How much mileage can you get from a 1958 Wartburg 311 Sedan, metaphorically speaking? This is the question I posed to myself as I pondered my entry into this contest.

         I am employed at a school in West Texas and would use the Wartburg as a teaching aid and incentive for the students at the school by turning it into a race car. Or, if the car is really ratted out, to discipline students who are displaying "improper" behavior by making them sit in it for 30 minutes. The first incentive session with the students would be to use the years supply of Bactine to sterilize the car.

         The students would get to follow the progress of the Wartburg as it progressed from a piece to piéce de résistance. They would be allowed to help work on the car to provide as much hands-on learning as possible. The tasks we aren't able to accomplish would be farmed out and videotaped to be shown to the students at a later time.

         If you know anything about public schools you know we will be able to keep the budget below $500. When the Wartburg is finished, it will be raced under the school's name and in the school's colors. Due to liability, teachers will be piloting this monster.

       As an added bonus to the promoters of this fine and unique contest, imagine all the mileage you will get with frequent updates on the cars progress and, eventual, success on the racetrack. How proud you will be to be able to point to the Wartburg and know what a vital contribution your organization has made in the name of public education! The Wartburg could be the catalyst in this experiment in public education. In the spirit of "No Child Left Behind", perhaps our motto will add "except the slow ones!!"

Keneal Swenson


At first glance, the Wartburg held as much appeal as the chubby girl at a high school dance who sits along the wall and waits, without any illusion of hope, for the night to end.  I'll admit I didn't know anything about her, but I'm no stranger to damaged girls.  From carburated Italians to the Dark Prince Lucas it was safe to say I'd been around the pick'n'pull more than once.  This capitalist Bravado would be my undoing.  Armed with my million dollar smile and pants crammed full of American swagger, I assumed winning the Wartburg's heart would be a simple tale of a misplaced Whitworth fastener or suggestively retold session of synchronized downdraft tuning.  But what I learned was the Wartburg was a subversively different type of side project, the kind of mystery that grabs you by the beets and liquefies your resolve down to St. Petersburg borscht.

Until meeting the Wartburg I had rested secure in what I believed to be western superiority, smugly knowing myself to be impenetrable to the power of any broad, no matter how sturdily built.  But in the face of the Wartburg's impassably cool and unresponsive stance I found my simple laissez faire brain overpowered by her air of Republikan reassurance. This immobile monument to the remilitarization of Eastern Germany made me want to pull back the iron curtain of her mystique and enter a realm of proletariat pimptitude. After gazing into those glazed headlights, I realized that it was she, and not me, who was now in control. I tried to comprehend her majestic bulk and swoon-inducing curves, and found myself reduced to a drooling pile of pitifully outmatched democratic ideals that didn't hold up against an icy heart born of Siberian winters. I knew then and there that I must know the thrill of commandeering this Comrade Cutie; Communist era food rationing had clearly been ineffective at diminishing her decidedly robust figure, and with a body like that, she was built for comfort and not for speed; fully capable of supporting a driver with the weight of an entire workers party on his/her shoulders. 

Those three cylinders: like a threesome of opportunity.  Three pathways to elation and the three ways she can satisfy me.  I'm talking about orifices here.  Three of them.  No gaudy six or eight cylinder floozy, but a straight-to-business no bullshit trifecta of automated lust.  I know that the 58 Wartburg can convert my hopelessly consumerist lifestyle to one of socialized effort and lots of commie sex in her ample backseat, where two strokes and a Warsaw Pack is all it takes - I need to leave Ohio with this big, bad, Bolshevik-bred mama.

Curt Zackiewicz


Having owned 54 vehicles over the past 17 years, I would like to attest that this would be the oldest, most undesirable, and most communicable disease infested car that would ever have leaked fluid on my driveway.

The pedigree of this vehicle is undeniable.

The historical pedigree of the Wartburg is truly a story of conquest. Unfortunately, it tended to be on the losing end of each conquest. Alas the decadent capitalists of the west did win the argument, and with the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Wartburg factory closed its doors forever.

Factory Pedigree: It was built in the Eisenach factory where great pre-war, and a handful of post war BMWs were manufactured. In time, the Second Great War closed, as did the hopes and aspirations of the Eisenach workers. The Soviets wasted no time, promptly converting the factory from BMW production to produce fine automobiles, such as this Wartburg.

