1959 DKW 3=6
From the The Automobile Magazine 'Oily Rag' Reserve Collection; recent engine rebuild and general overhaul; brake master cylinder needs attention
Produced from 1953 to 1959, the innovative DKW 3=6 was manufactured within the titanic Auto Union group, makers of some of the finest racing cars the world has ever seen.
Before the Second World War, DKW had been Europe’s largest motorcycle manufacturer and a two-stroke specialist. Therefore, it wasn’t surprising that it brought its high-revving motors to its car models as well, the ‘3=6’ name being a direct reference to the three-cylinder engine’s ability to match the attributes of bigger six-cylinder units of the time.
The 896cc motor was mounted longitudinally with the radiator behind and drove the front wheels through a three-speed transaxle gearbox (four-speed after 1953). Early versions produced 34bhp, but this was uprated to 38bhp in 1955 and 40bhp in ’56, good for a top speed of 76mph. With no transmission tunnel, the compact two-door saloon was roomier than its most direct rival, the Volkswagen Beetle.
With its torquey engine and four-wheel independent suspension – transverse leaf spring up front and trailing arms at the rear – the model showed its worth in the European Touring Car Championship, coming first, second and third in 1954 and winning its class in the Monte Carlo Rally.
According to the Auto Union dating certificate on file, this DKW F93 3=6 Limousine Spezial was built in July 1959 and was delivered new to Fa Nordis of Stockholm. Finished in black, it had a two-stroke 896cc three-cylinder petrol engine rated at 40hp with a four-speed gearbox and a top speed of 125km/h. Other documents on file list three Swedish owners between 1967 and 1971 but nothing more is known of the car’s early history.
In March 2016 it appeared at an auction in West Sussex from where it was acquired for the Oily Rag Collection. It was then sent to Connaught Green Ltd of Southam for a thorough mechanical overhaul with invoices on file amounting to £6,087.
This included a complete engine rebuild; carburettor tune; refurbished radiator blind; full brake system overhaul; new GAZ dampers; electrical system overhaul; rebuilt generator; wiper motor repaired; heating/ventilation system overhaul; fuel system overhaul; fresh fluids including gearbox oil; headlamps refurbished and fitted with halogen bulbs; new wheel nuts; all moving parts greased and lubed; full service etc. The wheels were refurbished, new tyres fitted and a new exhaust fitted.
The car is currently in need of a new brake master cylinder to be sourced and fitted, after which it should be ready to drive.
The history file also includes a V5C, an original DKW sales brochure, DKW Owner’s Club literature and a 1957 Autocar road test which comments on the lively performance of the 3=6: "At 65mph the engine is as smooth as one could wish and there is no indication of stress of any kind," the tester also noting that it was very economical, recording 27mpg in London traffic and 42mpg on a run.
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