Why I should be the Winner of a 1958 Wartburg 311

Since I first read about the antics of the 24 Hours of Lemons, my heart has stirred with strong emotions for racing, not felt since puberty. As a young boy, I dreamed of racing, pouring over everything I could get my hands on knowing one day it would be my turn to stand on the podium like Shelby, Hill, Gurney, Gregory, etc. These guys were my heroes.
While in junior high, my father brought home a used ’66 Porsche 911 and we spent weekends driving to nearby lakes on the best roads imaginable. Within months of the Porsche coming home, Steve McQueen’s classic and oh so cool movie, Le Mans, came out and I really got the bug.

In high school, my first car was a ’68 Opel Kadett w/ 1900cc 4 cylinder engine and I learned to “road race”. My friends and I would drive north of town onto the tight, twisty two-lane county roads and race each other, squeezing everything we could from our little cars. I learned to use heel and toe braking, drift through corners, throttle steer, although with the Opel, throttle steering was only a theory and had no practical uses to speak of but I learned to drive at high speeds, stay on the road and outdrive friends with faster cars.

At the end of high school, I got a ‘68 Karmann Ghia convertible. 52 horsepower but what a cool car. I could race others with more powerful cars and beat them because I could push the little car farther than they could. No power but I could out handle most other cars.

My interest in Volkswagens continued with close to 40 having been in my possession at one time or another. An old BMW 2002 and then, I bought my first Porsche, a ’72 914-4 with a 1.7 liter engine. Again, not much hp but then I could beat damn near anything. It made any driver look good. It was so easy to drive; you could just throw it into curves. I spun it a couple of times trying to find the limits and I had more fun with it.

During all this time, I never lost my dream of running at Le Mans, although I was now married and had a day job that wasn’t taking me anywhere close to a track, much less Le Mans, France. Another 914 followed by a 635CSI, a couple of 911’s, the last being a ’74 Carrera, which was a blast. Finally, I knew from personal experience how to throttle steer.

Well the ’74 disappeared when an idiot lost control of his truck in the rain and cleaned off the driver’s side of the car, hammering the front suspension on his truck and then throwing me into the curb for good measure. Since then, I’ve been driving Land Rovers and, while I throw them around turns to keep my hand in, it’s not the same as the old days.

A year, year and a half ago, while reading Hot Rod magazine, I came across an article about the 24 Hours of Lemons and knew right away that was my ticket to race. I wanted to run so bad I could taste it. I thought about all the cars I could run, my old Porsches (too expensive, yes I know they were tired and cheap but still too expensive).

I called a good friend and he thought we might have a chance at a ’63 or ’64 Bel Air, which seemed very reasonable. Hell, I only wanted to finish and then worry about trying to win later. The more I thought about this race and the principles of crap can racing, it seems to me that everyone has as good a chance to win the race outright as the next guy but it takes a special car to win the Index of Effluency and that’s the prize I want more than anything. I believe that it takes a certain level of insanity to keep a real slug alive for 24 hours and I think that insane person is me. To the point I thought I had an AMC Pacer on the hook but the deal fell through.

Now, more than ever, I need the Wartburg 311. Learning the ropes in tired German machinery makes me a natural to sort out the problems that’ll arise with this jewel of the east, Germany that is. Herbert Lang, Dickie Attwood, Hans Herman, Hans Stuck, Jurgen Barth, Derek Bell, eat my dust!

The Wartburg and our team are a natural fit. With the mechanical knowledge of our team, ok, two of our team, we should be able to get this up and rolling in no time and with our team’s prowess behind the wheel, it’s a dead pipe cinch we’ll win the Index of Effluency, if not pick up another class win as well. Hell, I admit it, I’m a glutton for punishment. Beat me, abuse me, just give me the ’58 Wartburg 311.

Not! I've got enough trouble in my life without lining up for it but I will see you in Houston. cool

Swine Flew Raycing
1995 Infiniti J30

27 (edited by MagnumPI 2009-08-05 06:21 PM)


“Aufmerksamkeits würste! (Attention Sausages!)

My name ich Wölfgang Vön Schpiegelbröök and ich am the owner of this vehicle. Ich currently live in the small (still Communist) town of Poodleströödle, East Germany. Ich stumbled upon your site when ich had my one hour of computer time. We all share the computer in this town, as we believe in equality for all. It was amazing that ich stumbled upon your site as I usually reserve my computer time for schizer p0rn. 

The 311 Wartburg Sedan was my pimpmobile in East Germany, back in the day. This is how I met my wife, Berthaga. She won the gold medal in all throwing sports in the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland. When it was discovered that she had a penis, she was disqualified and we were shamed in our own country. In the fall of 1962, after ten years of living in the Wartburg, ich traded it for a year’s supply of wiener- schnitzel, in order to stay alive. The von jerkingstein who sold the schnitzel was a Nazi and ran off to Argentina with my precious Wartburg. When I saw the exquisite East-German engineering of the Wartburg on your site, ich riled up my schvonsinstick like the good ol’ days.

Ich would appreciate my car back, or a years worth of wiener-schnitzel. The schnitzel should be adjusted for inflation. I would be willing to trade the car or the wiener-schnitzel for a date with Heidi Klum. She has not returned any of my type-written letters featuring pictures of my manhood in only lederhosen. (sehen Sie Zubehör [see attached photo]).

If you are not willing to comply with this offer, then I will be forced to join one of your teams. The Lemon Race you are hosting sounds uber-gay, which is awesome for a German such as myself. The only thing more homo-erotic is that team Magnum P.I Ness. Ich have bin applying to join their team for quite some time. Any team that sports schvonsinsticks on there shirts is worthy of my Wartburg knowledge. We will have this car up and running faster than ich can clear a room after eating sauerkraut!   

Danke schöen (Thank-you)

Wölfgang Vön Schpiegelbröök”

Team Magnum PI Ness

Team Magnum PI ness  #357  -

106th place at Nelson Ledges - The Lamest Days
-oil pressure failure leading to engine failure



One would think just being idiotic enough to participate in this forum and waste hard earned $$ "racing" rolling rubbish in Lemons events is sufficient reason to win this delightful German engineering masterpiece.  But an absurd number of people suffer from the afore mentioned afflictions.

That said, my automotive interests and experience uniquely qualify me to properly put this extraordinary heap to good use.  For starters, when any unusual buckets of bolts appear in the parking lot at work, I'm generally the first person accused of driving the beast.  Perhaps this is valid as there was no need for the description provided for the Wart.  I knew it featured radical, highly advanced designs like SOFS (single overhead fan shaft) and multiple coil ignition.

