By on March 9, 2018

Image: 1962 Auto Union DKW 3=6Last time, in Part I of this DKW wagon’s saga, we covered a condensed history of the Audi marque. From its inception as Horch, through separation, renaming, and merger into the Auto Union fold, Audi wavered along unsteadily. The company even performed a vanishing act between 1940 and 1964.

In the middle of all this history is our Rare Ride, a tidy DKW wagon from 1962. But all is not as it seems.

Image: 1962 Auto Union DKW 3=6You see, something didn’t sit right between the historical timelines presented online and the model year of this DKW. Through a little research, I discovered the model-less wagon in the ad was actually a DKW 3=6 “Universal,” the name of the three-door wagon variant. But the front end looked a little odd, and it turned out that production of the 3=6 ended in 1959. So what gives with this 1962 model — an uninformed seller, perhaps?
Image: 1962 Auto Union DKW 3=6Not quite. This photo betrayed one key detail of this DKW: “Vemag S.A.” Those two letters stand for “Sociedade Anónima,” a form of corporation in Brazil. Vemag produced licensed DKW vehicles with slight modifications in Brazil, between 1956 and 1967. The factory in Brazil made several models, which underneath were versions of the 3=6. Production of the F94 version of the 3=6 began in 1958, with sedan and wagon variants. Though initially the models retained their DKW nomenclature, Vemag renamed them Belcar and Vemaguet in sedan and wagon versions, respectively.

Image: 1962 Auto Union DKW 3=6Vemag also produced a fiberglass-bodied sports car called the GT Malzoni, which would be the foundation for Brazilian sports car manufacturer Puma (still going today in South Africa).

Image: 1962 Auto Union DKW 3=6Turns out what we actually have here is a Vemag S.A. produced DKW Vemaguet. The South American market was the very last place you could buy a new DKW, as Volkswagen wound down the Brazilian operation in 1967. And so concludes the story of DKW branded cars — a long tale for this little German/South American wagon.

It’s yours for just under $24,000.

[Images via seller]

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20 Comments on “Rare Rides: The DKW Wagon From 1962 – Deceptive Geography (Part II)...”


  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Those rear seats remind of the seats in a booth table at a diner. Very interesting story, Corey.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Very thoughtful of them to include a fire extinguisher.

    • 0 avatar
      ezs

      Good observation!

      This was mandatory in Brazil until 2 years ago! A 2.2 pounds fire extinguisher that never could help so much when things got hot.

      Just imagine how brazilians engineer could explain US guys from GM that the 2012 Camaro would need to have a space to put it insde the cabin, on the reach of the driver.

  • avatar
    jems86

    Great article. Just a small comment: “This photo betrayed one key detail of this DKW: “Vemag S.A.” Those two letters stand for South America”, actually those two letters stand for “Sociedade anónima” (in Portuguese) a typical form of corporation in civil law countries.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      That’s correct.

      In the Netherlands such a corporation would be N.V. for Nameloos Vennootschap.

      If I’m not mistaken, Fiatsler dba FCA became FCA N.V. when it registered in Holland for tax purposes.

      This pearl of wisdom courtesy of my Portuguese/Dutch-American BFF.

  • avatar
    SOF in training

    Being that my first car was a DKW 3=6, I have a soft spot for them (don’t we all about our first car?). So I get a bit picky. I so far haven’t come across a really good history of the cars, and in this case…

    The DKW Universal was built in Germany from 1959 to 1962 according to sources I found. It was based on the earlier 3=6 it seems, with the rear hinged doors when other DKW’s soon changed over to front hinges.

    DKW models continued to be produced in Argentina until 1969.

    Being a Vemag explains why the car has no heater!

    Really, loved seeing the article.

    Senile Old Fart in Training
    (expect to graduate soon!)

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      SOF, I, too, have fond memories of the 3=6 DKW, albeit in two different places.

      When I lived with my uncle in La Jolla, CA, during the early sixties he had a grey DKW sedan at his auto shop on India Street, downtown, that he let me use to run errands in. A newly licensed 16yo kid will use any excuse and any car to go driving. Freedom!

      Miraculously, when I arrived for my tour of duty in Germany in June 1972, another uncle who owned a Mercedes dealership in Heidelberg let me use another DKW sedan he had, dressed out in the same shade of grey.

      I drove that little booger until my 1972 Olds Custom Cruiser Wagon arrived at Bremerhaven from the states.

      Man what a difference!!! Between the Olds and the DKW.

      But fond memories of the 3=6 nevertheless.

