The history from 1898

The Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach AG (Vehicleproducing Company Ltd, Eisenach) was established in late 1896. The man behind it was Heinrich Ehrhardt himself the 2nd biggest cannon maker in Germany behind Krupp.
The new company made bicycles and motor-powered vehicles such as military transporters, taxis, omnibuses etc. The first "autocar" was introduced at the 1898 Düsseldorf car exhibition but no one noticed. So Ehrhardt made a deal with the French Decauville and from that licence the Wartburg was born. This venture lasted until 1904 when the Ehrhardt got rid of it because it wasn't worth to finance it any more. So a new period started under the name Dixi.
And then BMW took over the Dixi operation. But that's a totally different story.

Here are some early pictures about these long-forgotten models:

An article appeared in the 1902/May 31 issue of the German Der Motorwagen magazine. Here's the accompanying picture of the article "Motorwagen der Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach (Modell 1902). The engine was capable of 8.5 bhp with a bore of 105 mm and a hub of 120 mm. Max rpm was 1000. The body sat on a steelframe. Dimensions of the chassis: wheelbase: 1758 mm, length: 2770 mm. Kerb weight of the phaeton version (shown) was about 640 kg.

The illustration was taken from the German Allgemeine-Automobil Zeitung (General Automobil Magazine) [AAZ], issue: 1902/23, p. 10. It's part of the Berlin Autoshow report. In that article the whole Wartburg line-up was featured including this small 5HP, 420 kg voiturette. This was one of the Decauville-derived cars.

Picture was taken from the 1903/41 issue of the AAZ (p. 21).
The caption said that Prince Biron von Curland (behind the driver) of the German Automobil-Club took a trip with his Wartburg 45HP tourer to Luxemburg and Paris. His partners were Fritz Kircheim (see next pic)(at this one he sits as the steering wheel) and baron von Strantz. Beside the car stands Arthur Heimann, the leader of the Berlin office of the Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach.

Picture was taken from the German Automobil-Welt magazine (Year: 1903, p. 357). "Rennwagen der Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach" (Eisenach racer). At the wheel sits Fritz Kircheim. The man with the chimney top hat is Ernst Hammler, factory manager. The self-developed car raced at the 1903 Paris-Wien race.

I'm going to jump a few decades because I don't want to dwell on the history of the Dixi and BMW.

So let's go to right after the 2nd World War.
The Eisenach plant of BMW was flooded by the Russian Army during the 2nd World War. This situation remained until 1952.
The company name was Eisenacher Maschinen- und Fahrzeugfabrik (Machine and Vehiclemanufacturing Company, Eisenach) between 1945-1946 and then Sowjetische AG Maschinenbau Awtowelo, Werk BMW Eisenach (Soviet Ltd, Awtowelo, BMW Works Eisenach).
The Awtowelo name appeared on racers but the main products of the Eisenach factory was first the assembling and then producing of the pre-war BMWs: 321s, 326s and 327s. BMW couldn't do anything about the misuse of their name (the cars remained BMWs).
In 1949 an improved version of the 326/7 family appeared with the name 340. This was powered by a two-liter 55 bhp engine, later improved to 60 bhp.
When the Russians left the factory and BMW started to complain about the name in 1952 the name changed to EMW and the symbol changed from the blue-white propeller to a red-white cross.

The 340 remained the flagship. There were upgrades and luxury versions as well. The 6-cylinder BMW engine hold still as the sole powerplant.
Until March, 1953 22249 340 cars were made. From that date for a further two years hospital and pick-up versions were still produced. But the tourer version has been ceased.
Instead they took over the assembly line of the IFA F9 (itself a renamed and slightly changed pre-war DKW F9) from the Audi plant in Zwickau (later home of the Trabant.
At the end of 1955 all of the old types were discontinued and from 1956 January a brand new car rolled out from the factory. Its brand name was



Wartburg 1000

The new car was based on the F9 but with radical changes: lengthened wheelbase, roomy interior, more equipment, four conventional-opening doors, reduced road noise, upgraded heating system, prettier styling.
Within two years the base Limousine (internal code was 311, but from the capacity it was known as the 1000) was accompanied by a De Luxe version. Other bodystyles were available including a 2-seater cabriolet, a 3-door estate, a 5-door station wagon (named camping), a police-car, a 2+2 coupé and a sportscar (codename 313) which won numerous awards for its design.

