Sunday, February 21, 2021

West Australian Racing Museum

Sunday 21st February 2021 should have been Classic Cars and Coffee, but after the State Government's hysterical 'snap lockdown' in response to a single case of Covid (which turned out not to have spread to any other person - does anyone not notice the yawning credibility gap here?), additional conditions and paperwork has been slapped on all event organizers. The organizers were unable to address the sudden new requirements so the event was cancelled.

If you are really concerned about this issue, check out the Department of Health stats and let the numbers sink in.  

Some of the members of my club (not 'my' club), KBG, decided we would do something anyway. We chose to drive/ride to the WA Racing Museum open day. The WA Racing Museum has an open day once a year so the timing worked out really well.

My DKW F94. It was a terrific run on the freeway where I got to run her at full speed.

Greg's lovely Renault Dauphine. You don't see many of these gorgeous cars around these days.

John's 1944 VW Kubelwagen

Steve's Kawasaki

Richard's Vincent

The huge workshop

The museum collection.

The majority of these racers are Formula Junior class.

Speedway racer

A little wall art

For more information about the WA Racing Museum, check out their website here:
If you get the chance, visit them on one of their open days.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Classic Cars and Coffee Sunday 21 February 2021

Please be aware that this Sunday's Classic Cars and Coffee is CANCELLED.

This is due to new COVID requirements not being able to be processed by the authorities in sufficient time.

We too are disappointed as we love the event, but we expect to be back on track next month.

See you March 14th – note new date.

Note also that the April 25th event on ANZAC Day has a later timeslot, at 10.30am-12.30pm.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Karmann Ghia drive and the origin of the Volkswagen Beetle

At long last I take Shelly's 1962 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia for a drive and chat. In this video I start at the beginning and explain the origin of the world famous 'People's Car.'  I have written about this history before so if you'd like to go into more depth, you can find those posts here: 

Part 1 - Origin:
Part 2 - War:

Part 3 - Resurrection:

The Volkswagen Manifesto:

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Classic Car Wish List in 2021

When I started this blog way back in 2008, its purpose was to document the restoration of a Heinkel Tourist scooter. After starting I became distracted with the restoration of first, my East German IWL Troll scooter, then an English Ariel Leader, then a DKW F94 car, then my wife's Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, then my Tatra T600 Tatraplan and lately, the DKW F89P Meisterklasse. The poor old Heinkel was sold off as I had too much to do. Despite having too much on my plate, every now and then I would list out various cars and bikes that were on my wish list. The list of 'most desired' fluctuated a lot over time. Some of the vehicles that I formerly desired, now hold no interest for me and so I ended up deleting the list.

One of my friends happened to ask about my vehicular wish list recently and, I must admit, when I was put on the spot I couldn't really think of anything I really wanted. This made me think, what am I interested in now? The following list probably shouldn't be a surprise, but there are some new vehicles here that have popped up on my radar. I've used this post to explain my thinking and why a particular vehicle interests me now. This exercise is much for myself as anyone else as I'm sure I'll look back on this list in a few years and be as puzzled at my choices as I have been with the 2010 list.

Subject to constant change and in no particular order:

1. Porsche 356 Gmund (or Pre-A) 1948-1955

In 1946, after the disaster of the Second World War, Ferdinand 'Ferry' Porsche, son of the famous Dr.Ing Ferdinand Porsche, began exploring means to reconstitute the Porsche Design Studio at the Porsche's family estate in Zuffenhausen, Austria. The situation was grim. Dr Porsche was languishing in prison in France, the Volkswagen project had been commandeered by the British Occupation Forces, and the company had no production facilities to speak of. Then, in 1947, the Italian company Cristalla contacted Porsche to design a race car to compete in the 1.5 litre Grand Prix class. Porsche and co threw themselves into the project, designing an building a lightweight, single-seat mid-engine racer. The contract was just enough to save the company from dissolution and it gave Porsche an idea. He would build a lightweight sports car for those with the wherewithall to pay for the privilge.

The car was based on the Volkswagen platform, borrowing substantially from the Volkswagen Berlin-Rome endurance car of 1939. Of the three endurance cars built, the Porsche's held two; one was used as Ferry's personal car and the other was still used as an engine test bed. The first car was a aluminum bodied roadster with a 1131cc Volkswagen engine tuned to 40hp. The second car was a coupe that established the classic look of the 356.There was nothing sophisticated in the development process. The lovely, streamlined bodywork was developed by sticking woolen threads on the hand beaten panels and observing how they fluttered in the wind as the car was driven on the roads around Gmund. 52 aluminum bodied examples of these early cars were manufactured by hand in a former cow shed in the Austrian village of Gmund between 1949 and 1951. These early cars were far from the luxury supercars the marque is famous for now. They were rough and ready, only a small step up from a contemporary Volkswagen, with whom they shared an engine and many features. Yet, these early Porsches had a perfection and purity of style that was progressively lost as the model developed and modernized through the B and later C series. I especially love the look of the front end, with its plain, blunt front, understated trim and lack of bumper. It's design perfection.

