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Wartburg 353/Knight


Produced: 1966-1988, 1224662 produced.
Types: Saloon,4 doors,4 seats
Wartburg Red Front view (1968)
The Wartburg 353 was a rebodied 312, with the fully independent coil-spring suspension introduced on that model in 1965. The new square-cut body style was bang up to date in 1966 but the shut-lines were generous! It was a very practical, spacious and comfortable design, and with the introduction of full synchromesh in 1968 and a smoother more powerful engine in 1971, the Wartburg had very favourable road test reports from Autocar and Motor magazines. Autocar stated in 1974 that there was 'nothing to touch it at the price'. It was often compared with other cars of the same price or engine capacity but in reality should have been compared to cars of the same size and performance. It offered good economy when driven moderately and a satisfying performance although roadholding and braking were not of the highest standard with sudden rear-end breakaway at the limit and indifferent drum brakes. The ride was excellent, however, and the car was very fully equipped and reliable provided it received a diet of correctly mixed 2-stroke oil at a ratio of 40:1. The Wartburg was withdrawn from the market in EEC countries in 1975 due to its inability to meet new emissions standards but continued in production for Communist-bloc markets through to the late eighties when it was re-engineered to accept the Volkswagen
Polo 1.3 engine.

Interestingly, in the early eighties a batch of 125 cars, earlier exported to Egypt but for political reasons denied entry, was purchased by Simpsons of Colne in Lancashire, England in a somewhat deteriorated state and the majority of these was converted to right hand drive and put on the road. The first 25 were actually registered as new cars built up from spare parts and advertised in the motoring press, before the authorities smelt a rat. Of the rest, 15 were dismantled, but 85 are believed to have provided the 'parts' for very rapid 'rebuilds' of customers' rusty and worn out older Wartburgs. From 1976 disc front brakes were fitted using the same calipers as those used on the Skoda Rapid although without servo assistance, so these cars all benefitted from this major improvement. From 1984 the Jikov progressive twin-choke carburettor (also from Skoda) was used along with the the Skoda's crossflow radiator and electric fan and a restyled front panel to accommodate it, replacing the old radiator mounted behind the engine and above the gearbox. Whilst the earlier 311 and 312 Wartburgs have become ver valuable classic cars the 353 can still be acquired relatively inexpensively. Parts are still available from LDM in Germany and Wartburgs are still raced, with engines producing in excess of 100bhp.
Source: Motorbase


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