1956 DKW Schnellaster Kastenwagen For Sale
In the 1950's when VW was really starting to grow and spread worldwide,
other German manufacturers tried to compete for their slice of the pie.
DKW was one of the game players, a member of the Auto Union group (that
eventually became Audi)
They made wonderful passenger cars, a sports car and even vans like the
one above. Very few made it to US shores and even fewer survive
and this example, located in sunny Southern California is perhaps the
best example in the world today.
There are currently four known Kastenwagens, including this example, in
three of which remain non running in need of full restoration.
The majority of these worldwide have returned to the elements and few
This is a Left hand drive (left mounted single windshield wiper arm)
U.S. spec “Export” Kastenwagen,
which means it features Pivot versus fixed vent windows in the doors,
sealed beam headlamps versus reflector,
Hella front and rear turn signal housings and lenses versus
U.S. spec license plate mounting holes, center rear stop/ license plate
light, and U.S. spec radiator
with the optional fold down walk-through passenger seat for access to
the rear compartment.
This vehicle as sold new at Peter Satori Motors in Pasadena California,
a high end import dealer in the day
that handled everything from Aston Martins to specialty vehicles like
These clippings from original sales brochures of the era are great
illustrations of what the vehicle was all about.
The delivery van was spacious, passenger models were also available and
they even made a pick up truck version!
The 3 cylinder 2 stroke engine with a performance rating of 36
horsepower was right in line with the competition over at VW
but the design was radically different. Water cooled, high revving 2
stroke design, ignition coils for each cylinder...it is a very
and the exhaust note is something very unique in the world of motoring.
Simple design...fun and funky to the viewer today, these sorts of vans
were all about in Europe.
In the US...a few made it over...but not many.
Interesting cockpit layout
Front wheel drive and front engine makes for a low floor in back,
perfect for tall items.
This was one of the major selling points over the VW, with a 13" high
loading deck and no engine out back to get in the way.
The DKW was a bit more exlusive than the VW as well, being sold at
Mercedes dealerships back in the day with a price tag
roughly $1300 more than the equivalent VW! (keep in mind the VW was
just $2300 at the time...so that is a BIG difference!)
Production numbers were small and each one assembled by hand.
Build quality was very high!
The minimalistic production line was a far cry from the monsterous VW
back in the day. Interesting to see the photos of them being built.
This factory shot is really wild...working on cars outside in the dirt?
To contrast this to the modern ultra high tech production line at Audi
from humble beginnings, but a quality product from day one.
Here inside the cargo compartment you can see this clearly.
Very clean, near spotless inside and out. This is better than they ever
were from the factory for sure.
This lever controls the fresh air vents .
Spare tire sits on the floor under the drivers seat
All materials and parts are as close to the original design as humanly
The restorer went to great lengths to scour the globe for all the right
The attention to detail is just fantastic.
Fantastic dashboard design
Chrome is superb, paint finish is amazing
New old stock 56 California plates were located for it. Note the
"timed" screws holding everything on.
The restorer is anal to the finest degree, which is what makes his work
Notice the headlights, similar in design to VW and Porsche at first
glance, but the actual lights are freestanding behind the hood
and just shine through these buckets. Note the 4 ring logo on the base
of the glass as well as the Auto Untion nose emblem.
Also...no adjuster screws on the ring as you would see on other German
Another neat detail is the rubber bumper on the hood handle that, when
open, rests against the top of the front window.
Here is a quick photo to show some scale of this truck.
To the left is a Honda Element.
The tires are fantastic!
16" wheels with the proper DKW hubcaps.
The truck is spotless underneath...truly exceptional level of detail.
No stone was left unturned.
What a great profile this truck has.
This is arguably the very best example of it's kind in the whole world.
You will search your whole life to try to find a better one and I just
dont think you ever will.
This level of restoration is so far and above the norm...you simply
must see it to believe it.
What a face!!
This vehicle belongs in a museum somewhere...perhaps back to the
homeland on display at Audi
or perhaps Autostadt. Wherever it ends up it will draw a crowd and
Most people in today's world have never even heard of one of these, let
alone see one!
To own one , especially restored to this level, is exclusive beyond
The colors are fantastic and are period correct German DKW hues.
