A car I have hardly ever seen mentioned in Motor Sport is the rather unattractively-named Wartburg.
I bought mine new just over a year ago—replacing, for various domestic reasons, an MG-B—and have found very few faults with it. Based on a chassis, with front-wheel-drive, independent suspension all round and having a three-cylinder two-stroke engine, it is made in East Germany and I understand is descended from the pre-war DKW.
I soon fitted the “performance conversion”, which put another £29 on the price of under £700 for the standard car and this transformed the performance, at the cost of slightly temperamental starting due to the proneness of the Weber carburetter to flood. Also, the metric bolts holding the original inlet manifold to the block were not long enough for the thicker flange of the modified one and were replaced by a longer set from a VW. Carburation was next improved by a visit to Bill Blydenstein’s, near Royston, where smaller chokes were put into the Weber.
The car gives a comfortable ride and its well-padded reclining seats are much better than those in most British small cars. Acceleration is brisk and handling good, with a top speed of about 85 m.p.h. The gear-lever is inclined to be springy and 1st gear not always easy to engage, but with a free-wheel one can do clutchless gearchanges if one wants to. A bush at the lower end of the gear-lever failed and had to he replaced, but that, apart from the carburetter temperament and a blown fuse on the cigar lighter, sums up the troubles—a quite different story from my wife’s new Cresta de-luxe which cost nearly twice as much!
The paintwork is good, although the chrome is not perfect, but nuts and bolts hold things together with a virtual absence of that bodger’s friend, the self-tapping screw. The car also has a host of “extras”, from reversing, under-boot and bonnet lights to two-speed heater fan and wiper motors, plus a radiator blind and spring-loaded lid to the boot, which pleases my wife for shopping. All these are included in the initial purchase price.
Spares seem readily available and I have had no difficulty with service. I buy two-stroke oil in bulk and keep 1-1/2-pint containers— each enough for six gallons of two-star petrol—in the boot.
Initial depreciation tends to be high for a relatively unknown make of foreign car, but if it is good value for money in the first place this is not so important, particularly if one is satisfied enough to keep it for some years.
Strikes, of course, never occur on the far side of the Iron Curtain and this is bound to be reflected in the price of the product—it is a pity that our car workers cannot achieve the same result by voluntary action.
All the usual disclaimers—especially political.
R. S. BALE – Welwyn.