Racing Pedigree: Wartburg also has a distinct Formula1 heritage, with the Eisenach factory racing in the 1953 German Grand Prix.

Royal Pedigree: Wartburg is named after Wartburg Castle in Eisenach, which was established in 1067 AD.

Religious Pedigree: How Wartburg Changed the World - Martin Luther lived in Wartburg Castle, and translated the New testament into German, forever entrenching Protestant thought

Top level Engineering Pedigree in the Soviet Bloc: East German Cars were highly valued in the Soviet Bloc as the best engineered vehicles under Soviet influence.

Advanced engineering qualities of the Wartburg:

Odd Cylinder Count (3)
Two Stroke
Longitudinal Front engine front drive (Later used in the Saab 900, and the Chrysler LH Cars)
Made of Metal, rather than cardboard featured in its’ East German Sibling, the Trabant.

Wayne Kung



I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw that wonderful automobile. Mein Gott a real Wartburg!

The Wartburg was the favorite car of my mother. I had often asked her to explain her fondness for the Wartburg. She finally admitted that I was conceived in a Wartburg. (Unfortunately my family could only afford a Trabi and no one can be conceived in a Trabi.) My father's brother, Onkel Ludwig, was the only one in our neighborhood  I knew who owned a Wartburg and he would never let my siblings or I even sit in his Wartburg. My mother was the only one of our family that he took for a ride.

My last ride in a Wartburg was in 1988, before the wall fell, when I was attending the Fachhochschule für Ökonomie Bruno Leuschner in Berlin.
After the wall fell, all my comrades were buying bananas and western used cars; they were caught up in the western propaganda. I had already left for the USA , where I could find no Wartburgs, so you can understand my excitement at your invitation.

While I am able to team up with the Wartburg to get the most out of it, I can understand that you Americans would feel threatened and  heartbroken to see all of your entries defeated by a product of the socialist state of the German Democratic Republic ( the actual name of what you called "East Germany"). But if you are secure enough, I would like, at least, to fit my two rare and genuine GDR flags to the Wartburg and appear in my genuine but ordinary Lederhosen and Hutte for a photo to send back to the Hochschule, which is now  part of Humboldt Universität. Of course, it would be the ultimate if I could include the trophy in the photo, but I can understand your fear of having a race dominated by German socialist engineering.

Dieter Schmied


Wow! The Junk Yard Kats have always wanted a ’58 Warthog! Ever since Kat left Africa, oh those untold years ago, he’s always missed his buddy Pumba. With a Warthog in our barn next to Kat, we could go with the obvious Lion King theme.
A two stroke three cylinder that’s over a half century old is right up our alley. We just happen to have a guy on our team that’s a two stroke, three cylinder expert. He’s also about a half century old and only has seven moving parts.

So we’ll take this pig-of-a-Warthog off your hands and magically transform it into a competitive Lemons racer. Did I say “competitive”? Yes! By the time we finish grinding and polishing the warts off this hog, it will finish in the top 50%. We’re assuming that behind that high tech triple lies a state of the art, 1958 three speed tranny. We’ll deal with it. The four wheel drum brakes with shoes the size of Pillsbury crescent rolls? We can handle it. We’ll even make ‘em smell of yeast and butter.

WartHogpower to the People!

Mr. Bob

Junk Yard Kats


(Sung to the tune of “Sweet Caroline”)

Where it began, only the CIA knoweth,
But now it’s spread all o’er the world.
T’was on the steppe, the steppe outside of Moscow
Who’d have believed it last so long.

Bored, terminally bored, driving Yugos
Or Trabants
Sweet Wartburg sedan, woe, woe, woe
Speed shifts never felt so smooth
I feel fine, woe, woe, woe
To believe I’m in a groove,

So now I

Hope that the lights
Don’t use Lucas electrics
For me, that would be so ironic
Who’d have believed
They’d not advanced much further
These guys built MIGs, and gave use Chernobyl

Fuel, what’s it use for fuel
Petroleum, or potato vodka
Sweet Wartburg sedan, woe, woe, woe
A birth control car
par excellence,
I know I’m bound, woe, woe, woe
To be forever alone
In my Wartburg sedan

Greg Smolley


When I learned about the chance to win a free Wartburg, I knew I had
to write an essay to win it.  I've always been interested in cars and
wanted to learn how they work, so a few years ago I started on this
journey of car insanity.