Being a 3 cylinder two stroke suits me quite well as there may be some genetic defect disposing me to enjoy and seek such gutless under-powered relics.  Well over half the Slaabs I've owned had these fantastic power plants. Our family has had a long standing relationship with 3 x 2 = 6 powered transporters of German or Swedish origins.  From 1960 until almost 1980, one parent drove only two stroke Saab wagons.  When moving from the Northeast to Florida in the early 60's the family cars were a DKW Junior and Saab 95...a totally two cycle 3 cylinder family!  To insure such automotive illness continued, my first car was a last year of production Saab 96 two stroke with the killer 820cc engine.  Sis and several friends also had strokers.  (Note: For those with soon to be driving teens, consider this a brilliant idea, handling and braking grossly exceeding the speed making abilities)  Heck as Florida is hot, we even had dealer installed A/C in one of the about scintillating performance...

One would have thought I'd learned something in college, but no, once in the working world I was carpooling a 100+ miles per day with 3 others in yet another 2 cycle Saab wagon.  Ten years later, it's the mid-90s, I'm in SC working in R&D and commuting 120 miles a day in a 67 96 two stroke.  That car came with parts I'd given to a friend 15 years earlier when I moved from FL.  Those parts still waste space in the garage.  I doubt we'll ever wise up as there has always been at least 1 stroker someplace in the family fleet since 1960.

Besides street cars there's been numerous "racing" two strokes like a Saab 93 & Sonett.  Being known to suffer from the two stroke affliction, folks sensible enough to get rid of such smoke belching noise makers, often leave me presents.  Besides quite a few Saabs, the odd DKW has mysteriously appeared in the driveway...strangely enough while no one was home???

So clearly, I am extremely well qualified to put this fine specimen to good use.  And while having owned much of the auto alphabet from Alfa to Volvo, I haven't owned a W car.  It would be hard to find a better W mobile than the Wartburg for the oddcarnut.



29 (edited by TEAM RRT JOKER 2009-08-06 08:36 AM)


hallo yall... Wir der redneck laufende Mannschaft glaubt wirklich, dass wir dieses feine Stück der deutschen Scheiße zuerkannt werden sollten, weil wir bereits eines der größten Stücke von GM der Scheiße in Ihrer feinen Rasse erfolgreich trieben. Besonders wegen der Tatsache sollte der cadillac elkdorado irgendwo in der Nähe von einer Rennstrecke nie gewesen sein, wir brachten es, wir ließen es laufen, und trieben es sogar zurück auf dem Trailer unter seiner eigenen Macht. Die Ehre, einen wartburg zu führen, würde unser Vergnügen sein, gewährte den versicherten Zugang, und keine Punkte des Bakkalaureus der Naturwissenschaften würden auch ein Bonus ... sein wir haben eine Möglichkeit 500hp sbc, der gerade wartet, um in einen Scheißeimer wie dieser ... fallengelassen zu sein, so schalten Sie einen redneck zu und lässt Rasse die Scheiße outta ein wartburg .... aufrichtig Redneck Laufende Mannschaft

for non german speakin folks...

howdy yall...We the redneck racing team do believe we should be awarded this fine hunk of german crap because we already drove one of GM's biggest hunks of crap in your fine race with great success. Especially due to the fact the cadillac elkdorado should have never been anywhere near a race track, we brought it, we raced it, and even drove it back on the trailer under its own power.  The honor of running a wartburg would be our pleasure, granted the guaranteed entry and no bs points would also be a bonus...we have a possibility of a 500hp sbc that is just waiting to be dropped into a crap bucket like hook a redneck up and lets race the shit outta a wartburg....sincerely  Redneck Racing Team


I deserve to win the Wartburg because it would be the one thing going for me at this point in my life. I'm a 23-year-old, over educated guy from Ohio who just got back from spending 13 months in Germany as an assistant, high school English teacher. Now I'm back in the United States with no job and not many prospects. I've payed my dues to the Krauts and especially to the East Germans. I lived in the very heart of former East Berlin in a renovated high-rise apartment. Even renovated it was sparse and that's being generous. I took the train to Potsdamer Platz every day to get to work. The East Germans owe me something, and I think this Wartburg would be the perfect restitution.

I would be very respectful to the car. I would make sure to have East German flags flying off of both front fenders -- the hammer and sickle in front of the German flag would lead my way everywhere in the spirit of Staatsratvorsitzende Honecker.

Whenever my neighbors hear the regal, one-liter of two-stroke pride carried by this wonderful car they will think of the Deutsche Demokratische Republic and as long as they think of it, then it will never be truly gone.

Please except this essay to win a wartburg,

Christopher Bruce


Edsel. Aztek. Pacer. Fiero. Wartburg. Wartburg? Wait, what? Many automobiles have been summarily dubbed 'Lemons' over the years, and some have achieved legendary status as complete and utter design and engineering failures. These iconic jalopies possess a stigma so powerful, so unmitigated, that even now the mere mention of a fifty-plus year old car can make non-car people wrinkle their brows and say "Wasn't that a giant lemon?" Such status is not attained without merit, though in many cases the appearance of the vehicle is more to blame than actual engineering deficiencies. The Pontiac Aztek wasn't a mechanical nightmare, it was simply downright ugly. REALLY ugly. Others had GLARING design flaws that could have been easily remedied. Placing a couple of bumper bolts three inches from the fuel tank of a Ford Pinto was one such flaw. Ford chose not to spend eleven lousy bucks per car to fix the problem, therefore, an otherwise decent car still is associated with bursting into flames with the slightest rear-end impact!

In 1955, State-owned East German automobile manufacturer VEB Automobilwerk Eisenach began production of the Wartburg, an inexpensive and economical lemon for the masses. It was powered by a revolutionary new 3 cylinder 2 stroke engine with just seven moving parts! Except, of course, the engine wasn't really new at all. It had been designed in 1939, but never produced, presumably because the noisy, smoky, wheezy 35 horsepower engine was too far ahead of its time. So, armed with this stellar powerplant, a quarter million Wartburg 311 and 312 vehicles were constructed and sold to unsuspecting buyers over the next decade, who in turn smoked out and clogged up the streets of Eastern Germany with the slow-moving cars. Handling was adequate, as long as you didn't turn left or right, and stayed below 30 mph. Power was sufficient, as long as the surface was flat, there was no wind, and you didn't plan to exceed the previously stated safe handling speed. Braking was the Wartburg's strong suit. The precision drum brakes could stop it from 25 mph in less than two city blocks.

Armed with such revolutionary technology, raw power, and superior handling/braking abilities, the fearsome and highly sought-after Wartburg is the ultimate endurance road racing candidate. But alas, very few were ever smuggled into the United States, as East Germany preferred to keep their little supercar's abilities a secret. Race teams have searched high and low for this exceedingly rare automotive treasure, with nary a hint of success...
...until now! The ultra wealthy powers-that-be at the ritzy 24 Hours Of Lemons penthouse headquarters have not only unearthed a pristine example of this coveted gem, they are willing to present it to some lucky endurance road racing team for FREE! Any cost to enter this magnificent Wartburg 311 sedan in the race of the winner's choosing? Nein! Penalty laps for those without integrity, who would venture to spend more than the allotted $500 in a paltry attempt to wring even more performance from the 311? Nyet! How can this be? This would be akin to simultaneously winning the Mega Millions Jackpot, the Powerball, and getting intimate favors from all three Jessica's (Biel, Alba, AND Simpson)! How, in our lifetime, can something so epic, so monumental, so thoroughly and completely Lemons be? It's a question for the ages, no doubt.