All early Porsches now fetch incredible prices and are well and truly outside of my budget, but if I won the lottery....

2. IFA F9 1949-54

Auto-Union had high hopes for their new F9 Hohnklasse model which was expected to hit the market in summer 1940, but the war intervened and all their plans were thrown into disarray. Auto-Union was splintered into two entities, a new successor company named Auto-Union Gmb in Ingolstadt, Bavaria, and the nationalised 'Autowelo' in Saxony collectively designated VEB IFA. Both companies were keen to resurrect the F9 project but IFA was able to get a jump on their western counterparts as they had access several prewar prototype cars and parts. In fact, the first IFA F9 displayed at the Leipzig Fair in 1948 was actually built in 1940 and had been hastily repaired ahead of the show. The IFA F9 went on sale in 1949 but production was fraught with problems and delays caused by poor quality parts supply and the disorganized production processes at the former Auto-Union plants. Engines were built at the former DKW Zschopau plant and shipped to the Horch plant where they were mounted to the chassis. Bodies were built at the Audi Zwickau plant before all components were transferred to the old Auto-Union headquarters in the former Prestowerkes factory in Chemnitz for assembly. Cars trickled out of the factory and most were exported.

The early IFA built F9s, with all their flaws, are the closest we can come to to Auto-Union's 1940 F9 Hohnklasse. Early cars are quite rare due to low production numbers. Later cars built by Eisenach between 1954 and 57 are far more abundant and are better built and easier to drive. I like both types but prefer the earlier model.

3. EMW 340-1 1948-54

In 1940, BMW were developing a new, large six cylinder sedan to replace their 327 sports saloon, but like all similar projects, it put on hold due to the war. Development continued in secret during the war and by the time of the German surrender the design was nearly complete. As BMW's automobile plant was in Eisenach, Saxony, it fell in the Soviet Occupation Zone and, as a military facility, the plant was targeted for seizure and destruction. In a bold move, BMW management presented the Soviet Marshall Zukhov with a BMW motorcycle and 321 roadster. Zukhov was pleased with the gift and BMW were authorised to manufacture cars and motorcycles on behalf of the Soviets. This stay of execution allowed BMW to smuggle plans, tools, parts and personnel from Eisenach to BMW's Munich aircraft engine plant and restart production there. Among the plans smuggled out of Eisenach was that of the large sedan. Here, the British seized the plans as part of the redistribution of German patents and passed them on to the British concessionaire, Frazer-Nash. Frazer-Nash ceased car manufacturing and sold their rights and plans to Bristol, a British aircraft manufacturer that was looking to diversify post-war. The large BMW sedan would appear on British streets in 1948 as the Bristol 401.

Back in Eisenach, development of the large sedan had continued and in 1948 was released as the BMW 340. It was advertised as the first newly designed car of post-war Germany. The car was powered by a straight six cylinder 2-litre engine and had a heavy, US styled body. The car was sold in both east and west zones but disputes over ownership of the Eisenach plant led to litigation in 1950 by BMW Munich over the use of the BMW brand and logo. This led to the car being banned from sale in the western zones. The East German's responded by formalizing the confiscation of Eisenach and re-bagding the car the EMW 340. EMW's logo featured the BMW roundel in red and white instead of blue and white.

Unlike other East German cars of the post-war period, the EMW 340 is large and luxurious, like it's cousin the Bristol 401 and later nephew, the BMW 501 'Baroque Angel.' I particularly like its art-deco styling, which is very reminiscent of large French and US cars of the 1940s. I like these cars because they're unusual and not well known and indicate what could have happened in the East German auto industry if they had had access to markets. As it was, once the western export market was closed to East Germany there was little demand for big and expensive cars like this. As sales dried up, Eisenach became increasingly idle, with stockpiles of unsold cars. In 1954, the state motoring authority, VEB, rationalized production across the East German motoring industry and manufacture of EMW cars ceased. The factory was contracted to build the IFA F9, formerly of the Audi-Zwickau plant.
These cars are relatively rare, especially outside of East Germany. There was a small market in Sweden and Finland. Barn-finds in East Germany continue to show up and can be obtained relatively cheaply.

