Arizona

16-17 January 2014

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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.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
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

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 9... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+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 life-long automobile enthusiast and ... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+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

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Ian Kelleher

ikelleher@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College with a Bachelor of Arts in Politica... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

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

jonathan@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Jonathan Sierakowski developed a passion for classic cars while working at a Connecticut restoration shop as a teenager. He graduated with a... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. He att... read more

Peter Wallman

pwallman@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007 following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, where he was based out ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+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

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more