Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

A little-known Streamline Saga chapter is the story of this little German car:

It was introduced by DKW in 1934 - several months later than the Chrysler Airflow. And, just as its American contemporary, it wasn't a great success. By the way, the very name of the make is true steampunk: DKW stands for Dampfkraftwagen, i.e. Steam Automobile. Same letters stand for Des Knaben Wunsch (The Boys' Dream) and Das Kleine Wunder (Little Wonder) - brand names of small two-stroke engines developed by the company in 1910s.

In 1930s, DKW, being a part of Auto Union Group, had two automobile plants. One, in Zwickau, produced front-wheel-drive cars with transverse mounted two-stroke engine. The other, in Berlin-Spandau, specialized in larger classic layout vehicles, powered by a V-4 two-stroke motor. Since 1928, these vehicles were marketed as 4=8, meaning their engine was equal to conventional 8-cylinder (the same gimmick was used by DKW after the war with their 3=6, a development of the prewar F9 model). New subclasses appeared: in 1933, the Sonderclasse 1001 with a swing rear axle, and the next year, the Schwebeclasse (Swing Class) with two swing axles and streamline bodywork:

It was powered by 990 cc V4 two-stroke, 30 hp. The bodywork was of mixed wood/metal construction.

For 1936 model year, the Schwebeklasse was revamped, receiving new 1054 cc engine (32 hp). Here's an article and specs from a German magazine (via Old Car Manual project):

The model was discontinued in 1937. Production figures were low. One DKW Schwebeklasse is preserved in Audi Museum (Ingolstadt, Germany):

This car had an interesting cousin. One year before it entered production, DKW built a rear-engine prototype based on the Front model (with reversed layout). In 1934, Gerhard Macher, an owner of DKW concession in Berlin, ordered a special coupe for Rallye Monte-Carlo. This coupe, labeled "GM Spezial", had the rear part of the prototype and the front part with another engine, making it a bi-motor 4WD!

Macher's car was capable of speeds up to 125-130 km/h (info: forum-auto.com).

Headline picture: by stkone @ Flickr

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Comment by lord_k on June 25, 2011 at 6:39am

To Pilsner Panther:

I suppose there's no connection between Mr. Mahler (who is one of my favorite composers) and Mr. Rasmussen of the DKW.

Comment by Pilsner Panther on June 25, 2011 at 6:22am
I'm guessing that the initials don't have anything to to with "Das Knaben Wunderhorn" by Gustav Mahler, who wasn't exactly anyone's favorite composer in Germany in the 1930's (to put it mildly).

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