What would a race team have to do to be the unbelievably lucky recipients of this outrageous good fortune? Well, that remains to be seen. This writer can only relate what his own team would do, given such a once-in-a-thousand-lifetimes opportunity. Quite simply, we would do whatever it took. Do Jay, Nick, and the gang want to see a rear-engined, V8 powered Wartburg race car? Done. Do they wish to see a turbocharged, all wheel drive variant? Done. Would they prefer to be pleasantly surprised, and leave us to our own devices? Even better! Expect the unexpected. We will spend all winter in the garage if necessary, creating the fastest Lemons car in history! It will offer mind-numbing performance that shames the field. There may not ever be another such opportunity to cheat with impunity, and only a team of fools would squander such an occasion as this. They will be rubbing their eyes and shaking their heads in disbelief, as they struggle to follow the exotic Wartburg streaking its way around the track.

Such a creation would surely require their assistance in the driving department. Mere mortals such as we can only drive but so fast. If they could find it in their hearts to aid us in the quest for Lemons glory by piloting our chariot around the track, we would be both honored and delighted! With their expert guidance, I trust we too could learn to push the heavily modified Wartburg to its incredible limits, levels of performance undreamed of in Lemons 2009, much less Eisenach in 1955. That would be the very least we could do, in return for the most giving and unselfish act in recent history. During the build, we will follow the sage advice of Anthony Robbins:
"The truth of the matter is that there's nothing you can't accomplish if:
(1) You clearly decide what it is that you're absolutely committed to achieving,
(2) You're willing to take massive action,
(3) You notice what's working or not, and
(4) You continue to change your approach until you achieve what you want, using whatever life gives you along the way."

We're keeping our fingers crossed until Nelson Ledges, hoping beyond hope that life will give us Lemons, and an over-sized Wart.

Jeff Bloch
Captain, Team Police Brutality


Thank you for sponsoring this contest as it may be the stepping stone to completing my destiny.

I’m a believer in the religion of 24 hours of Lemons. I plan to enter in the New England leg of the tour when my time comes, but alas, that time is not yet upon us. When it is, you’ll know.

Do readers take the time to ask themselves if they deserve this fine piece of automotive history?

Does owning other makes, models, and years somehow affect the true destiny of this conglomeration of rubber and steel?

To some, it’s not just a race. To some, it’s not just transportation. To some, it’s not just a machine.

My destiny it to rescue cars like the Wartburg from meeting their demise before their time has come. Breathing new life into treasures others would so easily turn a shoulder. Sadly, my destiny is inhibited by space and “The Boss”. The good news is, the space is there, and “The Boss” agreed to let me enter for the chance to save a life. The life of a 1958 Wartburg 311.

When the smell of gasoline makes you smile, when you talk to and name every vehicle you own, when you can ease the green eyed monster because she knows your head turns only for steel curves. When you shed a tear for the innocent gas guzzlers that become seized, wince at the sight of a crusher, and pray, that when you finally have the space, that there is still a barn out there, waiting for you to find it.

That is when you realize that no one deserves this Wartburg. Not yourself, nor Jay Leno, nor Schumacher, nor me. I don’t deserve her, she deserves me.

Anthony Vello


This fine example of East German automotive engineering is exactly what I need to bring my dream of making a sequel to the greatest automotive film of all time, Driving Me Crazy, into reality.

As I’m sure you already know, Driving Me Crazy ( ) is a film of an East German inventor who builds a car to allow him to escape to freedom.  Of course by the time he finished the car he no longer needed to jump over the wall since it was torn down.  So he brings it to LA where the movie quickly turns into a commentary of the corruption of the auto and oil industries.  The car is stolen and only with the help of Billy Dee Williams can they retrieve the car from the evil mob boss Mr. K, played by Dom DeLuise, and show the world the virtues of his potato based fuel.

This message is so true and important that I believe the auto industry and oil companies have made sure that no mention of this fine film will be made in Wikipedia, and even IMDB if you search for it by title will come up with a different movie.

With this car in my possession I will surely be able to finally convince Mr. Billy Dee Williams to sign on to the sequel and then my only problems will be the Car and Oil Industry conspiracy and bring Dom DeLuise back from the dead to play the Zombie Mob Boss Mr. K.  I really feel that the Zombie Mob Boss will broaden the appeal of the sequel.

Of course if the Car and Oil Industries are able to stop production, Billy Dee Williams refuses to act in the movie again, or I am unable to bring Dom DeLuise back from the dead, I’m sure I can use the Wartburg in a race or something.

Bob Chinn

This sounds like a great movie with an all-star cast to boot. You failed to mention Vlade Divac is also in the movie as a Yugo exec! Wonder why I haven't heard of it?--Nick



I officially do not WANT the car.  I have enough friggin headaches trying to keep my current trash heaps running.  Good luck y'all!

Jer / Schumacher Taxi Service
2010 Spring CMP I.O.E. winner
2010 Sebring overall winner
1996 Miata, 1991 BMW E30, 1987 coROLLa (retired), 1984 Citation (retired), 1993 Miata (retired)

35 (edited by chaase 2009-08-06 12:24 PM)


Why do we want this car? That is very simple. We are idiots. Only an idiot would drive from NY to Ohio to pick up a "free" POS car, even one as lovely as a 1958 Wartburg.

Instead, I will tell you what we will do to the Wartburg. Since the Wartburg is named after a castle in Germany we will turn it into a castle. It will have all the things a castle should have. A king, some walls, a tower or two and some defenses. Are we allowed to have cannons?

We will also throw out that puny little engine and put in an engine fit for a king. I think a king would have the biggest engine that can somehow fit in the car and since the king likes bling try to make a big shiny blower stick out from under the hood.

We will absolutely enter it into a Le Mons race. What king doesn't like to show off his castle.

1992 Saturn SL2 (retired) - Elmo's Revenge -  Class B winner, Heroic Fix winner x2
1969 Rover P6B 3500S(sold) - Super G-Rover - I.O.E Winner, Class C Winner
1996 Saturn SW2 - Elmo's Revenge (reborn!), Saturn SL1  Dazzleshipm Class C x2 and IOE winner
1974 AMC Javelin - Oscar's Trash heap - IOE,”Organizer's Choice" and "I got Screwed" award winner


I have hit rock bottom. All the brake cleaner's gone, and I've resorted to huffing from a dump can of old racing fuel with a distinctive varnishy finish. But it just doesn't satisfy. Our car's almost ready for the Buttonwillow race, and I need something new. Another car to tweak, to maim, to deflower. But not any car – something that can take me to a higher high of mechanical frustration. Something with a truly poor foundation that's guaranteed to destroy my spirit and ravage what's left of my Harbor Freight-equipped garage.

