In 1953 DKW released their new model, the F91, to an eager public. The new car featured the long awaited three-cylinder, 896cc two-stroke engine, replacing the underpowered two-cylinder 688cc engine of its predecessor, the F89. Although the F91 only had a three speed gearbox, its toughness over harsh road conditions, its rapid acceleration, its front-wheel drive and its ability to run flat-out over extended distances made it an exceptional rally car and within a year it was blazing a trail across the European rally circuit.
1954 proved to be a great year for DKW, with the F91 taking out outright wins in eight Rally championships.
DKW starts the year with a bang with Heinz Meier's outright victory in the Monte Carlo rally. The car's rapid acceleration and the superior road holding provided by front-wheel drive were important factors in Meier's win.
Two months later Walter Schlüter takes out the Great British Rally
In the Rally of the Tulips in Turkey Gustav Menz wins class B and comes third overall against much bigger engined competition.
Driving together, Gustav Menz and Walter Schlüter, take out first place in the Wiesbaden Rally against strong DKW competition from Heinz Meier. Several other DKWs finished in the top ten.
Despite difficult road conditions, Heinz Meier drives to another class win in his F91 Sonderklasse in the Rally to the Midnight Sun.
Confronting rain, ice and snowdrifts while weaving through 31 alpine passes, Heinz Meier and Walter Schlüter drive their way to first and second place respectively in the International Rally of the Alps.
The Rally of the Vikings proved to be a challenging race for both cars and drivers, nevertheless, DKW cars took out the first six positions. Walter Schlüter won in Class B, in his F91 as an independent driver.
DKW completes the European championship in Geneva with first, second and third places. Walter Schlüter taking first place, with Gustav Menz coming second and Heinz Meier third, all driving DKW Sonderklasse.
Commemorative advertising for DKW's year of rally victories.
Other European rally and race photos
Lining up at the start of a race
A pair of F91s lead a Panhard, which was also a popular rally car.
F91 leading the field
Doing some snowplowing outside Turin
The 1959 Monte Carlo Rally
Now, this is real driving!
These guys were crazy reckless
Victories in Africa
South Africa was a major export market for DKW and the F91 quickly made its name in the tough African rally circuit. In colonial Africa, the DKW was extremely highly regarded, especially in the Congo and Angola as the best European car for African conditions.
A three wheeling 1955 DKW F-91 wows Africans and colonials (sipping cocktails under umbrellas) in Luanda in 1957.
Antonia Duarte provided me some photos of his grandfather's rally exploits in a DKW F91 in Angola during the 1950s.
Posing with car and trophy
One of the rally maps
A plaque for a 1959 endurance rally.
"Wins at home and abroad!" F91s continued to be rallied well into the 1960s and remained popular even after DKW introduced the F93, with its four speed gearbox, and the F94 with its 1000cc engine.
A DKW F93 in the 1963 East African Rally.
With thanks to Brendan Odell, Antonio Duarte and the members of the Forum-Auto.com forum for their contributions to this post.