After a short vacation, our weekly series about cars from the Soviet Bloc is back, this time presenting you the Wartburg 311 Coupe.
What is it?
The 311 Coupe was part of the 311 family that also included a pickup, a sedan, a wagon, a limousine, and a two-seater roadster.
Where and when was it made?
The 311 series was launched in 1956 and by 1965, when it was replaced by the Wartburg 353, a total of 288,535 copies were produced at a factory in Eisenach, East Germany.
Light and simple, the 2,116-lbs (960-kg) 311 Coupe was powered by a 0.9-liter two-stroke three-cylinder engine, sending power to the front wheels through a three-speed manual gearbox (1956-1957), replaced by a four-speed transmission in 1958.
What’s so special about it?
Well, we can’t say there’s something super special about it - it simply looks cool. While its chassis and noisy engine were already kind of dated when the car debuted, its design is what stands out, mixing American stylish lines with European minimalism and compact sizes. With 37 horsepower (27 kilowatts), it was hardly a performance coupe, but it was enough power for covering daily needs.
Under the good-looking skin the manufacturer, owned by BMW from 1928 until 1952, used mostly pre-WWII technologies, but customers were happy to buy a car that is easy to drive and maintain. The 311 in all of its versions was exported to many countries, including West Germany, United Kingdom, and the United States.
Interestingly, when Wartburg started working on a replacement for the 311, it launched an improved 312 version that used most of the mechanics of the new 353 model, hidden under the old bodies of the 311 series models. These had a bigger 50-hp (37-kW) engine and front disc brakes. A legend says that some owners and enthusiasts replaced the body of a 312 with the body of a 353 on the same chassis, without major modifications.