DKW 800S. Made in 1962 in Spain. Lleida cars museum Roda Roda, Spain

The DKW F89 L, also known as the DKW Schnellaster, was a van produced from 1949 to 1962. It was the first post-war model of the new Auto Union GmbH, and the first car to be produced in Ingolstadt. The model name Schnellaster translates from German into Spanish as “fast transporter”.

The DKW F89 L is of a front-wheel drive, transverse-engine, minivan configuration, front wheels positioned forward of the passenger cabin, a single-unit integrated design with a short, sloping aerodynamic bonnet, low, flat-topped floor carried out to accommodate cargo, seating and flexible accommodations for passengers and cargo. These same characteristics make the Schnellaster a forerunner of the modern minivan, a box configuration later popularized in notable examples such as the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager (1983) or the Renault Espace (1984) and, mechanically, the BMC Mini (1959) as well as most modern cars.1

The body was mounted on a rectangular section steel tube frame and included a trailing arm rear suspension system that incorporated springs in the crossbar. It consisted of various versions, van, combi, an 8 passenger minibus, and high bed/cab chassis with a 250mm longer wheelbase, and on request, on the long chassis, rear axle track widths widened to 1490 , 1590, and 1690 mm of the standard 1400 mm were available. The van had a capacity of 4.7 m³ and up to 800 kg payload.

The modern design featured a pre-war 700 cc two-stroke inline-twin engine from the DKW F8 rated at 20 hp (22 hp after 1952). In 1955 the van received a three-cylinder two-stroke engine from the DKW F9 with 900 cm³, producing 32 hp (24 kW). The engine was cooled by water, but there was no water pump, the cooling was by a thermosiphon system.


The van was also produced in Vitoria (Basque Country) by IMOSA (Industrias del Motor S.A.) from 1954 to 1960, with a total of 18,479 units. At first the components from Germany were assembled, but from the second year they began to be manufactured almost entirely in the country. In Spain, DKW (decauve) became a common term for any truck, and is still used today.

The Spanish subsidiary carried out a redesign of the model and called it the DKW 800S or DKW 700P, depending on its version; in addition it also produced a modern successor with a new body, introduced in 1963 and called the DKW F1000 L. This van started with the DKW three-cylinder 981 cm³ two-stroke engine, but later received a Mercedes-Benz OM four-cylinder diesel engine.

Read more: History of trucks with Jim Andrews ...