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Awesome Audi Ancestor: 1965 DKW F12 Roadster

As a long-time Audi owner and fan, any time that I see a car from their early years, like this 1965 DKW F12 convertible, it catches my eye. I’m going to try to practice uber-restraint on this one and not bid on it. The seller has it listed here on eBay in South Pasadena, California.

I would love to have this DKW F12. It would look great in the garage and it would surely turn heads at any car show, especially a German or European-specific car show. DKW was one of four companies, along with Audi, Horsch, and Wanderer, that were under the Auto Union umbrella of companies. By the early-1960s, two-stroke automobile engines were seen as being outdated and in 1964, Volkswagen acquired the Auto Union trademark and factory and before long, the DKW name was retired. I’m a big fan of two-stroke engines and when they’re three-cylinder two-strokes, even more so.

The DKW F12 was based on the DKW Junior Deluxe which it replaced in 1963. The roadster/convertible debuted in 1964. The seller says that this DKW was owned by a gentleman who unfortunately passed away and they think that they were working on it at the time as there were a few parts in the trunk including freshly-turned disc brake rotors. Speaking of the trunk, it looks great, and even under the trunk pad, it looks rock solid. The top is in good condition other than the plastic rear window which may need to be replaced at some point.

The interior looks very original and very nice right down to the floor covering. There is no back “seat”, per se, but the little storage area behind the front bucket seats looks great. There is a 4-speed manual transmission with a column shifter and the seller says that this car rolls easily but they haven’t driven it.

The engine is an 889 CC two-stroke triple with around 45 hp. The seller says that it turns over but they haven’t started it. I would have to believe that with a little tinkering this car would be happily blowing blue smoke out of the tailpipe again. Are there any two-stroke engine fans out there? How about triple-cylinder engine fans? DKW fans? I hope I’m not alone.

Comments

  1. Bud

    That’s cool . I bet it’s fun to drive .

    Like 3
  2. Bob S

    Hey Scotty, does my old 72 Suzuki 380 gt two stroke triple count, lol.

    Like 2
    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Hey, Bob – yes! I love those 380 Suzukis!
      https://barnfinds.com/1974-suzuki-gt380/
      Fantastic bikes, I’d love to have one.

      Like 2
      • MrBZ

        I had the big brother, a GT750 water buffalo, great reliable bike!

        Like 1
  3. alphasud Member

    Neat little car. I thought the Audi badge on the deck lid was not stock but looking online some of these cars had it. 6 volt electrics on this one. You could do a restomod using a triple from a Polaris snowmobile and triple the HP. Torque steer you right into the woods! Or make a custom intake manifold with a IDA-3c Weber carb. I don’t think you could even drive this in Cali. They would call the cops on you whenever you drove it!

    Like 2
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      alphasud,
      In the USA, starting with the SP1000 coupes & roadsters, when the cars were sold thru DKW dealerships, they were badged as such. Those cars sold thru AUDI dealerships had the 4 circle emblem, and were sold not as AUDI cars, but as Auto Union cars. My 1959 SP1000 coupe was sold new in the USA, and bears the Auto Union emblems & logos

  4. Alan Brase

    3=6 was their advertising line. So ugly, it’s cute. DKW is Der Kleiner Wunder.

    Like 4
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      Alan Brase,
      If my spotty memory is still good, that’s the most common accepted meaning of DKW, translating to English as “The Little Wonder”, Also accepted is; Der Kleiner Wagen [the little car].

      I visited the DKW museum in Germany back in 1996. The museum says the actual meaning can be traced to the company’s original products: STEAM ENGINES. The DKW letters back then stood for Dampf Kraft Wagen. Translated to English: Steam Powered Vehicle!

