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Tag: Sonderklasse

Ur-Avant: 1957 DKW 3=6 Universal Kombi

Most German car enthusiasts are no longer familiar with the name DKW. Its a shame considering the long history of DKW, whose name originates from the German Dampf-Kraft-Wagen or steam powered vehicle just to give you a sense of the time period they started out. DKW reached its zenith in the 1930s, a time when Germany was experiencing massive growth in its economy and Hitler wanted to turn the Fatherland into a nation of drivers. Ironically, despite his notable efforts supporting Grand Prix racers and the development of the Beetle, pre-War automobile ownership in Germany was amongst the lowest in all of Europe. They were, rather, a nation of riders motorcycles, to be precise, buying more of the two-wheeled transport than anyone else in Europe. It was what gave companies like BMW a start, for example, but the most successful of all of the pre-War motorcycle companies was DKW. Upon joining the Auto Union in 1932, they began experimenting more with small cars. But the aftermath of World War II meant that the area that DKW, Audi and Horch 3/4 of the Auto Union company were stuck in Soviet controlled areas, most of the factories being disassembled and sent back further behind the Iron Curtain as war reparations.

The result was that in the late 1940s and early 1950s, new efforts to resurrect these names were attempted. Its not very surprising that the attempts were made; after all, imagine if Chevrolet went out of business due to a War; you can bet once things were cleaned up, someone would try to make a Corvette. And sure enough, based upon some pre-War designs the F89 was born. As with most post-War cars in Germany, it was small, affordable and versatile. DKW utilized the platform to create what was, in essence, the first Audi Avant. The F94 chassis you see here was an updated version of the F89, replete with the 2-stroke 3-cylinder engine that the company claimed gave the power of an inline-6 – hence the paradoxical naming strategy of 3=6 for the Sonderklasse. With a space-saving transverse motor driving the front wheels, there was ample room for flexible seating in the rear. Outside was a reasonably aerodynamic, compact design and the small motor ensured reasonable fuel economy though no promise of speed. Today, nearly 70 years after the design was first sketched out, finding these Universal Kombis is extraordinarily hard and when they surface in the U.S., theyre typically not in particularly good shape:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1957 DKW 3=6 Universal Kombi on eBay

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1987 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL

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The Mercedes-Benz 560SEL was the definitive über sedan for more than a decade beginning in the early 1980s. They weren’t particularly eye-catching or glitzy but had a refined, tasteful appearance in a way only a classic Mercedes-Benz could pull off. With a rear seat that was almost five feet wide, passengers were treated to the utmost comfort and the driver had adequate power at his disposal with the M117 V8 under the hood. Want to look like a diplomat for a day? This 1987 560SEL in Desert Taupe for sale in Illinois is a good way to do just that. For those thinking a classic S-class in good condition with low miles is out of reach, read on.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL on eBay

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1967 Mercedes-Benz 250SE

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Many have tried, but few manufacturers have succeeded in surpassing the Mercedes-Benz S-class as the bar by which all large luxury sedans are set. This isn’t anything new, as Mercedes has had a long, storied history of luxury sedans dating back to the early reaches of the 20th century. The S-class came into its own in the 1950s and 1960s, when the W111 appeared, which would be sold in coupe and cabriolet form alongside the W108 and W109 sedans. These S-classes would carry on into the early 1970s and would feature a variety of engine and body options, from short to long wheelbase with everything from a 2.5 liter inline-6 under the hood to the 6.3 liter V8 from the 600 Grösser. This 250SE for sale in The Netherlands has the fuel-injected 2.5 liter inline-6 under the hood mated to a four-speed manual gearbox.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1967 Mercedes-Benz 250SE at Ruyl Classics

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1981 Mercedes-Benz 280S

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Believe it or not, at the beginning of W126 Mercedes-Benz S-class production, you could still spec one of these luxury sedans with a carbureted engine. Built from the beginning of production up to the 1985 facelift, a little over 42,000 280S models with the M110 inline-6 were manufactured, none of which were sold new in the US market. This 280S for sale in Aachen, Germany has yet to break the 30,000 mile mark and comes equipped with features not commonly seen in US spec W126s, such as cloth interior, rear crank windows and a 4-speed manual gearbox. With prices trending upward on all W126 variants, an extremely well-preserved example is a tempting proposition, no matter how base level the spec might be.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1981 Mercedes-Benz 280S on Mobile.de

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1970 Mercedes-Benz 280SE Cabriolet

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In the last few years, the Mercedes-Benz lineup has grown substantially. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any bigger, along comes the S-class Cabriolet. While the myriad of SUVs that Mercedes sells are responses to growing trends in the marketplace, the S-class Cabriolet is a revival of an old theme, the car you see here: the 280SE Cabriolet. The 280SE Coupe and Cabriolet were the swan song of the W111 chassis, with production of the 3.5 V8 variant lasting through the summer of 1971. This restored 1970 280SE Cabriolet for sale in Chicago is fitted with a 4-speed manual gearbox, an option not often seen on these grand tourers.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1970 Mercedes-Benz 280SE Cabriolet on eBay

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