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Classic Velocity Blog

Wartburg 311

Classic Velocity

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The twisted history of German car manufacturers would lead you to believe that at one point in time or another, they were all intertwined in the various configurations and permutations.  In this case, the Wartburg 311, which was styled to compete with (read emulate) the handsome Mercedes sedans of the time (see the pontoon rear fenders), was a direct descendent of an EMW which in turn was a BMW before the war split the company. It used a design from a DKW which was acquired by Auto Union, which we now know as Audi, and which is of course owned by Volkswagen, which also now owns Porsche.

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The Wartburg 311 was introduced in 1956 and was a body on a frame, at a time when most were transitioning to a monocoque. The frame was an evolution of the EMW 309, while the body was an evolution of an Auto Union design. The primary reason for the body-on-frame was so that a number of different variations and body types could be produced. Those body types eventually included a sedan, a coupe, a roadster, a pickup, a limousine, and a station wagon (estate). Today, this would be hailed as smart platform engineering. 

The drive train featured a 900cc two-stroke 3 cylinder engine which produced aroud 37hp. It was good for a top speed of around 72mph. The gearbox options were a 3 speed manual or a 4 speed manual. With the weight just north of 2100 lbs, this was no sports sedan, but it was solid reliable transportation, and a relatively large car at the time in East Germany. 

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