    • Gerard Frederick

      Hey Al, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, also it is ¨Das kleine Wunder¨.The DKW 3-cylinder was developed in 1941, but never saw production until the 1950´s. One of the engineers was hired by Saab and designed their 3-cylinder 2-stroke which initiated Saab automobile procduction. DKW was the pioneer per se in 2-stroke technology, front wheel drive and the usage of plastics in their cars at a time noone thought about it. They were the biggest motorcycle manufacturer worldwide and their bikes were generally stupendous, forming the basis of the russian motorcycle industry, the japanese and the chinese as well. In the 1930´s they were
      (essentially unbeatable in the 250cc class as well as the 1000cc side-car class. In the latter they fielded a wild, watercooled machine featuring Ilse Thouret as a driver, the first woman motorcycle racer.The DKW SB 350 was the preferred bike of the Wermachtr in the war. In the 1950´s they built the awsome 3-cylinder 350 cc machine dubbed the ¨Singing Saw¨ due to its high pitched whine. This machine outferformed all 500 cc machines including the big BMW´s, the incredible MV Agusta V-8 (!) but unfortunately the state of development of 2-stroke oil was rather backward; it would cease to lubricate after getting too hot, causing the cylinders to freeze up. Why this magnificent manufacturer was killed off is anyones guess, but it appears to have been done with malice aforethought by a bunch of people who ¨wanted to save the world from the dirty 2-stroke engine.

  5. Chas H

    I like the single overhead fan shaft.

    Like 3
  6. CParm

    Looks like the 57 Ford’s little brother

    Like 6
    • Bob C.

      I agree, definitely screams European Ford of this era.

      Like 2
  7. Steve H

    I owned a 1961 2door hardtop when I was in Germany. After a very cold two week field maneuver, much to the surprise of my buddies, I got in, cranked it up and drove away! It would only do about 74 mph and at that speed, the little engine was screaming like a banshee, but no blue smoke. I wish I still had it. The soldier I sold it too let it go to the military salvage yard for a bad clutch. Arrgh!

    Like 5
  8. Solosolo ken tillyUK Member

    A friend of mine had a DKW 3/6 and several Auto Unions and he used to complain about their heavy fuel consumption. I always thought they would be economical but apparently not.

    Like 2
    • Alan Brase

      No. 2 cycle engines are hard to make economical when they are designed to run at varying speeds. The port timing determines scavenging cycle and in most the port timing is fixed.
      Thus 2 cycle diesel as used in stationary or marine engines can be designed for efficiency. No so much auto and motorcycle engines. Yamaha’s YPSS might have made that a little better with the RZ350/500.
      Saab thought they made great advances when they started putting 2/3 of a Ford engine in theirs!

      Like 2
  9. Little_Cars

    I LIKE this! I’d love to bid on this car, but being in California any deal made would be negated by the fee to get it home to Tennessee. Looking at the aerial view of the driver’s position, looks like any driver would have to shift their butt to the right in order to operate the pedals…they seem rather inboard of the wheel wells protruding into the cabin. That might be a back-breaker over time.

    Like 2
    • Fred W

      Buy it and drive it home on Route 66 – now that would be an adventure!

      Like 2
    • Charlie

      I had the same thought about the pedal placement (which is mandated by that massive wheel well protrusion).

      Like 1
      • Solosolo ken tillyUK Member

        If you have ever owned a VW Beetle then you won’t find it to be a problem. You will soon get used to it and being a LHD I should think it would be easier than RHD.

        Like 1
  10. Ben T Spanner

    There will be a lot more people driving 3 cylinder vehicles, but they may not be fans, The new slightly bigger Buick Encore GX? will have a 3 cylinder. Since its made by GM Korea, I would bet other models will also use it. It’s cousin will be the slightly bigger version of the Chevrolet Trax. Iv’e had 2, 4 ,5 ,6 ,8 and 12 cylinder but no 3 cylinder yet.

    Like 2
  11. Robert

    Here’s a German video of a car in operation and some history

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmosGsaMSrY

    Like 4
    • MikeH

      Great video. If all Germans spoke as slowly and clearly as that guy, I would be fluent. And yes Scotty, there are a lot of blue smoke lovers out here. Always wanted a DKW 1000.

      Like 2
  12. Karl

    I have never seen a car like this one and the fact it came from The Auto Union in Germany just makes that much cooler! It’s an interesting piece of history.

    Like 3
  13. chrlsful

    nice, 4 on the column,
    last pic shows the advanced coil-on-plug of that day
    aaahahahaaaa

    Like 2
  14. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    Sold for $8,140.

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