Which car was the most popular in 1952?

Automobile history The first BMW came from Eisenach

It all began when the Prussian military administration needed 1,000 military vehicles and commissioned the army supplier and entrepreneur Heinrich Ehrhardt with them.

Because his existing plants no longer had any production capacity, he decided to build another plant. The Eisenach vehicle factory was founded as a stock corporation. Ehrhardt bought a meadow land in Eisenach and began to build the factory.

Bicycles were the first to be built there from 1897, followed by automobiles from 1898. The entrepreneur Heinrich Ehrhardt had acquired a license from the French car manufacturer "Decauville" for production. The first car was called the Wartburg Motor Car.

Dixi - "I have spoken"

But as early as 1904 Ehrhardt resigned from the company's management. The brand name Wartburg was then given up. The vehicles were given the new name Dixi, which means "I have spoken" in Latin. Dixi cars were very popular automobiles before the First World War. They were tall, representative and had a centaur on their hood ornament.

But the First World War ended the successful Dixi production. Military vehicles were manufactured in Eisenach during the war. After the war, the factory could no longer build on its pre-war successes. The global economic crisis also shook the German automobile industry. With the license production of a small car one tried to escape the economic misery. The famous Dixi 3/15 hp automobile is a copy of the English Austin Seven.

Dixi becomes BMW

It was not until 1928, when Bayrische Motoren Werke AG took over the plant, that the economic situation stabilized. The Bavarian Motor Works, known as BMW for short, entered car production with the purchase of the Eisenach plant.

BMW paid 800,000 Reichsmarks in BMW shares and 800,000 Reichsmarks in cash and laid off 1,430 workers on the takeover. The popular Dixi car became the BMW 3/15 PS and Bayrische Motoren Werke AG started its global success story as a car manufacturer. The BMW 3/15 PS was assembled in Berlin. The BMW plant in Eisenach made a name for itself in the 1930s with powerful 6-cylinder engines.

In 1941, however, automobile production was stopped. The factory in Eisenach became an important production facility and now manufactured motorcycles for the war. The BMW R 75 motorcycle combination was built in Eisenach from 1941 to 1944 and used by the Wehrmacht in Rommel's Africa Corps and in the Soviet Union.

For this reason, the plant and the surrounding infrastructure have repeatedly been the target of bombing raids. At the end of the Second World War, 60 percent of the plant had been destroyed. However, the machines had been hidden in mine shafts before the arrival of the Allies.

BMW production continues in Eisenach after the war

After the war, the BMW factory management retreated to the West. However, they did not have time to take the production machines with them. They stayed in the Soviet zone of occupation. The production of motorcycles and cars was resumed in 1945. The Soviet Union demanded 3,000 BMW sedans and 3,000 motorcycles as reparations. The operating facilities were expropriated and BMW Munich's objections to the expropriation were rejected. In 1946 the plant became the Soviet joint-stock company "AWTOWELO".

The BMW 321 sedan and its successor models were produced in Eisenach until 1955. The development of racing vehicles maintained by BMW before the war was also continued in the GDR for the time being. Racing cars built in Eisenach drove successfully in races in the west, including the Nürburgring. However, in 1951, the Munich-based Bayrische Motoren Werk AG prohibited the Eisenach plant from using the name BMW. In 1952 the plant was nationalized. Since 1953 it has been called "VEB Automobilwerk Eisenach".

The state wants two-stroke engines

Material shortages in the GDR ultimately meant that the BMW models were no longer produced. By government decision in the 1950s, both the construction of racing cars and the construction of cars with four-stroke engines were discontinued - against the will of the factory management.

Instead, the Wartburg with a two-stroke engine has been produced in Eisenach since 1955. More than a million of the two-stroke engines left the factory by 1989. GDR citizens had to wait around 15 years for a new Wartburg. After reunification, demand collapsed. Production was stopped on January 21, 1991.

New start with Opel

However, that was not the end for Eisenach as the center of the automotive industry. Opel built a new plant in Eisenach. The first Opel "Astra" rolled off the assembly line there on September 23, 1992. Incidentally, BMW has also returned to Eisenach and has been producing press tools and metal parts for BMW and Rolls Royce there since 1992.

06/11/2019 | 4 p.m.