Can It Be Saved? 1962 DKW Junior Deluxe

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The 1950s were awash in three-cylinder cars. For instance, the Wartburg 311 hid a 0.9 liter in-line three in its engine compartment. Ditto several contemporaneous Saabs. The Berkeley SE492 of course. The Polish FSO Syrena. And over in Germany, most of DKW’s production. Here on craigslist is a sad member of the three-cylinder club, this 1962 DKW Junior Deluxe. The asking price is $2200 and the car can be dug out of its lair in Atco, New Jersey. We have Mitchell G to thank for this unusual tip! DKW’s first effort at making a car came in the early 1900s when it made a steam-powered vehicle (Dampf Kraft Wagen). With a failure on its hands, DKW turned to making toy two-stroke engines (Das Kleine Wunder) which might be neat at your local Steam-Up but probably weren’t welcome in the kid’s bedroom. Motorcycles were a logical platform for the two-stroke, but when post-war consumers clamored for improved conveyances, DKW tossed that two-stroke into a car. In 1932 DKW merged with Auto Union; the nameplate disappeared entirely by 1969.

The Junior Deluxe was manufactured from 1961 to 1963; its predecessor was simply called the Junior. The difference between the two was a slightly increased bore in this tiny engine, yielding a displacement of 796 cc’s. Power output – if you want to call it that – comes in at about 34 hp. The radiator is nestled against the firewall, and the fuel tank is sistered with an oil injection system that sometimes works – mix it yourself at 40:1 to avoid disaster. But every spark plug gets its own coil, and access to its three sets of points is through a hole in the bumper – so that’s nice! The transmission is a column-mounted four-speed manual. Front-wheel drive, inboard drums, and rack and pinion steering top off the DKW’s weird mix of primitive and sophisticated mechanical features.

The upholstery is shredded but the important parts are present – seat frames, switches, steering wheel, handles, trim. The driving experience is slow and noisy, and I can only imagine what a slog it was for US dealers to offload these little beasts. Speaking of dealers, Studebaker’s network was saddled with the DKW as part of its deal to sell Mercedes-Benz cars.

The car’s replication of American ’50s styling in miniature is charming, though this example will need considerable work before it’s roadworthy, let alone ready for Cars ‘N Coffee. Meanwhile, if you can even find a DKW for sale, you’ll pay about $5k to $7k for a decent one. That doesn’t leave a lot of financial scope to fix this little guy.

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  1. Howard A. HoAMember

    I realize different countries had different needs, but look what we were driving in ’62. “4 speed, dual quad, positraction,,” and look what the Europeans smokingly slogged along in, with cars we never heard of. I’m always amazed at how many European car makers went the 2 stroke route. They couldn’t possibly have been very reliable, I mean, look at it. Looks like something we’d have to start a real motor. I think the car itself is pretty cool, Europes styling always seemed a generation behind ours, and an LS motor? By all means!

    Like 1
    • JDC

      And to this day, the Europeans aren’t as addicted to fossil fuel, nor as infatuated with gigantic vehicles, as the US is. They’ve obviously gotten it right all aling.

      Like 12
      • Will Fox

        Those in Europe shied away from US gigantic cars because their roads are all so narrow & small–they were paved long before the car was invented–meant for horse/buggy at the most.

        Like 9
      • bone

        The availability of oil was one reason, we had it, most European countries didnt -and I wouldn’t say they got it right all along , most of these little Euro cars were rickety death traps

        Like 5
      • geomechs geomechsMember

        Every native European I’ve come across has a wild emphatuation with American cars and trucks. I’ve known two who shipped their American treasures back to Europe with them. And don’t forget Harley Davidson motorcycles; they carry more prestige than a Rolls Royce…

        Like 5
    • Harry KritisMember

      Europe went through 2 catastrofic wars. Especially after WW2 there was a tendency to serve the many poor people & all of these small European cars of the 50’s, 60’s targeted these people (think Fiat 500cc of the 50’s). I personally know people that went from rich to poor within a few days.

      Like 0
  2. gary

    Tube chassis, a blown, injected Hemi and Lenco

    Like 3
  3. bobhess bobhessMember

    The above comments on Europe’s post war cars spot on. Spent mid ’70s in Norway and the comments we got about the post war cars was really amazing. When they had fuel it was very expensive and with present day fuel readily available it is also still very expensive. We paid over $3 a gallon for fuel while over there. As for this car, I think the war is finally over.

    Like 2
  4. Steve

    Can It Be Saved?

    Yes, crush it and make a coffee table out of it.

    Like 3
  5. geomechs geomechsMember

    There was a lady from Shelby or Cutbank that showed up with her kids in Sunburst to swim at the pool. She drove one of these smokers. I remember having to push her in reverse to un-jam the starter bendix from the flywheel. That happened numerous times. The engine would start right up after that and she and the kids would head out of town, a blue cloud following them. I have to say that if something different was to show up, it would be out west…

    Like 1
  6. Wademo

    To me, they missed out on all the fun!!!

    Like 0
    • Wademo

      That was in response to JDC

      Like 0
  7. Wademo

    Actually looks like a great candidate for a Hayabusa or a 110 inch Harley. Now I want it! (For $250)

    Like 4
  8. Shelbydude

    This 1965 Saab 96 on eBay looks like a much better option.
    I seem to recall this Saab being featured on this site a short time ago.

    Like 1
    • Wademo

      Interesting. MUCH closer to me and potentially much cheaper. I really like the late 50s vibe of the DKW Junior. I need to stay off the internet!🤣

      Like 1
  9. Chuck Foster Chuck Foster

    I have one of these smokers, I always thought about putting a fwd Subaru engine/tranny in it. It’s a 1951 chassis on a 54 coupe body with a 2 cylinder 2 stroke, crazy car. Make me an offer and bring a trailer.

    Like 0
  10. Wayne

    It would be cool to get it running (regardless of what drive train you use) Anything over 100 HP would make this fun. (AND DIFFERENT!)

    Like 0
  11. DavidLMember

    Are 2-stroke engines for cars legal any more?

    Like 0
  12. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskeyMember

    David, Yes, except [I believe and have been told] in California, as they cannot pass the emission tests for vintage cars.

    I’ve owned several DKW vehicles, from the SP1000 coupe with a Bauer body, to the Munga, a CJ type 4X4. They are a simple car to repair and service, and spare parts are generally available

    As for access to the points, it’s much easier to get to them from inside the engine compartment, as the small hole in the front is for the crank. The ignition points were covered by a rubber cap that was easy to remove.

    Sadly, this car is probably worth more in scrap value, hopefully it can be picked up and used for spare parts. Speaking of parts, a guy named Norm, with Columbia Equipment in Portland, OR had a huge stash OF DKW spare parts, but I don’t think he’s around anymore. That said, most of the German DKW factory parts hoard was shipped to south America, where the cars continued to be made for many years in Uruguay or Paraguay [Can’t remember which country]. A friend with a F-9 like this car was able to get everything he needed for his car from down south, just a couple of years ago.

    Like 1
  13. Shelbydude

    For David L. and others:

    Per California DMV website:
    Smog inspections are required when you register or renew registration for a vehicle in California, but there are some exceptions. Your vehicle does not need a smog inspection if your: Gasoline-powered vehicle is a 1975 year model or older (This includes motorcycles and trailers.)

    The statutory authority: California Health & Safety Code § 44011(a)(3)
    (a) All motor vehicles powered by internal combustion engines that are registered within an area designated for program coverage shall be required biennially to obtain a certificate of compliance or noncompliance, except for the following:
    (3) All motor vehicles manufactured prior to the 1976 model-year.

    Like 0

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