DKW is a defunct German car and motorcycle marque. The name derives from Dampf-Kraft-Wagen (English: steam-driven car).
In 1916, Danish engineer Jørgen Skafte Rasmussen founded a factory in Zschopau, Saxony, Germany, to produce steam fittings. In the same year, he attempted to produce a steam-driven car, called the DKW. Although unsuccessful, he made a two-stroke toy engine in 1919, called Des Knaben Wunsch – "the boy’s desire". He also put a slightly modified version of this engine into a motorcycle and called it Das Kleine Wunder – "the little marvel". This was the real beginning of the DKW brand: by the 1930s, DKW was the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer.
In 1932, DKW merged with Audi, Horch and Wanderer, to form the Auto Union. Auto Union came under Daimler-Benz ownership in 1957, and was then purchased by the Volkswagen Group in 1964. The last German built DKW car was the F102 which ceased production in 1966.
DKW badged cars continued to be built under license in Brazil and Argentina until, respectively, 1967 and 1969.
As the Auto Union company originally was situated in Saxony in what became the German Democratic Republic, it took some time for it to regroup after the war ended. The company was registered again in West Germany as Auto Union GmbH in 1949, first as a spare-part provider, but soon to take up production of the RT 125 motorcycle and a newly developed delivery van, called a Schnellaster F800. Their first line of production took place in Düsseldorf. This van used the same engine as the last F8 made before the war.
Their first passenger car was the F89 using the body from the prototype F9 made before the war and the two-cylinder two-stroke engine from the last F8. Production went on until it had been replaced by the successful three-cylinder engine which came with the F91. The F91 was in production from 1953–1955, and was replaced by the somewhat larger F93 in 1956. The F91 and F93 models all had 900 cc three-cylinder two-stroke engines, the first ones delivering 34 hp (25 kW), and the last ones 38 hp (28 kW). The ignition system of these engines comprised three independent sets of points and coils, one for each cylinder, with the points mounted in a cluster around a single lobed cam at the front end of the crank shaft. The cooling system was of the free convection type assisted by a fan driven from a pulley mounted at the front end of the crank shaft.
The F93 was produced until 1959, and was in turn replaced by the Auto-Union 1000. These models where produced with a 1,000 cc two-stroke engine, with a choice between 44 hp (33 kW) or 50 hp (37 kW) S versions until 1963. During this transition, production was also moved from Düsseldorf to Ingolstadt where the successor company Audi still has its production. From 1957, these cars could be fitted with an optional saxomat, an automatic clutch and, at the time it …