Between the dry-heaves and the scratching away of spidery apparitions crawling from the sleeves of my Dickies coveralls, all I can think about is the next fix, the next race. What really cool, peculiar piece of forgotten automobilia could be further degenerated for our own immoral racing needs? And then I see this Wartburg post. That's the one. That's the next, great Lemons car for me. Nothing else will satisfy.

The 24 Hours of Lemons is more than just high style. It's substance, too. And despite the real threat of a crushing death or shameless acquisition by the Chief Perp, most schmucks would just shoehorn a Viper powertrain into this poor thing and make it go.

But Yankee iron does not belong in this grand tribute to Soviet largesse. No. I'm thinking a slightly massaged Trabant power train is the way to go. Or perhaps some other third world, engine-shaped lump of pig iron that's survived a proud-but-miserable life of infrequent oil changes, scorched points, and screeching accessory belts. Because that's what the comrade-workers would have wanted. And what I desperately need. And what might make you, our Lemons benefactors, truly proud-ish.


Thank you.

John Hunt


So I see you have gotten a lot of Give me the Car! and one I'm going to remake a Movie that no one has heard of.

I didn't see any that offered you something in exchange for the privilege of taking this fine example of East German engineering off of your hands. But what can I offer you may ask? I offer 2 bottles of homemade lemon cello, I'll also let the one guy use the car to remake that movie and of course bring it to race in the Glory that is the 24 Hours of Lemons.

I'm sure others will start to offer you other varied alcohols or their first born sons, but hopefully I'm the first to have made an offer, but if not I wish you luck in reading all of the entries and making your decision.

Jonathan Lattyak


Why wouldn't I choose to own such a piece of glorious socialistic engineering? Let me count the ways.
As I drive through the streets of my home state of Michigan and watch the failed auto industry I cannot
help but feel smug by the fact that my glorious Wartburg has outlived General Motors, Michael Jackson, and
the last Pope. I am tired of driving cars such as my Citroen 2CV and its incredibly easy to get parts. No, I want
parts that are difficult to find and require a translator. I want to bask in the warm sun of the DDR. No, NOT Dance Dance
Revolution, THE DEUTSCH DEMOCRATRIC REPUBLIC!! When I drive in a car built in Eisenach I can think of nothing but listening to
Bach. Driving through the glorious heartland of America is not where I wish to be unless I can place myself into the communist

Oh, PLEASE, give me the glory and beauty of this fine Wartburg. I have toiled my whole life to rise above the mere Trabants
that my neighbors drive. Give me a chariot on which to travel, to experience, to learn my new way of life.

To Communism's triumph lead us on!

Ben Boyle


n an attempt to give reasons why I should win this beautiful 1958 Wartburg, I want to include that I would be honored and proud to own such a wonderful car. I was born in 1958 on October 16 and I guess that means I have about a 365/1 chance that this car shares my birthday. This Warty, at least, shares my birth year and It has arguably weathered the last half century better than I have. Not that I'm ready to hang it up mind you but neither is this car. I'm fascinated with all thinks DDR and have owned several Trabants but have always wanted to move up to a Wartburg, especially a 311. I think the early models have beautiful lines and although I have never had the pleasure of driving one, I understand they are pretty fast too. My passion in life is cars and because I live in the USA, I, of course, started my journey with vintage American cars. At 14, I wanted a '55 Chevy so badly that l was beside myself. I got that '55 and still have it today. See, I'm not much on selling a car once I've fallen in love. These days, I find myself drawn to more arcane vehicles that have character. Trabants have that certain something and Wartburgs too. I'm organizing the 3rd Annual Parade of Trabants in Washington DC on November 7th and have The International Spy Museum as our sponsor. It is a special year because it is the 20th Anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and we hope to honor that fact by having 20 Trabis there for 20 years. I may be in trouble though because I promised that I'd try for 20 and I don't know if it's possible since they are so rare here, but a Wartburg could be present this year with your help. I've also been invited to the German Embassy in Washington DC to display 2 Trabants at there 20th anniversary dinner. I'm told there will be 800 dignitaries present and I think a Trabi and a Wartburg would be spectacular. If I win this car, it would not be restored but lovingly preserved in as original condition as possible and there is just enough time to get her up and running for these historic events.
   I have heard of the 24 hrs Lemons and thought a Trabi might be up for it but I would be honored to race this Wartburg especially with all the perks mentioned. It might nudge me into what could be an exciting sport for the entire family. My son, Matthew, who manages TrabantUSA, could race his Trabi with me on our own DDR team.
   My other passion in life is a little German girl whom I met in 3rd grade who was born in Germany on September 3rd 1958. So, I guess that knocks my chances down to about 183 to 1 that it shares one of our same birthdays. If this Wartburg was build on her birthday, I'd just die. I would of course name it after her and it would be hers forever and what a great story to tell. I conclude by saying no one would ever believe I won an essay contest and there is nothing sexier than a cute German girl whispering "I drive a Vort-burg"
Michael Annen


The whole concept of no penalties is the reason I need this car.
I have a polished 671 supercharger just itching for a home.
That would be a Lemons first.  Just think about it.
A ridiculous "Mad Max" style blower, and unrefined idiots controling the mayhem.
Just think "the last of the supercharged V8s"
The blower couldn't fit the 500 dollar limit in any capacity. except this one!



Women: our team is lousy with them
Age: only a car of this vintage will make our's seem less handicapping
Respect:  if our team can make a runner of this, we'll have earned everyone's
Three: the magic number (of cylinders)
Bacon, Beer and Boobs:  oh yeah, I  went there.  We'll have all 3.  On hand.
Useless:  the efforts of the nuns in trying to teach me ladylike behavior
Rust: We ain't afraid of no rust
Germans: let's find out if they built a car we can't handle

Respectfully submitted in support of Ms. Fortune Cookie, AtomicAlex, et al


Please, whatever it takes, do not give me that car. I already own three Fiats and a 52 HP diesel Mercedes, I really can't see how my life could be slower or more rusty.

Josh Poage
Poage Ma Thoin Racing - 1981 Fiat Brava #09 - 2009 Yee-haw It's Texas
Prison Break Racing - 1986 325e #27 - 2010 Gator-o-Rama
Poage Ma Thoin Racing - 1981 Fiat Brava #09 - 2011 Heaps in the Heart of Texas


Hey Nick can I have if I promise to put a v8 in it and race aand let you and Jay drive it?
Chris overzet

Pit Crew Revenge Racing   Rolling chicanelimo,95Lamdspeeder,Gimp Pimp Cadi,300zx Car show kaboom!! 90 Wagovan, mazda v8 Lemons LOGO TATTOO!  Aces 84 Cadi Eldo Briattz I O E WINNER
Class C win with LemonOdy Cannonball Run Whambulance !EX K Captain
Lemons Trophy Truck ShaGuar Baby!


