Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 2
In the East, the AWZ P70 was originally intended to fill the "intermediate" car role, that of a small economical 2 (and occasional +2) role. For any such car to be successful, it needed to be cheap, easy to repair, built of lightweight materials and, if possible, afford more storage than a motorcycle.
For those in the East, this was arguably far more important than for those in the West. Most infrastructures had disappeared to the West, and without getting into the political machinations of the time few would argue that those in the East had less disposable income to spend on a car.
It was into this climate that the P70 was created. East German families had, until the release of the P70, relied on the pre-war DKW (Das Kleine Wunder - The small wonder
) Type F8 equipped with a two-stroke engine as their main mode of transportation.
In fact, the Zwickau Automobile Factory (AWZ) continued the production of the F8 and an updated version, the F9 after the War under the authority of the Soviets and then the East Germans. But it was clearly evident that these cars were terribly outdated, and in 1953
production of the F9 was transferred to Eisenach, where EMW and later Wartburg production commenced.
Development of a replacement for the F9 commenced at the Automobile Werke Zwickau facility. Dubbed the P70, the car was to be manufactured from readily available materials (namely plastic) and to feature a 690cc engine. (P = plastic, 70 = 700cc). The "Duroplast" plastic used in the P70's manufacture was made out of a resin, then strengthened by the use of wool.
The car made its debut at the 1955
Leipzig Fair. Its engine was based on the old F8, featuring a two-cylinder, two-stroke, 690 cc, 22 bhp engine. As you would expect, the car was extremely light (820 kg) and promised a top speed of 90 km/h, although only the very brave, or very stupid, would ever attempt to prove this true.
The P70 used a three-speed synchronized gearbox driving the front wheels, and although the same mechanicals had been carried over from the F8, the engineers had rotated the engine 90 degrees and placed it more over the front axle in an attempt to afford better handling. Beside the "Limousine" body style a "Kombi" estate and even a coupe were offered. During its four year production life about 30,000 cars were built.