DkW 350 Three-cylinder 1955
Though World War II brought a lot of changes everywhere, the
designers at DkW persisted in maintaining the racing possibilities of the
two-stroke engine. After the war Zschopau in Saxony became part of East Germany
and DkW relocated in Ingolstadt, where it went back into motorcycle
manufacturing. Two new designers, Wolf and Jacob, succeeded Zoller at DkW, but
they shared his general views.
Wolf and Jacob built a new two-stroke engine with three
cylinders arranged in V form. Two cylinders were parallel and slightly tipped
forward. The cylinder between them was horizontal.
The engine was quite different from
the older supercharged models. But if one looked at the cylinder pump of the URe,
in effect a kind of atrophied engine cylinder, one might argue that the URe also
had a three-cylinder V engine, aside from the fact that the upper two cylinders,
although parallel, were set longitudinally.
The new two-wheeler made its debut at the 1952 Swiss Grand
Prix, but the DkW 350 three-cylinder did not look as promising as its
predecessors. All it had in common with them was the large fuel tank, which gave
it a very heavy look.
Throughout 1953 and 1954 the DkW 350 never started a race as a
favorite. The 350's lack of success only spurred the DkW designers to try
harder. Late in 1954 the three-cylinder vehicle was generating 42 h.p. in tests,
a record for its displacement.
To compensate for the almost total lack of engine-braking (due to the two-stroke
cycle), the designers gave this DkW a new suspension system and a large front
and rear brake.
The chassis was extensively modified and the cylinder exhaust
system was redesigned. Thus appeared the first expansion chambers, which are now
standard on all two-cylinder racing motorcycles.
In 1956 the DkW 350 seemed really competitive; indeed, it was
faster and more powerful than the competition. The DkW's rivals that year were
the Italian four-cylinder Gilera and the Moto Guzzi single-cylinder. Although
the Guzzi was less powerful than the DkW, it was also considerably lighter in
weight than its German rival.
The DkW showed its unusually high speed when it won at Hockenheim, the fastest
circuit in Europe. Subsequently it had disappointing losses, and late in 1956 it
was withdrawn from racing.
Motorcycle: DkW 350 Three-cylinder Manufacturer: Auto Union
DkW, Ingolstadt Type: Racing Year: 1955
Engine: DkW three-cylinder, two-stroke, V (two vertical cylinders and one
horizontal cylinder) with cross-port distribution. Displacement 349.4 cc. (53
mm. x 52.8 mm.)
Transmission: Five-speed block
Power: Over 42 h.p. at 10,500 r.p.m.
Maximum speed: 130 m.p.h.
Chassis: Continuous double cradle with tubular elements. Front, swinging-trigger
suspension; rear, telescopic shock absorbers
Brakes: Front, central drum with four hydraulic shoes; rear, central drum with
hydraulic controls and supplementary hand control