“An Ode to Those that Pursue the Wartburg 311” as written by Biff Goethe
(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s evil twin)

…I have found no confession of The Lamest Day to which I could ally myself without reservation. Now in my hysterical pursuit of a Wartburg 311, however, I have learned of a sect, the 24 Hours of the LeMONSters, who, hemmed in between heathens of NASCAR and Formula One, declared that they would covet, gaze, and disrespect the most demented, the most imperfect that might come to their madness, and in as much as it must have a close connection to the PON, pay him reverence to that Associate Perpetrator!

A joyous Wartburg 311 headlight thus beamed at me suddenly out of a dark internet page, for I had the feeling that all my short-life I had been aspiring to qualify as a LeMONSter racer and be a Wartburg 311 acolyte. That, however, is no small task, for how does one, in the limitations of one's individuality, come to know what is, to quote the most excellent Ted Theodore Logan, “most excellent?”…

- Biff “the Warthog Racer” Goethe


I deserve to win this amazing vehicle...

because I toured Hungary in 1981, 1984, and 1987 in a 1980 Wartburg...  fire engine red.. with red, white, and beige checked interior...    I still remember the power of the three cylinder, two cycle, air cooled engine...   thrusting the beast to over 70 KPH on the Hungarian interstate (all 25 miles of it) between Budapest and Lake Balaton..

attached are some pictures of that era...  35 mm camera now scanned to the glory of pdf files..    I could probably make them slicker if you needed me to...

the family lived on a farm out in the boonies...   so they had an iron fence to keep in the chickens...   behind me in the chickens picture is the outhouse...

notice the Trabant in the "cars in yard" picture... 

I pledge to restore the wartburg to glory...  and return it to eastern europe..  where it belongs..

William Fleming


It started when my 1974 BMW 2002 caught fire.

As I pulled onto my street, returning from a job interview that I desperately needed to go in my favor, my car started smoking. I parked it a safe distance from everything else and watched it burn to the ground. It was the end of the beginning of European car ownership for me.

Like many who grew up in the 1980s, surrounded by the ubiquitous Japanese econo-boxes, it’s no surprise my first driving experiences were in Mazdas, Mitsubishis and Nissans. Sure, I doodled 911s and Countachs in my school notebooks like everyone else, but I figured my automotive future would always point East.

My 2002 changed a great many things. It reminded me what rear wheel drive was like. The smell of horsehair seats conjured memories of my parents’ Beetle. It was from a time when power-this and automatic-that were, at best, options. Perhaps most importantly, it let me believe I could work on my own car.

Mechanics I know have nothing positive to offer when I ask their opinion of a Citroën DS. While they will gladly take a customer’s money to repair a 968 with electrical gremlins—which you can actually see and are the spitting-image of the one from the Bugs Bunny cartoons—they wouldn’t come within ten miles of owning one.

I’ve dreamt and schemed about Messerschmitt since seeing Sam Lowry driving one in Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. I’ve attended car shows and left with what might seem a disproportionate amount of Prinz, Isetta and Goggomobile photographs. Of all the amazing cloak-and-dagger gear in the Washington, D.C. Spy Museum I rarely conjure any image but the display of microcars used to smuggle people out of East Berlin. And my parents’ recent trip to Berlin netted me a refrigerator magnet showing a Trabant defiantly crashing through the Wall.

I’ve spent countless hours clicking through Bruce Weiner’s online microcar museum ( An alarming disservice to my employers, I’ll admit. I can only take partial responsibility because this passion for the odd, off-kilter and old is a physical malady. Seeing a 2CV for sale locally literally makes my heart speed up and my brain begin to consider how long it would take my wife to realize I sold her entire jazz collection to buy a French car. The Wankle-engined ‘81 RX-7 I drove in high school was only a first for loving cars that were unique.

As the auto manufacturers and self-proclaimed car nuts chase horsepower and zero-to-sixty times, I slide further towards the lowly and obscure. Why bother with pony cars when a Volvo P1800 is the epitome of the grand touring coupe?

Do I deserve to own a Wartburg? I don’t know, but I would like to think a Wartburg would consider me a worthy caretaker. If the car gods are shining their all-seeing headlights upon me, perhaps you will consider me worthy too.

Ryan Weis

47 (edited by krek 2009-08-18 06:09 PM)


I will legally* change my name to Baron von Wartburg and enter the most convenient** Lemons race in the completed*** vehicle.

As a bonus I will guarantee **** an appearance on Jay Leno as Baron von Wartburg with the car (don't make me say "completed" again, the wife can't take it) promoting the 24 Hours of Lemons.

*legality subject to limitations including but not limited to; ability to legally change name via free non-binding internet service.

**convenience based on location, schedule and costume rental availability.

***the use of the word "completed" sends the Baroness into hysterical fits of laughter

****guarantee contingent on Jay Leno, his producers and associates agreeing to said appearance

Drat! And Double Drat!


Hmm Wartburg + LT1 Chevy V-8 + Chevy S10 rear end + Red Headlights + Lemons yellow and black paint + teeth in the grille + flame throwers + trailer to bring it home cause we're already going to be Nelsons Ledge= Awesome.  Simple Math. 

Oh yeah since I am getting married at Lamest Day what better way to celebrate our anniversary or force us into divorce with another Lemons crap can.  Some people give toasters some people give Wartburgs (slower than toasters).

Or better yet make her drive it!  (use monster truck announcer voice) Man vs Wife in the Ultimate Lemons Showdown!!!!  BE THERE BE THERE!



I fell in love for the first time that Spring in 1960 when Herr Dikson announced laboratory partner pairings in Sophomore Biology class at the German/American High School in Wildflecken, West Germany.   My father was stationed with the First Armored Division at the American base just outside town.  The base was without a school of its own, so us Army brats went to school in town.

Herr Dikson was meticulous in all things, but particularly in his lab pairings.  He approached the task as would a composer drafting a symphony, and didn’t rest until every note was perfect.  Particularly satisfying to him was when he achieved “balance” with boy/girl and American/German pairings.  So it came to be that I was teamed with Heidi Vald.

She was not beautiful in the Nordic sense, but beautiful nonetheless.  Heidi was blessed with a mane of long, extravagantly wavy brown hair that cascaded down to her shoulders - longer when she would throw her head back to laugh at one of my lame jokes at Herr Dikson’s expense.  Her brown eyes were not just deep and expressive; when Heidi locked her gaze on me it held me in a magnetic grip that I was powerless to break.  Slim and athletic, she could nearly outrun me, and she used her long legs to great advantage when we would mock-wrestle (an activity I encouraged as often as I could).

Of course, I already knew who Heidi was when we became partners in Biology class.   She had been the topic of many discussions between me and my two buddies Rob (an American) and Dirk (German) when we caught a glimpse of her on the other side of the gym during P.E. or at lunch in the cafeteria.  When Herr Dikson announced the lab pairings, Rob and Dirk swung around in unison and shot accusing glances at me, as if to say that I had bribed the teacher in order to be seated next  to the very object of our pubescent yearnings.  I merely smiled back, too dumbstruck by my awesome good fortune to do anything else.

