Roshake found and posted this Wartburg Tourist at the Cohort. For you not familiar with it, the Wartburg 353 was an East German (DDR) car of somewhat upscale ambitions; the DDR Buick to the (Chevy) Trabant. It was an evolution of the pre-war DKW F9, and had a 993 cc two-stroke triple driving the front wheels, when in 1988 it finally got a VW-sourced 1.3 L four-stroke four, and had its name changed to Wartburg 1.3. But it only lasted through 1991, shortly after unification.
And what did it inspire?
The Nissan Rasheen, of course. It arrived in 1994, just six years after the Wartburg’s demise. Like all these Nissan retromobiles, it’s not a perfect replica, and was not intended to be. But its inspiration is all-too obvious.
The Rasheen was something of a pioneer, as it makes a pretty good claim to being the first CUV, given that it had a unique taller body on a passenger car platform and was available with AWD.
But let’s savor the original some more, especially in contrast to its more modern neighbors out on the street.
Related CC reading:
Curbside Classic: 1988-1991 Wartburg 353 1.3 – The East German Audi, In More Ways Than One
1994-2000 Nissan Rasheen – The World’s First Four-Door CUV Was An Homage To The Wartburg 353
I did not seem any of these when I was in East Germany back in 1996. Traubis were rolling nearly everywhere east of Brocken in the Harz. Those are hard to miss because the spewed black exhaust and you smelled them before you saw them. I know of Wartburgs because of one of our neighbors was a returning soldier and collected them as a hobby. Living near Bremen meant I was also familiar with Borgwards, which were prized in that part of Germany. I enjoyed discovering these lesser-known brands.
However, while I recognize what brand this car is, I have not yet had an opportunity to spy one of this vintage in the flesh.
Here’s an earlier Japanese tall body awd wagon that was even earlier than the Nissan, mid-’80s in this case.
Unlike the 353 or Rasheen, the Tercel wagon wasn’t quite a true crossover though as it (along with its two main competitors, the Subaru Leone and AMC Eagle) shared much of its body and interior with the Tercel four door hatchback; it looks like the front doors, front fenders, hood, and rear door lowers are shared with Tercel hatchbacks whereas a true CUV would have a unique body that is taller than its sedan or hatchback counterpart. In practice, the Tercel didn’t suffer much either aesthetically or practically from sharing most of its body with a passenger car, but it’s most noticeable in the door frames which were clearly designed for a lower roofline than the Tercel wagon’s. In the hatchback, the roof height is just barely above the door opening, whereas in the wagon the roof is a few inches above the door opening making ingress/egress less easy than if the door frames reached the roof height. The tall roof also looks a bit like an afterthought, as with van conversions with a taller fiberglass roof cap.
A little correction: These arent called 353, thats only the name of the previous two stroke models. These 4 stroke ones are simply called Wartburg 1.3, just like the 4 stroke Trabants are called Trabant 1.1
Got it. Fixed now.
Wikipedia says 1988 was the last year these were produced. So since you said this is a 1989, presumably that was a model year still built in 1988? Or is Wikipedia wrong?
Thats interesting, because when I look it up on wikipedia its says these were produced until 1991, the same being the last model year.
Actually I think you might be looking at the wikipedia entry for the 353 and not the 1.3, since the 353 did end production in 1988. The 1.3 has its own wikipedia page, with the info i posted above listed there.
Yup. I just saw that. Thanks.
How can I convince you to be a contributor and post your finds here yourself? They don’t have to be very detailed; just a few basic facts, or whatever you want to say about them.
Yeah I’ve thought about doing that. What i could see myself doing first though is writing a COAL about my first car. I have some quite entertaining stories to share there if it would be welcome.
Sounds good. I’ll get you set up and email you.
Okay, thanks ^^
I followed the links here and elsewhere but I’m unclear about the Wartburg’s lineage – I understand the relation to DKW and thus Audi, but BMW seems to figure in too; some of the latter’s factories falling on the Soviet side of the Berlin Wall and being renamed EMB (E for Eisenach after the western BMW took legal action, then becoming Wartburg. The 353/1.3 sedans bear a strong visual resemblance to the BWW 2000 Neue Klasse but beyond how it looks and where it was built, apparently they have nothing in common with any BMW car.
Was the 353 ever exported to the US? I know the earlier 351 was, though very few of them.
Not EMB but EMW, Eisenacher Motoren Werke. Living near that City you can spot one of these from time to time, but as has been said earlier most of these got scrapped for a Golf I or even worse for an Opel. And yes, they have nothing in common with any BMW of that era: They were winter-proof, had a great space-to-size ratio and little maintenance cost!
Oops, meant EMW. Used red version of BMW roundel as logo.
I would imagine a high level communist bureaucrat or DDR Olympic gold metal winner was awarded such a vehicle. Nice to see one in good condition and well taken car of considering most were immediately junked for a VW Golf in the early 90’s.
Strange as it sounds, the rear three-quarter view reminds me of a shrunken IH Travelall.
“1989” model disguised as a “1969”.
I am not sorry the Communist Bloc dissolved but it was something of a loss when many of the alternative ways of engineering were lost too. I once saw a 1950s Wartburg in Eastern Germany and had a close look at it. It was rather nicely made and more interestingly, really seemed to suit its environment. The way it rolled easily over rough surfaces indicated a vehicle in tune with its conditions of use. It did smell rather horrible though.
As a Western Germany native I do fully agree to that in all aspects! Interestingly, most of East Germany two stroke survivors smell mich less horribly nowadays running on modern fuel and Castrol RS mix oil!
Minol fuel was so bad!
My understanding, which may need correcting, is that when Germany was occupied by the allied powers the BMW factory at Eisnach continued to produce cars based on pre war BMW designs, but that after the DDR and DBR became separate states the western BMW was unhappy with this.
The Eisnach Motoren Werke took over production of the DKW/IFA F9 from Zwichau so that the Trabant could be made there. They rebodied it in the mid 1950s to become the EMW Wartburg 311. The chassis and body were changed again in the mid 1960s to become the Wartburg 353.
When the VW engine was fitted it involved substantial re-engineering as the VW engine was transverse, whereas the two stroke was DKW/ Audi style longitudinal.
I don’t really understand why that was necessary, as far as I’m aware the Barkas LKW used the same drivetrain, but was given the VW engine without altering the orientation.
Have I got this correct?
Correct for the Wartburg to get its moment in the sun – an important vehicle for a sizeable nation (East Germany) at the time. Sodl as teh Wartburg Knight in the UK in 1970s and early 80s, in 2 stroke form. I suspect the last 2 stroke in the UK. Value with a capital V was the pitch.
Never spotted the link to the Nissan but I now can’t unsee it.
It’s been years since I’ve seen one of these. They were never common here in Amsterdam anyway and we only got the two stroke version until the late 70’s I think. I attended an east bloc car meet in 2014, I liked seeing them among the Trabants and Ladas.
I did see its cousin a few weeks ago, the Barkas B1000.
I do have a nice 60’s Wartburg aluminium logo from a 312. If anyone wants it for free, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org because I’m not much of a Wartburg fan.