Saturday, October 8, 2016

Surviving DKW Cars in Australia

Pre-War DKWs in Australia

DKW cars first appeared in Australia in 1935. The first cars were wholly German built vehicles but import duties made them uneconomical. Auto-Union overcame this by negotiating with domestic body-builders to body DKW's bare chassis. Separate companies bodied DKWs in each state to a general template, but with major local variations. These variations from the Auto-Union template were a source of dissatisfaction at company headquarters. Auto-Union's records reveal that 1290 DKW cars were exported to Australia between 1935 and 1939. They sold surprisingly well, especially in the country where their robustness and minimal maintenance requirements were highly regarded.

1936 DKW F5

Restored Cars Magazine featured two of Des Fullard's DKWs in their July-August 2005 edition. This is his very fine and original condition F5. This is a very early car in Australia, possibly one of the first batch imported by R Williams in Victoria. Des also owns a F5, F7 and F8 that he is restoring.

1936 DKW F7 roadster (South Australia)

Graham Shipton's 1937 DKW F7 roadster.

1937 DKW custom racer

At the end of his roadster project Graham had enough spare parts to build this custom racer. It uses a shortened F7 chassis, powered by a standard 680cc two cylinder two-stroke engine and fitted with a custom aluminum body. Graham raced the car at the Winton Classic races in Queensland where he ran second in his class.

1937 DKW F7 (Victoria)

This chassis, engine and assorted panels was posted for sale on eBay in late 2015. It had been recovered by the seller's father in rural Victoria some 20 years earlier but he never got around to restoring it. Its current whereabouts are unknown.

1937 DKW F7 (Western Australia)

This 1937 DKW F7 has spent its entire life with one Perth family. It was purchased in Busselton in 1939 and still has its original order paperwork. The original selling agent was Auto Union DKW Sales Ltd, 442 Murray Street, Perth. This company was formed in 1938 and wound up in 1942 by which time the remaining stock of DKWs would have been cleared.

Contemporary photo of the car shortly after its original purchase.

1937 DKW F7 roadster (South Australia)

DKW enthusiasts, Paul and Jill W found this DKW roadster in country South Australia several years ago.

Restoration was finally completed in mid-2016 and the car debuted at the Bay to Birdwood Classic.

1937 DKW roadster (Victoria)

This roadster was recently for sale in Just Cars. Current status and location unknown.

1937 DKW F7 cabriolet (Victoria)

This DKW F7 is owned by one of the members of the Historic German Vehicle Register (formerly the DKW Club of Australia) and is regularly used at club events.

1937 DKW F7 (Northern Territory)

 This DKW F7 roadster is being restored in Darwin. The owner intends to install a German built wood and faux-leather body in the manner of German DKWs.

1937 DKW sedan and roadster (South Australia)
These two DKWs under a lean-to in South Australia appeared on eBay in 2012. The seller intended to sell the sedan and restore the roadster themselves. I don't believe the cars sold at that time and their current whereabouts are unknown.

1938 DKW F7 (Western Australia)

This wonderfully restored DKW F7 with canvas soft-top is possibly one of the last pre-war DKWs to arrive in Australia. The story is that a shipment of DKW rolling chassis arrived in Port Adelaide in 1939 shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War. The stevedores refused to unload the German cars so they were carried on to Fremantle in Western Australia. The Fremantle stevedores were not so fussy and the cars were offloaded and handed over to a local coachwork firm called Boltons. They installed steel bodies on the cars which were quite different in detail from the bodies manufactured by the official Australian coach builders.

If the surviving pre-war DKWs tell us anything then the roadster body was the most popular seller in Australia. These roadster bodies substantially differed from the German roadster version and were more similar to contemporary MG bodies.

Post-War DKWs in Australia

After the war there were great hopes that DKW would return to Australia, however, DKW were not in a position to begin exporting until after 1953. Regent Motors, DKW's primary agent in Australia, imported a single DKW F89 sedan for the 1953 Melbourne Motor Show but were unable to secure interest for more. A small number of Schnellaster commercial vans were however sold.

Five years later Standard Motors of Victoria, another of DKWs pre-war agents, imported 9 DKW F93s and an Auto Union 1000s, but by this stage Volkswagen had established themselves in Australia and were dominating the small car market. Standard's cars did not sell, pretty much bringing to an end Auto Union's attempt to re-enter the Australian market.

In 1992 the DKW Club of Australia believed that in addition to the above, the number of DKWs imported to Australia were as follows:
Up to 1958 - 92 DKWs privately imported by immigrants to Australia under a discount scheme;
1959 - 2 Auto Unions and 4 DKWs
1960 - 2 DKWs
1961 - 4 DKWs

Known survivors include:

1951 DKW F89P (Queensland)

This very early 1951 DKW F89P coupe was possibly the DKW displayed at the 1951 Melbourne Motor Show and is the probably the oldest post-war DKW in Australia. The car was featured in the Restored Cars article about Des Fullard's DKW collection mentioned earlier. It now belongs to David J in Queensland is undergoing restoration after several years off the road.

1951 DKW F89L

This 8-seater bus has recently changed hands several times after many years with the Dean family of Melbourne.

