Auto Union DKW F12
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 2
Jurgen Skafte Rasmussen
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 Jurgen 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 was born.
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 brand.
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 ambitions".