DKW: From global brand to Volkseigener Betrieb

ER Classics Desktop 2022

DKW: That was once the world's largest motorcycle manufacturer

But before that time, some financial bumps had been taken. The Zchopauer Motorenwerke AG (DKW) was brought together in the Auto Union construction together with the car brands Audi and Horch.

As national socialism took hold in Germany from 1933, some politically correct changes came to the top of the group.

It is now known how National Socialism ended.

In May 1945, Russian troops occupy Chemnitz. That meant the end of virginity among the female population and the end of the Auto Union companies. They had come out of the battle unscathed and were literally dismantled by the Russians. Subsequently, the entire estate, including the rescued parts and personnel, was put on transport to Russia to set up the Russian motorcycle industry. On 17 August 1949, Auto Union was deleted from the registers of the Chamber of Commerce of Chemnitz.

The new name became IFA

Industrieverwaltung Fahrzeugbau. But the new company continued to rely heavily on DKW genes. In Zschopau, motorcycle production was carefully restarted. That was not that simple, because almost all supply companies - or the remains of them - were in the west of the former Third Reich occupied by the Allies. But at the beginning of the 1980s, IFA made another 85.000 motorcycles a year under the MZ brand. And that was a lot.

The socialist planned economy: Simply make as much as possible

This 'overproduction' was in line with the socio-economic planning structures of the regime and in any case resulted in the fact that there are still plenty of MZjes still driving around in Cuba. And all from the DKW technique from the thirties of the last century.

The return of DKW

Although DKW ceased to exist as a brand after the Second World War, racing successes were still being scored with DKW racers until well into the 1950s. That happened with pre-war racers and DIY projects based on DKW components. Auto Union was re-established in 1949, but now in West Germany. And from Audi City Ingolstadt there were DKW motorcycles again. These were of course the exact clones of the pre-war DKW models. Competition engines were made again and the old habit of winning competitions was bravely resumed.

An 350 cc three-cylinder

In 1953 this resulted in an 350 cc three-cylinder two-stroke with the middle cylinder positioned horizontally. So a V3 two-stroke. The machines were nicknamed 'singing saws' thanks to their sharpening outlet. In the second half of the fifties of the last century, it was cautious that the citizens started thinking about cars. The approaching collapse of the motorcycle market came close to fear and the sales results - or the lack of them - caused DKW to withdraw from the competitive sport in 1956.

Later the Honda NS500 became indebted to DKW. Because that Honda was also a V3 two-character.

In 1958 Mercedes-Benz took over Auto Union and the trademark right to the name DKW ended up with the Zweirad Union in Nuremberg. And that company is bought again by Fichtel & Sachs. Until the mid-XNUMXs, mopeds and light motorcycles were still built under the name DKW. And who still remembers the microlights? The Ultra Light Motorcycles? Then village police officers drove lost races against brave youngsters on staged Kreidlers and Zündapps….

And that the last DKws were just the same as the last ercules?
Well, that's just how it goes


Give an answer

The email address will not be published.

The maximum upload file size: 8 MB. you can upload: image. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop files here

Now in store

View the 40-page preview via or a click on the cover.

The August issue, containing:

  • Fiat 127 from 1972
  • Heemskerk V-twin, the best motorcycle BSA has never built
  • Restoration Mini Traveler 1963
  • Peugeot 104, a party
  • Volkswagen Golf Country was too far ahead of its genre
  • Driving with a Yamaha R5 (1971-1972)
  • Report Wemeldinge Classic Races
  • Duplicate type designations - Part XVI
cover 8 2022 300

The perfect reading material for an evening or more of undisturbed dreaming. It is now in stores. A subscription is of course better, because then you will no longer miss a number and you are also € 27 cheaper. Not bad in these expensive times.

Two-stroke 2.0

Mazda museum

Automobil Museum Frey. The first Mazda museum in Europe