Here's a small presentation of the range:

5-door Camping
2+2 coupé Sport

The base engine which powered the Limousine and the Camping was a 900 cc unit, capable of 37 bhp, while a more powerful 50 bhp 99 cc engine worked in the other versions.
The 2-speed synchronized gearbox was replaced with a 4-speed in 1958 and then the 900 cc engine was improved to have a max. power of 40 bhp. In 1962 with further modifications the engine became bigger (1000 cc, 45 bhp).
Make no mistake, these were two-stroke engines, but the factory did experiments with four-stroke units.
At the end of the '50s the output of the Eisenach factory was 25000 vehicles. This reached 30000 in 1963, but the demand was five times more.
In July, 1964 wit the blessing of the Communist Party started the development of a new chassis with independent suspension, telescope torsion bars etc. There was an interim period when the new chassis was mated to the old body (this was known as Typ 312-1).
From July, 1966 the new body finally appeared so the Typ 353 was born. It remained in production for two decades with minor improvements. Soon a station wagon version (named Tourist) joined.
In 1974 the modernised 353W was exhibited at the Leipzig Autumn Fair. Better brakes, 50 bhp engine and slighthly modified body were the main features.

I was warned that I forgot the latest Wartburg: yes, when the two German countries united there was a short-living Wartburg, called the 1.3. It had an updated body with the engine of the Series I Golf. It lasted for no more than 3 years.
353W Tourer from 1985 its interior
While 38000 F9s were made in Eisenach and 25900 311, the 353 reached the 1st million in 1985.
When the first breeze of the cold war's end started to blow Volkswagen appeared on the scene. A version of the 1.3-liter 4-stroke engine was built into the 353 and was named as 1.3. This car was made between 1988 and 1991.
Shortly after the two German countries became one Opel bought the whole factory and started everything again from ground up.
Finally, here's a table about the specifications of the various post-war Wartburg types:
Type Typ 311, 1957 Typ 353, 1969 Typ 353W, 1977 Typ 353W Tourist, 1985 Typ 1.3, 1990
Configuration 3-cylinder, two-stroke, in line. FWD
Displacement 900 cc 992 cc
Bore 70 mm 73.5 mm
Stroke 78 mm 78 mm
Max. power 37 bhp at 4000 rpm 50 bhp at 4250 rpm
Max. torque 82 Nm at 2200 rpm 98 Nm at 3000 rpm
Transmission 4-speed synchronized
Chassis Unitary construction.
Front suspension Independent with double wishbones, rubber coils and Hartha telescopic shock absorbers.
Rear suspension Independent with coil springs, shock absorbers.
Length 4300 mm 4220 mm 4380 mm
Width 1570 mm 1640
Height 1450 mm 1495 mm
Wheelbase 2450 mm 2450 mm
Kerb weight around 960 kg 900 kg (max. loaded: 1300 kg) 960 kg (max. loaded: 1410 kg)
Tyres /font> 5.90-15 165SR 13
Max. speed around 115 km/h 127 km/h 130 km/h
Fuel consumption (per 100 km) 9 l 8-10 l 8.5-9.8 l 7.4 l

There are not too many Wartburg pages on the Net, here's one from Denmark:
Danish Wartburg owner's page

Go back to the Eastern cars page! Go back to the KTUD main page!

Copyright January 1996.

Paul Negyesi
Bolko Rawicz

I have no responsibility for the accuracy of the above info. This document or parts of it cannot be used for commercial purposes.