The dark green is "JADE GREEN" (Jadegrun in German) with the umlaut
over the U,
and the lighter green is "SHELL WHITE" (EierschalenweiB).
896 CC, 36 SAE horsepower (at 4,000 rpm) cast iron block,
aluminum head engine
using a valveless design. There is one ignition coil per cylinder and
three sets of points housed within one distributor.
Fuel mileage is noted as 26 mpg. Front wheel drive, with lateral leaf
Rack and pinion steering. The front axles have two wheel cylinders per
axle. The transmission is a 4-speed column shifted manual.
DKW's philosophy was the 3 cylinder two stroke (pre-mix fuel) engine
was equivalent to
or better than a 6 cylinder four stroke engine output, hence the script
The engine is the numbers matching original block as seen here .
The engine was fully rebuilt from scratch using NOS pistons, rings,
rods, crank and roller bearings.
The balanced engine was built by THE premier DKW engine builder in the
who was given carte blanche to do whatever was required to ensure this
engine performs as new.
This same fabricator created the precise double walled, correct gauge
steel, exact back pressure,
internal perforated cone construction replica of the original expansion
pipe exhaust system,
as seen in the photos, retaining all the wonderful crudeness of the
original factory construction techniques.
The search for the exhaust components required nearly a year of time,
to no avail, so scratch build was required.
An NOS rear muffler was sourced through the nice folks at AUDI in
A photo from the forming of the exhaust.
Every single bit of this truck is restored to concours level.
These truckes were NEVER this nice from the factory!
During assembly the greatest care was used to protect each and every
item from damage during installation
The methodical approach by the restorer to insure everything was done
to perfection is both impressive and inspirational.
Two fully focused years of work went into this restoration and no
expense was spared and no corner of the globe un-explored
to locate parts and information on the vehicle.
Here are a couple more shots of the exhaust assembly.
With a two stroke engine, it is extremely important to maintain proper
and outward flow. Since the factory exhaust was in poor condition and a
replacement could not be found
it had to be re-created and be done exact.
The original exhaust was carefully disected and inspected and then
This photo inside the side air vents shows the louvers and the
And a shot from the outside.
Each louver removed, stripped, straightened and repainted and then
re-assembled in the correct order.
The flawless 3 spoke steering wheel and the Auto Union logo horn push
that was sourced directly from Audi in Germany.
Wiring completely re-done and spotless.
Note the correct style hose clamps and all hardware and connectors used
in the restoration.
Here is a photo of the engine as it came back from the rebuilder.
Better than new.
Side marker lights on the front are US spec only in lieu of the
semaphore signals used on European models.
Handles and hardware
Here is the chassis after restoration...before mating of the body.
A paint process shot
Fresh top quality chrome done by Pebble Beach level restorer
Christiansen Plating of Los Angeles.
(6 month waiting list with these folks!...and dont even ask on the
Internal engine bits
Fuse box ...spotless.
Some bodywork process shots.
This truck was originally delivered to Los Angeles and has remained
there it's whole life...the dry climate preserved the
metal structure fantastically...extremely solid the whole time.
Here are some bare metal shots...the body was amazing!
Robot happy face!
Note the evidence of factory lead filler on the panels.
Here is a photo of it prior to blasting.
Great shot that shows the transaxle and front suspension set up.
Here is a before shot! It has come a long way!
From such a humble beginning as found...to perhaps the very best in the
The restoration process is miraculous when seen in photos, the time and
dedication it takes to truly restore
each and every part on a vehicle to better than new condition is a
Add to that the extreme rarity factor for something as obscure as this
vehicle...it takes a masochist to take it on and see it through.
The end result is the prize...pride in a job done to the best of one's
ability, and the knowledge that a rare part of history will live on
to educate and entertain generations of those to come. Those that
say "oh it's just a car" have no clue...there is a soul and a passion
that drives people to put so much effort into a classic vehicle.
And this one has really received attention to a level that I am sure
and manufacturers would have never dreamed. This is the sort of
restoration you would see on the concours lawn on a million dollar
exotic. But here it is...on an automotive oddity, rarity factor high to
be sure, but surprising to see on what was originally a workhorse,
a little delivery van that was used as a tool to do a specific
End result... truly awesome.
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