4. Wartburg 311 1956-1965

After several years of lacklustre sales and exports of the EMW 340, the designers at EMW Eisenach began working on a new car design that would be more saleable in the East German market. Unfortunately, EMW were used to working on large, high quality cars and designing down-market was not their strong suit. At any rate, the decision was taken out of their hands in 1954 when the central planning authority, VEB, in the face of intense public pressure to sort out East Germany's disorganized automobile industry, undertook a complete reorganization. Since 1950, the Audiwerkes at Zwickau had been assembling IFA F8s and F9s, the postwar copies of the prewar DKW F8 and F9. F8s were produced in their tens of thousands but production of the steel bodied F9 struggled with annual production numbers in the range of 1500 cars per annum. VEB shut down F9 production at Zwickau and assigned the model to the EMW plant at Eisenach. Both plants were outraged by the decision and their senior management protested vociferously. A round of firings of top management silenced the opposition. The change allowed Zwickau to modernize the old F8 as the AWZ P70.

Eisenach took over the F9 and quickly made significant improvements to the vehicle. In three years of production they would churn out some 30,000 vastly superior F9s until a lawsuit by Auto-Union Ingolstadt threatened their exports market in the west. Eisenach completely re-bodied and modernized the F9 into the Wartburg 311. The 311 was a stylish, contemporary car which far outclassed its predecessor and would become a major export. The car came in a wide variety of styles, from sporty roadster, to family camper.

I think the early 311 models are very handsome and I would be a great counterpart to my 1959 DKW F94. There is at least one early Wartburg 311 in Australia, which I almost purchased when it came up for auction. I decided to pass on it as had been focused on my F89P project.

5. AWZ P70 1955-59

In many ways, the AWZ P70 is the East German counterpart of the West German DKW F89P. Both cars share the chassis and 700cc engine from the 1940 DKW F8 that they inherited from the prewar period. Both companies adapted what they had in similar ways. They both rotated the engine and gearbox layout 180 degrees, placing the engine ahead of the axles. Both made very similar tweaks and improvements to the engine, lifting its output from 20 hp before the war to 23-24 hp. The radiator was mounted behind the engine in the middle of the engine bay. The DKW however, utilized the 1940 F9's streamlined bodywork. In East Germany this body style was being used in the IFA F9 so the designers at the Audiwerke Zwickau (AWZ) developed an entirely new, modern style pontoon body manufactured from a new synthetic plastic material called Duraplast. DKW had been experimenting with synthetic body panels for years before the war but had only had limited success. Their counterparts in the East had continued this development program, and had now perfected the technique by pressing heated phenotic resin into a substrate of cotton waste. The cotton compressed into a hard but flexible sheet of predictable thickness in a similar way to a steel press, but at significantly lower cost.

In terms of usable space, the AWZ had more than the DKW F89P thanks to the use of the pontoon body. In fact, AWZ shortened the chassis by 10cms and still had more usable space. The lightweight Duraplast bodywork gave the car spritely handling despite its small engine. The P70 was a popular seller in the east and in the western export markets. It was however, only a stopgap model. Underneath the Duraplast body was a wooden frame, onto which the panels were screwed. Over time the wood frame would rot and the car would ultimately decay. AWZ was working on a more modern replacement, the Trabant P-50, which would become the automotive icon of East Germany.

The AWZ P70 is neither fast nor stylish, but it is interesting and innovative for its time. I would love to have one as a counterpart to my DKW F89P. There is at least one in Australia, a restoration project which was sold at auction a few years ago. I do hope that is gets back on the road one day.

6. Peugeot 203 1947-1960

The story of the Peugeot 202 is somewhat similar to that of the EMW 340. This was a relatively large (for Europe), modern sedan, that began development just before the Second World War. The designers of the car paid a lot of attention to the cars suspension and road handling for use in the French colonies, where road conditions were poor. The project recommenced after the war and the car went on sale in 1948. The car was powered by a 1300cc four cylinder engine. The car was a pressed steel, monocoque construction - a first for Peugeot - and styling was highly reminiscent of American cars of the 1940s. The car would remain in production until 1960 with nearly 700,000 examples rolling off the production line.

The Peugeot 203 has a particular connection with Australia as in 1953 an oil company, Redex, hosted a reliability trial across the Australian outback. The Redex Trial took motorists across some of the harshest terrain in the country. Peugeot did not have a strong presence in Australia with only a smattering of dealers across the country. Ken Tubman and John Marshall entered the competition in a 203 and to the surprise of everyone, smashed the field. The car's performance was so impressive that all Peugeot's in the country were sold out within the week. This strong sales performance led Peugeot to begin assembling 203's in Australia. Despite strong sales in Australia, there are very few here on the road. I have not seen one 'in the flesh' since the late 1990s, although I know there are a few in WA in mothballs.