Over the next several weeks Heidi and I became all but inseparable, occasionally joined by our adjunct posse of Dirk and Rob together with Heidi’s friends Rudger and Katrin.  We happily unreeled the hours slowly, learning each others’ secrets and dreams (She: movie actress or model Me: race car driver).  We even became very good at getting in trouble together, as when Herr Dikson sent us to the Principal when during a dissection exercise we giggled at his admonition “…not to cut zee hole in zee frok so beek.”

Life was very good indeed, with the possible exception that even though I was old enough to have a license, I had yet to drive the family sedan on a solo outing.  Consequently, the object of my desire and I had few opportunities to escape the vigilant oversight of our two sets of parents.  This was especially difficult for me since, after Heidi, the passion of my life was automobiles.  My entire meager allowance was spent on American automotive magazines,  which I eagerly devoured the moment they arrived at the Post Exchange on the base.  I lamented the fact that I couldn’t be stateside to immerse myself in each shiny, powerful new offering from Detroit rather than wallowing in a sea of identical Volkswagens.  I resolved to buy a car and drive coast to coast as soon as my father’s tour of duty was over and we returned to the States.

On the weekends Heidi and I, or on occasion our whole group would often ride our bicycles to Gersfeld or other villages sprinkled throughout the Rohn Forest Preserve.  The beauty of the area was incredible, in total contrast to the arid wasteland of Fort Bliss, Texas, where my family had been stationed before.  We all felt more alive and connected as we pedaled along silently in the cool shadows of the forest preserve.  It was on one of these excursions that we hatched the plot that would lead to the second time I fell in love that Spring.

One Saturday morning we all set out on our bikes for a ride in the forest.  After cycling slowly for about an hour we stopped in Gersfeld to rest, drink sodas and tease each other.  I forget how, but soon our conversation turned to the relative attributes of our hometowns.  As a native of Salem, Ohio, I extolled the virtues of small town  life in America:  baseball in the park, root beer at the drivein, and the simplicity of living in a place where the tallest structure was the steeple on the First Baptist Church.  As fascinating as the account of my hometown was, the group fell into rapt silence when Rudger announced that his birthplace was behind the Iron Curtain!

As an Army brat I was well aware of the evils of Communism, since my father managed to slip the topic into nearly every dinner table conversation.  We had all been repeatedly warned of the evils that lurked on the other side of the border with East Germany, which was situated just a few kilometers away.  According to Dad, the Soviets had mined every inch of the area just east of us, since that was where the Soviet and American tanks would meet if the Cold War ever heated up.  From time to time the American language newspapers would carry harrowing accounts of brave refugees who had escaped the tyranny of the German Democratic Republic by finding  a way to evade the East German patrols and slip through the fence.  But Rudger was the first honest to goodness refugee that I had encountered, and I eagerly drank in every detail of his tale.

Rudger had been born in Eisenach, which by his account was a cultural and economic hub located at the eastern end of a broad, rolling agricultural valley just twenty kilometers away from where we presently lounged.  His parents had spirited the family from Eisenach across the border to the West in 1950, so Rudger had few personal memories of the place.  Parents and other East German refugees had supplied the details to which we were now being treated.  Eisenach, Rudger proudly proclaimed, was the birthplace of Johann Sebastian Bach, and was home to the 900 year old Wartburg Castle, in which Martin Luther had sought refuge while translating the New Testament into German.  Wartburg Schloss (“castle”, in German) was situated on a  mountain overlooking Eisenach and the valley below, and its cathedral sported an enormous cross at its highest point (take that, Salem First Baptist Church!).  Eisenach was renowned as the cultural and artistic center of the state of Thuringia, as well as a thriving industrial center, which included an automotive factory that churned out “the Wartburg“, named for the castle.  I had never heard of the Wartburg, and wondered how it would stack up against my current favorite, the 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air.

While I was busy tumbling these facets of information in my mind, Rob - the gambler and daredevil of the group, suddenly shouted: “Let’s go there!  It would be cool to see that castle!”.  Rudger, Katrin and Heidi were instantly horrified at the notion, and admonished Rob to put such a crazy idea out of his head immediately!  Having lived in the shadow of the Iron Curtain all their lives, they had been steeped in terrible stories of the fate of those who dared try crossing the border - in either direction.  “If you get caught, they’ll throw you in a dungeon and torture you by pulling out all your fingernails”, intoned Katrin seriously.  At this I instinctively balled my hands into fists, the better to protect my precious fingers.  Rudger added that “They’ll put you on trial as a spy and then publicly hang you”, to which everyone reflexively cleared their throat.  But Rob would have nothing of it, and argued that he was too quick to be caught.

For my part, the thought of seeing Schloss Wartburg, and perhaps even one of those Wartburg sedans was crowding out any concerns for my personal safety or my parents’ wrath.  Heidi anticipated my thoughts with that sixth sense of hers, and unwisely murmured “You must not go, King” in my ear.  Now, Heidi had ways of convincing me to do (or not do) things, and I was an avid consumer of those ways.  However, the direct approach usually failed, which it did this time.  “I’m in!” I announced, creating a broad grin on Rob’s face.  Despairing that she was losing the argument to save me from myself, Heidi turned to Dirk for support.  Dirk was the brain of our tribe, the one with all the answers.  Cheating off Dirk’s paper almost guaranteed an “A” on a math test, which is how I came to sit next to him in every class we shared, an arrangement that led to a fast friendship.  He was also a tinkerer and a mechanical genius, and could resurrect just about any kaput machine.

“Tell them not to go”, insisted Heidi.  Apparently the direct approach didn’t work well with Dirk either, for after pondering Heidi’s imperative for a few moments he proclaimed “I think it will work”.  That did it!  We were going!  For the next hour Rob, Dirk and I planned our great adventure while Rudger and Katlin supplied a steady stream of dire warnings and Heidi glowered silently at me.

The most direct path to  the castle would have been to take the A4 autobahn from Bad Hersfeld on the west side of the border through the valley to Eisenach,  but that route was impossible because of the mines, constant patrols and concertina wire in the vicinity of the border crossing.  So we resolved to pedal our bikes to the village of Tann at the northern end of the Rhon Forest Preserve, cross the border there, and continue north on foot to Highway 19, which we could follow all the way into Eisenach, a distance of about 20 kilometers.  If we left at first light and didn’t get caught, we could do our exploring and be back by dinnertime.  We even had a contingency plan: we would tell our parents that we were going to have a sleepover at Rudgers, which would afford us some extra time if we were delayed.

The next Friday night the trio of adventurers met up at Rudger’s with our sleeping bags for the “sleepover”.  Rudger was not happy about his enforced role in the conspiracy, but grudgingly agreed to abide by the plan.  Heidi stopped by later that evening to try one last time to prevent what she was sure was a catastrophe in the making.  This time she didn’t use the direct approach, I’m happy to say, but I was determined to follow through with the operation.  At 5:00 o’clock the next morning we slipped out of Rudger’s house and pedaled up the Rhonstrasse to Tann.   Stopping in Tann just long enough to gobble some of the food we had brought along in our backpack’s, we set out to find the border with East Germany.

