16-17 January 2014

Previous Next

Lot 4

1960 DKW Schnellaster Kastenwagen 3=6

  • Chassis no. 22524620
  • Engine no. 66157370

Sold for $60,500

42 bhp, 896 cc two-stroke, water-cooled inline three-cylinder single Solex 40ICB carburetor, four-speed ZF front transaxle, four-wheel independent suspension with a transverse front leaf spring and rear trailing arms and torsion bar, and hydraulic four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 108.3 in.

  • Two-and-a-half-year nut-and-bolt restoration
  • Versatile, economical, and useable
  • One of two known restored examples in the U.S.A.
  • Class award at the 2013 Forest Grove Concours

After a downpour at the 1955 Pebble Beach road races, the staff at Road & Track decided that they needed a vehicle to serve as a combination mobile office, galley, and bunk for future West Coast races. They looked at a Wells Cargo trailer and a Ford wagon; a Fiat Multipla; a Volkswagen Kombi (bus); a Chrysler Town & Country wagon; and Alfa Romeo’s “Romeo” Camper. But what they actually bought for their new “Pressmobile,” as it said on the side, was a DKW 3=6.

DKW had been the largest European motorcycle manufacturer before World War II, and it was a two-stroke specialist, so it was little surprise that their 3=6 followed the trend. Even the name, “3 equals 6”, is a subtle boast about the powerplant, which has three cylinders that give the performance of a small six. Volkswagen’s Micro Bus, however, was probably the closest competitor. At the time, it would have been notably smaller and lighter and correspondingly less expensive. The DKW made up for its weight disadvantage with 42 horsepower and 57 foot-pounds of torque, yielding “enough ‘steam’ to pull a much heavier Karavan along at a better rate,” said Road & Track. They also noted that the torquey, high-revving two-stroke would burn rubber in first gear, while also being able to cruise comfortably at 60 mph. Its best quality, however, was its handling on the open road, “which can only be described as amazing.” Add tremendous reliability—one tune-up and a single loose wire in Road & Track’s first 9,000 miles were the only work required—and ahead-of-its-time features, like a curbside door with five feet eight inches of headroom, a flat floor, and front-wheel drive, and the DKW is a look forward at the minivans that were to come decades later.

This example was rescued from a storage shed at a mining operation in southern Oregon in 1996, and an unconfirmed story says that it had been used by a hosiery salesman in the 1960s to service his route along the Pacific Coast. Assorted 3=6 models were actively sold in the U.S.A., and while no records of importation numbers have been found, it’s likely that less than 1,000 of the Kastemwagen panel trucks were sold. Today, only six are known in the U.S.A.; two of them are restored, two are complete and unrestored, and two are parts vehicles, making restoration extremely challenging.

It might not even be possible to complete another Schnellaster to this level. The consignor’s search for parts stretched over at least eight countries and three continents, including the U.S., Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Netherlands, Greece, and Crete. Even the machine screws, which are used exclusively throughout the bodywork, are new old stock parts. Every mechanical component is original to the vehicle, right down to the rebuilt relays, wiper motors, turn signal switches, and voltage regulators. The factory color was duplicated from original paint that had been found on the firewall, under a panel that had not been exposed to weather, and the van was finished correctly, as per the factory, in a single color inside and out, with black fender trim, extruded aluminum brightwork, and a wood load floor. The original engine, often found seized in a 3=6 from lack of oil, was rebuilt with sealed bearings for longevity and with modern synthetic two-stroke oil, and it offers improved performance and less two-stroke smoke.

After a two-and-a-half-year restoration, this Schnellaster Kastenwagen appeared at the 2013 Forest Grove Concours d’Elegance, where it was awarded Second in Class; points were deducted for incorrect tires, which have since been replaced.

Other Schnellaster Kastenwagens can be found, but it is unlikely that any others have been or can be restored as correctly and sympathetically as this icon of the evolution of modern transportation.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alain Squindo

Detroit, Michigan

Alain Squindo joined RM Auctions in 2007, after graduating from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., with a degree in History. R... read more

Alexander Weaver

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby's in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born ... read more

Annette Abaci

+49 (0) 40 441 95 737

With post-secondary degrees in Economic Science and Mechanical Engineering, Annette Abaci initially worked part-time at Mercedes-Benz ... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a senior car specialist, after more than a decade in the collector car hobby... read more

Barney Ruprecht

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Barney Ruprecht graduated from Boston University in 2013 with a degree in Hospitality Administration. In ... read more

Dan Warrener

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Possessing a degree in Economics from Brandon University, Dan Warrener spent the initial stages of his career working around the globe... read more

David Swig

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a car specialist in May 2015. He is a lifelong automobile enthusiast and g... read more

Don Rose

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don Rose joined RM Auctions in 2006, after many years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputatio... read more

Donnie Gould

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord joined RM Sotheby's in 1998, initially responsible for the transportation and logistics of the company’s auction and re... read more

Ian Kelleher

+1 310 559 4575
New York, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College, with a B.A. in Politica... read more

Jack Boxstrom

+1 818 703 2816
Ontario, Canada

Jack Boxstrom joined RM Sotheby's in late-1996 to assist with the recently acquired, and subsequently record-breaking, auction in ... read more

Jake Auerbach

+1 917 213 5672
Ontario, Canada

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Jonathan Sierakowski

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Jonathan Sierakowski developed a passion for classic cars while working at a restoration shop as a teenag... read more

Kurt Forry

+1 260 927 9797
Indiana, United States

Kurt Forry joins Auctions America with more than a decade of experience on the North American auction scene and a well-rounded knowled... read more

Mike Fairbairn

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby's, Mike Fairbairn has a longstanding interest in the classic car industry. Gra... read more

Pete Fisher

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his ho... read more

Peter Wallman

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007, following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, read more

Rob Myers

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As chairman and founder of the RM Group of Companies, Rob Myers’s entire career has been devoted to the classic car industry. Ro... read more

Shelby Myers

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

+31 653 84 19 60

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a car specialist. A... read more