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Wartburg (car): Wikis


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1965 Wartburg 311 (991cc)
1988 Wartburg 353 (also known as the Wartburg Knight)

Wartburg is a car marque manufactured in East Germany.

The name "Wartburg" derives from Wartburg Castle on one of the hills overlooking the town of Eisenach where the cars were manufactured.

From the 1950s, Wartburgs had a three-cylinder two-stroke engine with only seven moving parts (three pistons, three connecting rods and one crankshaft).[1]




First usage of name

1898 Wartburg

The marque dates back to 1898 when a car made by Automobilwerk Eisenach was named the Wartburgwagen. It consisted of a two-seating cane chair, four mudgards, two headlamps, and a two-cylinder, 765-cc engine. Its top speed was 25 mph. It was quite the flimsy contraption, but nevertheless it sold perfectly fine in Germany. The name was dropped in 1904 when the company changed hands but re-appeared briefly in the early 1930s on the BMW 3/15 DA-3 Wartburg, which was BMW's first sports car.[2][3]

Main usage of name

The name was revived in 1956 by VEB Automobilwerk Eisenach and given to an updated version of their IFA F9 car which had been in production since 1950. The new car had a more powerful version of the three-cylinder two-stroke engine driving the front wheels and a completely new body.

Exports to West Germany started in 1958, and by the early 1960s the car was exported to many other countries, including the United Kingdom and United States. The 311 model was manufactured in a number of variations, including pickup, estate, and two-seater roadster.

The engine was enlarged to 992 cc in 1962 and a completely new body was manufactured after 1966. Also in 1966 the gearbox gained synchromesh on all speeds and was designed to freewheel as an engine protection measure, which had the unfortunate side-effect that the car did not benefit from engine braking. Due to the fact that the engine was a two stroke unit, it relied on the passage of the petrol mixture (A mixture of special two stroke oil and petrol, at a ratio of 1:40) to lubricate the engine. Without the freewheel device, on long down-hill runs the engine could be starved of lubricant and seize.

The new car, the 353, was known in some export markets as the Wartburg Knight. The two-stroke engine was replaced by a 1300 cc four stroke Volkswagen engine in 1988, but otherwise time and technology passed it by. The final nail in its coffin was the introduction of the Deutschmark (DM), as the cost of producing a car reached 20,000 DM. Production ended in 1991, as German reunification spelt its end. The factory was acquired by Opel in 1991.

There are still many cars in drivable condition and Wartburg owners' clubs exist throughout Europe. Many Wartburgs are still used as rally racing cars.[4]


The sports car Melkus RS 1000 used a mid-mounted three-cylinder two-stroke engine from the Wartburg 353.



External links


  1. ^ Wartburg (car) on
  2. ^ BMW 3/15 PS, 315/1 and 319/1 - early roadsters
  3. ^ BMW Motorsport - BMW 3/15
  4. ^ Flickr: Wartburg Rally Car


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