THE HIS­TORY OF DKW / AUTO UNION

New Zealand Classic Car - - Feature -

The com­pany be­gan dur­ing an amaz­ing pe­riod of Ger­man au­to­mo­tive en­gi­neer­ing be­fore World War II. DKW — Dampf-kraft-wa­gen, or ‘steam-pow­ered car’; Das-kleine-wun­der, or ‘ the lit­tle won­der’; Des-kn­aben-wunsch, or ‘the boy’s wish’, was cre­ated by a Dan­ish en­gi­neer, Jor­gen Ras­mussen, in 1916, af­ter his fac­tory in Ger­many was formed to pro­duce steam fit­tings and a steam car. In 1919, Ras­mussen devel­oped his first two-stroke en­gine and put it in a mo­tor­cy­cle frame. By the 1920s, DKW was the largest man­u­fac­turer of mo­tor­cy­cles and sup­plier of mo­tor­cy­cle en­gines in the world. It con­tin­ued as a man­u­fac­turer of both mo­tor­cy­cles and cars un­til the 1930s. At that time, with the im­pact of the re­ces­sion, DKW, Audi, Horch, and Wan­derer merged to form Auto Union AG.

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