It didn’t take us long.  Less than a kilometer outside the village we encountered the Iron Curtain.  To be honest, I was disappointed, for the border barrier was nothing more than an extra tall chain link fence festooned with signs in German and English proclaiming that going forward would certainly result in the most severe consequences.  Rob cheerily pointed out that nowhere on the signs was fingernail-pulling mentioned.  As we crept up next to the fence a dog starting barking in the distance and we froze, certain that we’d been discovered!  But the barking stopped and, after all, we were still on the “legal” side of the border.  Inspecting the fence we discovered that it was more formidable than we had at first believed.  The bottom of the fence was buried in a concrete trough that ran between each fencepost, making it impossible to simply pull up the bottom and slide under.  A double strand of concertina wire discouraged us from trying to scale the fence.  “What if its electric?”, I asked, to which Dirk pulled a pair of wire cutters from his backpack and threw them against the fence.  When that failed to produce a shower of sparks, Dirk proclaimed it safe.  Using the wire cutters, Dirk cut a hole in the fence and we squeezed through to the East!

“That was too easy”, I thought to myself, while visions of forced-labor camps forced their way into my brain.  But no sirens erupted, no snarling dogs confronted us, no patrolling soldiers ordered us to freeze.  There was just the sound of the breeze in the forest trees, and it sounded remarkably the same on this side of the fence as it had a few moments earlier, in the safety of the West.  Still, I had to force back the panicked thoughts of turning back and show my brave face to my cohorts.  Dirk, ever the planner, repaired the cut in the fence with some wire ties he had brought along for that purpose.  When he was done, only the closest inspection would reveal the cuts we had made.

That errand complete, we set off cautiously northward, staying in the dense trees and underbrush as much as possible.  The sun had been up about an hour by now, and so far our luck had held and we had not seen another human.  Better yet, no one had seen us, as far as we could tell.  Soon enough the three of us encountered a two lane paved road, and confirmed that it was Highway 19.  We decided that walking down the  pavement would have been the quickest  way to get caught and imprisoned for life, so instead we trudged alongside the road under cover of the woods.  While that gave us some measure of security it  required much more effort to negotiate the uneven terrain, and we stopped often for rest breaks.  Dirk began to fret that we weren’t making good enough time, while Rob insisted that everything was going to be fine.  I fell silent, morosely contemplating the enormity of my crimes and wishing that I was back in Wildflecken with Heidi.

After marching for what must have been hours, we encountered a small farm lane that angled diagonally toward the highway.  Emboldened by the fact that we hadn’t been arrested yet and tired by our overland trek we wordlessly walked along the lane, thankful to be on level ground.  Thoughts of home, my parents and Heidi crowded into my head until I became completely oblivious to my surroundings.  The same process must have been happening with my companions, too, because it took us completely by surprise when an agitated voice began cursing and yelling at us in German from the direction of a car parked mere yards away!  I turned to flee, got tangled up with an equally startled Rob, and we both went down in a heap.  Dirk, however, calmly called out to the man who had yelled at us, and walked forward with hand extended.

I had picked up a good bit of the native tongue at the German/American School in Wildflecken, but I was far from fluent.  So I was thankful once again that Dirk was along on our escapade, since we had not even contemplated that we might be called upon to actually speak to anyone while in the East.  After a handshake and a short conversation Dirk calmly bent under the hood and began fiddling with the car’s innards while Rob and I stood nervously nearby, peering up and down the highway for signs of approaching army convoys.  From the words that I could understand, I realized that the man’s ancient and street worn car had broken down at the intersection of the farm lane and the highway, and that his anger was directed at it, not us.  The hood was open, and the man had a rock in his hand which he had been using to hammer the recalcitrant car into submission.  .  I noticed a woman sitting impassively in the passenger seat, staring straight ahead.  In due course Dirk had the engine running again, and the driver’s demeanor changed dramatically.  Now all smiles, he danced over to me and Rob, grasped and pumped our hands vigorously, and spewed a torrent of now-happy German while ushering us toward his dusty car.

Flinging open the rear door, he motioned us inside.  I quickly glanced at Dirk, who looked back as if to say “Do you want to walk the rest of the way to Eisenach?”.  That unspoken question was enough for me, and I dove into the back seat of the car, followed by Rob and Dirk.  Introductions were handled by Dirk, sufficient for us to know that we were in the car of  Dieter and Rachel, who looked to be in their late twenties.  More incomprehensible conversation transpired between the three Germans while Dieter ground the transmission into gear and the car lurched and crawled slowly north down the highway.  We hadn’t gone far when Rachel turned, and looking straight at me and Rob said: “You are Americans, no?”

Oh, no!  My mind raced furiously while my stomach convulsed into a knot.  “We’ve been discovered!  These two are with the Secret Police.” I thought while desperately trying to make a German word come out of my mouth!  Beside me, Rob silently gripped the chintz upholstery of the back seat with white knuckles.  Suddenly smiling, Rachel soothed our panic.  “Don’t  worry - we aren’t Stasi.  Just ordinary Germans.  We won’t turn you in.”  Still in a state of shock I attempted a reply, but all that I could muster was a garbled “Thrmerglp”, which provoked a round of uproarious laughter from Dieter and Rachel.  Soon Dirk started giggling too, and before long, the entire car was filled with the laughter of five new friends.

Dieter and Rachel both spoke passable English, which they had studied at University, so that became our language of choice while we got to know each other.  Dieter worked in Eisenach as an electrical engineer, while Rachel was a history teacher.  On weekends they enjoyed drives in the countryside, and it was one of those excursions that we had stumbled upon.  Rachel confided that their weekend drives were frequently interrupted by mechanical difficulties.  “Trabants  are worthless Soviet junk,” offered Dieter about our current means of transportation “but this is all we can afford.  Where we live, in Eisenbach, they make a fine German car - the Wartburg .  Plenty of power, self-lubricating and steel, not cheap plastic and tin like this”, he exclaimed, pounding the dashboard for emphasis.  “Dieter kicked this car so hard last year he broke his foot” laughed Rachel.  “We are on the waiting list for a Wartburg, but that could take years”.

We laboriously crested a hill, and spread out before us was a broad valley punctuated by a small scraggy mountain standing guard over a mid-sized city.  “Coming to Eisenach” announced Dieter.  Just then a pale green car that somewhat resembled an Oldsmobile passed us going in the same direction.  “Watch this” shouted Dieter.  “That’s a Wartburg.  Watch him go downhill”.  As the car passed us and headed downhill it began picking up speed.  Rather than braking, as Dieter was doing, the Wartburg accelerated until, at the bottom of the hill it was careening along at breakneck speed.  “Wartburgs have two cycle engines and a freewheeling transmission, like bicycles” explained Dieter.  “If they coast downhill, the engine loses lubrication and seizes.  Makes for interesting driving experience.”  The young car enthusiast in me drank in all these details and more as I pressed Dieter to tell me everything he knew about the Wartburg.  When his knowledge ran out and my curiosity was still unsatisfied, Dieter offered to take us to a friend of his in Eisenach who owned a Wartburg 311.   I wasted no time accepting the offer, to the chagrin of my buddies who didn’t share my love of automobiles.