First I fixed my lawnmower and proved to my wife that I could indeed
fix a motor.  Later I was able to convince her to let me buy an '88
Volkswagen GTI.  It wasn't in perfect running order, but it was cheap.
My plan was to learn how it works and do all the work myself.  I
didn't really know what I was getting into. To a large degree I've
been able to do it -- the GTI now runs great and is in good condition.
The only roadblock has been funding.  Right now the GTI is parked
waiting a brake system overhaul because I don't have the spare cash to
put into all of the parts I would need.  But I've spent the time to
learn about how cars work.  I've even figured out the byzantine CIS-E
fuel injection system that the GTI uses.

So the thing I need right now is a new challenge that would take up
more time and money!  The Wartburg would be perfect for this. After
all, how often do you get the chance to dig into an Eastern Block
3-cylinder 2-stroke engine?  My mind reels with possibilities.  I feel
the excitement of getting the chance to figure out how it works.  The
challenge (and eventual triumph) of getting such a vehicle working
would be fantastic.  I think about the season 12 Top Gear episode
where they try to find out if communists ever made a good car, and I
can't help but wonder how bad can they really be?  Perhaps I am the
person to take that Wartburg and turn it into the car it always wanted
to be -- the car it has the potential to be.

I've had a desire to race in the 24 Hours of Lemons as well.  Any self
respecting gear head has to.  But again, my lack of funding has made
it unlikely that I would be able to find a car for cheap enough, fix
it up enough to run, then get the time and money to get a team
together, along with the appropriate number of tires, safety
equipment, and so on.  The task is rather daunting.  But the
opportunity to enter the Wartburg for free in a Lemons race would give
me the drive to finally get up off my VW-fixing laurels and go for it.
I'd like to say that I know I would be able to win that race, but
reality forces me to reconsider that statement.  All I can say for
sure is that I would delight in the embarrassment and scorn that would
be heaped upon every person in the race that I beat.

If I was deemed worthy to receive the Wartburg, my only regret would
be that without a clear title I may not be able to drive the car on
public roads legally.  However, the chance to race the car would be
sufficient compensation.  I ask that you consider me to be a worthy
recipient of the Wartburg.  I look at this as the opportunity to go
further down the path of automotive insanity that I have started on;
perhaps further down that path than I had ever considered.

- Aaron Cornelius


As an unemployed mechanical engineer from the automotive industry, I'm one of the few people with the time & ability to turn the Wartburg into a worthy Lemons entry.  This will not be a simple project based on empty theme promises & simply putting lipstick on a pig... 

I'll make this pig squeal!  No V8, no V6, maybe not even gasoline.... beyond that, it's anyone's guess.

And the age of this dud will not deter me.  It's roughly the same vintage as my girlie... and she has no complaints when it comes to the care that she receives!!

C'Ya at Nelson big_smile

The Budman


Hey Guys,

My name’s (oh, yes, my owner’s never got round to naming me, but anyway..) – I’m a 37-year-old Trabant living in Longmont, Colorado; I got to hear of your competition, and thought “Thank goodness!  At last!!  Here’s my chance!!”  Let me explain.  My owner (a crazy Brit named John) needs to drive a Wartburg BECAUSE:

1 – I need a companion

2 – I need a BREAK!

3 – Wartburg’s a core part of his RELIGION

Before you conclude that I, THE CAR, is the one who’s one piston short of a full set of 3 (aah, unfortunate choice of expression!!), let me elaborate:

1 – I need a companion

I am my owner’s only car.  I share my quarters (a modest but comfortable garage) with 2 old bikes about my age, a ’74 CZ 125 and a ’77 Jawa 350.  We get along pretty well, but at the end of the day, let’s face it – they’re Czech, and I‘m East-German.  Stew and Dumplings vs Sausage and Sauerkraut and all that; aside from basic but rugged 2-stroke engines, we don’t have all that much in common.  The only other car where we live is John’s wife Mary’s Volvo – this lives outside, and we REALLY DON’T have much in common, besides it’s not always reliable, sometimes throws wobblies for no reason at all, in fact I think it’s got a screw loose and a couple of crossed wires, it’s so complicated, nothing’s ever simple..  The bikes and I suspect it’s female..  I need a big brother from my homeland.  I saw the 4-wheeled beauty on your website, and it was love at first sight!