7. Kleinschnittger F125 1950-57

The microcar craze of the early 1950s was a response to the desperate need for transport in post-war Europe. People were poor, fuel was scarce and roads were bad and anything that could get you from A to B cheaply would find a market. Some microcars, such as the BMW Isetta and Messerschmitt KR200, were really successful and manufactured in their tens of thousands, but most were badly made, of limited utility, and short lived. The Kleinschnittger F124 falls somewhat into the latter category although it was manufactured for seven years. Looking a lot like a carnival bumper car, the Kleinschnittger was a very simple and cheap construction. The bodywork was constructed of aluminum panels hammered over a wooden buck and riveted together. This was bolted onto a simple ladder frame. Power was supplied by a tiny Jlo 125cc single cylinder two stroke motor mounted at the very front of the car and driving the front wheels. It wasn't much of a car, but it filled a niche and almost 2000 were sold in Germany between 1950 and 57.

Given their rather flimsy construction, few of these cars have survived. They have a certain cult status in Germany and can fetch high prices.

8. Melkus RS1000

I'm not much of a sportscar fan. Speed is not really my thing, but if I was ever going to drive something like this, it would the Melkus RS1000. The Melkus was East Germany's only specially designed and built sports saloon. It was based on a Wartburg 353 chassis with a racing tuned 1000cc three cylinder two stroke motor mounted in the rear. A low, streamlined fibreglass body with gullwing doors was placed on top.

These cars were available on special order, were very expensive and required the purchaser to hold an approved motorsports license. Each car took one to two years to complete, depending on the specifications required. 101 cars were built between 1979 and 1980, when production ceased. After the reunification of Germany the Melkus would have something of a revival. When production ceased, Heinz Melkus, retained the body moulds along with plans and specifications. In 2006 his children devised a plan to restart production of a replica of the RS1000. Wartburg chassis and engines being cheap and in abundance. Several hundred special orders, some with different or modern engines have since been produced. Personally, if I had the money to commission one I would go with the original Wartburg engine.

9. Panhard Dynamic 1936-1939

Panhard et Levassor were a pioneer automaker established in 1887. They began building Daimler cars under license in 1890 but soon began developing in their own direction. One of Panhard's innovations would have a profound effect on motor vehicle development - the decision to move the engine to the front of the car driving the rear wheels via a transmission, a standard format that continues to this day. They also invented the 'Panhard rod' suspension strut which is also still in use. During the 1920s and 30s, Panhard built stately but not particularly exciting large sedan cars. In 1935, in response to the streamlining trend that was then sweeping European car manufacturers, Panhard unveiled the Dynamic, a true piece of art-deco sculpture on wheels.

the Dynamic showcased a number of new features for the era, including monocoque construction, independent four wheel suspension and - intriguingly - a centre driving position. This feature attracted a lot of comment at the time and was not a success, the driving position being moved to the left in the second year of production.

For me, the Panhard Dynamic's look is its primary appeal. It's particularly French in its extravagant styling. I think they are beautiful and would love to have one. Only 2700 odd examples were built so they are quite rare and fetch high prices.

10. Z Express 1935-1939

At the top of any list of Czech auto makers must be Aero and at the bottom is Z - Z for Zbrojovka. It's a mouthful. Actually both Aero and Z share many similarities. Aero were, surprisingly, an aircraft manufacturer, who diversified into automobile production in the 1920s. They built light cars powered by two stroke engines of their own design with one, two and four cylinders. Zbrojovka were an armaments manufacturer, who likewise ventured into cars in 1929. They too developed their own two stroke engines with two or four cylinders with capacities ranging from 500ccs up to two litres.

In 1935 with the Z Express models that the Zbrojovka really hit they stride. These were very stylish small cars with a rakish radiator grill that came to a spear-like point at the bottom. Not really the kind of front end you want to bounce pedestrians off. These cars are virtually unheard of outside of Czechoslovakia, where they have a strong following. I find them particularly interesting thanks to their styling and their four cylinder water cooled two stroke engines. Two stroke engines were surprisingly common in Czechoslovakia in the 1930s. Jawa, which also build small cars, used a licensed DKW 700cc twin engine, but Aero and Z were both independent developments.

A rare and interesting car that is hard to find outside Czech.