors, but that aside they are in good condition. The front bumper shows signs of age, with a few minor blemishes. Both rear lights have aged somewhat and displayed some minor damage, both are functional but worthy candidates for replacements. The front headlamps are in good working and physical order.
The steel wheels are in good condition with no significant issues to the condition or finish, with all four tyres made by Cooper, and all appear to be relatively new items with a healthy amount of tread. The hubcaps have seen the wars, and all show signs of wear and therefore would be ideal candidates for replacement/refurnishing. The glass is good throughout the car, with no immediate signs of damage. They’re haze-free and without cracks or chips.
The water-cooled engine itself is a fascinating aspect to the car, while its FWD layout would have been considered novel, the position of the radiator, a lack of the need for a water pump and each of the three cylinders utilising their own coils and points, make this car worthy of a closer look. Despite the drama of the noise of the two-stroke engine, the engines were known for their smoothness and torquey performance, thanks to the claim that the engine has only seven moving parts - 3 pistons, 3 connecting rods and a crankshaft.
Mechanically the engine is said to be good, but the nature of the design means that its 'smoky' characteristics have to be taken into account. While the car was on location, it fired up with no issues, once the engine had warmed up there was very little evidence of start up smoke. The smell of two-stroke, while not considered healthy for human consumption, is something that may appeal to petrol-heads but it obviously depends on your viewpoint of what defines an aroma or an odour... Semantics aside, the engine runs well and when new were known for their ability to reach 80mph, although it might be a bit unkind to subject this 60-year-old gem to that feat. The engine itself may need a little cosmetic clean up but the pipework, ancillaries and wires are in good condition and show evidence of maintenance. This DKW has a 12V battery, which suggests it has been converted from its original 6V spec in the past. All of the electrics are said to be functional and fully operational. The exhaust is a recent fitted stainless steel custom made item and is in excellent condition.
Pitched alongside its closest and most obvious rival, the Morris Minor Traveller, it actually offers a far superior driving and comfort experience. The charismatic two-stroke engine will inevitably startle many passers-by on start-up, but once these cars are running they're rewarding to use and extremely flexible in modern conditions. The Audi lineage which includes a positive build quality and technological interest is instantly recognisable for the four roundels sitting proudly on the grille. There is no doubt that this car will start conversations and provide an alternative solution to the usual array of 1960's classic estate cars.
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