Sunday, July 28, 2013

Wartburg in Eisenach - 75 Year Anniversary

In 1971 the Eisenach Motorenwerkes celebrated its 75th year anniversary. To commemorate this milestone they produced a folder of the vehicles they had produced, from the original Wartburg of 1896 to the VEB Wartburg 353. I have part of one of these packs showing a range of the Eisenach products, ranging from the first Wartburg, to the DIXI, then the BMW and EMW years to the late VEB Wartburgs.

1898 Wartburg wagen

The first Wartburg was based on the Benz Victoria.

1904 Dixi S12

In 1904 the company changed its brand-name to Dixi.

1907 Dixi U35

Dixi produced a range of rather conventional four cylinder cars during the Edwardian period.

1928 Dixi DA1

Dixi rebuilt its fortunes in the interwar years by manufacturing the English Austin 7 under license (the DA meant Dixi-Austin). By the 1930s Dixi had made substantial changes to the original Austin 7 model, turning it into a completely different car.

1935 BMW 328 Sportswagen

In 1928 the motorcycle manufacturer BMW was looking to expand into car production and purchased the struggling Dixi Eisenach works. BMW made substantial changes to the Dixi-Austin 7 model and by the early 1930s converted it into a handsome sportster. A version of the BMW 328 was even built in Britain under the brand name BMW-Fraser Nash.

1945 BMW 321

BMW introduced the 321 prior to World War II, but it was only after the war that the car was produced in any numbers. From 1945 to 1948 the car was built at the Eisenachwerkes in East Germany, mainly from pre-war spares and left over parts, under the BMW name. In 1948 the East German government nationalised all surviving motorworks under the VEB conglomerate. BMW management lost their claim on the Eisenach factory, who's products were thereafter rebadged under the EMW brand.

1953 AWE Sportswagen

VEB attempted to capitalize on BMW's prewar motorsport tradition in the early post-war years. The AWE sportswagen was a six cylinder four stroke engined racer that participated in Grand Prix racing.

1953 IFA F9

In 1953 VEB transferred the manufacture of the IFA F9 from the old Auto-Union plant at Chemnitz to Eisenach. Production of BMW-EMW cars and four-stroke engines was stopped. All Eisenach's products would be powered by two-strokes from this point on.

1966 Wartburg 353

In 1966 the Wartburg received a comprehensive makeover. Styling was contemporary - and square! The car was an outstanding success and sold over a million vehicles. Although VEB attempted to update and improve the car over the years, government funding was never forthcoming so only small, progressive improvements were made the years. Nevertheless the Wartburg 353 remains a solid car which still performs well to this day. Many thousands remain on the road.

1974 Wartburg-Eisenach magazine

Videos and Links

A documentary covering the postwar years of BMW East, EMW and VEB IFA.

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