The owner of the DKW company, Jörgen Skafte Rasmussen had acquired a majority shareholding in Audi Werke AG of Zwickau, Germany in August 1928. He planned to stimulate sales by installing his eight-cylinder engines in the large Audi models, but competition from America was strong, and during the world economic crisis from the end of 1929 onwards the company found itself facing increasingly severe financial problems. A new product with greater market appeal was urgently needed to ensure the company’s survival.
In October 1930 Rasmussen decided that an entirely new small car should be developed in the shortest possible time. Its design was to be based on the water-cooled DKW twin-cylinder motorcycle engine, with front-wheel drive and a lightweight steel chassis frame. Rasmussen allowed the designers only six weeks to finish their work. The F1 project was successful, and the new DKW front-wheel-drive model had its first test run at the end of November 1930. DKW exhibited it at the Berlin IAA Motor Show in February 1931. The production started that same year at the Zwickau plant in Germany, and DKW F1 rapidly became a sales success.
4,353 units of the DKW F1 were manufactured at the Zwickau plant between 1931 and 1932. The DKW F1 was followed by newer versions of the front-wheel drive car bearing model names F2 to F8. The DKW company became part of the Auto Union in 1932.
DKW F1 technical specifications
- 584 cc
- 18 hp at 3,800 rpm
- 70 km/h
- 7.0 l/100km