Produced in Zwickau, Germany

IFA F8 - 54

The DKW F8 compact front-wheel drive two-stroke

engined saloon was introduced by in 1939.

The    F8    was    slightly    shorter    than    its    predecessor    despite    having    a    marginally    increased wheelbase. The   base   model,   known   as   the   Reichsklasse,   was   manufactured   only   till   1940   but   the Meisterklasse   sedan   continued   in   production   till   1942.   In   addition   to   the   saloons,   cabriolet (saloon and coupé) versions were offered. The   "F"   in   the   car's   name   stood   for   "Front"   which   referred   to   its   front   wheel   drive   configuration. Although   in   retrospect   it   is   almost   always   identified   as   the   "F8"   which   distinguishes   it   from   the "F7"   which   preceded   it   and   from   the   "F9"   which   was   intended   to   replace   it,   the   manufacturer's publicity material from 1939 calls it simply the "DKW Front". After   the   war   the   car   reappeared   in   1949   as   the   IFA   F8,   from   the   Zwickau   plant   which   now operated   under   Soviet   control.   The   factory   and   operation   was   reorganized   as   a   Volkseigener Betrieb   (or   "People   Owned   Enterprise")   Automobilwerke   Zwickau   (AWZ).   The   F8   continued   in production   at   Zwickau   until   approximately   1955:   in   addition   to   the   sedan   and   cabriolet   bodies, various additional body types available post war included a delivery van and estate variant.

Engine options

The   base   ‘Reichsklasse’   model   had   the   two-stroke   twin-cylinder   engine   from   its   predecessor,   but fractionally   bored   out.   Engine   capacity   was   now   589   cc.   Claimed   output   and   top   speed   were   as before at and 18 bhp (13.2 kW) and 80 km/h (50 mph). The   ‘Meisterklasse’’   version   of   the   DKW   F8   also   inherited   its   predecessor’s   similarly   configured engine   of   692   cc.   For   this   engine   20   bhp   (14.7   kW)   was   claimed   with   a   top   speed   of   85   km/h   (53 mph). It was this larger engine that reappeared in the IFA F8 in 1949. Power   was   delivered   to   the   front   wheels   by   means   of   a   three-speed   manual   gear   box   with   a lockable   freewheel   mechanism   on   all   three   ratios.   The   engine   was   started   using   a   Dynastart device, which was a combination self-starter / alternator.

The body

The   body   was   mounted   on   a   box   frame   chassis   which   facilitated   the   fitting   of   different   body options,   such   as   the   light   vans   and   trucks   produced   during   the   IFA   period.   The   outer   skin   of   the car   comprised   a   combination   of   steel   panels   and,   for   the   central   portion,   fabric   covered   timber frame   bodywork.   After   1953   key   panels   were   made   from   duroplast,   reducing   the   weight   of   the car    and    anticipating    the    light    weight    technologies    that    would    be    applied    to    Trabant construction. The   Swiss   coachbuilding   firm   of   Holka   produced   their   own   bodies   for   the   imported   F8   chassis. Importations   of   F8   chassis   began   in   1939,   and   continued   till   1944   (despite   production   having ceased   in   1942)   in   small   numbers.   In   1944,   Holka   even   designed   and   produced   (in   very   small quantities)   their   own   version   of   a   cabriolet,   formerly   imported.   The   final   Holka-bodied   car   was finished in January 1945.

Model life

The   F8   had   replaced   the   DKW   F7   after   only   a   two   year   model   life.   The   small   DKWs   were   among the   best   selling   small   cars   in   Germany   during   the   1930s,   and   regular   model   replacement   was part   of Auto   Union's   successful   marketing   strategy.   It   seems   that   the   F8   was   itself   scheduled   for relatively    rapid    replacement    by    the    steel    bodied    DKW    F9.    War    intervened,    however,    and production   of   the   Reichsklasse   and   Cabriolet   was   ended   in   1940.   Production   of   the   Meisterklasse continued    till    1942.    By    1942,    when    passenger    car    production    at    Zwickau    was    ended, approximately   50,000   F8s   had   been   produced.   Sales   of   new   F8   cars   and   chassis   continued   until 1944,   and   the   Swiss   coachbuilding   firm   of   Holka   was   still   bodying   new   F8   chassis   during   1943   and 1944.   That   firm   even   introduced   a   new   cabriolet   in   1944,   though   only   a   small   number   were produced.   Directly   after   the   war   it   took   some   time   for   DKW   production   to   resume,   but   prewar F8s   did   soon   appear   on   German   roads:   the   car   had   been   a   big   seller   before   the   war   and   military personnel   during   the   first   half   of   the   1940s   had   found   the   modest   dimensions   and   performance of the F8 relatively unappealing. At   the   1947   Leipzig   Fair   the   car   reappeared,   badged   now   as   the   DKW-IFA   F8.   Production   of   the eastern   IFA   F8   recommenced   in   or   before   1949   at   the Auto   Union's   Zwickau   factory   which   was   in the   Soviet   occupied   zone   of   Germany   and   was   expropriated   to   become   the   Volkseigener   Betrieb (or "People Owned Enterprise") Automobilwerke Zwickau (AWZ). It   is   believed   that   by   1955   a   further   26,267   of   the   cars   had   been   built   as   IFA   F8s.   Under   an   "inter- zone"   trade   agreement   concluded   in   1950/51   approximately   1,000   of   the   cars   were   exported   to what   had   by   now   de   facto   become   the   separate   country   of   West   Germany. A   wider   range   of   body options   included   an   estate   and   light   commercial   variants.   In   1954   a   Cabriolet   deluxe   was introduced,   intended   primarily   as   an   export   special   for   the   western   market. After   the   IFA   brand had   been   phased   out,   the   final   F8s   were   evidently   badged   as   Wartburgs. The   two-cylinder   700   cc two-stroke engine lived on in the iconic Trabant.


Engine 684 cc 2 cylinders Power 20 HP Lenght/width 4,00 m/1,48 m Weight 750 kg
Photos mainly by Matti Kreivilä. Historical facts and technical details of the vehicles provided by Wikipedia. Movies YouTube.