1951 DKW F89L

This very early DKW Schnellaster was part of a consignment of DKW vans purchased by Carpet Care. They were used as part of a corporate fleet for only about five or six years before they were replaced with more powerful vehicles. This, the only survivor, was found on a farm in Gippsland and  restored. For many years the car was on display at the Maffa Museum. 

1958 DKW F93 (Victoria)

This car was part of the well known horde of European cars from country NSW. After changing hands several times recently the car is now being restored by Craig S in Victoria.

1958 Auto-Union 1000 (Queensland)

This car was one of the original ten imported by Standard Motors in 1959 to test the market. None of the cars sold and all were eventually abandoned. The car was restored in the 1980s.

1958 DKW F93 (South Australia)

Jill and Paul of Adelaide's other DKW is this 1958 F93. This car was restored ten years ago and has since done 20,000 kilometers without missing a beat.

1959 DKW F93 (New South Wales)

Willie S in Perth acquired this car from South Australia many years and restored it to showroom condition. For many years it was the only post-war DKW in Perth until I imported mine. Willie recently sold the car to another Perth enthusiast, but it has just been purchased by the Gosford Classic Car Museum in NSW.

Heading east....

1959 DKW F94 (Western Australia)

My car, a rare four door sedan imported from South Africa.

1960 Auto-Union 1000 (Victoria)

This Auto-Union 1000 was an import from South Africa. It was in Queensland but has changed hands several times since the original owner passed away. It's now under restoration with an enthusiast in Victoria.

1960 DKW F89L 3=6

This 3=6 engined Schnellaster sat at the Melbourne Bus Museum for many years before it was eventually sold. It has apparently passed through several hands since and its current whereabouts and condition is unknown.

1960 Auto-Union 1000SP (Victoria)

This rare 1000SP has been widely traveled, having been imported to Australia from South Africa via New Zealand. It was rather inadequately restored in New Zealand with paint, panel and engine issues. The car is now being restored properly in Victoria.

1961 Auto-Union 1000/60 Universal

This rare factory right-hand drive Saxomat Universal was also part of the NSW horde. It has been salvaged and is currently stored awaiting restoration.

1961 Auto-Union 1000/60 Universal

Another Universal in country NSW awaits salvation.

DKW Junior

This DKW Junior was part of the NSW European car horde. I believe it has been taken but do not know its current condition or whereabouts.

1963 Auto-Union 1000SP (Western Australia)

This rare DKW 1000SP roadster is another single family vehicle. It was purchased by the current owner's grandfather new in Germany and driven in Europe until the family migrated to Australia. It was licensed until the mid-1990s before being parked away. It's now undergoing restoration to get it back on the road.

Wanderers in Australia
Very few Wanderer cars were shipped to Australia but at least two are known.

1924 Wanderer W6.

12 Wanderer W6 were imported into Melbourne Australia in 1924 by the Wagner brothers. One car was used for sprints and racing as demo car, but sales were slow and some of the cars were never sold. The unsold cars were left in their crates in a factory till the early 1950's when the Wagner family decided to sell them. One of the cars was purchased by the Audi Museum in Germany for their collection.

This car was one of the unsold Wagner Wanderers is now owned by Chris T. It was in a country museum for many years owned by Diana Davison the wife of GP driver Lex Davison. It had 149 miles on the speedo. It's had a new end plate on the water pump, oil change and tune up and runs like a dream. The car is the oldest unrestored Australian Grand Prix car as it was entered in the 1928 GP at Phillip Island. It is still used in vintage racing events.

1938 Wanderer W25K roadster

Peter T is the proud owner of a very rare Wanderer W35K roadster. One of a handful worldwide and probably the only one in Australia.

Peter advises, "The car came to Australia in the 1950’s with a migrating Dutch family. It then went to a Geelong family (I believe he ran a car repair workshop). Along the way the original engine failed and was replaced with a Vauxhall engine. It then languished in a field under a pine tree for many years before it was eventually saved by DKW club member Bill Sheehan, about 35 years ago. Bill never did anything with it however, and it further deteriorated so a couple of years ago I persuaded him to part with it. The story was the original engine had been buried along with much other mechanical stuff in the garden of the Geelong property, but the family would not let Bill go and dig it up. When I bought the car I went around to family to see if I could convince them to let me dig in their garden. When I got there the house had been demolished and the land leveled by the Ministry of housing. I paid a large bond and hired an excavator and dug a meter of soil from the whole site and found one saucepan and one boot! I was forced to search in Germany for an engine. Unfortunately, while I managed to find a correct 6 cylinder 2 litre Wanderer engine, it is not the supercharged variety, but beggars cannot be choosers."

The newly restored engine is sitting on the far side of the garage waiting to be mounted.

The engine is mounted in the rolling chassis. The engine was fully restored in Germany by members of the Wanderer club. Work on the project is progressing.

Request for more info
There are many more DKWs out there and if you have any info or leads I would happy to hear from you. If you are one of the new owners of any of the cars mentioned that have changed hands, I'd be pleased to hear how you are you are going. There is a DKW club out there (no internet presence at the moment) and a small network of fans who can assist.

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