Auto Union Specifications

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Auto Union Specifications
Founded by Jorgen Skafte Rasmussen in Saxony after studying Engineering in Mittweida. By 1904 he had set up an apparatus engineering company, and in 1916 began experimenting with steam-driven motor vehicles. Although these experiments did not lead to any specific product, they yielded the company name and trademark DKW, derived from the German words for "steam-driven vehicle" (Dampf Kraft Wagen).

In 1919, Rasmussen obtained the design of a two-stroke engine from Hugo Ruppe, a tiny version of which he sold as a toy engine under the name of "Des Knaben Wunsch", meaning "The Boy's Dream". This mini engine was subsequently upscaled and used as an auxiliary cycle engine, evolving into a fully-fledged motorcycle engine called "Das Kleine Wunder" (The Little Miracle) in 1922. DKW became the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world during the 1920’s, and was also regarded as a leading international engine manufacturer.

By 1927 Rasmussen had acquired design and production facilities for six and eight-cylinder engines from a Detroit automobile company which had been wound up, with two new Audi models being powered by the DKW engines. Rasmussen however remained committed to the idea of manufacturing smaller, less costly vehicles. The very first DKW cars were rear-wheel drive, and were built in Berlin-Spandau.

At the end of 1930, Rasmussen commissioned the Zwickau plant to develop a car to be powered by a two-cylinder, two-stroke motorcycle engine with a capacity of 600cc. The designers, Walter Haustein and Oskar Arlt, used a unitary wooden chassis with leatherette upholstery, swing axles at the front and rear, and made the vehicle front-wheel drive.

Unveiled at the 1931 Berlin Motor Show, the DKW “Front” caused a sensation with the masses. The DKW Front was built at the Audi factory, and went on to become the most-produced, most popular German small car of its day. The company merged with Audi, Horch and Wanderer to form the Auto Union group.
1954 Auto-Union DKW 40S  

1954 Auto-Union DKW 40S

1959 Auto-Union DKW 900  

1959 Auto-Union DKW 900

1960 Auto-Union 1000  

1960 Auto-Union 1000

1960 Auto-Union 1000 S Coupe  

1960 Auto-Union 1000 S Coupe

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