2 – I need a BREAK!

Since a peaceful childhood in my native DDR, you WOULD NOT BELIEVE the whirlwind my life’s become!!  After growing up with moderate use and plenty of relaxation time, I was adopted by a family in England who cared for me well, and life remained pretty peaceful.  Then the time came to move on, and next thing I knew, about 5 years ago, I was ridden to the coast and put on a ship, bound for…….AMERICA!!!  Wow, few of my type in previous years would have EVER DREAMED of even going the other side of the IRON CURTAIN!  Well, after 9 days’ sailing and 9 days stood forlorn in the port of Charleston, SC, expecting a truck to carry me inland any day, I looked up and, no there was no truck…  There was JOHN!!  Yes, just JOHN!  With a plane ticket in one hand and a bag of tools in the other.  And who promptly jumped inside me and proceeded to drive about 2000 miles across the North-American subcontinent back to the Colorado front range, with a ‘slight’ detour via northern Illinois to meet Mary and her dreaded Volvo! [Not sure which one scared me the most to be honest]..  And this was just the shape of things to come!  Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m extremely well cared for, I receive all the spare parts I ask for, if John can’t buy me the parts he’ll usually make them for me, and I’m kept pretty clean (well, most of the time anyway)! ;-)  But Dear Lord, I’m forever driving up mountain passes, into the Rockies, up into Wyoming, hauling fishing gear, my own weight in concrete, you name it!  Again, please don’t think I’m ungrateful, I love my new home in the Rockies, the scenery’s beautiful, I’ve met some fascinating new companions (those ‘50s Chevies – it’s true that Americans are rather larger, my word!!), but oh man, I hardly get to see the neighbors, I’m always out!  Just some respite, that’s all I ask.  John WON’T buy a modern vehicle, so you can forget that one right away!  I saw the article about your Wartburg, and – well, I’m sure you understand why I had to write this plea!

3 – Wartburg’s a core part of his RELIGION

Seriously.  He’s Lutheran!  I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve sat and waited patiently in the Church parking lot, listening to the Pastor talk about the castle Wartburg, and Eisenach – oh, the nostalgia!!  I’ve decided that the congregation need to learn a little more about the REAL Wartburg; and what more ideal way to teach them than with your fine specimen?!  It would probably be more interested in those Church walls than I really am anyway.  And – maybe a Wartburg in their lot would impress them enough that they’ll FINALLY agree to send an exorcist for the Volvo!!!

Your truly,

A 1972 Trabant who still remains nameless..

John Short


We at Adopted by Jets (or ABJ for the hipsters) realize you are no
doubt tired of
trudging through a steaming pile of sad submissions, groveling
for a free p.o.s. car that, without Wikipedia, the submitters would
never have heard of.
ABJ will keep this simple: We're on to you.

We are aware of the double agent placed within our ranks.  This ugly
truth explains the leak of our secret plan to dominate next season,
with a mosquito killing,
EPA flaunting, and popcorn popping two stroke machine. The Adopted by
Jets team has already set into motion our program to bring the two
stroke to Lemons competition in 2010, in the form of a race prepped
potent 0.85 liter 3 cyl SAAB 96.  We cannot stand by and allow this
cutting edge technology to fall into the hands of another team.  It is
clear that we are best suited to assemble a German crew to pilot the
Wartburg, along side our sleeker, louder, Swedish ship.  If this
happens, we will grant your inside man (double
ought two, as we have dubbed him) clemency and his fate will be
decided in combat on the racetrack.

If you fail to hand over the Wartburg, your
precious spy will be terminated.  As we do not know the identity of
the traitor and no one seems willing to confess, the only logical
solution is to take out the whole team, your humble auteur included.
Execution will be simple, all members will be forced to drink a gallon
cocktail, one part oil to forty parts gasoline.  This should ensure a
combustible, swift, and buzzy end.

In short, bring us the car and we'll bring you the war.
May this letter reach you well, and may your judgement be swift that
we may receive our Wartburg
before the valkyries lead us all to Valhalla.