Perhaps desperate to change the subject, Rob interjected “Hey, is that the castle up there?”, pointing to a hulking edifice on the flanks of the mountain we were now approaching.  “Yes it is” replied Rachel, who began rattling off Schloss Wartburg’s  history and interesting anecdotes, many of which we had already heard from Rudger.  I craned my neck to get a better view of the Castle, and what I saw was a disappointment.  The building (or buildings, for there were several within the walls) looked like a violent collision between a German beer hall and an Italian wedding cake.  Most of the outer wall was half timber and plaster, while parts were a clay masonry block with various arches and columns added for no apparent reason.  The only thing castle-like about it was the keep, which towered above the walls.  I kept my architectural musings to myself, because Rachel was still proudly enumerating the structure’s many virtues.

As we passed the foot of the mountain and reached the edge of town, Dieter turned off the Frankfurterstrasse and wound his way through a residential district until we arrived in front of his friend’s house, a small but tidy cracker box with a well kept yard in front.  In the driveway sat a steel blue Wartburg.  “Wait here” commanded Dieter as he left to ring the doorbell.  Presently his friend Kellen came to the door and the two held a momentary consultation.  Then Dieter motioned us to join him in the driveway.  After introductions we were allowed to approach the object of my affection sitting in the drive.  Dieter’s friend opened the hood so I could get a look inside.  I was astonished, because it seemed that the factory had made a tremendous error and installed the engine backwards!   The radiator and fan were closest to the firewall, instead of being oriented toward the matrix-like grill!   Seeing my surprise, Kellen explained that the engine had no water pump and circulated its water in a thermosyphon process in which the warm water would naturally rise and force its way into the top of the radiator where it would cool and condense as gravity pushed it down through the radiator and into the bottom of the engine, where the process would repeat.

Kellen got in to start the engine, and after cranking the starter motor for an inordinately long time it gasped to life, belching a huge cloud of bluish smoke all over the neighborhood.  The Wartburg’s three cylinders clacked away vigorously like a demented sewing machine, and Kellen motioned for me to get in beside him, an offer I eagerly accepted.  We then took a spin around the block, and I was amazed at how powerful the car seemed to be.  Without offering to let me drive Kellen returned to the house and parked the Wartburg in the drive.  Dieter was right - this car was solid.  And the interior was positively sumptuous compared to Dieter’s Trabant.  It was no Bel Air, but this car had some style to it, as well.  If you squinted your eyes just right you could convince yourself that the rear fender sported a vestigial fin.  I realized that I had fallen in love for the second time that spring.

Dirk and Rob were obviously anxious to be off, so I  thanked Kellen and we all piled back into Dieter’s decidedly less exciting Trabant and we headed south out of town toward the Rohr Forest. Dieter and Rachel navigated us as close to the border as they dared, since now they were in as much danger as we were.   We quickly said our goodbyes in the thin late afternoon sunlight, and off they churned.  Finding our way back to the border fence was easier that I expected, and once again our luck held and we were not detected.  Squeezing once again through the hole we had cut that morning, we retrieved our bikes and sped south to Wildflecken, arriving in plenty of time for dinner.  The three adventurers spent the better part of Sunday recounting our exploits to a rapt (except for Heidi) audience of admirers.  Over time, even Heidi eventually softened and allowed that we were, indeed, brave - but foolish - explorers.

A year later my father’s unit rotated stateside.  Heidi and I spent our last night together walking hand in hand along the country lanes outside Wildflecken, making promises of eternal fidelity that we wouldn’t keep and plotting a reunion that never happened.  I finished out my senior year as a misfit in a high school in California, constantly dreaming of my two loves back in Germany.  Heidi and I eventually lost touch, as was inevitable, an adult me conceded.  In due course I achieved a degree, established a career, got married and started a family.  Over the years and even now, my thoughts sometime drift back to the summer of 1960, my beloved Heidi and the beautiful Wartburg 311.  I know that I will never see Heidi again, but I never lost faith that one day I would be reunited with my cherished Wartburg.

And that is why I should win this contest.

King Krabbe


When is a BMW not a BMW? When it’s a Wartburg! Or was it an EMW (Eisenach Motor Werks)? Built in the shadow of Wartburg Castle which was founded in 1067 by the count of Schauenburg, Ludwig der Springer, the great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather of TV personality Jerry Springer, the Eisenach Werks was renowned for such great cars such as the BMW 3/15 DA-3 Wartburg and the Wartburg Knight which was based on the excellent Polish-designed Warszawa 210, aka the “Polak Bug.”

These commie inspired designs infiltrated free eastern Europe by sneaking under the barbed wire dividing Hungry from Austria, often with a defecting East German worker or case of vodka hidden in the trunk (that’s a boot to you Limeys). Literally dozens of these cars were to make this dangerous crossing during the height of the cold war. If caught, those pinko commie bastards would ship the cars off to East Berlin to serve as limos for the proletariat and bourgeoisie leaders and their, ah, “escorts.”

But enough of the history. Why in the hell would I want such a piece of crap? Probably because I can’t afford a BMW and a free Wartburg is the closest I’ll ever come to owning something akin to a Bimmer. Ok, ok, so it’s not a BMW, but at least it was made in the factory that made BMWs…at one time…maybe 20 years before. Anyway, I thought I could just glue a couple of BMW badges in strategic locations and show people the Germanic script on the ID plate and they would think; cool, a classic Bimmer, this guy must be loaded. Just think of the chicks I could pick up cruising the local Bonefish Grill on a Thursday night.

Alternatively, I could wait for the cold war to rekindle and offer my service to the government as an agent without portfolio, or special gadgets, or knack for martial arts, or the ability to seduce beautiful women. I could be known as The Scourge of Thuringia. The Wartburg would make a great spy-mobile. Far better than that piece-of-poo Aston Martin that that candy-ass James Bond bloke usually wrecks every time he gets laid. I don’t think a couple of armor piercing bullets or a TOW missile could really do much damage to this thing. Do you? I could cruise with impunity through the resurrected Check Point Charlie. Maybe by then they will be more gender neutral and call it Check Point Pat or Check Point Sandy.

If all else fails then I could actually enter it in the 24 Heurs du Lemons somewhere if I can get the damn thing running for more than 3 minutes at a time and the Crager mags I plan to slap on her don’t bend the spindles. If you can wait until I have a few more vodka-tonics then maybe I’ll come up with some other inane uses, but for now that’s about it. So there.

Your most obedient an humble servant,

Brad Purvis