      BTW we used Full-Bore 2-stroke oil in the states and Twee-Takt Shell Motor Olie (from Holland) in Germany.

  • avatar
    redapple

    nice car
    thx for posting.

  • avatar
    kolonelpanik

    Did I miss any reference at all to the technical peculiarities of “the little wonder” (Das Kleine Wunder)? Everybody already knows that 3=6 refers to the 3 cyl two stroke engine? Did these DKW’s freewheel, like the SAABs of that era? Transmission, 3 spd? 4? Can’t remember.
    Anyway, Corey, thanks for the article, but some of us are technically greedy, and still hungry.
    The comment about S.A. was interesting,thanks jems86!

    • 0 avatar

      All of these antiquities on a little German car would be quickly out of my depth.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      My guess is that they did (freewheel). Since 2-stroke engines (used in this car and older Saabs) get their lubrication from the gas/oil mixture that comes in through the intake system, running them at high rpms with a closed throttle (i.e. coasting) starves the engine for oil, risking premature failure of piston rings, etc. So, freewheeling is mandatory to allow engine speed to drop down to idle when the throttle is closed, regardless of vehicle speed.

      You can decide if this is a bug . . . or a feature!

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      SAABs freewheeled like DKWs, not the other way around. Without the DKWs to copy, there’s no telling what sort of car SAAB would have been able to come up with on its own. The first Saab 92 was nothing more than a DKW F9 replica on the chassis and engine of a DKW F8 procured from East Germany. Later, SAAB was able to reverse engineer the F9’s three cylinder engine as well.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Brazilian Audi that’s not an Audi?

    What could go wrong?

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Nice article, Corey. Thanks for the effort!

  • avatar
    pwrwrench

    That interior reminds me of VWs of the 1960s. The Typ III, Fastback-Squareback, especially. Which makes sense as this DKW was built by VW Brazil.
    A shop I worked at in the early 1970s saw some Saab 2 strokes. One of the other mechanics had some experience with them. I asked him about the freewheel and the response was incomprehensible. I knew someone who had a Monte Carlo 850. He said that the freewheel was to improve fuel economy and reduce emissions as the 3 cylinder 2 stroke would smoke a lot on closed throttle deceleration.
    All the Saabs I saw had a lever to engage the freewheel. Also IIRC they all had an oil pump to deliver the lube to the engine so coasting would not reduce lubrication. I recall hearing that some older models needed oil mixed with the gasoline so things might be different with those.
    When USA emission standards got in place for 1968 models Saab installed a V4 from Ford of Europe for the USA.

  • avatar
    Hornblende

    Talk about dusting off cobwebs! My first car after arriving in Canada was a DKW two door, front hinged ones. I got it from a fellow student who said I could have it if I could start it. I started it but in a fit of conscience gave him a case of beer.
    Unlike SOF in training, I am a SOF. I have always been a decent wrench and the car captivated me. My one had one coil and a distributor attached to the bumper end of the crankshaft. It was difficult to start and the 6 volt electrical system didn’t help. I invented a choke by taking a tin can lid, knocking a few nail holes in it and putting that on top of the carburetor. It was a two pedal car, the clutch being activated by a micro switch in the gear lever stalk.
    By trial and error I found that the sweet spot on the engine could be altered by changing the ignition timing. I settled on one that gave power at high revs, since it only had abut 5 moving parts I wasn’t too worried about crashing pistons into valves. It would wail like a banshee which was a lot of fun but tended to let people know where I was.
    Maybe most fun was telling gas station attendants (they actually existed back then) to pour a quart of oil into the gas tank then fill it with gas!
    Since it was an orphan car and parts were unavailable I just used it for a summer then sold it to a teenager who I heard rolled it into a ball about two weeks later.
    Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

  • avatar
    zipper69

    In the late 50’s and early 60’s DKW cars were often seen in and around London in addition the very stylish DKW two stroke motorcycles were popular. Compared to the pitiful James and BSA singles the DKW’s were sleek, with much of the mechanical bits hidden beneath cowlings with leading link front suspension and most of the brightwork in polished aluminum and deeply valanced mudguards.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    It wasn’t uncommon back then for cars to be built under license in South America, with cars being facelifted, yet still recognizable. One example would be the IKA-Renault Torino, a ’64-’65 Rambler American, refreshed by Pininfarina, built in Argentina by a subsidiary of Kaiser Motors, and later taken over by Renault. Whoa, now I’ve got a headache.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IKA-Renault_Torino

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